A lot of people visit Granada in Andalucia for one reason only: to check out the Alhambra and watch a flamenco show at one of the traditional bars in Albaicin, a district of Granada. Most tourists tend to spend one night, maybe a couple of days in Granada, then move on to the coast or back to Madrid, Seville or wherever they came from. I think that is a big mistake because Andalucia has so much more to offer than just the Alhambra and there are plenty of places to visit in Andalucia during a holiday in Spain.
When I was in Andalucia I flew to Granada Airport, rented a car and then visited not only the Alhambra and Albaicin, but also some lesser known places like Pinar, Begijar, Jaen, Baeza and Ubeda, all famous for very different reasons.
So if you are planning on taking a holiday in Granada, I would highly recommend a visit to other parts of Andalucia as well.
Read this article if you need a bit of inspiration for your next trip and to find out about Andalucia off the beaten path.
Things to Do in Andalucia
- Fly to Granada Airport and take a taxi to your hotel in Granada
- Spend two nights in Granada checking out the local sights (A)
- Visit the Prehistoric Caves in Pinar (B)
- Taste some freshly made olive oil at Campopineda (B)
- Visit Baeza and its UNESCO World Heritage City Center (D)
- Walk around Ubeda’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites (E)
- Spend a day as an “Aceitunero” in Begijar at the San Francisco olive press
- Walk up to Jaen Castle to witness a stunning sunrise (F)
Day 1 – Tourist Attractions in Granada
Walk around the city center and then climb up to Albaicing and Sacromonte. Have lunch near the Bullring and then visit the downtown shopping area. Dine at Venta el Gallo and watch their flamenco show. Watch this video to learn more about the various tourist attractions in Granada:
Day 2 – Touring the Alhambra in Granada
Get up early in the morning and visit the Alhambra. The earlier you start the better as there are more than 2 million tourists visiting here each year meaning huge queues and crowds. Check out the photos below if you don’t believe me.
After lunch head out to the airport and pick up your rental car if you have one. If not, just take the train or bus to Jaen. I would highly recommend a car as they are much easier to get around with and by the time you add up all the train and bus ticket costs and the time spent waiting for transport you will be better off just renting a car. This will also mean you will have the opportunity to visit more places.
Watch my video to find out about things to do in the Alhambra:
Day 2 – Visiting The Caves and Campopineda in Pinar
Visit Pinar and take part in an olive oil tasting organized by one of the local farms. I visited Almazara Campopineda in Pinar where they produce 7 million liters of oil each year and have a shop on site. They offer tours of the factory and also organize tastings in their own restaurant and shop.
From here you can go up to the Prehistoric Caves at the top of the hill and also visit the local Moorish castle. You can buy the tickets for the caves at the town hall where you can also park your car up. Once you are done with the caves, you can walk up to the ancient castle to take some nice shots of the surrounding area.
This video will show you the visit to the caves in Pinar:
Day 2 – Best Towns to Visit in Andalucia
After the castle you can have dinner at one of the local bars or just drive over to Baeza and eat at one of the many traditional places there. I stayed at the Puerta de la Luna hotel in the old town of Baeza for two nights. This hotel is in a historic building with many of the original ornaments still in place.
There is a bar attached to the hotel called Pacos Bar, which is where I went after I checked in. They serve good local wines and with every glass you get a free Tapas. You can also order a full meal, which is what I did: I bought a hamburger the first night and then various chicken and vegetarian options the next day.
Day 3 – Visit the UNESCO Sites in Baeza
My first activity in Baeza was to walk around the old town and look at the various UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Baeza has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2003 and as a result the entire downtown area is under protected status, preserving the traditional look and layout of the city.
Day 3 – Visit Oleicola San Francisco in Begijar
After the tour with Maria Antonia Vargas Torres, our tour guide, I went to Begijar to visit the Oleicola San Francisco, a premium olive oil producer. They process about 6000 kg of olive oil here per hour, making some superb quality oil. Luis, the commercial director then gave us a special tasting round of their early harvest oil which tasted fantastic. After the tasting you will have the opportunity to have a tapas lunch.
Day 3 – Walk Around Ubeda’s UNESCO City Center
I headed over to Ubeda from Begijar to do an afternoon tour of the city with Maria Antonia. Ubeda is also a UNESCO world heritage site, but it has more Arabic heritage than Baeza. Here, the main square and parts of the old town are under UNESCO protection, showcasing the city as it used to look hundreds of years ago.
I must admit the tour was very entertaining and educational and I learned a lot about Spain which I never knew. If ever you visit Baeza and Ubeda, make sure you pick Maria Antonia for a tour.
Day 3 – Dinner at Paco’s Bar in Baeza
For the second night I visited Pacos Bar again as it was very conveniently located and they offer a free Tapas with a drink so I thought I would just go there again. This time I ordered the chicken wings, some rice with guacamole and fried chicken strips and a glass of red wine.
Day 4 – Driving to Jaen Castle
The following morning we had to leave for Jaen and then to the airport unfortunately, but at least the weather changed as it became nice and sunny. Jaen is about 30 minutes away from Baeza, but the biggest attraction is the other side of the city on top of the mountain: El Castillo de Jaen.
The castle overlooks the city from atop the mountain and functions as a hotel, but tours outside are free. There is also a viewpoint at the end of the castle, providing stunning vistas over Jaen. I got very lucky as I got to the castle just in time for sunrise and managed to capture some amazing images on my iphone.
Day 4 – Returning to Granada Airport
The drive from Jaen castle to the airport takes about 1 hour, and by the time I left Jaen it was already 10 o’clcock so I just drove directly to the airport to catch my 1235 Easyjet flight to London Gatwick.