Along the roads of Andalucía lies an alternative reality, one where white-washed towns sit on hilltops, bizarre natural formations cast shadows over the landscape, and exotic animals roam the prairies and wetlands. This road trip takes you along Andalucia's forgotten places—a mesmerizing world you thought didn't exist, but is very much alive.
1. Villanueva de la Concepción
The drive from Málaga through the southern hills of Andalusia is the perfect kick-off to your travels. Hills of olive groves and barren rock dot the land, just like the pueblos blancos, or white villages, that nestle in foothills and valleys. Villanueva de la Concepción is one of those white-washed villages— it's one of the most overlooked, too. It's a typical Andalusian town that mostly depends on agriculture and doesn't receive much tourism, making it unspoilt and a great peek into the local way of life. Don't miss the view from the mirador (viewpoint) at the east end of town and try the local cuisine. However, the best reason to make Villanueva your first campsite is it's your base camp for exploring a unique natural spectacle.
El Torcal de AntequeraAt just fifteen minutes from Villanueva, Torcal National Park is a colossal collection of oddly-shaped limestone rocks. El Torcal de Antequera is perfect for hikes, long or short. Three routes—marked as green, yellow, and red for their difficulty level—will lead you along rock formations and breathtaking vantage points.
2. Zahara de la Sierra
Of all pueblos, Zahara de la Sierra probably takes the crown for having the best backdrop in Andalusia. Perched on a mountain with a castle at its highest point, the town overlooks a lush valley and serene lake that was formed by a dam. The white town is too far inland for most tourists, making this stop another unspoilt destination. Originally a Moorish outpost, Zahara lies on the historical frontline of Christian-Muslim wars, and with its great vantage point (and castle) was the scene of many epic battles.
Gargante VerdeEven more amazing are the natural splendours you'll find around Grazalema National Park. Its mountain ranges, the Sierra de Zahara, are home to the largest caves in Andalusia, some of them holding staggering bat populations. The hike to the gorge of Gargante Verde (Green Throat) is especially worth the effort, as you'll spot nestling vultures and wade through riverbeds.
Cueva del GatoRonda is your second launchpad for exploring Grazalema National Park. At a short distance from the city, you'll find Cueva del Gato, or the Cat's Cave. Easily accessible and incredibly idyllic, the lagoon's crystal-clear (and cold!) waters are perfect for a swim. Tip: bring a picnic basket and spend an afternoon here!
4. Costa de la Luz
CádizThe city of Cádiz is this coastline's capital, and highly worth a visit, though tourists rarely make it over to this end of the Spanish coast. Founded over 3,000 years ago, this port might the oldest continually-inhabited city in Western Europe. Apart from the ancient architecture and fresh seafood, Cádiz is also great for flamenco. Its dancers have seduced sailors since BC!
5. Doñana National Park
Sanlúcar de BarramedaThe best entry point into wild wetlands of Doñana is from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, from where you can join a boat tour through the park. You'll also find superb seafood in this scenic little port town, to which as the town's famed manzanilla (the local sherry) is the perfect company.
SOURCE: Indie Campers.
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