Finca Ronda - Villa Sol, located near Ronda.

Finca Ronda – Villa Sol, located near Ronda.

In Andalucía, rolling mountains cloaked in green give way to bright white hill towns and hundreds of miles of coastline.  Though Moorish rule in Spain ended hundreds of years ago, Arabic culture still exerts a strong influence in the south, lending exotic flavors to food and architecture. Sophisticated cities like Sevilla, Granada, and Cordoba make wonderful day trips from your villa, as do the Pueblos Blancos, a series of picturesque while village in the region’s interior. Ready to plan your villa rental experience in Andalucía? Here’s a travel guide for inspiration:

 Food

Rice, lemons, oranges, olives, and grapes figure prominently in the cuisine of southern Spain, as well as spices such as saffron and cumin. The region is famous for its grilled fish, sardines, and fried squid. Some of the best jamon serrano (cured ham) is sliced and served as tapas: small snacks that originally accompanied a glass of sherry. Tapas range from cold meats or cheeses to elaborately prepared hot dishes of seafood, meat, or vegetables.

Day Trip: Valencia

Finca Oliva, our villa for 20-24 near Ronda.

Finca Oliva, our villa for 20-24 near Ronda.

This is the spot where Spain’s national hero, El Cid, fought the Moors. In the old town, ancient churches present their honorable facades to eager photographers, while parks, gardens, and bridges offer relaxing places to stroll. Valencia isn’t all history, however; it has a bustling nightlife and visitors throng to the beaches all summer. Virtually any sport is available, whether on land or in the water.

The Alhambra

Constructed in the 14th century by the Moorish rulers of Granada, the Alhambra is perhaps the pinnacle of Islamic architecture in Spain. Described by poets as a “pearl set in emeralds,” it was designed to reflect the beauty of Paradise. Exterior gardens inhabited by nightingales surround plain stone exteriors, which in turn give way to room after room of complex geometric patterns, calligraphic art, and inner courtyards cooled by fountains.

Day Trip: Ronda

Known as the birthplace of bullfighting, Ronda is more instantly recognizable for its Puente Nuevo – the 18th century bridge straddling a breathtaking gorge. After you’ve taken in the views over the Serrania de Ronda mountains and explored the charming old town, be sure to visit the Plaza de Toros. This bullfighting arena serves as a museum most of the year, but every September during the Feria Goyesca, it returns to its original festive glory.

Terra Mítica

Enjoying the sun at Estepona - La Piscina, our apartment for 2 near the beach in Estepona.

Enjoying the sun at Estepona – La Piscina, our apartment for 2 near the beach in Estepona.

Open from March to December, the Terra Mítica theme park is a great outing for families traveling with kids. It is divided into five themed areas: Egypt, Greece, Rome, Iberia, and the Mediterranean Islands. A range of coasters and rides are suitable for a variety of ages – and stomachs! There are also a number of shows, including a pirate attack, dancing, and gladiator fights. hidden