5 Hidden Gems of Andalusia You Didn’t Know About

Do you want to get off Andalusia’s beaten track? Let us help you and take you on a tour through magical and unforgettable spots in the region. From natural beauties like caves or natural areas to man-built works of art like rock dwellings or bridges, you can discover a wealth of hidden highlights in Andalusia. No wonder it has always attracted foreign writers, artists, and travelers with its magnificent views and deeply cultural cities. There are so many unspoiled places in the region waiting for you to discover. Read on to discover the top 5 hidden gems of Andalusia you didn’t know about.

1. Hidden Gems of Andalusia: Río Tinto

Río Tinto is a river in the southwest of Spain that rises in the Sierra Morena mountains of Andalusia. The main unusual feature of the Tinto River is the red colour of its water. It is an intriguing and bizarre scenery that never fails to surprise visitors.

Where does its colour come from?

Its peculiar red and orange colour is a result of mining. As a consequence, acid mine drainage from the mines leaked to the river causing heavy metal concentration. Even though Río Tinto is an uncommon and beautiful sight to see, we highly advise you not to swim in it. It might be dangerous due to its high levels of iron and heavy metals.

You can observe the unique colours of the river for an approximate length of 50 kilometres. Seeing how the water traces out unusual landscapes as it flows is a priceless experience. Do not miss it!

5 Hidden Gems of Andalusia

2. Setenil de Bodegas, Cádiz

Setenil de las Bodegas is a Spanish municipality in Andalusia in the Cadiz mountainous area. The fascinating fact about this beautiful place is that its dwellings are built into the rocks themselves. In most of the cases, the houses were built into the cliffs in a way that the rocky surface makes up the ceiling and the back wall of the home.

However, Setenil is not just about taking photos of the dwellings! Wander along the lovely river promenades and old Roman bridges or sit down at one of the restaurants underneath the rocks and delight yourself with the local cuisine.

A little bit of history

The name of the town comes from Latin: septem nihil“seven times no”. It refers to the fact that Catholics were only able to conquer the territory of Setenil on the seventh attempt from the Moors. “Bodegas” is a reference to its once-thriving wineries. The full name “Setenil de las Bodegas” dates to the 15th century. At that time, the village was known for its successful olive, almond and wine trade. Visiting Setenil de Bodegas is a wonderful and unique experience that will give you a taste of something different that Andalusia has to offer.

5 Hidden Gems of Andalusia

3. Hidden Gems of Andalusia: Arrecife de las Sirenas

Located in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park in Almeria, Arrecife de las Sirenas is the most famous and iconic natural formation of jagged volcanic reef.  You absolutely cannot miss seeing this outcrop of rocks sticking up out of the beautiful turquoise water. The view is so impressive from here that a lot of couples come to this place to do their wedding photography. So just don’t be surprised to find a bride beautifully dressed on the shore.

Where does the name of the spot come from?

The name Arrecife de las Sirenas (Reef of the Mermaids) comes from the fact that monk seals used to inhabit this area and sailors confused the silhouette of these animals with mermaids. Legend or reality? I guess we will never get to know…

Unfortunately, you cannot see monk seals anymore but the marine life is pretty diverse here. Therefore, it is a wonderful spot for snorkeling or scuba diving.

5 Hidden Gems of Andalusia

4. Río Chillar

Río Chillar is mesmerizing river meandering through Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Nature Reserves. If you love nature and are a keen walker, this trek is unmissable. It will exceed all of your expectations by far!

Have you ever dreamed about a wet and wild hiking trail?

Well, look no further, because this is the one! There are several hiking routes around Malaga and one of the most popular is definitely the Río Chillar river walk in the Cahorros Natural Park, near the beautiful city of Nerja. The river zigzags through gorges and you will be able to bathe in natural created pools and encounter charming waterfalls. The pool at the end of the trek is a perfect place to relax, swim and have a little massage under a tiny waterfall.

Good to know

Since most parts of the route take you straight into the river, it is very important to wear good, sporty footwear. (Don’t come in your best shoes since they will get wet and dirty!) The best choice is probably sports sneakers.
We also advise putting all your valuable items, like phone, money, camera, in a water-repellent bag. Since the tour takes approximately 6 to 7 hours, we recommend starting the walk in the morning. Make sure to always check the official website of the river walk (link at the end of the article) before planning your trip. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, currently, excursion along the river and bathing in its pools is prohibited.

Check the official website of Río Chillar here:

Río Chillar River Walk

5. Island of Santi Petri, Cádiz

The Island of Sancti Petri is a small barren island in the province of Cádiz. This tiny island has a certain charm and it allows beautiful views of the nearby coast. In the past, it was united to the island of Cádiz by a road. Unfortunately that no longer exists due to erosion from the sea, however, you can still see traces of it today.

One of the hidden gems of Andalusia no one knows about

Legend has it that the island was once home to the famous Temple of Hercules. Nowadays you can find a castle and the Sancti Petri Lighthouse on the island. The lighthouse was built in the 18th century by the Christians to defend the coast from the constant pirate attacks which were very common in those days. Come here and enjoy the beautiful sunset and romantic atmosphere of the island!

Do you want to discover Malaga? We recommend 11 things you must see when visiting this amazing city, click here for the article!