Most people know of the big hitters in Andalucia: Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba, Malaga. But you might not know about some of the smaller towns that hold just as much charm. I recently got the chance to explore a few hidden towns in Andalucia I had never heard of while participating in a Spanish immersion program, and it was fun to see some of the less explored parts of the region.
You can reach most of these towns from nearby train stations, but they don’t have their own stations. They are accessible by bus, but it might be more fun to visit them on an Andalusia road trip.
This was the setting for a week of improving my Spanish. Ubeda is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it was easy to see why. During one-on-ones we’d wander through the streets of this quaint village, admire the old city walls and gorgeous churches, and sit at cafes to soak up the atmosphere, all while practicing our Spanish.
As a group, we also learned a little about the local culture and history. We got to visit an underground synagogue, learn about local pottery, and taste different olive oils from the region.
One evening, instead of our normal group activities, we went to the nearby town of Baeza to explore. Baeza is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has lots of well-preserved Renaissance architecture. Aside from admiring the gorgeous buildings and ancient ruins, we also got to see where the famous Spanish poet, Antonio Machado, taught in the early 1900s.
We didn’t get to spend much time here, but it was a pretty town to wander through. It also had an overlook with a fantastic view of the countryside.
On a full day excursion, our group visited the town of Cazorla, where we learned about Santa Maria Church, which was built over a river. I was fascinated! A guide told us about the church and showed us around the ruins. Then she took us underground to the tunnels that the river runs through. It was such an interesting experience.
The town is set in a mountainous area, which made for some gorgeous scenery. I especially liked the old castle ruins up on the hill that looked over the town as we walked around.
Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park
If you like being out in nature, Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park is perfect. On our full day excursion, before we arrived in Cazorla we drove through the mountains and learned about the history of the logging industry in the area. Then we went for a hike through the park, following a trail that provided scenic overlooks and views of the river and waterfalls. It was a fairly easy hike, though there was one section with big steps made of stones and the steps were rather large for me with my short legs! But it was really pretty, and I’m glad I went.
Overall the excursions helped add some variety to the Pueblo Español Spanish immersion program. It gave me the opportunity to practice my Spanish in other settings and listen to the local accents. I was also happy to explore some of the smaller hidden towns in Andalucia and get a better feel for the region.
Pueblo Español provided me with a complimentary immersion program, but all opinions are my own.
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