Ubeda: The gem of Jaén province, Ubeda contains palaces, churches, mansions, and Plaza Vázquez de Molina, the most architecturally harmonious square in Andalusia. Its Moorish legacy lives on its esparto (grass) weaving and pottery making, but the town mainly evokes 16th-century Spain and the Renaissance. Ubeda is dramatically built over an escarpment overlooking the valley.
Arcos de la Frontera: The term frontera (frontier) dates from when this town was the boundary between the Muslim territories and the encroaching Catholic lands. Hemmed in on three sides by the Guadalete River, Arcos is one of the most beautiful of the Pueblos Blancos (interior Andalusia's white towns or villages). This seemingly impregnable site was captured by King Alfonso X in 1250. A hair-raising terrace opens onto a valley of neatly cultivated green fields and flowering orchards. Except for the city of Ronda, Arcos has the best hotels in this area.
Mijas: This Pueblo Blanco is the most popular day trip from the Costa del Sol. Though usually mobbed, Mijas still retains its original charm, with whitewashed houses perched panoramically on the side of a mountain. On clear days, views of the Mediterranean and across the sea to the foreboding Rif Mountains of Morocco are stunning.
Jerez de la Frontera: Received enthusiastically by 16th-century English, Scottish, and Irish shippers, Andalusia's distinctive sherry is a prime attraction of Andalusia. Tour and taste this fortified wine in the more than 100 wineries, or bodegas, with such famous names as Sandeman, González Byass, and Harvey. Since Jerez is the center for the Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre, a rival to Vienna's renowned Spanish Riding School, "dancing horses" are Jerez's other major attraction.
Nerja: East of Málaga at the mouth of the Río Chillar, this town of whitewashed buildings opens onto the "Balcony of Europe," a marble-paved projection above a headland jutting into the sea. On a sloping site beneath a wall of jagged coastal mountains, the town with sandy beaches and fishing boats bobbing at anchor is the perfect antidote to crowded Torremolinos and Marbella.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.