What to buy in Andalucia
When I travel I cannot resist a bit of shopping. I’m in a holiday mood, that money just sits a little bit looser. And I like nice things to remind me of my trip. I even managed to find something in Moldova. But there is no need to browse touristy souvenir shops or go crazy at multinational High Street stores. And with that, here comes a handy little guide on what to buy in Andalucia.
So what can you buy in Andalucia that is local, useful and beautiful?
Souvenirs from Andalucia that stand the test of time – or will get eaten
Here are some souvenirs that I brought back. If you see what you like, I have included addresses or places where you can buy in Andalucia and online.
Disclosure: This trip was entirely self funded. I receive no monetary or non-monetary rewards for writing this unless you click on one of my affiliate links, marked with an asterisk (*). I will only review and recommend places that I have stayed in myself and you can trust me for the whole, unbiased truth. More details on my affiliate link policy are here. For the simple process of linking to other businesses, and just to be on the safe side, I proclaim this unpaid advertising without instruction
Food and Drink
Olive oil is produces in Andalucia from locally grown olives, especially in Jaen and Cordoba provinces. Jaen province has most olive trees, and produces about 20% of all olive oil worldwide. You’ll see signs saying “Venta de Aceite” along the road where oil mills sell their output directly to the public. And in every restaurant there will be a decent bottle of olive oil on the table, encouraging you to drizzle it on every dish. Bring a bottle or two home for a taste of sunny Spain. Ideally, you can try it first at one of the “oleoturismo”. Therese are designated attractions dedicated to teach you about oil. Spanish Sabores has a really good article on what to look out for in olive oil, but in short: buy extra virgin, preferably organic.
Where to buy Olive Oil in Andalucia
Follow your taste buds and try if you can. In March, there was very little going on in the oil mills, so trying wasn’t always possible. We got a few bottles of their famous “Flor de Aceite” along with an informal tour at Nunez de Parado. The tour was short and went like “I unlock everything and you look around then you can buy some oil in the office if you wish”. Nunez de Prado is a well-known oil mill in Baena, a region that has its own Denomination of Origin. All of Nunez de Prado oil is organic, and you can actually buy on Amazon*, too.
We also visited Oleicola San Francisco just outside Baeza. A large producer and self confessed “tourist mill”, their owner didn’t have too much going on in March, either, and happily showed us around. They are really geared up for large number of tourists, with a pretty shop, tasting rooms and a production area that is free to visit, but they do lots of different tours and activities, too, so this would be one to visit if you are interested in how the olive is harvested and processed. Then sit down with ten different varieties of the oil and taste your way through it.
No time to go out to the oil mills? Well, on the main Plaza de la Constitution is a slick shop with multilingual personnel dedicated to olive oil called La Casa del Aceite. They also have shops in Ubeda and Madrid and sell online, too. Olive oil makes a great-for-everyone gift to buy in Andalucia, and there are so many different producers to try.
We don’t drink much alcohol and a dry sherry is our least favourite drink – in England, I always associated it with very old people, and in Germany you rarely get it. But now, being in Spain, I thought don’t knock until you tried, and got a bottle of decent quality dry sherry from Sanlucar. Let’s just say it was an acquired taste. But in Andalucia, everyone drinks it and in local bars, it is at least as popular as beer. We washed our Bajo de Guia seafood feast down with a couple more glasses in Sanlucar and still weren’t convinced. It took a very common, very sweet Bristol Cream Sherry at the Fundador Bodega to convince us – with the help of a handful of ice and a few orange slices.
Where to buy sherry in Andalucia
In Spain, you can buy sherry from the larger producers in any supermarket at incredibly cheap prices. Visits a bodega, and they will always sell you their product as well, at even cheaper prices. Perhaps like in Scotland with Whisky, they have to add less tax so they can give you “factory prices”? We got two small bottles from small Sanlucar Bodegas at the source, and large brands like Harvey’s, Tio Pepe or Sandemans are available internationally.
By the way, the choice after security for both olive oil and sherry is unimpressive at Malaga Airport – better by at the source or in a specialist shop, or note down what you like and buy it online later.
Small things to buy in Andalucia
If you’ve read my Shopping in Florence or How to find a cruelty-free Scent posts, you know I love a good scent. And what glowed at me in sunny yellow, buying flu medicine at the pharmacy one night? A classic Cologne smelling just like the citrus-laden air outside. Forget any perfume that tourist shops want to sell you in Seville, forget the department store “designer” perfume, for a simple fresh Cologne, the Alvartes Gomez “Aqua de Colonia Concentrada” is great and one of the cheapest I’ve come across. If it’s good enough for Liberty of London… where it is sold at an exponentially higher price. You can get some of their products on Amazon*, but honestly… it seems much, much more expensive outside Spain. So this is one you should definitely buy in Andalucia.
Let’s stay small, let’s stay cheap: these straw shoppers seemed all the rage last year and I finally got my hands on a very cheap one… in a 1EURO store. It cost a little more but there is plenty of choice in aforementioned stores or local markets if you are willing to prepare with ten EURO or so.
I’d been looking for a nice oils lamp for a while, too. The first time around, in the 1990’s, mine a lot but then it disappeared in a removal box. I am sure I will find it again one day, but for the time being, I found this beauty in traditional red clay and Andalucian green glaze in the potters quarter in Ubeda. The little bottle is olive oil, by the way – often given out as a gift at the end of a meal in Jaen province.
Another pottery type Andalucia is famous for are large multi-coloured plates and bowls that usually adorn the walls. Prices can vary wildly, and go into hundreds of EUROs.
This “Coral shape” glaze one is now one of our two fruit bowls. It cost 24 EURO bought directly from the studio.
Where to buy ceramics in Andalucia
There is no shortage of pottery in souvenir stores but these may be factory made – or not made in Spain at all. I recommend buying from the artisan, or in a co-operative shop.
I bought the scent lamp from Alfareria Melchor Tito and the bowl from the Alfareria Pablo Tito (I think – there are a lot of potteries bearing the name Tito), both in Ubeda.
The Triana quarter in Seville is also good looking for small producers, and the small towns of La Rambla and Lucena (near Cordoba) and Jimena and Conil de la Frontera (near Cadiz) have a long ceramics tradition and some producers of ceramics, too.
Postcards and Magazines
The postage prices (1.45EURO) made me somewhat balk at sending out tons of cards, but the postcards on offer weren’t that amazing until we went to Sevilla. Here, along with the usual sights, they sell wonderful vintage graphic and historical photo postcards.
The newsstand is a Mediterranean institution still very much alive. Want to know the latest flamenco fashions? There is a magazine dedicated to it. A lot of great interior style comes from Spain,and numerous glossy magazines showcase them. I like to sew, but some pattern magazines have fiddly ill-fitting patterns. So I bought the Patrones Magazine and was very impressed – they manage to squeeze 120 patterns into a normal size magazine then sell it for around 5 EURO! The styles are clean, and even I understand the Spanish instructions. They don’t mess around with runway stuff and cosmetics and little filler article like Burdastyle does. If you like sewing, definitely look out for it! In my opinions it beats our Central and Western European sewing magazines by a mile!
“One for the budget, and one to blow it” perhaps describes best the two things I brought home. Cordoba is very well-known for its silver workshops and for the tradition of silver filigree work. You can buy inexpensive jewellery like these sweet earrings anywhere in Central Cordoba.
And then there is the item that you will not find outside Spain. I haven’t joined the flamenco dancers, but I was unable to resist this traditional peineta (hair comb) from a small silver shop in the Zoco Municipal in Cordoba. The silver combs are traditionally worn as part of flamenco hair. They can be smallish and metal like this silver one, or large and usually made from acrylic. You wear the larger ones stuck into a chignon under a mantilla, the long lace veil worn on festive occasions. If you cannot make it to Spain, you can find a large acrylic peineta here* and a metal one here*. Both are from Ole Ole Flamenco, a New York based dance shop.
This comb is made from silver but you can fins “fun” cheap ones in very bright colours in the Spanish equivalent for the “dollar store” – or the 1 EURO store, and they cost between 1 and 5 EURO. The “serious big ones” from acrylic ones usually retail in haberdashers and lingerie shops in Spain, of which there are still quite a few in small towns. They cost between 30 and 100EURO.
Clothes and Accessories
I’m about as anti fashion as you can get. I buy new clothes when I need them, or when I fall in love with something useful yet beautiful. Most importantly, my clothing must be good quality and last. You will find branches of Spanish brands like Zara, Mango and Desigual everywhere, but I am not sure about how sustainable they are, so here is something a bit less ubiquitous.
While I have not seen many people in ponchos around, this one caught my eye. I love big scarfs and often wear them in spring and autumn or as an extra layer with an otherwise plain coat. This wool poncho is made from wool from the Sierra de Grazalema.
One thing I noticed was how many people in Spain wear proper hats. It had rubbed off on middle-class tourists, too. I saw many men and women wearing fine felt or straw hats in the classier establishments of our trip. They may have been from Gucci, or real Borsalino hats. I love a nice hat, and I wanted a good quality straw one or one that isn’t black or green, a colour I already have in my hat box. This Spanish made wool felt beauty cost 39 EUROS, it’s crush-proof and water repellent and makes a great travelling hat though it’s a bit warm for summer.
Where to buy hats and accessories in Andalucia
If you find yourself in Sevilla, Jerez or Marbella and you want a good hat, you can check out Antonio Garcia Sombreros. The Sevilla-based outfitter has four outlets: two in Sevilla, and one in Jerez and Marbella. They also have other accessories. Some you probably wouldn’t wear outside Spain / wouldn’t wear at all as some of their articles are to adorn your horse at a fiesta. Everything was really stylish and well made. I went to their Jerez Shop at 35 Calle Larga in the centre, about 5min from the Plaza del Arenal.
My poncho came from Grazalema and is from Spanisch Merino wool. I bought it at Antonio Garcia, too. If you travel the hilltop villages near Ronda and Grazalema in particular, you should be able to buy right a the source. They keep sheep and alpacas in the sierra and wool still plays a role in local trade. If you cannot make it to Spain, Mantas de Grazalema has a large selection to buy online.
I also visited the famous Sombreria J. Rusi in Cordoba. They were a little to old school for me – and appeared to be in the middle of a major stock re-organisation. They only had hats for men. And by saying that, the hats were really masculine, not unisex. Mostly international brands like Stetson or Panama imports, the cheapest starting at around 80EUROs. Their online catalogue shows a bewildering array of styles, so perhaps once the store is restocked, there might be greater choice?
What else would you buy in Andalucia?
I am sure I missed something, but I think I bought enough! It is one of the reasons this trip did not turn out cheap at all, despite cheap flights and mid-range hotels. We travelled on a restricted route for just over a week, and Southern Spain has a great craft tradition and undoubtedly some great shops. If you know a great place to buy well-made local souvenirs, please let me know and I will include it here, with credits of course.