Caves of Andalusia. Journey to the underground world

Enter the underground world of Andalusia to discover the 7 grottoes you can't miss.

Caves of Andalusia. Journey to the underground world

Caves of Andalusia. Journey to the underground world 150 150 Andalucia360

Are you ready to discover the best caves in Andalusia?

We are going to take a tour of the most impressive Andalusian caves. Most of them are equipped for visits, although we also include some that require the help of adventure and caving professionals. Welcome to the underground world of Andalusia.

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Spectacular lake of the Gruta de las Maravillas in Aracena, Huelva (José María D. Barba. Flickr. CC BY-ND).

The caves of Andalusia

Andalusia is a mountainous territory, especially the eastern part. The mountain ranges are arranged from east to west, conditioning the course of the rivers and the climate.

The collision of the Eurasian and African plates caused the uplift of a large part of the Andalusian mountain ranges. This process, called the Alpine Orogeny, raised the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the highest on the Iberian Peninsula.

The main Andalusian caves are found in the sedimentary systems prior to the Alpine Orogeny, the stage of formation of today’s main mountains (Himalayas, Alps, Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada, etc.). The main Andalusian caves are found in the sedimentary systems prior to the Alpine Orogeny, the stage of formation of today’s main mountains (Himalayas, Alps, Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada, etc.).


Altimetry of Andalusia. The caves are concentrated in the mountainous areas (Juan Pedro Ruiz Castellano. Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0).

If you are looking for visitable caves in Andalusia continue reading👇

Geoda de Pulpí (Almería)

The Pulpí Geode is the largest in Europeand the second largest in the world after Naica (Mexico). It was formed about 6 million years ago, but was discovered two decades ago. Its entrance was then sealed with rubble to prevent looting. It is perhaps the most unique of them all and since July 2019 it is possible to visit it.


One of the greatest geological finds on the planet, The giant geode of Pilar de Jaravía, Almería (©Ayuntamiento de Pulpí).

The discovery of the geode of Pilar de Jaravía

It is located in Pilar de Jaravía, a district of Pulpí (Almería). Mining proliferated in this area in the mid-19th century. Silver and minerals with a high iron content, such as galena, were extracted. In fact, the discovery of the geode is associated with the exploration of the “Mina Rica”.

“In 1999 a team from this magazine was at the Rica Mine collecting samples… One of the members moved a wooden ladder to gain access to what appeared to be a shallow pit, and observed a large patch of gypsum, with a small cavity and large gypsum crystals externally broken by excavation. Some rock crusts were removed to check the continuity of the hollow, which indeed extended as far as the eye could see. It was necessary to climb up to the mouth of the cavity and, with great difficulty, to enter between the enormous points of the crystals that prevented the entrance to the geode”. Fernando Palero Fernández Field Notebook

For some years the visit has been conducted virtually. This space is so small and delicate that it is not possible to introduce largegroups inside.

A geode is a rock cavity lined with crystallised minerals. The formation of gypsum crystals up to 2 metres long was the result of the crystallisation of saline waters. Another striking feature is the extraordinary transparency of the crystals, which are sometimes almost completely translucent. This is why it earned the name “Ice House”.

Entering a cave is always an exciting adventure, but if you also come across this marvel of nature, it can be an unforgettable experience.

The entrance fee varies between 22 € for adults and 10 € for children. Special prices for large families, students, seniors, people with disabilities and residents of Pulpí.

Gruta de las Maravillas. Aracena (Huelva)

Its name is not sensationalist at all. This Huelva cave is one of the wonders of the underground world. As we enter, we are transported to a place of fantasy, where the whims of nature remind us of a science fiction film.

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Walkway next to the lake of the Gruta de las Maravillas in Aracena, Huelva (José María D. Barba. Flickr. CC BY-ND).

The origin of its discovery is still unknown. Popular tradition has it that in the 19th century a shepherd found it chasing a stray lamb. However, documents have recently come to light from a mining company that prospected the cave. In 1914 it was opened to the public, being the first cave in Spain that could be visited.

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Going down to the bowels of the earth in Huelva, Gruta de las Maravillas (José María D. Barba. Flickr. CC BY-ND).

Most of the speleothems can be seen, such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns, gours, casts, pisoliths, curtains, and even eccentrics. The latter are a type of stalactites that grow inclined due to the presence of permanent air currents. The abundant presence of calm and crystalline wateris especially important in the second level.

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Unusual places in the Gruta de las Maravillas in Aracena, Huelva (José María D. Barba. Flickr. CC BY-ND).

Films like “Journey to the centre of the Earth” (Henry Levin, 1959) or Yerma (Pilar Távora, 1999) were shot here. Its directors and producers came here attracted by the uniqueness of its formations, the large spaces and ease of access.

The cave has about 2 km of circular route. It is perfectly conditioned for its visit, which is carried out in guided groups that are formed at the ticket office. The Grotto of Wonders has 3 levels of overlapping galleries.

The travel time is about 45 minutes. In 2014 it was 100 years since its opening, when previously closed spaces were refurbished and opened to the public.

Prices and opening times for the Grotto of Wonders

Mornings: 10:00 to 13:30. Afternoons: 15:00 to 18:00

To buy the ticket to the Grotta de las Maravillas follow this link

Price. Varies from €10 for adults to €7.50 for children, over 65s and people with disabilities.

Cuevas de Nerja (Málaga)

It is the most famous cave in Andalusia, the most searched for on the internet and the most visited in this community. Its success is due to the grandeur of its rooms and its geological formations. It also has a high archaeological value, as it was inhabited some 24,000 years ago.

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Impossible columns in the Cave of Nerja, Málaga (Steven Vacher. Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

In 1959 five young men entered the caveat the foot of the Sierra de Almijara in search of bats. On their adventure they entered through a narrow passageway that led them into a hitherto unknown place. Only 1 year later the Cueva de Nerja was conditioned and opened to the public. The first International Festival of music and dance was held, which has been held every summer since then.

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Stalactite ceilings in the Nerja Cave, Málaga (Steven Vacher. Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The earliest inhabitants lived by hunting, fishing and gathering. The oldest cave paintings, located in the less accessible parts of the cave, date back to this time. To get there, they had a fixed lighting system with torches. Although the rock art in the Nerja cave is varied, the “room of the pisciforms” is the most original element. By around 5000 BC, humans had mastered agriculture and animal husbandry. The cave was then used for living and burial.

The persistence of the water over time has shaped a real showcase of formations. The cave began to form about 5 million years ago. In the first phase, the galleries were flooded, but as the Sierra de Almijara rose, the water level dropped. This is when the speleothems began to form with greater intensity.

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Stalactite ceilings in the Nerja Cave, Málaga (Min Zhou. Flickr. CC BY 2.0).

Prices and opening times of the Nerja Cave

The Nerja Cave is open from Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 16:30 (last entrance at 15:30). It has extended opening hours in summer and Easter and only closes on 1 January and 15 May (data updated in October 2020).

Tickets are available from €12 and can be purchased here.

Cueva del Gato. Benaoján-Montejaque (Málaga)

The Hundidero-Gato complex (sinkhole and upwelling respectively), is not just a gigantic cave. Before we start we have to explain that it is not suitable for everyone. The entire route is more than 4.5 km underground, plus the approach to Hundidero. It takes about 6:30 hours to complete. To enter here you need to have good physical stamina and a very adventurous spirit. On its route there are several swimming areas, some abseiling, handrails in vertical areas, steps with mud up to your knees and many more surprises.

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Moving forward in the Cueva del Gato, Malaga (Roberto Lumbreras. Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0).

To visit it is necessary to hire adventure professionals who know well all its ins and outs. It may not be the cave with the greatest number and beauty of speleothems (as the different underground formations are called), but it is the greatest adventure you can go on in the caves of Andalusia.

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Los Caballeros Dam in the vicinity of the Hundidero-Gato crossing (© Endesa Foundation Archive).

All this is wrapped in a scenario that could be post-apocalyptic. Next to Hundidero, the Pantano de los Caballeros was planned in 1917. It was a pharaonic project that was technically innovative for its time. This reservoir never came into operation, as the water seeped into the subsoil. They began to try to plug the cavities through which the water seeped into the cave. Rails were built for wagons, suspension bridges were built to overcome the watery sections and part of the route was electrified. All this infrastructure remains destroyed inside. Occasionally, when swimming in the cold waters of the cave, a foot will brush against a steel cable in the depths of the cave and make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.

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Remains of the infrastructure abandoned and washed away by the floodwaters inside the Cueva del Gato (Roberto Lumbreras. Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0).

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Bridges for the access of the workers from the sinkhole of Hundidero (© Endesa Foundation Archive).

Cueva de los Murciélagos. Zuheros (Córdoba)

We now move to the Sierra Subbética Natural Park, to the Cordoba village of Zuheros. There you will find the Cueva de los Murciélagos, a fantastic cave that can be visited in Andalusiaand not as modified for visits as the ones in Nerja or Aracena. Its name comes from the important colony of these animals that inhabited it in the 1950s.


Formations in the Cueva de los Murcielagos in Zuheros (© Turismo Andaluz S.A.

As is often the case, the value of the cave is not only geological, but also patrimonial. In the Cueva de los Murciélagos, remains from the Middle Palaeolithic and Neolithic periods have been found. Cave paintings and engravings of deer, goats and other animals decorate the walls, some dating back 18,000 years.

The water filtered through the limestone rock carries part of the calcium which, in contact with the air, solidifies. Thus, drop by drop, the spectacular stalactites up to 4 metres high were formed.


Narrow stalagmite in the Cueva de los Murciélagos in Zuheros, Cordoba (© Turismo Andaluz S.A.

To visit the Cueva de los Murciélagos is not only to see the cave, but also to get to know one of the most beautiful towns in Andalusia. Zuheros is located at the foot of the mountains, its streets are winding and its houses are whitewashed. Among its attractions are the fantastic cheese, the castle, the greenway and the Risco canyon, so we will have to dedicate another post just to this village.

Bat Cave prices and opening times

On weekdays you have to book a visit and on weekends there are several passes, but booking is recommended. All the information about the opening times can be found on the official website. Tickets range from €7.50 for individuals to €6.00 per adult in a group.

Cueva del Tesoro and Cueva del Agua. Sorbas (Almería)

The Karst in Yesos de Sorbas in Almeria is a special place. It is a cave system excavated by water erosion in gypsum. The complex has about 280 caves with different sizes, formations and more than 1000 accesses. There are so many caves that we didn’t know which one to choose. That’s why we will tell you about the two that we consider the most beautiful.

Treasure Cave

The difficulty of this cave is somewhat higher than the Water cave. In addition to the basic equipment, it is necessary to wear a harness and carry a rope to do some abseiling. Descending its gypsum shafts with little light is very exciting. It has up to eight accesses or water entry zones from the surface.


Small gypsum geode in the Cueva del Tesoro de Sorbas, Almería (@Aventura Máxima).

Water Cave

Its main attraction is the water. Almost all year round there is water in its narrow galleries. In fact, in some areas you even have to swim. It is ideal to wear a wetsuit, because the visit can extend up to two kilometres.


Diaclasa de la cueva del Agua in Sorbas, Almería (@Aventura Máxima).

In both caves you can walk through galleries with shiny walls of translucent crystals. When you touch the plaster you can feel the softness of the material. The gypsum stratum dates back to 6 million years ago when the sea evaporates, the salts settle to the bottom and crystallise.


Gatera de la cueva del Agua in Sorbas, Almería (@Aventura Máxima).

The caves of Sorbas are not conditioned for visits. Caving techniques are used to visit them. You have to crawl on all fours, slide between rocks and crawl through mud and water. To visit them it is necessary to contract a visit with an adventure company that will provide you with the technical material and guide you. They are also caves that can be visited with children, as the routes can be adapted according to the group size.

Abstain those who are not familiar with narrow spaces! 

Cueva de las Ventanas. Píñar (Granada)

If you are looking for caves in Granada to visit with the family this is a great option. The geological formation of this place is impressive, but the real value is the archaeological remains found inside. It is one of the most important prehistoric caves in Granada which has been conditioned and its heritage enhanced.

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Upper level of Cueva de las Ventanas, Granada (© Turismo Andaluz S.A.

Several spaces have been reconstructedwith scenes of food processing, animal butchering, skin tanning or burial scenes. These reproductions of human figures simulate the Neolithic cave habitat. Neanderthal remains were also found inside the cave, but in smaller numbers.

The cave of Las Ventanas has a spectacular room fitted out as an auditorium. It’s a fantastic place with great sound. It’s not usually open to visitors, but the views from the viewing platform are very impressive.

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Reconstruction of the settlement in the Cueva de las Ventanas, Granada (© Turismo Andaluz S.A.

About its visit, it is necessary to book it in advance. A tourist train departs from the village of Píñar and takes visitors up to almost the entrance of the cave. Once there, a guided tour that lasts approximately one hourbegins.

It should be noted that the tour is accessible for people with reduced mobility. Most of it is wheelchair accessible and has audioguides specially designed for people with visual impairment.

Here you have more plans in Granada to complement your visit.

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Cueva de las Ventanas in Píñar, Granada (© Turismo Andaluz S.A.

Cueva del Tesoro. Rincón de la Victoria (Málaga)

There are many interesting things to see and learn about in this cave. It may not be as big and famous as others we have seen, but it is one of the few caves of marine origin known in the world. In fact, so far only 3 caves of these characteristics are known in the world, which makes it a unique cave in Europe. Its formation can be briefly summarised in two steps: first, the erosion of the sea currents and waves on a sedimentary terrain. Then, after emerging from the depths, freshwater seepage created the karst formations that all visitors marvel at.

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Illuminated lake of the cave of El Tesoro in Rincón de la Victoria, Málaga (© Ayuntamiento de Rincón de la Victoria).

The use of the cave by humans dates back to Prehistoric times. Remains of cave paintings and a variety of artefacts have been found: arrowheads, axes, knives, pottery, etc. Later Phoenicians and Andalusians also made use of this cave, as remains from these periods have been found inside. A popular legend has it that it houses a treasure from the 12th century. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, many people went in search of it, even using explosives to open new galleries. In the 20th century, its owner, Manuel Laza, studied the cave for 40 years and made some valuable archaeological discoveries. Although no treasure has been found, during periods of war it was common to hide small treasures for fear of looting. Several medieval treasures have been found in Andalusia (Bentarique in Almería, Píñar in Granada, Marroquíes Bajos in Jaén, etc.).

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Winding galleries eroded by the action of the sea in the Cueva del Tesoro, Málaga (© Ayuntamiento de Rincón de la Victoria).

Among part of the local population there was a belief that magical and paranormal events took place in this place. One 18th century scholar claimed that the Roman Marcus Crassus hid here in 86 BC. The truth is that all this is often part of the mythification, sometimes self-serving, of places as special as the cave of El Tesoro.

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The galleries are so wide that you can walk through them at different levels. Cueva del Tesoro, Málaga (© Ayuntamiento de Rincón de la Victoria).

Prices and opening hours of the Cueva del Tesoro

The Cueva del Tesoro is open daily from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 15:00 to 17:00). It has extended opening hours in summer and is only closed on 24, 25, 31 December and 1 and 6 January (data updated in October 2020).

Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office. Adult tickets cost €4.65 and there are reduced price tickets for children and senior citizens.


Guided Tour in Andalusia


As always we leave you a map, in this case of the visitable caves of Andalusia that we have told you about in this post.

We think these are the most important caves in Andalusia
and accessible to travellers with no knowledge of caving.
Would you add any more places? Let us know in the comments.


Guided tours in Granada

Guided tours in Malaga

Guided tours in Seville

Guided tours in Cordoba

Y para no perderte nuestras experiencias 360