A Guide to the Best Attractions in Jaen, Southern Spain: the perfect Jaen Itinerary Overshadowed by the splendor of nearby Úbeda and Baeza, Jaén is …
Dive Into The Capital Of Olive Oil And Gorgeous Architectural Heritage
Overlooked by tourists, the province of Jaen is packed full of history, nature, and good food. Home to nearly one-sixth of the world’s supply of olive oil, these manicured little trees are everywhere.
Castles appear on nearly every hilltop to remind you that Jaen was once a border zone between the Moors and the Christians. Following the Reconquista, Jaen became a wealthy place, as is evident in the UNESCO towns of Úbeda and Baeza.
Jaen is home to Spain’s largest protected area, the Parque Natural Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas, moving away from the towns and cities. Here you will discover rugged mountains and lush green valleys ideally suited to nature lovers.
Most Famous Attractions in Jaen
If you know where to look, Jaen is a magical land full of history and natural beauty.
Whether it is the Renaissance towns of Ubeda and Baeza or its unspoiled natural parks, Jaen is a little secret not yet on the tourist map. Below are our top six things to do while visiting Jaen:
- Jaen – Somewhat overshadowed by Ubeda and Baeza’s beauty, Jaen has a historic center with a grandiose cathedral.
- Ubeda – Statuesque Renaissance buildings grace just about every street in Ubeda’s World Heritage-listed old town.
- Parque Natural Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas – The Parque Natural Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas is a fantastic protected area of jagged mountains, lush valleys, and scenic villages.
- Cazorla – Cazorla is a lively foothills town overlooked by castles perched atop mountains.
- Baeza – A Renaissance gem full of stately buildings and cobbled streets.
- Alcala la Real – Home to a fascinating castle and fortified Medieval town Alcala la Real is a glimpse back in history.
Best Accommodation in Jaen
Where you decide to stay in Jaen can come down to the way you are traveling. The closest airport is Granada, and there are only four trains per day from the capital. What this means is that you will either be traveling around by bus or will have a car. Our two choices of a place to stay would be the town of Ubeda or a hotel in the national park.
Hostels are always a big favorite with backpackers and people who are just looking for a bed for the night, but with Jaen seemingly a forgotten province, they are slightly thin on the ground. With this in mind, you may be better off staying in a family-run pension. – Check hostels here
Ubeda has plenty of mid-range hotels to choose from, with many located in historic buildings. More like a boutique hotel that would cost well over 100€ per night in Malaga, Granada or Seville, the Alvaro de Torres Boutique Hotel (Ubeda) is housed in a 17th-century building and offers modern rooms starting at just 25€ per night. – Check hotels here
For families, we recommend staying at the Parador de Cazorla *** in the heart of the Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas Nature Reserve.
Resembling a grand Andalusian country estate, the Parador de Cazorla*** offers families the chance to return to nature while not giving up modern amenities. Surrounded by ancient forests, streams, and waterfalls, the Parador de Cazorla is the perfect base for your Jaen vacation. Prices at the Parador start from around 75€ per night. – Check reviews here
How to get to Jaen
The closest airport to Jaen is Federico Garcia Lorca Airport (GRX) in Granada, 65 kilometers away. Due to a low number of flight options to Granada you are better off flying into Málaga–Costa del Sol Airport(AGP) (136.4 km) – Check flights here
With Jaen not being connected to Spain’s high-speed rail network and very few services a day, traveling by train is not a good option when visiting Jaen. – Check trains here
If you do not have a car, traveling around Jaen by bus is your best option. The bus service in Jaen is excellent and will allow you to move quickly from one town to another. – Check schedules here
If there ever happened a place in Spain where you wished you had a car, it would be Jaen. The Sierra de Cazorla is a beautiful place to explore, and you will need a car to see it all. – Check car rentals here
Jaen Travel Guide: Booking Resources
In order to make travel planning as easy as possible, we gathered below a selection of our favorite companies. We love them for being reliable and offering the best deals in Southern Spain. All of the recommended companies have top-notch customer service and have been tested by us first-hand.
- Skycanner – Find the best flight deals to Southern Spain
- Omio – THE company to book train or bus tickets online. It’s also a great way to check schedules and stay flexible.
- Discover Cars – Has the best-discounted rates on car rentals in Andalucia
- GetYourGuide – Find the best tours in Southern Spain. They offer great value and we found their prices to be some of the most competitive ones in the market.
- Booking.com – To book the perfect hotel for your Southern Spain trip. We particularly love their review section.
- VRBO – From stunning beach-front villas or gorgeous city appartments, Homeaway has the best offers when it comes to vacation rentals.
- Airbnb– Explore Andalucia like a local and stay with local homeowners. It’s a great way to connect.
- Hostelworld – If you travel to Spain on a budget, Hostelworld has the largest selection of hostels in Andalucia.
- Adrenaline Hunter – If you are an adventurous kind of traveller, Adrenaline Hunter will be your favorite resource ever. From kitesurfing to kayaking, it’s basically heaven for outdoor lovers.
- SafetyWing – Never travel without travel insurance. A stupid accident can quickly turn into a financial nightmare. With SafetyWing you can travel worry-free.
- Transferwise – Withdraw money without hidden fees and avoid exchange charges + get a free Mastercard debit card to spend money abroad
When to go to Jaen
With its landlocked location, Jaen has a very predictable climate of scorching summers and chilly winters. This means that the best time to visit Jaen is from March to June and from mid-September until November.
The wettest month of the year in December and the coldest January, which has an average daily temperature of 5.1°C (41.2°F). Try to avoid visiting Jaen in July when the average daily temperature is blistering 33.7°C (92.7°F).
What to eat in Jaen
Olive oil is the star in Jaen, along with many fresh vegetables and fruits and nuts.
Also, because of Moorish influences, the Christians that fought against the Muslims held Jaen’s cuisine in high regard. Below you will find our list of the top five things you must eat while visiting Jaen.
- Migas – Also eaten in other parts of Spain, Migas are fried breadcrumbs with a combination of peppers, garlic, tomatoes, and sausage.
- Ochios – Ochíos are a local bread roll made with anise and olive oil that are glazed with orange, salt, and paprika. You will almost always find Ochíos sliced in half and eaten as a meat or cheese sandwich.
- Lomo de orza – Lomo de orza is a thinly sliced pork loin confit. Before the invention of refrigeration, people would cook pork and then store it in clay pots covered with olive oil. Today is Lomo de orza is often eaten as a tapa.
- Andrajos – Every region of Spain has some poor man’s stew made from whatever ingredients are at hand. Often called Puchero, the Jaen version in Ubeda is a vegetable-based dish with pasta, and whatever meat or fish was available.
- Marinated olives – No trip to Jaen would be complete without sampling the region’s famous olives. Jaen produces a third of all the olives grown in Spain, and they are all around you.
- Pipirrana – Typically consumed during summer, Pipirrana is a salad made from onion, tomato, green pepper, olive oil, and tuna.
What to do in Jaen for Outdoor lovers?
Boasting the largest number of natural parks and protected land in Spain, the province of Jaen offers outdoor enthusiasts a plethora of exciting things to see and do. Except for the western area of Jaen, where the Rio Guadalquivir meanders through a wide valley, Jaen is surrounded by mountains. Hiking, cycling, mountain biking, climbing and canyoning are all popular activities, while bird watching and wildlife treks are still in their infancy.
- Canyoning – Go canyoning on the upper reaches of the Rio Guadalquivir and jump off cliffs into crystal clear pools as you make your way down the canyon.
- Go in search of the Iberian lynx – Get back to nature while exploring the Sierra de Andújar in search of the endangered Iberian lynx. You will come across red deer wild boar and many other creatures of the forest along the way.
- Horse riding in the Cazorla Nature Park – Send an enjoyable morning riding along the paths and forest trails surrounded by nature. No experience is required, and the tour operator supplies all equipment.
- Cycling up Pandera mountain – Now considered an obligatory part of the Tour of Spain bike race, the 3-kilometer climb ends at the top of Mount Pandera (1.872 m. / 6141 ft.), where you are rewarded with spectacular views.
- Fishing the Rio Guadalquivir – The Rio Guadalquivir starts in the mountains of Jaen and is the lifeblood of Andalucia, passing through Cordoba and Seville before emptying into the Gulf of Cadiz. In the upper reaches, anglers have the opportunity to fly fish for trout. Where the river has been dammed to create reservoirs, large carp can be found.
What to do in the surroundings of Jaen?
Because Jaen has a distinct lack of tourists, you will feel as though you are the first person to unlock its many secrets. From UNESCO World Heritage city’s too spectacular areas of natural beauty, Jaen has everything you need for that perfect Andalucian vacation.
Fortaleza de la Mota
Constructed between the 12th and 14th centuries, the Fortaleza de la Mota is one of the best examples of a medieval defensive building.
Overlooking the town of Alcala la Real, admission includes a free English audio guide about the history of the castle.
Ubeda & Baeza
Given the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, Ubeda is famous for its beautiful Renaissance architecture that includes the Vázquez de Molina Palace. Combine your visit with a stop in Baeza and see how two noble Spanish families prospered in the XVI century thanks to their close connections with royalty. – Check tours here
Banos de la Encina
Located 53 kilometers from Jaen city, the Banos de la Encina is an impressive fortress that dates back to the 10th century. On the Route of the Nasrids, the castle is part of a historical look into the Kingdom of Granada.
Day trip to Cordoba
Home of one of the greatest treasures in all of Spain, the multi-arched Mezquita is reason enough to visit Cordoba for the day. Regarded as one of the Islamic world’s most magnificent creations, the Mezquita is a testament to how cultured Cordoba was more than a millennia ago. – Book tours in Cordoba here
Day trip to Granada
When any international dignitary visits Spain, the number one attraction they want to see is the Alhambra in Granada. While visiting the Alhambra, be sure to and check out the old Arabic quarter of the city called Albaicin. – Book tours in Granada here