The ideal priority order of flamenco cities should be:
Seville >>> Granada >> Madrid > Barcelona
- Seville : The priority should be Triana pena >> Flamenco Museum > Tablao
- Granada : Go to a good show in Sacromonte caves.
- Madrid or Barcelona : Any good tablao is fine.
- Rest of Andalusia: Cadiz or Jerez or Malaga...all are equal for me.
In general, I feel anywhere in Andalusia is more authentic and earthy because Flamenco was born here.
Ideally watch a Flamenco performance somewhere in Andalusia, southern Spain, where Flamenco originated. That said, Flamenco Tablaos are almost everywhere in Spain, offering authentic Flamenco performances.
Top Flamenco cities in Spain
Seville - The birthplace of Flamenco as we know it
Seville has a diversity of historic and authentic Flamenco venues. The most common option is to watch a scheduled, well organized and promoted Flamenco performance at one of the large Seville tablaos.
For local Flamenco in Seville, be surprised by impromptu performances in the bars of Triana district, near the Puerta de Triana area. If you are adventurous, you can seek out Flamenco performances in local Seville penas - private clubs - run by Flamenco aficionados in the city, dedicated to the preservation of the art and culture of Flamenco. Look out for posters and keep your eyes and ears open for these Flamenco shows at penas, which are not heavily promoted to tourists.
Or visit the Flamenco Museum by the famous Cristina Hoyos, near the Cathedral. It hosts short but intense, daily Flamenco performances in the afternoons.
Madrid - A diversity of authentic Flamenco
Madrid is responsible for the resurgence of Flamenco in recent times, bringing diverse, authentic Flamenco from all across Spain into the spotlight. Madrid Flamenco shows are held at some of the oldest and most intimate Flamenco venues.
Being the capital of Spain, Flamenco performances in Madrid are more focused on cultural awareness and heritage preservation, rather than commercial tourism. This is good because Flamenco in Madrid tends to be more authentic than where it has a commercial target.
Cordoba has fewer Flamenco tablaos, though it boasts of equally passionate and authentic Flamenco.
To be fair, you would not go to Cordoba only for the Flamenco. Due to relatively lower visitors compared to Seville and Madrid, Cordoba has a smaller choice of good Flamenco venues.
The most famous Flamenco event in Cordoba is in the summer (June), the all-nighter White Flamenco Night, when performances take place across the city after sunset when the city gets cooler.
Granada is home to a large population of the Roma (gitanos) tribe, the gypsy custodians of Flamenco tradition in Andalusia.
The mesmerizing Sacromonte Caves and the Arab district of Albayzin, are both probably the best settings in Spain to watch a Flamenco performance. Granada is home to a large population of Roma people, the tribe of gitanos who have carried Flamenco traditions down the centuries.
Flamenco show organizers at Camino del Sacromonte provide door to door transport from your hotel. You can also wander around the hillside to see the Sacromonte cave dwellings, most of which are now converted to Flamenco venues.
Similarly the Albayzin district has authentic Flamenco penas patronized by locals, and popular for Cante Jondo, the dark and serious (and not necessarily popular with tourists) form of Flamenco music.
Flamenco is not typically associated with Barcelona or Catalonia in general. That said, Barcelona does offer some tablaos with good Flamenco performances to cater to the high visitor traffic. Visitors traveling south to Seville or other parts of Andalusia are better off saving their Flamenco experience for that part of their trip.
Smaller cities like Cadiz, Jerez, and Malaga offer a more authentic, small scale, flamenco experience. It is common for smaller cities in Andalusia to have many penas or private clubs.
If you happen to travel to these smaller southern cities, opt to watch flamenco in a Flamenco pena rather than in a tablao.
Flamenco in Spanish small towns
Flamenco in Cadiz
Visit the old quarter in the Plaza de Espana area of Cadiz, for local flamenco performances accompanied by the region’s cuisine. La Cava is a popular venue, so is Peña Flamenca de Enrique el Mellizo.
Flamenco in Jerez
Settle down with the local sherry and watch exquisite Flamenco - the original cante jondo - in Jerez.Most locals prefer the landmark venue Peña la Bulería in Barrio San Miguel. Or go to Tablao El lagá de Tío Parrilla near the Archeology museum, for a dance intensive flamenco performance.
Flamenco in Malaga
Head to the Gibraltar mountain and watch a Flamenco show at Peña Juan Breva. You can also take a short Flamenco class at the Liceo Flamenco near the Cathedral and Gibralfaro Castle. This flamenco school offers dance and guitar lessons, along with wine tasting sessions.
Málaga Flamenco has also morphed into a pop version ‘flamenquito’ and you can head to Taberna Flamenca Tocayos or Kelipe, to watch a show.
You can also watch unscheduled, local performances at private clubs in Andalusia. Here is a list of popular Flamenco penas.
Flamenco festival schedule in Spain
If you can, try and catch a performance at a Flamenco festival in Spain. Every city, especially in Andalusia, hosts festivals with Flamenco a major part, during the summer. These Flamenco festivals present plain, raw flamenco performances for locals, where the voice and guitar are the only components of the performance.
Performances at Flamenco Festivals start late in the night, around 11pm, and go on till the early hours of the morning, They are usually held in open air public spaces. These performances are also when the gitano (gypsy) community comes out in full force, all the clans dressed in their traditional costumes.
Here is a schedule of the popular festivals across Spain.