Fantastic landscape, beaches, sun and a wealth of history, culture and tradition
Costa de la Luz
Some of Andalucias's finest cultural heritage can be found in this corner of Spain.
Nearby there's Cape Trafalgar, scene of the famous battle, and the Roman town of Bolonia. Day trips include the sherry town of Jerez de la Frontera, the vibrant city Sevilla, and the old fishing port of Cádiz. The timeless white villages such as Vejer de la Frontera will take you back to the romantic days of the Moorish occupation.
Travel for 35 minutes across the Strait of Gibraltar and you enter a different world. You will step back in time in the souk, the crowded market in Tangier amid the hustle and bustle. Buy your spices and olives, drink mint tea and barter for that carpet or ceramic dish. The Minza hotel, a bastion of Imperialism, is a calming sanctuary for a cooling drink. To really appreciate the charms of the city in a day, a guide will open many doors. Tangier had an intriguing past when it was an International Zone and a playground for eccentric millionaires such as Barbara Hutton the Woolworth heiress. Writers like Paul Bowles and Tennessee Williams lived there. The town is a place rich in colour, tradition and culture.
Conil de la Frontera
Conil de la Frontera - the “white village” directly on the sea, was once a small fishing village on the Costa de la Luz, where people lived mainly from fishing and agriculture. The town has largely retained its typical Andalusian flair and who today strolls through the winding alleyways, will discover lovely courtyards and beautiful squares. Thanks to its picturesque location between pine forests and the Atlantic coast in the south of Andalusia, the sunny weather with his unforgettable light and long golden sand beaches, Conil stays in the heart of many tourists who will come back, may it be for swimming, surfing, biking, hiking, horseback riding or in order to taste local specialities in the many beach bars and restaurants
Vejer de la Frontera
Reigning supreme on the top of a cliff, this white village has been a frontier post, occupied since Phoenician times. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Riff mountains of Africa to the south and fertile agricultural plains and Parque Natural de los Alcornocales to the north, it offers panoramic views of the area. With its deep rooted Moorish past, it is a labyrinth of narrow streets, jumbled houses and whitewashed patios, each with a history to tell. This is one of the most attractive of the famed pueblos blancos. Wind up the hillside and try and park in the newer part of town as space is limited in the medieval quarter. Vejer has become fashionable in recent years, and good restaurants such as El Jardin del Califa have thrived. The cafes and bars are worth exploring for genuine Andalucian fare. At night, the town has a quite charming and very romantic atmosphere.
In Tarifa, you are at the most southerly point of Spain. The Riff mountains of North Africa beckon in the distance, a mere 14 km across the Strait of Gibraltar. At night, the lights of Tangier give the horizon a fairytale quality. The town of Tarifa has a distinctly Moroccan flavour in the narrow alleyways, the architecture, shops and restaurants. It is famous for the strong easterly wind, known as levante, and the coastal strip has become a windsurfer's paradise. There is a buzz and a pulsating energy in the air from the windsurfers and kitesurfers who hang out all year round from all over the world, waiting for the right wind. It's hip and laid back. The ferry port at Tarifa links Spain and Tangier, and with only a 35 minute crossing to Morocco, day trips are possible. Another feature of this area is the wind turbines supplying clean renewable energy in the form of electricity for the immediate area and for Morocco.
Jerez de la Frontera
Jerez de la Frontera is most famous for sherry and as you drive through the town, you will see the bodegas with familiar names such as Harveys, Sandimans and Osborne. The bodegas can be visited for tastings - a prior reservation is required. Dynasties owned the sherry industry in the past, many of which were originally English and although the business is now owned by multi-national companies, many influences from the old days remain. Jerez is also famous for the Andalucian horse and at the Equestrian School, visitors can enjoy a magnificent riding display once a week.If flamenco is your passion, the Centro Andaluz de Flamenco charts the history of dance and song.Jerez is a town of contrasts with ugly high rise suburbs, the historic centre, the gypsy barrio and the affluent residential homes of the sherry barons.
El Puerto de Santa María
The sight of seafood, which is offered in the outdoor restaurants of this former fishing town, is something that you will not forget. Here, Columbus started his voyage of the discovery of America with his ship Santa Maria. Visit this place in order to eat seafood and to drink an ice-cold Fino or manzanilla-sherry, which is produced in this area. On the other side of the bay Cádiz is situated - probably the oldest city in Europe, to where you can also take a ferry. An interesting journey of 30 minutes, a trip you can also make vice versa from Cádiz to El Puerto de Santa Maria. El Puerto de Santa María is one of the three cities, which form the "sherry triangle". Bodegas are lined up on the banks of the river Guadalete and the hilly landscape is covered by vineyards. The Andalusian bulls are raised in this environment for bull fighting, which is a religion for many people.
This was the scene of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, one of the most decisive battles in British naval history. Admiral Lord Nelson, aboard HMS Victory, defeated the combined fleets of France and Spain just off this headland, capturing or sinking 18 of their galleons without the loss of one British ship. It is said that the sound of the canons could be heard as far away as the mountains of Ronda. The toll was tremendous: the British lost 449 men with 1241 wounded, but the French and Spanish fleets lost 4408 men with 2545 wounded. One of the British casualties was Admiral Nelson who was mortally wounded in the battle. Nelson is still a national hero, but then in 1805, he was THE hero of the day. His body was pickled in rum and taken to Gibraltar before being taken back to London for a ceremonial burial in St. Paul's Cathedral. Today Cape Trafalgar has a lighthouse on the limestone headland, set against the backdrop of the pine clad hillsides. Other beautiful trees include wild olives, cypress, myrtle and maritime juniper making this superb walking country, delicately scented by the conifers, herbs and flowers.
Halfway between the fishing village of Barbate and Tarifa is the Roman settlement at Bolonia, called Baelo Claudio. It is not one of the more famous Roman settlements in Europe but it certainly deserves a lot more recognition. From the N340 the road winds down and down to the sea, through what has been described as ‘painted fields' awash with wild flowers in spring. Baelo Claudio was thought to have been founded in 171BC. Excavations have revealed a main street and market place, temples, a basilica, theatre and shops. The site is in a spectacular situation with the azure sea, sand dunes and pine trees against a mountain backdrop. The settlement thrived on tuna fishing and the related industries - fish salting and the production of Garum, a much sought after fish sauce in those days. These are the most comprehensive remains of a Roman city on the Iberian Peninsula and in recognition of its importance, a contemporary visitors' centre has been built with excellent visual displays which are informative without being stodgy. All in all Bolonia is well worth going out of your way for.
There is no better place to capture the passion of Andalucia than in this glorious city. Flamenco music and dancing, tapas bars, bullfighting, Moorish architecture, chic shops, beautiful women...a day is not long enough in this, the capital city of the region. The processions of Semana Santa, Holy Week, are legendary. These are followed by the Seville Feria when the city has a week long party; it sums up the Sevillano's joy of life - fire in the blood it is called. The jacaranda trees are in full bloom, there's the heady scent of orange blossom, and romance is in the air. Visit the cathedral, the largest in the world by volume; the Alcázar Moorish palace and the Barrio Santa Cruz. There is nightlife and entertainment, shopping, wining and dining in all price ranges and for all tastes.
Taking the excellent motorway west from Seville, it's an easy journey to the Algarve in Portugal where you can experience a different culture again. This area is Portugal's main tourist destination so in summer, be prepared to party. The setting is beautiful with natural bays and golden beaches against the dramatic cliff backdrop. There are castles and attractive villages with buildings washed in vibrant Mediterranean colour when you venture inland.
The fortunes of Cádiz have ebbed and flowed. This port saw greatness when Spain was colonizing the Americas and it is reflected in the 18thC architecture and elegant squares which have a distinctive character. As administrative centre for the province of Cádiz, many of these buildings are now occupied by the offices of government. Wander around the narrow streets of the old city. Built on a peninsular, there will be a sea view at the end of virtually every road to guide you through the maze. The town has seen a rejuvenation in recent years; it's a vibrant, outward looking and welcoming place, particularly in February during carnival week. Visit the good traditional tapas bars to really capture the flavour of Cádiz and the fish market for the freshest of freshest catches. The ‘gold' domed roof of the Cathedral, made of yellow glazed tiles, is the iconic image of this city.
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