If, like us, you’re already suffering the post-Christmas blues, and you need to have something to look forward to in 2017, why not start thinking about your next holiday destination? If you haven’t given any thought to going to Andalucia, in Spain, here’s why you should.
What’s great about it:
Whether you’re a nature lover, a fan of architecture, a beach bum or a foodie, you won’t be able to get enough of this amazing place – there’s something here for everyone.
The southern coast has long been known as a gateway between Europe and Africa (because it is in the extreme south of Europe), and the hills, rivers and farmlands of the region could tell us thing or two about the history of the land. Andalucia was ruled by the Moors for around 700 years until the 15th-century, and that’s had lasting influences on the architecture. From the Giralda of Seville – an Islamic building that was converted into a bell tower for a cathedral – to the Arabic arches, doors and stonewalls of Cordoba’s Mezquita (which is a half-mosque-half-cathedral), the Moorish influences go on and on.
One of the most famous landmarks of Moorish architecture is the Alhambra. The palace-fortress of Alhambra was built by the Nasrid dynasty – the last Arab Muslim dynasty in Spain – to be a military area, as well as court and a residence for royalty in the city of Granada. Alhambra means “the red one” in Arabic, and it’s named that because of the reddish stone walls.
You can easily kill half a day (if not more) at the lavish palace. You could then spend the rest of it strolling up and down the narrow alleys of the Albaicin, which is up on the hillside facing the Alhambra. The old Moorish residential area was declared a world heritage site in 1994.
The Alcazar of Seville is another must-visit place in the region. It’s the oldest royal palace that’s still in use in Europe, contains stunning courtyards and amazing architecture and, for fans of the TV series, was used as a film location for Game of Thrones too.
What’s not great about it:
If you don’t have great map-reading skills, you’ll quickly find that Google Maps becomes your best friend – you’ll be checking it all the time. The streets in the Andalucian cities are a bit of a maze to navigate. That’s fine when you actually want to let the cobblestones take your feet somewhere new and exciting, but it’s not so much fun when you’re pulling luggage behind you and all you want is a bit of rest at your B&B. Make sure to wear some comfy shoes – the cobblestones aren’t gentle to your feet.
Other cool things:
- Going to the mountaintop city of Ronda, set dramatically above a deep gorge, needs to be on your to-do list. Hike to the bottom of the El Tajo to watch the sunset paint the cliffs gold. You can get a great view here of Puente Nuevo, which is a stone bridge that connects the 15th-century new town to the old town.
- The landscape of Andalucia is a one-of-a-kind sight to see, with olive trees spreading over the slopes of the miles and miles of farmland, as far as the eye can see. Andalusia enjoys in excess of 300 days of sun a year – so you won’t be complaining of many cloudy days here.
- This place is a foodie’s paradise. You can start a day on the right note by eating churros – which are similar to Chinese dough fritters – dipped in a thick, gooey chocolate sauce. Work your way through the best tapas that Andalucia can offer – and believe us, the region can offer some amazing tapas, which are small appetisers or snack-sized dishes. Don’t miss out on the paella, which is a rice-based dish. These can come in huge portions, so remember to travel with a friend, because you’ll need them to share all of this food with.
- Ever wanted to go to Santorini? You can do that here without jetting off to the Greek island, sort of, because the small seaside town of Frigiliana feels really similar to Santorini. Don’t forget to hit up the Picasso Museum in Malaga and Metropol Parasol – a modern wooden structure in the old quarter of Seville – which are all worth a visit.
- Go flamenco dancing, or watch a flamenco dance. You can enjoy an authentic show pretty much everywhere in Seville for a reasonable price. Flamenco dancing originates from Andalusia, and it’s a vital part of the local culture and lifestyle. Take in all the singing, dancing and guitar over dinner; or simply visit the flamenco museum in the city – because of course they have one.