From intricate Moorish architecture, twirling Flamenco dresses and the running of the bulls to pescaito frito (fried fish) and gazpacho, the region of Andalucia, in southern Spain, is celebrated across the world for its cultural and culinary heritage.
Visitors flock to its fascinating and beautiful cities, including its capital Seville, and take in the dramatic countryside views and bask in its reliably excellent weather at the beaches and resorts of Costa del Sol. But there’s much more to Andalucia than that. For those looking for activities and adventure, it’s unbeatable. Here’s why:
Found at the very south of Spain, and only 14km from the northern coast of Africa, Tarifa, in the province of Cádiz, offers some of the world’s best kitesurfing and windsurfing. The southernmost point in continental Europe, the area’s wind conditions have made the beaches, such as Valdevaqueros, a mecca for water sports fans. Andalucia has more than 800km of beautiful coastline, both Mediterranean sea and Atlantic ocean, making it popular for all sorts of water sports including water-skiing, jet-skiing, surfing and subaquatic sports – that’s not to mention yachting, snorkelling and diving.
Sotogrande, at the western end of Malaga’s Costa del Sol, is home to some of the world’s best golf courses, including the iconic Valderrama, for many years ranked as the best course in Europe (it has played host to the Volvo Masters and the Ryder Cup). It may be the region’s best-known course, but there are dozens to choose from, including the Real Club de Golf Sotogrande, which was founded in 1964 and designed by Robert Trent Jones and also ranks among the continent’s best courses – you will find it almost next door to Valderrama. Regular visitors name the Club de Golf La Cañada, Almenara Golf Club and The San Roque Club among their favourites. There are luxurious hotels to match – and more than 10km of beach to explore.
The Mini Hollywood
Oasys – also called Mini Hollywood – is a Western-styled theme park, found near the town of Tabernas in the province of Almería. It was originally known as Yucca City and was designed by Carlo Simi for Sergio Leone’s classic For a Few Dollars More in 1965, after A Fistful of Dollars was filmed in the region. More than 100 other films including The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Magnificent Seven were filmed there. Today it lays claim to be the “most original” Mediterranean theme park with live shows, a huge zoological reserve with more than 800 animals of 200 different species, pool areas and more.
Ski in Sierra Nevada
Spain is, of course, known for its sun – less so for its snow. But that shouldn’t be the case. Sierra Nevada, which is one of the highest ski resorts in Europe, is celebrated for its outstanding amenities and fun atmosphere – while it of course benefits from Spanish food. Spain’s highest and most “snow-sure” ski resort, it boasts 120 runs, mostly for beginner and intermediary skiers, with the highest concentration of peaks over 3,000m in the country. Amazingly, there are clear views of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco from the peaks.
Moorish culture exists across Andalucia, not least in its Arabic baths. The most impressive is the Hammam Al Ándalus in Granada, which reopened in 1998 (five centuries after Catholic monarchs closed them all down), and is housed in a renovated 13th-century building. In the capital, Aire Ancient Baths is found in an opulent 16th-century palace.
There are five main airports in Andalucia (Malaga, Seville, Granada, Jerez and Almeria), plus Gibraltar, which is handy for the Costa de la Luz and Costa del Sol, each of them connected directly to the UK
Youtravel offer more than 600 properties in the region ranging from towns to coastal areas covering all budgets and tastes
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