Although the region’s capital is Seville, we’ll be focusing on Andalusia’s more famous destinations such as Cadiz, Nerja and Malaga — tourist resorts located along one of Europe’s most famous coastlines. Tapas, wine and flamenco create a harmonious trio all along the Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light) and Costa del Sol (Coast of Sun), complemented by warm golden sands and balmy temperatures. But this is just a tiny representation of Andalusia’s many delights, so let’s uncover some more, starting with Costa de la Luz in the region’s south-west.
Costa de la Luz: Cadiz and Huelva
The Costa de la Luz stretches along the provinces of Cadiz and Huelva. Founded by the Phoenicians in the 11th century BC, Cadiz is one of Europe’s oldest cities with an atmosphere all of its own. The city’s older sections are packed with eye-catching white buildings; its oldest quarter is the Barrio del Pópulo, while nearby Barrio de Santa Maria is considered the birthplace of flamenco. As evening falls, live performances attract crowds of both tourists and locals. Cadiz is also full of monuments, such as Puertas de Tierra, the gateway to the city.
You can also visit the Roman amphitheatre, which was discovered in 1980 and the Catedral de Santa Cruz with its characteristic golden dome of azulejos tiles. One of the area’s most popular beaches is Playa de la Victoria, while Playa de la Caleta, which stretches between the city’s fortifications, was a filming location for the Bond film, “Die Another Day”. Cadiz’s weather is ideal for sunbathers, but also for water sports enthusiasts. Nearby Tarifa, on the way to Gibraltar, has excellent kitesurfing conditions.
Huelva is ideal for those wishing to learn more about Christopher Columbus, as his first expedition set off from here. There is a statue of Columbus in Plaza de las Monjas, the city’s main square. Another Huelva attraction is its 1,165-metre-long dock, which is used as a pier. Not just for romantic strolls, a walk along this picturesque route is especially lovely in the evening. Not far from Huelva is El Rocío, a place of pilgrimage for fraternities and tourists that is well worth a visit. The weather along the Costa de la Luz serves to enhance its natural beauty, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the Doñana National Park. The Park is home to a wide range of migratory birds, the endangered Iberian eagle and even lynx. Featuring swamps, dunes, pine groves and pristine beaches, this is one of Spain’s most beautiful natural attractions.
Costa del Sol: Malaga, Benalmádena, Nerja and Marbella
When it comes to holidays on the Costa del Sol, you’re sure to have heard of Malaga, Benalmádena and Nerja. Renowned as the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, Málaga has an excellent museum dedicated to his work. The city also boasts a number of significant monuments, such as Alcazaba Fortress, the 10th century Gibralfaro Castle, the ruins of a Roman theatre and the Catedral de Málaga, which was built between the 16th and 18th centuries. After a day of sightseeing, relax with a cool drink on the beautiful Playa de La Malagueta beach. Benalmádena is a small town whose Puerto Marina harbour has twice been called the most beautiful in the world.
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The town’s attractions also include the eye-catching red Bil-Bil Castle. Initially, the castle was designed as a villa for the town’s wealthiest inhabitants, but now it hosts cultural events and wedding ceremonies — you can also relax on the beach right next to it. Castillo de Colomares — a building dedicated to Christopher Colombus — is also worth a visit. Younger visitors will enjoy Benalmádena’s butterfly park and dolphinarium, while the entire family will love a cable car ride to the top of the Calamorro where you can enjoy extraordinary views of the coastline!
The former fishing village of Nerja has a lot to offer — beaches, caves, views and ancient monuments. One of these is the aqueduct, or Acueducto del Águila, which dates back to the 19th century. While walking around the town, you are sure to spot its ancient watchtowers and don’t forget to visit the Balcón de Europa viewpoint. Built on the site of a former fortress, this was demolished by a British attack in 1882. Just below the viewpoint is El Salón Beach, which, along with La Torrecilla beach, is a popular place to enjoy the sand between your toes. This region of the Costa del Sol is home to Cueva de Nerja, one of Spain’s largest caves. Inside, you can admire incredibly well-preserved Palaeolithic rock paintings before heading onwards to the resort of Marbella. The picturesque old town with its vibrant orange trees contrasts with the city’s prestigious boutiques, world-class golf courses and celebrity-owned luxury yachts.
Costa del Sol: Estepona, Torremolinos and Fuengirola
Prefer a less touristy visit to the Costa del Sol? In Estepona, you can enjoy tranquillity surrounded by flowers. Relax in the town’s orchidarium, sunbathe on the Playa de la Rada or stroll around the ruins of the Castillo de San Luis. Just as with the Costa de la Luz, the Costa del Sol’s weather is ideal for water sports. This is particularly true in Torremolinos, with both Playa de la Carihuela and Playa de los Álamos beaches sure to meet your expectations. Torremolinos also contains a famous bullfighting arena and a Crocodile Park; after intensive sightseeing, relax in the Parque de la Batería, where you can see a Moorish-era defence tower.
Fuengirola’s best beaches are the Playa de Torreblanca and Playa de Santa Amalia, both of which have excellent conditions for water-based fun. You can also relax in the town’s amusement park or on its excellent golf course before heading to view the Sohail Castle, the Monument of the Generations and the Roman Baths.
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A holiday in sunny Andalusia allows you to combine countryside exploration with beach relaxation. Whether you opt for the Costa de la Luz or its better-known sister, the Costa del Sol, you’re sure to enjoy your Spanish getaway!