Once overlooked in favour of it's more well-known siblings - like Málaga and Seville - Almería is now firmly back in vogue. Sitting on Spain’s south-east coast, clustered with hidden coves and empty beaches, Almería is labelled Spain’s sunniest area with around 320 days of sunshine a year. It also has a touch of Hollywood glam, with many of the old western films, such as A Few Million Dollars being filmed here.
If getting back to nature is at the top of your list, then Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park has you covered. It’s Andalucía’s largest coastal protected area, and is made up of lots of different villages, with mountainous landscapes as well as over 1,000 different types of animals and plants. And if the natural beauty of Almería wasn’t enough, the buildings are also one-of-a-kind. Take Iglesia de la Virgen del Mar, an ancient church thought to be built in the 1500s, for example. From the outside, it looks like any ordinary church. But venture inside and you’ll find a hidden gem of beauty with colourful stained glass windows and a majestic golden altar, along with a peaceful atmosphere. Even if churches aren’t your thing, you won’t want to miss seeing this one.
Away from the popular haunts of Benelmadena, Fuengirola and Marbella, Seville is a city that’s worthy of the journey north. Explore the cobbled streets behind the impressive Gothic cathedral before soaking up the views from the top of the Giralda, a minaret with a Moorish past.
Wander along the banks of the Guadalquivir or head straight to the Torre del Oro, a 13th- century watchtower that’s become an icon of the riverbank.
No visit would be complete without stepping foot in Seville’s colourful Plaza de España. It’s popular with tourists, so you’ll want to time your visit carefully - early in the day is often best to beat the crowds. After snapping the obligatory pose-on-the-bridge photo, make sure you walk the semi-circle of colourful tiles illustrating Spain’s various provinces that border the plaza.
Finally, take the time to relax with a café cortado or selection of tapas in one of the city’s many shady squares. Step away from the obvious spots around the cathedral and you’ll be treated to an authentic Andalucían experience.
Cádiz is a city that’s known for its seafront setting as much as it’s lively annual carnival. The ancient port city in southwest Spain sits on a peninsula almost completely surrounded by water, which makes it the perfect place to grab some tasty seafood.
As well as the great food, you should add Cádiz to your go-to list for a number of reasons - watersports, museums and cathedrals to name a few. But the best thing about Cádiz is the people. They’re sociable, friendly and create an atmosphere unlike anywhere else. Just head to their crazy carnival, a two-week music festival which is held every year – usually in February - to see them in full-swing.
It’s full of history too. From the Yacimiento Arqueológico, an archaeological site where you can take a peek at the remains of Cádiz from the Phoenician and Roman times, to the gold-domed Cádiz Cathedral, which took over 116 years to build and has the best views over all of Cádiz. It’s a world away from sipping sangria in the sun, and is well worth the visit.
If you think that the Costa del Sol is all about sun, sea and sand, then Jerez de la Frontera will prove you wrong. It’s a place with tradition and heritage around every corner, and is famous for its sherry production and its flamenco.
While you’re there, you can’t miss the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, a riding school with dancing horse shows and a carriage museum.
Fancy something a little more upbeat? Jerez de la Frontera’s annual flamenco festival is sure to spice things up. We’re talking colourful flamenco dances performed near the tabacanos - old style bars - late at night in the plazas. You can’t get any more authentic than that. And for any motor heads, there’s the Jerez race circuit where you can watch some of the greats in MotoGP speed around the track.
Granada sits in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucía, and is often referred to as the land of a thousand castles.
You can join the 8,000 odd visitors a day to what is one of the most-visited monuments in the world – The Alhambra - a palace and fortress complex that dates back to the 9th Century and has a pretty impressive back-drop of mountains to gaze out over.
Hilltop plaza Mirador de San Nicolás offers some amazing panoramic views over Granada – by day or by night. Getting there can be an adventure in itself if you choose to hike to the top. But if you’re not up for it, you can always hop on the bus.
With an outdoor pool, luxury spa and beachfront setting at your fingertips, you can still get your little slice of relaxing in the sunshine at Protur Roquetas Hotel and Spa.
If you fancy a break from exploring, Riu Chiclana will keep you entertained. We’re talking pools, a jam-packed entertainment schedule and a splashpark for the kids.
Adults-only Hotel Riu Monica in the village of Nerja is just over the road from the beach of Playa de la Torrecilla and is also close to the town centre - perfect if you fancy sampling some authentic Spanish tapas.
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