Exploring Andalucía… So Much More Than Sun-Blessed Beaches
One of the main attractions of buying a property in Marbella and other parts of the Costa del Sol is the area’s exceptional beaches. Home owners are able to enjoy not only the white sands and azure waters of the Mediterranean but also a diverse array of associated amenities and services including the Coast’s popular “chiringuitos” (beach bar-restaurants), water sports for all ages and tastes, and luxuriously chic beach clubs.
For many people, that would be more than enough to buy a new home in Marbella – be it for a holiday property or more permanent move – but Marbella, Mijas and Benahavís and other key resort areas along 150 kilometres of stunning coastline also have the advantage of being conveniently located for further exploration.
Marbella’s mountain hinterland offers a haven of sublime natural beauty, while further afield the vast Andalucian region is home to a rich historical and cultural legacy – not to mention its own internationally renowned natural attractions.
Not so vast, however, that you can’t visit one of its eight provinces and be home in time for a sunset dinner on your apartment terrace or villa garden porch.
With Andalucía Day being celebrated on 28 February, we thought it timely to showcase eight special attractions in Andalucía – in Málaga, Córdoba, Granada, Jaén, Almería, Sevilla, Huelva and Cádiz.
All these places are close enough for a day trip from the Coast (with excellent transport connections throughout Andalucía), unless – of course – you prefer a more extended weekend getaway.
Located in the northern part of Málaga province, Antequera Dolmens was declared a World Heritage Site in 2016. The cultural heritage ensemble comprises three megalithic monuments and two natural mountain features. Of the latter, the Peña de los Enamorados peak contains a rock shelter with cave paintings, while El Torcal is especially noted for an extensive karst landscape at its summit. Visitors can also view exhibitions in an on-site museum.
Also a World Heritage Site (since 1984), Córdoba’s mosque-cathedral is considered one of the world’s grandest building complexes that spans both the Moorish and Christian eras. Doubling as a temple and a monument, it was originally constructed in 785 as a mosque, before being converted into a cathedral in 1236 when the town was captured by Christian forces during the “Reconquest”. Islamic-era elements remain on view, and Catholic masses are held every day in the cathedral.
The most internationally recognised historical site in Granada is the Alhambra Islamic palace and fortress complex, which dates to 1238 and also contains examples of Spanish renaissance architecture. For those visiting Granada during the winter months, however, we also recommend heading up the nearby mountain road to the SIerra Nevada ski resort. Even if you are not into winter sports, the mountain range is well worth a visit as an officially declared biosphere reserve.
To the north of Granada province, bordering the Castilla-La Mancha region, Jaén is arguably Andalucía’s least-known province. The capital city itself is charmingly built around three main squares, with a reconstructed Moorish castle tower and the ruins of a fortress looming above. But our main destination on this trip is the Sierra de Cazorla nature park, with its impressive river gorges and forests, as well as Spain’s second longest river (the Guadalquivir).
In the past, many people tended to by-pass Almería when travelling north from Málaga, but completion of the “Autovía del Mediterráneo” highway has helped enhance the province’s appeal to visitors. Away from the coast, and the vast greenhouse gardens that nourish much of Spain and supply many other European markets, the desert landscape provides a sharp contrast. It is also home to Tabernas Wild West, which is now part of the Desert Springs resort and comprises three western-style theme parks. Originally built in the 1960s to film movies including “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, the sets were subsequently transformed into a tourist attraction.
Triana might be part of the greater Sevilla city but its local inhabitants are fiercely proud of their own identity. That makes the neighbourhood a fascinating place to visit once you’ve completed a tour of Sevilla’s venerable old town (the largest in Spain), including the cathedral, La Giralda tower and Real Alcázar palace. On the other bank of the Guadalquivir river, Triana is known for its pottery and tile industry (available in souvenir shops), dynamic flamenco culture, and waterfront bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
Separated from the Algarve region by a river (and bridge), Huelva province offers a convenient connection to Portugal when travelling from Marbella. But not before visiting its most famous attraction: Doñana nature reserve. One of Europe’s most important wetlands areas, Doñana is a protected national park with a fascinating diversity of ecosystems including salt marshland, lagoons, pine groves, aloe vera, moving dunes, cliffs and 30 kilometres of unspoilt beaches. It is also a crucial breeding ground and migratory transit point for thousands of European and African birds.
As noted above, beach-lovers have everything they could possibly desire in Marbella and other areas of the Costa del Sol. Sometimes, however, we welcome a change of scenery – even for just a day – and the Atlantic coastline of Cádiz province provides just that. From the windsurfing capital of Europe (Tarifa) to Bolonia beach and its Roman ruins and Faro de Trafalgar beach and its famous lighthouse, as well as the award-winning La Barrosa beach in Novo Sancti Petri, the Costa del la Luz (as it is known) provides a quaintly bucolic contrast to Marbella’s sophisticated Mediterranean charm.
Back on the Costa del Sol, if you are still looking for a new home as a base for your future regional travels, give us a call and we’ll make sure you are well settled in – just in time for Andalucía Day next year.