Along the Shores of Andalucia

  The beach of Malagueta is one of the most popular on the Costa del Sol. Valery Bareta / Shutterstock.com
 The beach of Malagueta is one of the most popular on the Costa del Sol. Valery Bareta / Shutterstock.com

 : A traditional whitewashed seaside town of Andalucia. Alex Tihonovs / Shutterstock.com
: A traditional whitewashed seaside town of Andalucia. Alex Tihonovs / Shutterstock.com

No other region in Spain captures the Iberian spirit as exquisitely as Andalucia. A journey along its southern coast makes for an ideal getaway, with vibrant tapas flavours, stirring flamenco renditions, pristine beaches, and a compelling art scene. The Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light) along the Atlantic Ocean and the Costa del Sol (Sun Coast) along the Mediterranean Sea have been holiday favourites of Spaniards for millennia, but recently the international jetset have caught on, making Andalucia deservedly sought-after. Follow the coast for some of the region’s top highlights:

 

The welcoming, small-town feel of Cádiz

Cádiz’ Old Town, with its weather-beaten, whitewashed buildings, is distinctly dotted with over a hundred watchtowers. Amidst this sea of spires, the golden dome and two bell towers of the baroque neoclassical Cádiz Cathedral stand out. This commanding edifice watches over the town and fills the air with dulcet tones every 15 minutes, which helps one keep track of time in a place where otherwise it would be easy to lose. The Cádiz Cathedral is worth a visit for the intricate artwork, the relics, the catacombs below, and the spoils from Spain’s adventures in the New World. 

  The Puerto de Tierra marks the entrance to the Old Town;  David Acosta Allely / Shutterstock.com;
 The Puerto de Tierra marks the entrance to the Old Town;  David Acosta Allely / Shutterstock.com;

 Cádiz is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe;  Pabkov / Shutterstock.com;
Cádiz is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe;  Pabkov / Shutterstock.com;

  The dome and bell towers of the cathedral dominate the Cádiz Skyline.  kavalenkau / Shutterstock.com
 The dome and bell towers of the cathedral dominate the Cádiz Skyline.  kavalenkau / Shutterstock.com

  Diners enjoy an outdoor meal in the Old Town. trabantos /  Shutterstock.com
 Diners enjoy an outdoor meal in the Old Town. trabantos /  Shutterstock.com

In the streets of Cádiz, haunting allegrias (flamenco songs) lilt from stages at renowned establishments such as Peña Flamenca La Perla, where Friday performances of guitars, singing, impassioned dancing that includes rhythmic stomping and castanets, and soulful folkloric music epitomize the indigenous music of Southern Spain. 

With few cars allowed past the Puerta de Tierra, the city’s gate, the Old Town is perfect for walking the narrow streets and finding a freiduriá de pescado (fried fish) restaurant to indulge in the local specialty boquerones (fried sardines) and refreshing cold gazpacho soup. Taberna la Manzanilla is worth finding, a favourite spot with the locals for a tipple of Spanish sherry from a traditionally blackened cask.


Something a little different: Gibraltar

“The Rock,” as it’s usually called, at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula, has for hundreds of years been a small overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The cliff itself is an imposing 426m tall and nearly 5km long limestone monolith, but the town is distinctly British. It’s perfect for a short visit between Cádiz on the Costa de la Luz and the Costa del Sol on the Mediterranean. Locals in Gibraltar speak a mix of Spanish and English. The town boasts traditional red British telephone booths, fish and chips shops, and many places for afternoon tea, but also cheeky Barbary macaques known to cause trouble. 

 The seaside town of Gibraltar lies beyond the great cliff. Benny Marty / Shutterstock.com
The seaside town of Gibraltar lies beyond the great cliff. Benny Marty / Shutterstock.com

 The Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque stands in front of the cliff of Gibraltar;  kavalenkau / Shutterstock.com
The Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque stands in front of the cliff of Gibraltar;  kavalenkau / Shutterstock.com

  There are about 250 Barbary macaques living at the Rock; Anilah / Shutterstock.com
 There are about 250 Barbary macaques living at the Rock; Anilah / Shutterstock.com

There are tunnels carved into the great rock by the British army when Gibraltar was in a strategic position in WWII. The tunnels, some of which you can visit today, stretch 52km and were capable of housing the entire 16,000 troop garrison. They included a telephone exchange, hospital, armory, and even a bakery. In 1997, Stay Behind Cave was discovered as a place for six men to stay and keep watch within the rock should the German invasion have been successful. 

 These narrow tunnels were dug earlier, during the great siege in the late 1700s, when the British defended Gibraltar from French and Spanish armies; Jan Miko / Shutterstock.com
These narrow tunnels were dug earlier, during the great siege in the late 1700s, when the British defended Gibraltar from French and Spanish armies; Jan Miko / Shutterstock.com

 Stalactites in St. Michael’s Cave; Rolf E. Staerk / Shutterstock.com
Stalactites in St. Michael’s Cave; Rolf E. Staerk / Shutterstock.com


The glamour of Marbella

Twenty-seven kilometres of sun-drenched beaches along the Mediterranean, set against the dramatic Sierra Blanca Mountains, make the Costa del Sol, with its crown jewel of Marbella, a destination for the rich and famous. Bejeweled with luxury resorts and boutiques, Michelin-starred restaurants, more than a dozen golf courses, and a port full of superyachts, Marbella is definitely a playground in which to indulge. 

 Sunset over Puerto Banús. arturografo / Shutterstock.com
Sunset over Puerto Banús. arturografo / Shutterstock.com

 Straw umbrellas shade  lounge chairs on a stretch of beach in Marbella.  lisako66 / Shutterstock.com
Straw umbrellas shade  lounge chairs on a stretch of beach in Marbella.  lisako66 / Shutterstock.com

 A Lamborghini in front of luxury yachts. Andres Garcia Martin / Shutterstock.com
A Lamborghini in front of luxury yachts. Andres Garcia Martin / Shutterstock.com

The Old Town of Marbella, with white buildings embellished with vibrant bougainvilleas that pour forth over wrought-iron balconies, and the quiet Plaza de Los Naranjos (Orange Plaza), dating back to 1485, is the perfect place to sip coffee and chat with locals. But it’s outside the city centre that the excitement starts. 

The Golden Mile of Marbella stretches from the Old Town to Puerto Banús, the flashiest marina on the Costa del Sol, with berths for 915 yachts. Along this strip lie the hottest beach clubs, private villas, lavish hotels and a seemingly endless parade of Ferraris. The Marbella Club has been popular with the Hollywood set, with the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, and Cary Grant, since the 1950s, and offers guests a 10-acre complex that hosts a golf course, access to the stables, a botanical garden, and a world-class spa. 

Beachside hotspots near Puerto Banús, such as Nikki Beach and Ocean Club, offer luxury cabanas for sun worship and cocktails during the day, and turn into raucous dance clubs after sundown, where revelers dance until the wee hours, lending to Marbella’s party vibe.

 The church of Santo Cristo was built in the 15th century and topped with glazed ceramic tiles.  Caron Badkin / Shutterstock.com; 
The church of Santo Cristo was built in the 15th century and topped with glazed ceramic tiles.  Caron Badkin / Shutterstock.com; 

 The namesake bridge welcomes travellers to Marbella.  Sergey Dzyuba / Shutterstock.com; 
The namesake bridge welcomes travellers to Marbella.  Sergey Dzyuba / Shutterstock.com; 

 A flamenco dancer wears traditional dress and flowered mantle.  Corrado/ Shutterstock.com; 
A flamenco dancer wears traditional dress and flowered mantle.  Corrado/ Shutterstock.com; 


The arts of  Malaga

Malaga is modern, urban, and sophisticated, yet rooted strongly in Spanish traditions, such as the arts, bullfighting, and Andalusian cuisine. This renaissance is epitomized by talented chefs such as Jose Carlos Garcia, with his eponymous restaurant where he carries on the strong traditions of Spanish molecular gastronomy, creating world-class dishes in his open kitchen with ingredients from local markets. Garcia grew up with his family’s restaurant before launching his own, which secured a Michelin star in its debut year. 

 俯瞰馬拉加的城市風光,古老的Malagueta鬥牛場矗立其間;Grisha Bruev / Shutterstock.com
俯瞰馬拉加的城市風光,古老的Malagueta鬥牛場矗立其間;Grisha Bruev / Shutterstock.com

For centuries, Spaniards have celebrated their cultural heritage through the tradition of bullfighting. Brave matadors have contended in La Malagueta bullring in Malaga since 1876. This skilfull dance between man and beast is judged by the matador’s proximity to the horns of the bull, his grace and agility, and his fearlessness. 

Without even venturing inland, the coast of Andalucia offers world-class art, music, cuisine, beach life, and the pure spirit of the South of Spain. 

  The Panta Rei sculpture in Plaza del Siglo.LucVi / Shutterstock.com
 The Panta Rei sculpture in Plaza del Siglo.LucVi / Shutterstock.com

 A float in the Palm Sunday procession; BigKnell / Shutterstock.com
A float in the Palm Sunday procession; BigKnell / Shutterstock.com

 Bougainvillea shades diners at this seaside cafe;Valery Bareta / Shutterstock.com
Bougainvillea shades diners at this seaside cafe;Valery Bareta / Shutterstock.com

English Text by Laine McDonnell  

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