A fabulous restaurant, which - despite its name - serves superb modern Spanish food.
Don't go during the Feria (roughly mid August), as you will be whizzed through because the staff want to join the festivities. At all other times the service is flawless and the food imaginative and well executed. Try the prawns in kataffi pastry with lettuce soup.
Tickets for the Alhambra are available on the day but they are limited and you need to get there very early in the morning! 8am in April there was already a queue. It's good to get there early anyway as there are less people then.
Europe's biggest natural lake and home to the second largest colony of breeding flamingos after the Camargue in France.
A lovely, peaceful place with excellent facilities for walking or hiring bikes and cycling round the lagune to the hides.
Off the A92 Autorovia 29km north-west of Antequerra; 71km north of Malaga.
El Porton is the bullfighters' favourite tapas bar and an example of traditional Andalucian food, very macho but lovely staff. Try the prawns sizzling in garlic.
Tragabuches serves modern, high quality food with panache in a stylish setting. Expensive for Andalucia but worth it.
El Porton: Calle Pedro Romero 7
Tragabuches:Calle Jose Aparicio 1
Granada, Cordoba, Sevilla? Of course. But try Almeria, a city with friendly people, wide avenues, an impressive alcazaba, a fortified cathedral and a long beach.
And, if you don't know where to stay or eat, look no further than the Plaza de las Flores, a Torreluz hegemony. In this tiny square (no flowers I'm afraid) Torreluz gives its name to a four-star hotel, a two-star hotel (which we thought very good value for money, but try and get a room overlooking the square), a separate block of apartments, an upmarket restaurant, a very acceptable modern cafeteria where guests of the two-star hotel take their breakfasts (which were very good) and, best of all, a traditional bodega full of atmosphere and people, who spilled out onto the square, serving good value and good quality dishes. All you want in one square right in the centre of town.
Plaza de las Torres, near Puerta de Purchena, the main square, Almeria. Torreluz enterprises etc
Cádiz is famous for its historical watchtowers, the tallest of which, at 45 metres above sea level, is the Torre Tavira, right in the centre of town near the market. Today it houses an attraction unique in Spain, a Camera Obscura. This projects a brilliant 360 degrees moving picture of the town and port onto a large circular table-screen around which visitors sit whilst a guide points out all the main buildings, squares, streets, beaches and docks. Moe fascinating, and fun, is to see the ordinary life of the town in extraordinary detail - people shopping, washing hanging out in gardens, bathers in the sea, even seagulls perched on chimneys. The 15 minute show is really quite remarkable.
Torre Tavira, calle Marques de Real Tesoro 10, Cadiz.
tel. 956 21 29 10
A 40 minute boat trip across the bay from Cadiz is the pretty town of El Puerto de Santa Maria. Tucked away in a side street amongst imposing old mansions and sherry bodegas is the typical Andalucian town house where Rafael Alberti was born. It is now a bright, modern museum dedicated to the life and works of this poet, playwright, painter and statesman.
In the light, attractive galleries you can see much of his colourful work, including his vividly illustrated poetry, look at interesting old newspaper cuttings and photos and read much of his correspondence, a great deal of which concerns his long exile from Sapin under Franco, his triumphant return in 1977 and the many prizes and honours he gained thereafter. This permanent exposition is a fabulous record of the life of one of the most important and fascinating figures in modern Spanish history.
Fundacion Rafael Alberti, calle Santa Domingo 25, El Puerto de Santa María
tel. 956 85 07 11
This is a stunning area with a beautiful landscape of valleys, farmland and forests set against a backdrop of the snowcapped mountains of the Pyrenees. The area is perfect for cycling with a wonderful sunny climate, plenty of off-road tracks, excellent roads that take you through medieval villages, and drivers who respect cyclists.
Cycle the 7k route round beautiful Lake Banyoles, where Olympic triathletes train, and have a four-course lunch overlooking the lake, or ride across country over the Cap de Creus to see Dali's coastal home near Cadaquez (about 3 and a half hours from Banyoles) and enjoy tapas on the beach before returning.
Hardy cyclists can take the challenging route to Mare de Del Mont - a 19k ride with a 1,000metre climb. Contact Fiona and Gareth at their triathlon centre near Banyoles, in the heart of Catalonia, for cycle hire, coaching, accompanied rides, accommodation and to arrange collection from Girona airport.
One of best things about Valencia is the empty riverbed of the Turia, which has been turned into an 8km-long, twisting park through the middle of the city, with a lagoon, gardens and playing fields plus the amazing City of Arts and Sciences, an architectural wonderland.
You can cycle from the old town and through cycle paths in the park and on to the revamped port, seeing everything in half a day. Hire bikes (including tandems) at Cycletour, next to the fab Gulliver’s playground in the park, or in town at the excellent Orange bikes.
Orange Bikes Santa Teresa 8, Valencia (0034 96 391 7551, orangebikes.net).
The bus goes to the edge of the old city for just over two euros. The taxi system has a fixed price (only for the airport, mind!) that will see no change from a twenty euro note, regardless of distance travelled. Outrageous!
Seville. Airport. Stop immediately outside departures hall.
This Natural Park is superb in spring. Good weather, no cars and good roads. Accommodation easy and staggeringly cheap to find on line.
The Vias Verdes are "green routes" through Spain. Former railway lines, the gravel tracks are traffic-free and suitable for cycling and walking. They provide a beautiful alternative to on-road cycling, ideal if you have young kids in tow.
Routes are pretty flat or at least nicely graded, even in hilly areas, because they were originally designed for trains. The network is not huge at present but there are plenty of 2-3 day excursions to be enjoyed on the existing Vias. This is a really fun way to explore Spain!
www.viasverdes.es - only in Spanish, I'm afraid, but the map etc. is easy enough to follow and the routes are generally well-signed once you are there
A beautiful beach. Within easy distance from Cala D'Or and the sun-worshipping 'let's make like a sardine' beaches, is a way to escape the hordes at a gorgeous, wooded, white-sanded cove.
It is accessible by road and then a short walk and just along the coast from Porto Petro. Busy with families but not packed and set in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Fantastic, safe swimming/snorkeling - it gets deep quickly but very sheltered and only a short walk along the rocky path (from which you can dive in several places) to another beautiful and much quieter little beach.
Facilities include two restaurants/ bars with great reasonably-priced food and also showers. We all loved it (11 of us, ages 5- 62). We've been back there each year for the last four and never tire of it.
Charming and friendly 4 star hotel located in the town centre. Stayed there on business but would return again for pleasure.
Avda. Reyes Católicos 30, ES-9001,
Tel. +34 947 222 300.
To get there from Madrid take the A-1 motorway.
A beautiful hotel about 20 - 25 minutes stroll along the coast from the cathedral (and a 5 minute bus ride into town).
Modern but not cold or boring (Scando style).
Lovely sized rooms (enough room for a big bed and sofa). Discreet TV hifi combo, with a free DVD and CD library (good selection too).
Beautiful coastal views (amazing for the sunset).
A good bar, great breakfast, great burgers (on room service - in fact the room service food is better than the main restaurant which was a bit nouvelle).
Wonderful staff, just really super helpful.
Calle sirena, portixol bay
+34 971 27 50 25
We went to Mallorca for 2 weeks and this was the best food we ate while we were there.
It's a small restaurant, seating maybe 20 at the most - it's business card says, Bistro, Cocina de Mercado.
The food was amazing - they have a fixed 5 course menu that changes each month for 22.50 Euros and it was just incredible: I remember mostly the caramelised pate, chicken and asparagus in filo, there was a fish dish, and a beautiful desert that had fresh strawberry or raspberry sorbet.
Much better than the restaurant at Hotel Portixol by a coutry mile or three.
I'm thinking of going back every month.
15 C. Fabrica, and the phone number is 871 94 16 04
Actually, I have been in this beach, and I can say it is really amazing. It is very beautiful and you can only enjoy it during the summer. The boat trip to this beach is also nice.
There is a restaurant where you can taste the quality typical seafood and fishes of this region. If you come here, bring your suncream with you because the sun is too high.
A bit twee (you travel on a miniature train, there is a mouse trained to run up a ladder and drink sherry ...) but worth a trip. Jerez is a town entirely founded on sherry exports so it's good to come here and understand what it's all about. The tasting certainly challenges any preconceptions of sherry you may have had - it's not like granny's Christmas tipple. A glass of fino and a plate of tapas is your reward at the end of an interesting tour around the estate.
This restored Arabian bathhouse down a tiny alley in the Santa Cruz district is the perfect escape from the baking afternoon heat. It's mixed, and you can bring your own bathers. After cold mint tea in the relaxation room you are invited to dip into each of the three pools (warm, hot and then cold), steam yourself in the hammam, relax in the whirpool and then float gently in the salt pool.
A soothing, indulgent atmosphere is created by the glistening white of the marble, and the illuminated blue water that plays patterns across the dark red plaster walls, faded wooden ceilings and archways. Your journey through the baths is guided by shimmering scented candles and Arabic lamps. Visits last for 90 minutes but you must book ahead, as they limit numbers due to its popularity. It is open until midnight, if you fancy a late dip.
Aire de Sevilla, Calle Aire 15
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