Almeria's long sandy beach, just a 10-minute walk from the old town, is a great place to spend a day (or week). Breezes blow in from the Mediterranean providing some much-needed respite from the sweltering heat, and should you need more cooling there are plenty of beachside bars, cafes and chiringuitos serving up bocadillos, tapas, paella and, most importantly, cold beer! Every year on 23 June on Noche de San Juan the beach comes alive at night with fireworks and bonfires (write down a wish and throw it into the fire for it to come true) – then take a midnight dip in the ocean. There is a hotel on the beachfront called El Delfin Verde, where John Lennon stayed in the 1960s, and is allegedly where he wrote Strawberry Fields Forever
Google map: tinyurl.com/39dtsnv
La Caleta, Cádiz, Spain
If it’s wide expanses of sand you want, don’t come to La Caleta. Wandering through Cádiz and its shaded, narrow streets of faded splendour , you emerge suddenly into the startling light of the Atlantic, the multi-coloured fishing boats and a small sheltered sandy bay that’s on the very edge of Europe. The gaditanos are rightly renowned for partying (try Carnaval in February) and once you tire of people watching, you can stroll across to one of the bars in the nearby Barrio de La Viña and enjoy a tapa of shrimp fritters (tortillitas), from the catch brought in at La Caleta, washed down with a glass of sherry. No wonder this, Europe’s oldest city, is still going strong.
La Caleta, nearest station Cadiz
Google map: tinyurl.com/2uftbf2
Silver sand and turquoise sea right in the heart of the city centre.
This beach is a fantastic place to visit for breakfast, get a comfy spot in the sand and watch the city wake up. Spain's health conscious office workers arrive early to walk in the surf up and down the length of the beach. Join in, or just lie back and relax.
In between swimming and sun bathing, you will be perfectly located to head into the city for shopping and pinchos. This beach has retained a real Spanish feel and even in August, it is never too full of tourists
This has to be one of Europe's best urban beaches - by far!
Right in the centre of down town San Sebastian.
Spanish Civil War tour in English around Barcelona visiting some of the key sites in the city between 1936-1939. The tour covers themes such as Anarchism, George Orwell, the realities of daily life and bombing. A different way at looking at the city.
The Museu de l'Erótica (La Rambla 96) is certainly not Barcelona's most celebrated museum, and the art on display is not from Picasso or other maestros with an affinity for the erotic. But, if Victorian sex-aid apparatuses etc are up your alley....
la Rambla 96. Metro: Liceu
A faultless mountain biking experience. We went on a short break (5 nights) as a group from the UK and all wished we could've stayed longer. Brilliantly organised and guided, stunning scenery and varied, challenging trails, excellent food and accommodation, great value. What more could you want?
Berchules, nr Granada
00 34 958 064 052
As first timers in Seville, we booked an excellent walking tour on our first day. David Cox, an Englishman and resident, organises small informal groups to discover the rather more unusual history and places in this beautiful city. We loved it and it was the kind of introduction that none of our guide books could match. At our request, he also told us about some excellent places to eat that were both good value and just off the tourist trail. There is a website with details of how to book both walking and bicycle tours. Suggest you try to do this tour early in your stay and then enjoy your own sight seeing even more.
A top-quality restaurant in the heart of town. Serves a range of fantastic food including lots of Canarian cooking. The steaks are particularly good and reasonably priced. Staff are very attentive and helpful. I'd recommend their 'queso asado' (toasted goats cheese with Canarian sauces; the house steak with bacon, apple and onion; 'papas arrugadas con mojo' (small potatoes boiled and wrinkled in sea salt with local garlic and chilli sauce); and half a litre of local wine.
Calle El Peñón, Puerto de la Cruz (round the corner from the bus station)
Tel: +34 922 37 01 33
Google map: tinyurl.com/2uu6rvz
A fantastic family-run restaurant which sells the best chicken in the world. Don't ask for a menu - there isn't one, at least not on paper! - just pick from the choice of meats available that day. The best option is chickpea stew (garbanzos), followed by a half chicken, done in their fabulous marinade, and a half litre of local red wine. Total bliss, and not expensive.
Carretera General Las Arenas 98,
Puerto de la Cruz
Google map: tinyurl.com/34fykmf
Tel: (+34) 922 385 184
Take a taxi from the centre of town.
In my experience its really hard to find good information about Mallorca which isn't aimed at the bottom of the market. But this site has a real magazine feel to it and has got some fantastic boutique hotels and hideaways listed. Plus there are loads of descriptions of where to go and what to see.
A way to escape from the mountains of tourists in Barcelona, with amazing views of the city, Parc del Guinardó has a more local feel and is a lovely place for a picnic or somewhere to escape to.
Very nice arty Jazz club and although in the famous Calle Huertas, is not touristy in that sense. Two sittings and the repertoire changes every a few days.
If you never had "Migas", this is the original place to be! Migas, an original Spanish dish are breadcrumbs fried with chorizo and olive oil etc. and is served with various toppings, including grapes. Another dish to try here is "Callos" but I will let you find out what it is. Accompanied by Vina Urbezo 2009 red wine which Luis the friendly proprietor – a former tax officer – will surely suggest, you are bound for a delicious traditional dinner in this family-run restaurant.
Calle de los Estébanes 4
Google map: tinyurl.com/2vcua56
Having been to Barcelona several times I am always fascinated about the underlying culture. It was only after visiting again that I realised I did not get the most from my visit UNTIL I knew more about the "country" and the people. The "country" is Catalunya and Barcelona is, of course, the capital.
I have found this Brief History of Catalunya from journalist Simon Harris which is a good starting point and gives a good "flavor" of the place.
Wonderful and well presented local tapas as you've never experienced it. Keep the secret well. Only for connoisseurs ... Opens at 8.30 pm, it's small and perhaps you'll have to queue up; difficult to find too.
C/ General Ricardos, 11
50013 Zaragoza, Espagne
+34 976 425 212
Google map: bit.ly/bpaGJH
Dave and I both love football and regularly go to watch our local team, Southampton, play. So we thought we’d take the opportunity to have a look at the largest stadium in Europe and see how it compared to our own humble St Mary’s. We took the train to Sants Estacio and then hopped on the metro to Les Corts, which, according to our map was the closest to Camp Nou. We didn’t need the map for long because the stadium was quickly visible to walk to.
It really was an impressive sight. With a capacity of 98,787 it is the eleventh largest stadium in the world and dwarfs even Cardiff's Millennium Stadium and the new Wembley Stadium.
Although it was free to go inside and have a look around away from the pitch, tours of the stadium cost €17 (a great deal more than the £6 we had paid to tour St Mary’s a few years ago). I was content to stop for a drink in the cafe and let Dave take the tour. The tour itself was unguided, a kind of follow the arrows affair, so no chance to see the cells or the hospitality suites. Having said that, the facilities are second to none, with a museum, trophy room and chapel.
Personally I found the prices in the cafe a bit high and the staff quite off hand and unfriendly. I suppose with a club as big as Barcelona the personal touch is a bit much to expect.
This is a really beautiful little boutique hotel in Vejer de la Frontera. Its in a converted historic house with interior patio courtyard and there's a roof terrace with breathtaking views over to the coast of Africa. The atmosphere of the place is supremely chilled and the rooms, with their mix of Spanish, Moroccan and 50s chic, are stylish and romantic - apparently one of the rooms is renowned for the number of marriage proposals it seems to incite.
Flights are cheap to nearby Jerez and Gibraltar, so you can consider going for a weekend getaway.
For fans of old architecture, I strongly recommend a visit to these two masterpieces: Liceu Theatre and Catalan Music Palace. You can buy a tour ticket from the venues.
This is simply the coolest hostel in Spain, with edgy urban design incorporating graffiti and comic-book prints, paintbox colours and minimalist chic. It's within easy reach of the beach, but if the weather's less than great it's got free WiFi, CDs, DVDs and even Wii consoles you can use, a huge terrace where you can eat or just drink in the view and, best of all, free use of a nearby swimming pool and fitness centre. All yours for as little as €12 a night – and incredibly that includes a decent breakfast. Oh, and they'll charge your mobile or iPod for you. That's service.
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