Off the beaten track, but easy to get to - an unbeatable combination!
The Moorish "white villages" that nestle in spectacular scenery up in the mountains of the western Axarquia, are actually only a short drive from the almost deserted Mediterranean coves east of Nerja. The best of both worlds! The village of Cutar is a tangle of white-washed alleys and doorways. We've been there 3 years running now, sitting on the balcony watching swifts and kestrels hawking below us. It's genuinely untouched, with the dry river bed in the valley still being used by locals as their preferred route to the nearest (small) town.
We stay at a little one bedroom finca on the edge of the village which is charming and has hosts who are knowledgable & welcoming, but don't get in the way. The walking around there is just great - and many local customs survive & flourish, from village celebrations like the Verdialis to the spectacular Santa Semana processions in the city of Velez Malaga half an hour away. Strongly recommended!
I managed to get a really good deal on an apartment from these guys.
They gave me a better price than the last minute deals shown on the website. Combined with a cheap Ryanair flight, we managed to have a cheap long weekend in Barcelona.
+34 607 904 645
A break from the standard Tapas - we'd eaten our fill of cheese and pig by this stage of the holiday. Lots of the dishes on offer were Asian inspired and we really enjoyed eating here. It was packed, even in the middle of November, when most other restaurants were deserted.
Sant Joan 8 (La Lonja)
T: 971 717524
Ca'n Reus is a really nice small boutique hotel in the village of Fornalutx. The hotel is in a wonderful old building. The rooms are small but perfectly formed and there is a wonderful lounge on the first floor with a roaring open fire (we went in November). The rooms look out over an orange grove and up into the mountains. Excellent breakfast and friendly, unfussy service. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it....
Ca'n Reus Hotel
Carrer de l´Auba 26
T:+34 971 631 174
A very stylish hotel if you're willing to splash out. Think white box with glass walls inside the shell of an ancient farmhouse. Not cheap by any stretch of the imagination but you're in a glorious clifftop location with amazing grounds. There is a great pool and outdoor hot-tubs with views over the sea. The breakfast is amazing and the dinner tasty though not exactly value for money.
Carretera Artà-Canyamel Km 8
Finca Torre Canyamel
T. 0034 971 81 61 10
F. 0034 971 81 61 11
This is a tailored walking tour company operating in Seville. The owner, David, is an Englishman who has lived in Spain for some years and knows Seville intimately. For a relatively modest outlay, he brings the history of the city to life, in a fun way that is simply brilliant. It is more than a tour, it is an experience.
David took us to local tapas places (not a tourist in sight) which were just fab, not to mention cheap - the money you spend on the tour you can mostly save by eating at these spots. Next time we go we will go to one of the local flamenco evenings. Thoroughly recommended.
Their partner company also found us a great apartment to rent.
0034 955 113 912 (24 hours)
We stayed in Granada for long weekend and you can see the Sierra Nevada mountain range in front of you. We got in touch with Ibex Trex who could guide us to the best walking areas. They took us to Las Alpujarras, which is beautiful and full of history - our guide was great, very friendly and knowledgeable.
Santa Rita, 8, Narila, Granada
Great selection of Picasso works including portrait of a bearded man.
Admission is only eight euros, plus the cathedral is right next door to explore afterwards!
Amada Carlota is a gorgeous, quiet, small hotel in rural Asturias. It is modern and beautifully designed and sits on top of a hill overlooking hills and mountains on all sides. Amada Carlota has a small number of elegant and comfortable rooms, and a welcoming living space downstairs with a fireplace and, once again, wonderful views of the valley where early morning fog is replaced by bright sunshine or dramatic, thundery clouds.
You could just stay in this room all day and have a wonderful time, eating delicious food prepared by the owners, Carlos and Yolande, and conversing with them. Of course Asturias has so much to offer, with its lush green hilltops and mountains, that you do want to go out but Amada Carlota is a lovely place to come back to at the end of each day.
We felt it provided excellent value for money, and are looking forward to visiting Carlos and Yolande again before too long.
We have just arrived back in the UK from Spain having travelled entirely by trains and busses. On our return trip we paid the extra fare and went Grand Clase on an Elipsos Trenhotel.
We found that there are shortcomings to the promised service that spoiled the experience. These included no answer on the internal phones, very slow restaurant table service and an air conditioning system that didn’t work in our cabin.
But the real issues were to follow:
The overnight service from Madrid to Paris stopped en route during the night, the power went off and back on several times.
The breakfast table service was chaotic, only two waiters were struggling to cope with passengers demands. We decided that this may be due to the impending arrival in Paris and so abandoned the restaurant.
Confused about the lack of information we found (with the assistance of another passenger’s sat nav) that we were still 100 miles from Paris. No one from the company had bothered to let any of us know the train was running more than two hours late!
No staff from the so-called first class train hotel made their faces seen until our passports were returned at 10:00am; the train finally arrived at 10:30am. Some passengers also missed their Eurostar connections.
I have looked at the Elipsos.com website and cannot find any ‘contact us’ or ‘feedback’ links for me to use to complain about their failed service and communication standards.
Most people give this charming city a pass. But, it's worth a detour. Use Ourense as a base. You are about an hour from the Ribera Sacra (which is amazing) and you can come back at the end of a long day to the rustic charm of Ourense. Ourense has a lively, yet small tapas scene around the 4-5 squares. The mercado is fun and lively in the early morning. Lot's of ladies selling local produce from their small plots - grelos, potatoes, maybe even berries. There are also working ancient Roman baths just outside of downtown.
I would return in a flash.
It's a small and cosy camping, but rather a glamping site with wooden bungalows for hire. Very well designed and natural, with plentiful flowers and plants: unique in the Costa Brava.
Between s'Agaro and Sant Feliu de Guixols, www.campingsantpol.cat
I live in Girona, a Ryanair hub (with flights to and from Bristol) which many people use to get down to Barcelona. However it is a great town with plenty going on, top class restaurants, easy access to Barcelona by train (€12 return) or if you hire a car, to the foothills of the Pyrenees and the nicer bits of the Costa Brava. Not necessarily a huge amount warmer than the UK, but generally a lot brighter! The only downside is that it is a bit short on hotels, so you need to book early.
Way to stay is an online booking agency with apartments all over Europe. I booked a self-catering apartment in Barcelona recently and received a 25% low season discount. Being able to enjoy a freshly prepared meal is a real benefit of staying in this kind of accommodation.
I was very impressed with this apartment rental company. We were worried about booking an apartment online as we had heard some horror stories, but this company was very professional and the apartment was superb. We had one small problem with the internet not working, which was sorted out the same day. Recommended.
We found this friendly little bar/cafe whilst in Menorca this year. It's in the shadow of a hotel called Mar De Menorca but holds its own where food is concerned. The food was a real taste of home, we could tell it was home made and it was really tasty. The reason we felt the need to post this tip is the family who run Chepas are so friendly and went out of there way to make us welcome. Good food, good drink.
Es Canutells, 7 miles south-west of Mahon. Close to the lovely cove of Cala Canutells.
This is a fantastic tapas bar in the historic centre of Valencia - great tapas including loads of veggie options (rare in Valencia!), wines by the glass and probably the best mojitos in all of Valencia (and the barman speaks perfect English).
It's a very modern, light, well-priced bar with great food and friendly staff.
Calle Cavallers 19
(next to plaza de la virgin)
We stayed in this charming house last June and had a lovely time. The house is comfortable and can sleep up to 6 people and has its own garden with amazing views of the Alhambra. It was fantastic to be able to sit out in the evenings with something to eat and a bottle of wine and just unwind after a day of exploring Granada. It was the perfect base and one of the best holidays I've ever had. We booked it through Granadainfo who were extremely helpful. They have a great website with lots of information about Granada (what to see and do, etc.) and it was good to have someone on the other end of a phone to answer any questions we had.
The house is in Granada's old quarter and its website is granadainfo.com/bo/index.htm
I have just got back from an amazing weekend at this luxury bed and breakfast in Spain - La Casa Noble. It was recommended through a friend and I feel the need to pass on this little gem. The woman that owns it is a designer and has spent the past four years renovating - it is absolutely beautiful! Everything about this trip was wonderful - the food, (best pork I have ever tasted... apparently the pigs eat acorns which make it so tasty and I am told healthy…), great service; the host went out of her way to make our stay memorable. The village is a beautiful little Spanish town and of course the weather is great! I would strongly recommend this place to anyone. Make sure you use the jacuzzi at the the B&B and go for a walk up to the old church on the hill at sunset.
You can fly there from Gatwick (clickair) but I am sure other airlines there as well. You need to fly to Seville and then take a bus (1 hour)
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