Updated: Jul 17, 2020
For a long time, I have championed the lesser travelled areas of Spain, here are a few of my favourite spots. These are the places that I would personally be heading for post corona lockdown-check them out.
Spain's Golden Coast Has A Whole Host Of Devotees, Could You Become The Next?
The North Western coastline of Galicia is wild, rugged and totally charismatic. Galicia is how, as a teenager, I imagined Spain should be, it's coastline is rugged and dramatic with wide, unspoiled sweeping beaches which are presided over by sky-high cliffs. The food scene here is more than notable, magnificent in fact with World-class seafood and crisp Albarino wines topping the charts.
Galicia is located in the green and lush northwestern corner of Spain. Geographically, Galicia is situated just above Portugal and faces both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mar Cantabrico. The landscape of Galicia is lush, mountainous, and peppered with forests of pine and eucalyptus, but just like the rest of the Iberian regions, it has a high level of autonomy and provincial self-determination. This ensures that whilst the population are Spanish, they see themselves primarily as "Gallegos" - so when the Galicians talk about nationalism, they are generally referring to the "nation of Galicia", rather than the nation of Spain!
To a tourist, the biggest difference between Galicia and the more commonly visited southern Spanish resorts will be the landscape and climate.
Firstly, the predominant colour of the landscape is green, and not the parched or burnt green you see in the Southern parts of Spain. The scenery varies between the hills and fells found in the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District and the more mountainous vistas found in the Scottish highlands.
Accommodation wise there is a stack of choice from rambling countryside mansions, farmhouses, and boutique boltholes to more contemporary city hotels.
You’ll find family-owned wineries offering tastings in centuries-old bodegas, ancient pazos (mansions) with splendid gardens, and some of Spain’s finest fresh seafood (always accompanied by a glass of albariño). For a taste of Galicia’s dreamiest beaches, sail out to the protected Illas Cíes near Vigo.
Travel wise, if like me you border on the adventurous, and, if you have the time you could always get the ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo and drive through France stopping off in Bordeaux and the buzzing Basque city of Bilboa. Once in Bilboa, you will find extraordinarily modern architecture juxtaposed between old cobblestone streets where low lit bars and fabulous eateries jostle to entice the spoilt for choice locals. Whilst you are going that way you should definitely drop in at Frank Gearys Titan clad Guggenheim Museum, it won't disappoint!
If, its just Galicia that tickles your fancy then you can get a ferry straight into Santander or you can fly from London directly into A Coruna.
Relais & Chateau A Quinta da Auga Hotel & Spa - Santiago de Compostela
Entering A Quinta da Auga is to arrive in a world of sensations where you immediately feel at home. This ancient paper mill from the 18th century has been lovingly restored by its owners. Embracing traditional Galician architecture, all of the 51 rooms provide views over the beautiful gardens. The property boasts a stunning spa and wellness area where guests are invited to relax. Its treatment menu combines oriental and occidental rituals using high-quality natural cosmetics. At the Filigrana restaurant, food lovers will savour a contemporary cuisine with Galician influences, with a special presence of fresh local products and regional wines. In 2003, captivated by the scenery surrounding the abandoned warehouse which, in 1790, was the Laraño paper factory, the architect María Luisa García, her husband, José Ramón Lorenzo, and their daughter Luisa Lorenzo left everything behind in to embark on their most personal project: A Quinta da Agua. A magical hotel, the result of the family’s care and passion, whose main virtue is offering travellers an unforgettable place to stay and relax, and learn what it is to do nothing. A Quinta da Agua has 51 different rooms, all with natural light, soft beds, warm duvets filled with down feathers and soft bedding made of Egyptian cotton. It also has three charming suites with large living spaces, a study and a jacuzzi, designed to offer maximum comfort in an exclusive, luxury setting. The melody of soft jazz, the dim light of the candles, a delicious aroma and the warmth of the fireplace in the cold winter months are the finishing touches of this hotel which, in addition to a spa and restaurant, has a reading room and a social room plus a bar in the style of a French bistro.
Costa de la Luz, the ‘Coast of Light’ & Andalusia
The Atlantic coast of Andalusia has some of the most spectacular beaches in Spain, with perfect conditions for waters ports and, with a string of low-key family resorts it's easy to see why this destination is a big hit with Spanish holidaymakers.
The Costa De La Luz winds upwards from Spain's southernmost point just west of Gibraltar to the border with Portugal. I love this area mostly for its un-spoilt beaches but the evident Moorish influences, just give Andalusia that extra punch. This region oozes passion, and dare I say more than its fair share of testosterone. Everyone identifies Spain with flamenco, beautiful white Andalusian horses and the Matadors of yesteryear.
To travel to Andalusia is like being on a supercharged film set of the movie Zorro, picture the scene!
The Costa de la Luz ( Coast of light) offers a great opportunity for, water sports enthusiasts as well as families seeking a more laid back beach holiday away from the Costas. First-timers to this area are sure to love the balance of a road trip which appeals to the parents as well as the children.
My preference when I travel with my family is to mix the scenery up a little, I like to see a number of places when I travel and don't like to feel rooted in one location. When I travel to this area I often fly into Faro (from Leeds Bradford) and travel down to Isla Christina (the beaches here are vast!) and Huelva and then make my way down to the resorts of Conil de la Frontera or Los Caños de Meca via Cadiz. Please note that if you are flexible you can get cheap fares to a number of airports in the vicinity but the closest airports depart from the South of England are into Seville or Jerez (pronounced Hireth)
The largest city and the most charming city in Andalusia is Seville, it's an immensely regal and beautiful city stuffed to the rafters with a rich and varied history. Seville occupies the valley of the Guadalquivir river. The river, with 60 navigable kilometres it was an important harbour during the Spanish conquest of the American continent. Silver and gold from the New World arrived into Seville through the river and were distributed throughout the country from here.
The city of Seville is famous worldwide for its culture, jaw-droppingly beautiful monuments, traditions, and artistic heritage. This is the birthplace of Flamenco and the city where the most amazing Easter processions take place. But Seville is also the neuralgic centre of the South of Spain, a city full of life and possibilities.
Jerez and Cadiz are famous sherry regions so if you plan on taking the inlaws or outlaws you'll find a stack of sherry bars to entertain them. Out of season late Feb-early Marc ) Cadiz hosts a fabulous carnival which lasts for 11 days its a good old fashioned fiesta and the streets filled edge to edge with people eager to see parades, fireworks, comedians, puppet shows, acrobats and enjoy the non-stop music of the carnival.
All the above reflects Spain Uncovered, it's raw and real and is awash with fantastic regional food, wine, great hospitality and immensely beautiful scenery, just about as far from the costa's as you get.
For more information on how to get to these places as well as where to stay and what to do please don't hesitate to contact me. I am happy to give you a personalised quote and co-ordinate an itinerary for you.