San Pedro de Alcántara
Although less well-known than its neighbours Marbella, Puerto Banús and Estepona, San Pedro de Alcántara offers a charm all of its own. With its distinctly Spanish atmosphere, San Pedro is an ideal base to experience the authentic Western Costa del Sol.
At the centre of the village is the orange-tree-lined pedestrian street, Avenida Marques del Duero, with its many shops, bars and restaurants, leading to the picturesque church square ‘Plaza de la Iglesia’. This is the perfect place to do as the locals do, sit back in the shade of the trees and watch the world go by.
For lovers of food and drink, San Pedro is spoiled for choice for high-quality bars, cafés and restaurants, featuring the best of Spanish and international cuisine. You can always find a terrace to relax with good company and enjoy the Spanish lifestyle until the early hours of the morning. All this at a fraction of the prices of more touristy locations!
An easy walk from the centre of town brings you to the palm trees, promenade, chiringuitos (beach bars) and restaurants of San Pedro Beach. A great choice for sun-lovers, this 1500m long beach allows you to relax in peace and tranquillity, away from the crowds of Marbella and Puerto Banús.
San Pedro offers you the unique opportunity to visit the tourist hot spots of the Costa del Sol but also to experience the real Spain.
A 15 minute drive from San Pedro brings you to the centre of Marbella. Why not pass a few hours exploring the charming cobbled streets and squares of the historic old town ‘casco antiguo’. Have a browse in the many boutiques to find that perfect souvenir, or relax with a sangria or ‘tinto de verano’ in the central Plaza los Naranjos’.
Leading you from the old town to the promenade ‘Paseo Marítimo’ is the Paseo de la Alameda with its beautiful fountain and shaded corners. The Dhalí statues of the Avenida del Mar are sure to appeal to lovers of art and culture.
Marbella´s Paseo Marítimo (promenade) is the perfect place to see and be seen. The charming marina is a great location to relax with a cool drink and indulge in a little ‘people-watching’, and there are so many bars and restaurants to choose from, that you could eat out every day for a year and probably not visit the same place twice!
A mere 4km from San Pedro is ‘glamour central’ Puerto Banús. Have a stroll round the marina to mix with the jet-set, you will never have seen so many super-cars and posh yachts in one place in your life! Keep an eye out for the enormous yacht ‘Shaf’ which belongs to the King of Saudi Arabia.
Next, shop ‘til you drop for the latest fashions in the many designer boutiques. Or, if you prefer to buy it all in one place, the huge department store ‘El Corte Inglés’ has everything under one roof.
Of course, Puerto Banús is at the heart of Marbella’s world-famous night-life. Start the evening with a meal in one of the numerous up-market restaurants before dancing the night away in one of the resort’s exclusive night-clubs. Puerto Banús and Marbella are home to some of the world’s most well-known beach clubs for you to recover from the ‘night before’…
Away from the tourist bustle and beaches of the Costa del Sol, Andalucia is so much more than ‘sun, sea, sand and sangría’. So, here we’ve chosen a few of the region’s finest towns and cities which will give you an insight into another side of Andalucían life and culture.
40km North-West of San Pedro, up in the mountains, is the spectacular ‘white town’ of Ronda. Perched on the edge of high-cliffs and joined by a number of bridges, the old and new towns are separated by a deep gorge. The atmosphere of peace and tranquillity in Ronda is unique, and the views across the surrounding countryside are stunning. Ronda is home to the oldest bull-ring in Spain, which is also a museum, offering an insight into this fundamental part of Spanish, and particularly andalucian culture.
A one-hour drive along the coast to the South-West brings you to Gibraltar, a piece of Britain in Spain. Legend has it that as long as the apes remain on ‘The Rock’, Gibraltar will remain British, and you can meet them ‘up close and personal’ at the Apes Den. From the ‘Top of the Rock’ there are panoramic views across the bay of Algeciras and towards Marroco, and the beautiful St Michael’s Cave is well worth a visit. Gibraltar is a duty-free zone, and a paradise for those who enjoy a little ‘retail therapy’.
The provincial capital, Málaga, is not just the place where the plane lands or the AVE arrives, but a city well worth a visit in its own right. At the very heart of things is the Calle Larios, Málaga’s main pedestrianised shopping street. This retail artery joins the Plaza de la Constitución (a great location to have a coffee and soak up the atmosphere) to the shady gardens of the Paseo Parque. A short stroll brings you to the harbour, and the designer boutiques and gourmet restaurants of the recently-opened Muelle Uno centre. Málaga boasts two superb art galleries; the Picasso Museum and the Museo Carmen Thyssen, as well as the Cervantes theatre which hosts a wide variety of shows, plays and concerts. For history-lovers, Málaga’s Moorish castle, the Gibralfaro is a must-see, with its spectacular views across the city and the Mediterranean. Málaga, of course, has its own city beaches, ideal places to take a break from all the sightseeing and soak up some sun, and is renowned for its wonderfully fresh fish and sea food (‘boquerones’ are a local speciality).
With its backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada is one of Spain’s most visually stunning cities. It is world-famous for the Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens, jewels of Andalucía’s Moorish heritage and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which no visitor to the city should miss. Make sure you book your ticket for the Nasrid Palaces well in advance, as you are given a specific time for entrance into this part of the Alhambra! Facing the Alhambra are the fascinating gipsy districts of the Albaicín and Sacromonte. From the Albaicín’s viewing points you have the opportunity to take the perfect photo of the Alhambra, while in Sacramonte people still live in cave-houses! There is a museum devoted to life in the caves, and you can even buy a few essentials in a cave-shop! To see authentic live Flamenco, the Albaicín and Sacromonte are definitely also the places to go. Granada is noted for its generous hospitality and it is tradition that you will be served a free ‘tapa’ with your first drink in most bars. Simply visit a few different establishments and no need for dinner!
Capital of Andalucía’s most northerly province, Córdoba has a rich cultural history and is home to the breath-taking Mezquita, less well-know than Granada’s Alhambra but definitely worth visiting. From the 8th to the 13th centuries Córdoba was the wealthy and powerful seat of a Moorish caliphate, and it is from this period that the Mezquita (great mosque) orginates. Beautifully decorated, the Mezquita has 856 columns of jade, onyx, marble and granite. In the heart of the old mosque is a cathedral nave, making this the only cathedral without walls! The Old Town of Córdoba is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there is much more to see than just the Mezquita; the Roman bridge and temple, the winding streets of the Jewish Quarter and the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos to name but a few. May is a special month to visit Córdoba when the city holds the May Crosses Festival, the Patios Festival and the annual ‘feria’ or city fair.
Following the Guadalquivir river downstream from Córdoba, we arrive at Spain’s fourth-largest city and the capital of Andalucía, Sevilla. It would be impossible to include all of Sevilla’s attractions here, but these are some of the highlights. Sevilla’s huge Gothic cathedral stands on the site of the previous Moorish mosque, and was constructed during the 15th century. It houses some remains of Christopher Columbus himself (Sevilla was central to the Spanish conquest of South America) and its bell-tower, the Giralda, was previously the mosque’s minaret. The Giralda has no stairs, instead you walk up to the top and its panoramic views by ramps, as previously officials rode up the tower on horseback. Facing the cathedral is the Alcázar, a former Moorish palace. Allow yourself to drift between the intricately tiled and decorated rooms before a stroll around the beautiful gardens. The Maria Luisa Park provides an escape from Sevilla’s heat in the shade of its myriad trees and leads you to the Plaza de España, constructed in an array of architectural styles for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition and decorated with typical glazed tiles. In Sevilla at certain times of the year the streets really do smell of oranges and this gives a characteristic aroma to the neighbourhood of narrow winding streets and patios around the cathedral and Alcázar. Semana Santa (Easter week) in Sevilla is noteworthy for its sombre but highly decorative parades, and is followed 2 weeks later by the Feria de Abril (Sevilla’s April city fair) which, bizarrely falls in May if it is a late Easter!
Jerez de la frontera
Moving South from Sevilla, you enter Cádiz Province and arrive at Jerez de la Frontera, where in the Spring its streets are lit-up by the delicate blue blossom of the jacaranda trees. Jerez, El Puerto de Santa María and San Lucar de Barrameda make the 3 corners of the ‘sherry triangle’ and only wines produced in this area of Cádiz can be called sherry. There are close historical links between Jerez and the UK, many of the bodegas (wineries) having English names such as Sandemans and Gonzalez Byass (producers of the iconic ‘Tio Pepe’ fino). It would be inconceivable to go to Jerez and not pay a visit to one of the bodegas, just be careful not to drive afterwards as the tasting sessions are very generous! To mention Jerez brings not just sherry but horses to mind, as Jerez is home to the world-famous Royal Andalucian School of Equestrian Arts. In the shows, the beautifully-turned-out horses display skills and abilities you would not believe! Of course, Jerez’s history has long been interlinked with horses and, since Medieval times, in May Jerez holds its annual ‘Feria de Caballos’ or ‘horse fair’, one week after Sevilla’s ‘Feria de Abril’. This is the perfect opportunity to combine Jerez’s two strongest traditions, admiring the horses whilst enjoying a glass or two of wine!
Possibly Andalucía’s best-kept secret, Cádiz is Europe’s oldest continuously-populated city, dating back over 3000 years and founded by the Ancient Phoenicians. Located at the end of a long peninsula, you pass through Cádiz’s modern outskirts before entering the old town by way of the Puertas de Tierra. The old town of Cádiz has a completely unique atmosphere and feeling, slightly shabby and gone-to-seed, but hinting at the greatness of its past. Cádiz was the gateway to South America during the golden age of the conquest. If you look up at many of the houses you will see the turrets that the merchants built in order to have the best possible view of arriving ships so that they could beat the competition to the harbour. The cathedral of Cádiz mixes different architectural styles such as Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical and is a close neighbour of the municipal market. Here, you can choose from the most amazing array of fresh fish and seafoods, fruit, and vegetables, all so carefully displayed that they make a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. You will notice that the market does not smell of fish, showing how fresh it is! Cádiz retains many of its old sea defences, such as the Santa Catalina castle, some of which you may recognise from the James Bond film ‘Die Another Day’, which was actually filmed in Cádiz and not Cuba! Cádiz’s city beaches such as the Playa de la Caleta and Playa de la Victoria are arguably some of the most beautiful city beaches to be found, with fine golden sand and evocative views of the city. Carnaval comes to Cádiz in February and the city bursts at the seams with visitors to this very well-known festival.
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H/MA/01674 - Page last updated: 25-04-2016 12:31