From the misty green inlets of the north-west to the dusty south, via the rolling plains of the centre, Spain is nothing if not incredibly varied in terrain and temperature. Which is precisely what…
Central Spain is filled with castles straight out of Don Quixote, never-ending fields of sunflowers blowing in the breeze, steep snowy peaks, and hot desert landscapes. It goes without saying that Madrid is a must-see city, but some of the small towns around the capital are where you’ll find Spain’s true hidden treasures.
Wander around this medieval city and feel like Cinderella and Hercules all at once. Segovia’s ancient Roman aqueduct stands dramatically in the centre of the city, whilst the fairytale castle is just as breathtaking.
The half-a-mile-long, nearly 29-metre-high aqueduct will make you wonder how the arches’ 250,000 granite blocks have stayed together since the 1st century. The Alcázar, its clean lines rising out of a rocky crag, could be plucked straight from a Disney film. Walk through the city’s cobbled Plaza Mayor for charming shops, traditional restaurants and, of course, the Segovia Cathedral.
Segovia is famous for cochinillo asado, roasted suckling pig, and ponche segoviano, a sweet treat from the region. Try family-run José María Restaurante, just outside Plaza Mayor, for an authentic meal in an impressive setting, or Mesón Don Jimeno for some local fare.
Mesón Don Jimeno, Calle Daoiz, 15 40003 Segovia. Tel: 921 46 63 50
José María Restaurante, Calle Cronista Lecea 11, 40001 Segovia. Tel: 921 461 111. Restaurantejosemaria.com
The famous hanging houses are the main draw of this UNESCO World Heritage Site city. But behind the fortress walls lies an entire city that’s full of well-preserved, medieval buildings waiting to be explored.
The casas colgadas, clinging to cliffs since the 15th century, have been turned into restaurants and a modern art museum. The Museo de Arte Abstracto Español has an unexpected art collection well worth a visit. Cross the Saint Paul bridge over the gorge of the River Huécar and take in the best views of the hanging houses. When you’re back in the city, Gothic-style Cuenca Cathedral is a must-see.
At lunchtime, peek inside a hanging house and taste one of the city’s specialities, roasted lamb, at Mesón Casas Colgadas. Then wander around the Plaza Mayor and sample some Cuenca treats from bakeries like Marisol. Don’t miss alajú, a traditional pastry made with almonds and honey.
Mesón Casas Colgadas, Calle Canonigos 3, 16001 Cuenca, Spain. Tel: 696 21 29 83
Marisol, Calle Diego Jiménez, 4 – bajo, 16004 Cuenca, Spain. Tel: 969 226 559
Toledo is a magnificent melting pot of culture and history. In medieval times, Arab, Jewish and Christian cultures coexisted and came together to make up this stunning city overlooking the River Tajo.
Visit one of the most impressive examples of Gothic architecture and history at the Catedral de Toledo. Get lost in the city’s beautiful winding streets and stumble into the El Transito Synagogue and Sephardic Museum in the Jewish Quarter. Then head across the street to the El Greco Museum to celebrate Spain’s Golden Age artist.
When you’ve worked up an appetite, try Restaurante Adolfo for a little finesse in a 12th-century Jewish house. Or make your way a little outside the city to El Carmen de Montesión for the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Toledo.
Restaurante Adolfo, Calle Hombre de Palo, 7, 45001 Toledo. Tel: 925 227 321. Adolforestaurante.com
El Carmen de Montesión, Urbanización Montesión, Calle Montesión, 107 Toledo, 45004. Tel: 925 22 36 74. Elcarmendemontesion.com
Salamanca is famous for being home to the oldest university in Spain, the 13th-century University of Salamanca. The mixture of architectural styles, along with the city’s special Castilian glow, make the city magical.
Start in the centre of the Plaza Mayor to get a feel for the city’s grandeur. By night, its beaming Baroque architecture lights up and glows down on the people gathered in the square. Be sure to see the Old Cathedral and the New, and don’t miss the Casa de las Conchas and the Convento de San Esteban.
When it’s time to eat, try Victor Gutiérrez in the centre of the city where international cuisine is served in an intimate setting. And don’t forget to try some of Salamanca’s famous jamón ibérico de bellota, ham from pigs fed exclusively on acorns; it’s the best in Spain.
Víctor Gutiérrez, Calle Empedrada 4, 37007 Salamanca. Tel: 923 26 29 73. Restaurantevictorgutierrez.com
Walk through the impressive walls of Ávila and it’s as though you’ve taken a time machine to the 16th century. When the walls are illuminated at night, you’ll feel like you’re in a dream.
The Cathedral of Ávila, the Basilica of San Vicente, and the city’s Plaza Mayor are absolute must-sees. But make sure to take some time to explore the Convento de Santa Teresa and its small museum to understand the city’s religious heritage and connection to the saint.
As you meander through the old city, make sure to peek into pastry shop windows to find yemas de Santa Teresa, a traditional sweet made with egg yolk (you can’t go wrong at La Flor de Castilla). For the best views in town, try El Almacén — especially for dinner when the city’s wall is glowing in the distance. Or try Cinco in the city centre where you’ll find creative dishes as well as the traditional chuletones.
El Almacén, Carretera Salamanca 6, 05002 Avila. Tel: 920 25 44 55
Cinco, Plaza Mosén Rubi, 5, 05001 Ávila. Tel: 920 25 21 04
El Escorial is an elegant town in the mountains of the Madrid region. It’s filled with pretty plazas and charming shops, but the main attraction is the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
This incredible complex is mostly known for being a monastery, but the massive building has also served as a basilica, royal palace, college, royal pantheon and tomb, library and museum. You can tour the incredible library, eerie tombs, monastery and gardens from Tuesday to Sunday, or just wander around the outside of the awe-inspiring building before heading to lunch.
Try Charoles for a traditional lunch at a classic El Escorial restaurant. Or Amet Studio for an innovative take on local dishes, open during autumn and winter. If you’re looking for regional cuisine any time of year, try Montia.
Charoles, Calle Floridablanca 24, 28200, San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Tel: 91 890 59 75. Charolesrestaurante.com
Amet Studio, Calle Pablo Picasso, 4 – local 3, Urb. Felipe II, 28200. Tel: 664 436 863. Ametstudio.com
Montia, Calle Calvario 4 – San Lorenzo de El Escorial, 28200 Madrid. Tel: 911 33 69 88. Montia.es
Aranjuez is known as the destination of choice for the Spanish royals during their spring and summer holidays. King Felipe II commissioned the Royal Palace and its incredible gardens (over 300 hectares of impeccably planned and manicured green space) in the second half of the 16th century.
You can take a guided tour of the palace to see the royal boudoirs, or marvel at the incredible building, the main square, and the seemingly never-ending gardens from the outside. Find your way to Estanque de los Chinescos inside the Jardín del Príncipe.
Have a picnic of local strawberries and asparagus (the region’s specialties) in the city’s beautiful green spaces or wide open plazas. Or have lunch in a converted villa at Casa José for an elegant meal with a focus on local cuisine.
Casa José, Calle Abastos 32, 28300, Aranjuez. Tel: 91 891 14 88. Casajose.es
Alcalá de Henares
This picturesque town is known for its historic university, being the birthplace of Miguel Cervantes, and serving up large portions of tapas alongside the beers (or other drinks) you order.
Wander through the UNESCO World Heritage Site city centre and see the beautiful Plaza de Cervantes. Then visit Teatro Corral de Comedias for some history and a show at an incredibly well-preserved 16th-century theatre. Check out the stunning facade of the Universidad de Alcalá, or even take a guided tour.
If you’re looking for traditional tapas, try Indalo Tapas for an authentic Alcalá experience, or Restaurante Goya for a classic Mediterranean meal. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, have a rosquilla de Alcalá with your after-lunch coffee.
Indalo Tapas, Calle Libreros, 9, 28801 Alcalá de Henares. Tel: 918 82 44 15. Indalotapas.com
Restaurante Goya, Calle Goya 2, 28807 Alcalá de Henares. Tel: 91 882 60 34. Restaurantegoya.com
Chinchón is a quiet town in the southeast of Madrid. People come to try local specialties like chinchón (anisette, the city’s namesake), regional wines at the end of March, and the garlic harvest in October. The beautiful, circular Plaza Mayor turns into a traditional bullring during the town’s many festivals.
Take a walk through the pretty streets of the old town and buy some of Chinchón’s famous garlic. And when there are no celebrations taking place, the Plaza Mayor is a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee and eat a fresh pastry.
Try La Dulcería de Chinchón for a freshly made, cream-filled donut. For lunch, La Recua del Pelicano is an unassuming place to have a quiet, traditional meal. Drink a shot of local chinchón to digest.
La Dulcería de Chinchón, Plaza Mayor, 1, 28370 Chinchón. Tel: 918 93 52 93
La Recua del Pelicano, Cuesta de Quiñones, 2, 28370 Chinchón. Tel: 918 32 01 29
Manzanares el Real
Found right at the bottom of the rocky, looming Sierra de Guadarrama, Manzanares el Real is the perfect place to start if you want to explore the mountains of the Madrid region. It’s a nice town to visit in its own right too, with the 15th-century New Castle of Manzanares el Real, and the Santillana Reservoir to stroll around.
However, most people come here to access La Pedriza, part of the Sierra de Guadarrama with its incredible finger-like boulders and cliffs to climb, and an enchanting river with beautiful natural pools, like the Charca Verde. Explore other awe-inducing natural rock formations, like Elephant Rock (El Elefante) and Chicken Bridge (El Puente de los Pollos). Visit La Pedriza’s visitors’ centre for more information about hiking trails.
For a simple Spanish meal on a peaceful terrace by the reservoir, try Mesón Los Morales. But your best bet in Manzanares is to pack a picnic, jump in the car and head to La Pedriza for lunch.
Mesón Los Morales, Av. de Madrid, 24, 28410, Manzanares El Real. Tel: 918 53 06 41
Array (  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 64306 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-07-23 20:56:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-07-23 20:56:14 [post_content] => From the misty green inlets of the north-west to the dusty south, via the rolling plains of the centre, Spain is nothing if not incredibly varied in terrain and temperature. Which is precisely what makes the range of Spanish wines produced so diverse, lively and interesting. Here’s our 101 guide to some of the top Spanish wine regions to help you explore this fabulous country through one of its very finest assets: its grapes.
Spanish Red Wines
RiojaRioja is without a doubt, Spain’s best known red. Stretching away across three valleys – the Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental – to the south of the Cantabrian Mountains, it’s a relatively small area that nevertheless packs quite a punch when it comes to global wine production. Some numbers, then: it’s Spain’s oldest wine (with written records dating back to the 9th century); there are more than 600 wineries and nearly 15,000 grape growers spread across 65,000 hectares of vineyards. Made from a variety of grapes it comes in three age classifications: Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. All are full-bodied and generally best served with food. One thing to look out for is whether the Rioja was aged in American oak, French oak or a mixture of both barrels, with each having their distinct tastes. A Rioja winery you must visit: Bodegas López de Heredia - in the town of Haro, it's one of the older wineries in La Rioja. By appointment only. More information: Lopezdeheredia.com.
Ribera del DueroThe ‘other’ great Spanish wine beginning with R. Only the best Tempranillo grapes are used to make polished Ribera del Duero wines, and there are many in Spain (and outside) who prefer the, frequently, softer more delicate taste, than that of their cousins from Rioja. Wines from Ribera del Duero are usually 100% Tempranillo and are mostly aged in French oak; they have the same age classification as Rioja (Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva). A Ribera del Duero winery you must visit: Matarromera - in the town of Valbuena del Duero, a trip to this winery can also include a visit to their museum, the EMINA Wine Museum. More information: Matarromera.es.
PrioratPriorat is probably Spanish wine’s greatest secret. With a wine growing history dating back to the 12th century, this southern Catalonian region these days produces some of the finest and fullest bodied reds in Spain… of which most people outside of Spain have never even heard. The terrain here is tough (even by Spanish wine region standards), so the vines are forced to search for water in the soil, making yield low - and prices high. The most common grape varieties used are: Garnacha, Cariñena with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. A Priorat winery you must visit: Alvaro Palacios - the name that practically singlehandedly spearheaded Priorat's ascent to the summit of Spanish wines back in the 1980s is still one of the leading wineries in the region. More information: Aseuniv.com.
Spanish White Wines
Rias BaixasOn the border of Portugal in the north-west of Spain, the Rias Baixas region of Galicia is cool, green and crisp – not unlike its white wine. The crowning glory of this wine-growing region is Albariño, which is clean, with occasional floral notes, and is absolutely ideal paired with the sublime local seafood. A Rias Baixas winery you must visit: Far from the largest, it's the setting of this family business - in the grand, fortified country house of Finca La Moreira - that makes it one the more atmospheric wineries in Spain. More information: Marquesdevizhoja.com.
CavaFrom the northeast of Spain above Barcelona, Cava is Spain’s most famous sparkling wine. Labelled with brut (dry) or semi-seco (semi sweet), Cavas can be white or rosé, and are usually made from Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes. A Cava winery you must visit: Dating back to the Middle Ages, this Empordà winery certainly doesn't lack for provenance - and it's got the grand castellated headquarters to prove it. More information: Perelada.com.
SherrySherry is made from grapes grown within Cadiz's ‘Sherry Triangle’ between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Maria in Andalucia. It comes in sweet and dry varieties. Dry Sherries like Fino or Manzanilla are crisp and acidic, and make for the perfect accompaniment to fish and seafood; Oloroso is caramel-like and nutty and goes well with meat, while medium-dry Amontillado is perfectly paired with chicken or game birds. A Sherry bodega you must visit: Bodegas Tradición is not the oldest bodega in the Sherry Triangle by a long chalk (that honour goes to Domecq), but it is one of the most insistent on traditional techniques. More information: Bodegastradicion.es.
RiojaWhite Rioja is made with Viura; sometimes on its own, other times blending with Chardonnay or Garnacha Blanca amongst others. Most white Riojas are young but are still full-bodied to taste.
Malaga WineMalaga has a long and distinguished wine-making history, with wines having been made in the region since the Phoenicians were in southern Spain, before the Romans picked up the baton. British wine merchants were sending Malaga wines back to sweet-toothed Victorians in the 19th-century. These days, made from Moscatel or Pedro Ximenez grapes, vinos de Malaga are fortified and naturally sweet. Coming in both red and white, they’re at their best served with a ripe local goats’ cheese. A Malaga winery you must visit: Bodega F. Schatz - it's entirely in keeping with the international past of the Spanish wine industry that one of the best wineries in Malaga should have been founded by a German. More information: F-schatz.com.
RuedaThe most commonly drunk white wine in Spain can be just a little disappointing to a new world white wine drinker. The Rueda region is in Castilla y Leon and its wines are usually made with Verdejo grapes. It produces very aromatic wines, often with tropical fruit and fresh grass hints, that’s fresh with just a hint of bitterness.
Things to Look Out For with Spanish WineThere are several wine classifications in Spain, each holding specific criteria. The ones to look out for are Denominacion de Origen (DO), Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOCa, DOC or DOQ) and DO Pago (only for single winery estates). On the bottle you’ll see the words Joven, Crianza (aged at least 2 years and 12 months in oak barrels), Reserva (aged at least three years with at least 12 months in oak barrels), or Gran Reserva (aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels, and more than three years bottled before they’re sold). Like the sound of these wine regions in Spain and want to experience some of the very best wines they produce? Stay with The Luxury Villa Collection and you can order the finest Spanish wines direct to your villa, or arrange a tasting or tour through our concierge. [post_title] => A Brief Introduction to Spanish Wines [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => spanish-wine-regions-guide [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-07-24 05:40:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-07-24 05:40:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://theluxuryvillacollection.com/?p=64306 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 42015 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-04-11 15:08:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-11 15:08:18 [post_content] => Sun and sand: the two things for which Nerja is most famous. And many visitors to the area don't get beyond them. Which is a shame, really, as there's much more to the area than just a great flop and drop break. From wonderful walks to fabulous fiestas and, yes, some of the most beautiful beaches around, we've picked out just a few of the very best things to do in Nerja. Happy exploring.
1. Laze on the BeachThere's a pretty solid chance that if you're after tips for what to do in in the vicinity of Nerja, then a beach day is going to be fairly high on your checklist. Thankfully, there are no fewer than 12 beaches to choose from in and around Nerja. Three of our favourites in town are Playa de Calahonda, Playa de Burriana and Playa El Chorrillo.
2. catch the sunset from the Balcon de EuropaAfter a long, lazy afternoon on the beach, there's only one place to head: the Balcon de Europa. Grab an ice-cream, saunter down to the end of the promenade and watch the sun slowly melt into the Mediterranean. Altogether now... WOW.
3. Be amazed by the caves of NerjaFunnily enough, the sun doesn't even shine in Nerja's biggest attraction. But that doesn't make it any less spectacular. The Caves of Nerja is a 5km complex of caverns that includes the largest stalagtite in the world, some Bronze Age remains and, it's thought, mankind's oldest artwork - which dates back some 42,000 years. Remarkable. (Carretera de Bajada a Playa de Maro, s/n, 29787 Nerja, open 0930/1000-1530.)
4. Go Snorkelling from One Cove to AnotherJust a mile or two to the east of Nerja the sparkling coves of the Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo Natural park stretch away. Snorkeling, sea kayaking or paddle boarding (see below) trips set off from Playa Burriana or Playa Carabeo for you to enjoy the crystal-clear sea teeming with sea life.
5. explore the coast by paddle BoardThe beaches of Nerja itself are urban, which comes with the distinct plus side of there being plenty of bars and restaurants on hand to choose from. But running away to the east is a stunningly wild, cove-lined coast that's great for exploring via paddle board. Rental and guided tours are available from Playa Burriana and Playa de Maro.
6. get out to a nearby villageVenture from Nerja and the idyllic whitewashed mountain villages of the Axarquia are within easy reach. Competa, Maro and the lovely Frigiliana (pictured) are some of the most inviting.
7. Eat Fresh Fish Cooked on a BBQ on the BeachEspetos de sardinas - sardines skewered and cooked on a BBQ until they're deliciously tender - are a local delicacy. One of the best spots to try them in Nerja is at the far westernmost end of town in Chiringuito Mauri (Playo Playazo, 29780 Nerja). Best washed down with an icy beer or two, of course.
8. walk the rio chillarEven by southern Spanish standards Nerja is surrounded by some pretty top-notch walking. Soaring above the town are the jagged peaks of the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Mountains. For something just a little less adventurous, the most famous walk around Nerja is up the Rio Chillar. You follow a beautiful, ankle-cooling river as it babbles its way down from the hills, discovering narrow ravines, waterfalls and rock pools along the way.
9. Devour Baby squid at El PulguillaOK, so you don’t have to have baby squid - although we highly recommend you do - but you definitely should grab a quick tapas and a beer/wine in this stalwart of a restaurant in Nerja. Elegant fine dining it ain't, but it is a great way to experience a typical Malaga fish restaurant. (Calle Almte. Ferrándiz, 26, 29780 Nerja; 952 52 13 84)
10. View the AqueductThis 19th century aqueduct was built to supply the surrounding sugar cane factories with water. During the summer it's a sweaty 10-minute walk from the centre of Nerja, but (as you can see in the image above) it makes for a spectacular photo opportunity when you get there.
11. Pause for Thought in Ermita de las AngustiasBuilt in 1790 this church is the home of Nerja’s patron saint, Our Lady of Anguish (Plaza de la Ermita, 11, 29780 Nerja). It might not be the grandest of churches, but it is a lovely, cool little spot to catch your breath in for five minutes or so on a hot summer's afternoon.
12. Plan a Trip Around a FiestaNerja is in Andalucia. Which means, inevitably, it's a place that's serious about letting its hair down every once in a while. The five festivals that Nerja goes for in a big way are Easter, Carnival (February), San Isidro (May), Virgen del Carmen (July 16th) and the Epiphany (5th January). Nominally religious they may be, but trust us, they're also really just a good excuse to P-A-R-T-Y.
13. See Authentic FlamencoNearby Velez-Malaga has one of the most vibrant flamenco scenes in Malaga province, thanks to the efforts of local flamenco-cultural initiative, Flamenco Abierto (Flamencoabierto.com). So if you want to catch some real flamenco, as opposed to the tourist nonsense that's so often served up, the Peña Flamenca Niño de Vélez on a Friday evening is the place to head.
14. Eat at SollunBefore opening this lovely little restaurant in Nerja chef Juan Quintanilla helped put Skina in Marbella on the Michelin-starred map. As soon as you sit down, though, it's clear that Sollun is an even more personal project. If you choose to work from the short menu, the chef himself will come out of the kitchen and recommend what's particularly good that day. The tasting menu is a thing of beauty: it features a selection of dishes with a heavy local focus, each paired with a suitable wine. (Calle Pintada, 9, 29780 Nerja; 653 68 94 52) Like our pick of things to do in Nerja and looking for more recommendations on the Costa del Sol? Have a browse through a few of our favourite Marbella day trips. Alternatively, if you're after a beautiful country villa nearby, check out our Axarquia luxury villas collection, here. [post_title] => Things to Do in Nerja that You Just Can't Miss [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => things-to-do-in-nerja [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-01 08:13:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-01 08:13:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://theluxuryvillacollection.com/?p=42015 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) 1