Looking to get off the beaten track in Andalucia? We’ve scratched beneath the surface of this exciting, historic area of Spain, asked local experts and come up with a list of little-known things to…
Let’s get one thing clear from the start: it’s never exactly a bad time to visit southern Spain, as on any given day of any given week all year round, there’s something going on. However from full-on fiestas to solemn religious ceremonies, via annual harvests and music festivals, we’ve picked out a few of the very best times to visit.
Planning a Visit around the Weather
Weather-wise, when’s the best time of year to visit Andalucia? It’s a question that gets put to us a lot here at the Luxury Villa Collection. And the answer we always have to give is… it very much depends.
Andalucia’s a big region – four times as large as that default indicator of size, Wales – plus, it’s also an area of huge geographical diversity. So while you may have lovely winter sunshine and 20 degrees down on the coast, the snow might well be falling on the mountains inland.
Let’s focus on the positives, though, and the average temperatures in the region’s most sun-soaked province, Malaga:
Traditional & Religious Events
Los Reyes Magos – Various towns and Cities; 5th January 2020: The epiphany on 6th January, is celebrated in Spain with a national holiday and gifts are said to be left by The Three Kings for children. The night before, The Three Kings visit most towns and cities in the form of a parade, festivities usually begin around 17.00hrs. Children collect sweets that are thrown by the kings and their helpers.
Carnival – Cadiz; 20th February to 1st March 2020: The weekend before Lent is a massive party weekend in southern Spain and nowhere does it bigger than the city of Cadiz. It’s a noisy, messy affair where everyone takes to the streets in fancy dress and parties until sunrise.
Semana Santa – Seville; 5th April to 12st April 2020: With the sound of brass and the scent of incense on the night air, every Easter the streets of Seville are filled with the processions of Semana Santa (or Holy Week). While Seville undoubtedly puts on the biggest and grandest display of devotion, other places of note include all the big cities – Granada, Malaga and Cordoba especially – while the small town of Velez-Malaga is a spectacular and lesser-known alternative.
Las Cruces de Mayo – Granada; 3nd May 2020: Another city, another full-scale party dressed up as a religious occasion. While the crosses which are displayed in squares throughout the city are undoubtedly lovely, Granada’s Las Cruces is, in reality, just a great excuse for a party. And why not?
Patios de Cordoba; 4th to 17th May 2020: North, south, east or west, spring is one of the best times to visit Spain, wherever in the country you might be thinking of heading. Nowhere is that more the case than in Cordoba. In May, some of the oldest and most beautiful patios of the town’s historic centre are decked out in their full floral finery and opened up to the public. Unmissable.
El Rocio Pilgrimage – Huelva; Pentecost/depending on Easter: One of the region’s most impressive devotional displays, up to a million people have been known to make the journey to this remote church to see the Virgin make her spectacular appearance in the early hours of Pentecost Monday. With El Rocio sitting right in the heart of the Doñana National Park, it makes for a great excuse to explore one of Spain’s great natural wildernesses, too.
Music & Nightlife Events
Beach club opening parties, Marbella and Puerto Banus; mid-late April: Something of a curtain-raiser for summer on the Costa, the beach clubs throw everything they’ve got into their annual opening parties. Nikki Beach, perhaps the best of the bunch, gets their season underway in 2020 on 29th April with most of the others falling either side of it.
Granada international festival of music and dance; TBC usually during June: While the flamenco on display during Granada’s annual festival is fantastic (headliners include Eva Yerbabuena), it’s undoubtedly the setting that steals the show. Sitting under the stars in the gardens of the Generalife accompanied by some top-class dance and exquisite views of historic Granada is an unforgettable experience.
Starlite Marbella; from 11th July – 28th August: Marbella‘s music festival is now a firm fixture on the Andalucia events calendar. 2020’s big international names include Lionel Richie and Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson while Estrella Morente, Diego El Cigala and Estopa top the line-up of Spanish performers.
Flamenco festivals; June-September: while Andalucia’s greatest art form is very definitely a year-round affair (check out our guide to Flamenco), it really heats up every year along with the summer temperatures. Malaga’s summer alone is studded with superb flamenco events from Alhaurin de la Torre (June) and Alora (July) to Antequera and Ronda (both August) before, finally, the main event of the Malaga Bienal Festival takes place in early to mid-September.
Spain as a whole celebrates more local virgins’ and saints’ day than you can shake a stick at. But if there’s a capital of the religious holiday, it has to be Andalucia. Aside from the religious elements, they mean one thing: letting your hair down and partying in a colourful blur of flamenco dresses, fairgrounds, dancing and drinking under the stars.
Ferias are held from April until September and are one of Andalucia’s greatest spectacles. In terms of city ferias, a few of the main ones of note are:
- Seville’s Feria de Abril: 26th to 2nd May 2020
- Feria de Caballo in Jerez de la Frontera; 9th to 16th May 2020
- Feria de Nuestra Señora de la Salud, Cordoba; 23rd May to 30th May 2020
- Feria de San Bernabé, Marbella; 8th to 14th June 2020
- Feria de Malaga; 15th to 22th August 2020
Gastronomy, Food & Wine Events
Down in Andalucia, the seasons – and the harvesting of the fruit of land and sea – still have a huge impact on people’s everyday lives. Spring sees olives, oranges, avocados, asparagus and the Almadraba fishing of bluefin tuna in Cadiz. By the late summer the region is exploding into wine harvests, while come the autumn the almonds and figs are bursting.
There are simply too many food and wine festivals in the region to name them all, but here are a couple that come with the LVC seal of approval:
Las Fiestas de la Vendimia y Otoño, Jerez de la Frontera; date TBC: One of the oldest ferias in Spain, Jerez’s annual Sherry shindig is a blur of wine crushing, bodega visits and tastings, flamenco, horses and general festivities.
Axarquia food festivals; August to September: this mountainous region to the east of Malaga has been getting something of a name for itself in recent years for its cluster of food-related festivals – and all the singing, dancing and general celebrations that comes with them.
- Dia de Morcilla (blood sausage), Canillas de Aceituno; 25th April 2020
- Dia de la Cereza (cherry), Alfarnate; TBC around 22nd June 2020
- Fiesta del Gazpacho; Alfarnatejo; 1st August 2020
- Noche del Vino (sweet wine), Competa; 15th August 2020
- Fiesta del Ajoblanco (cold almond soup), Almachar; 5th September 2020
- Dia de la Pasa (raisin), El Borge; 13th September 2020
Moto Grand Prix – Jerez Motor Racing Circuit – 1st to 3rd May : one of the biggest events on the Spanish motorsports calendar roars into Jerez every year. The second race of the Moto GP season is a big deal in Spain, and the atmosphere track-side over the course of a long weekend in May is one of the liveliest around. You can also watch the teams testing out the cars, earlier in February: Testing- 19th to 21st February 2020
Golf on the Costa del Sol: while the region’s +300 days of sunshine mean that golf is very much a year-round sport in Andalucia, the best times of year to book a golf holiday are probably spring and autumn, when you get the sunshine without the searing summer temperatures. (Have a look at our pick of the best golf courses on the Costa del Sol.)
International Polo Tournament – Sotogrande; dates TBC: Sotogrande’s Santa Maria Polo Club hosts one of the highlights of the polo calendar every summer. One of the most prestigious events in Andalucia, it’s an occasion in which to see and be seen – obligatory glass of bubbly in hand – as much as it is to watch what’s going on out on the field. Have a look at our guide for more details.
Sanlucar Horse Racing, Sanlucar de Barrameda; 9th, 10th, 11th, 25th, 26th and 27th August: This hell-for-leather horseback sprint along the Sanlucar sands goes all the way back to 1845. The setting’s superb and the atmosphere’s lively (with more than a drop or two of Manzanilla being supped). Best of all, though, you get right up close to the action and feel the thundering of hooves underfoot.
Ski season in the Sierra Nevada: Europe’s most southerly ski resort opens for business every year with the first snows in December, before closing up again in late April (or even on occasions in late May). Which means that you can literally spend a morning on the slopes before dropping down to the coast and hitting the beach in the afternoon.
Nature & the Great Outdoors
Flamingo migration at Fuente de Piedra; late February: For many of us bird-watching is not exactly the stuff of riveting holidays. However, seeing the flamingos at Fuente de Piedra is a little different. To catch a glimpse of them, as a vivid flash of pink against the blue sky, before they descend on the salt lakes of is one of the most beautiful natural spectacles in Europe.
Arrival of the cherry blossom, Axarquia; March (depending on the weather): Andalucia’s cherry blossom season may not be quite as well-known as Japan’s, but it’s still pretty spectacular. Alfarnate’s Ruta de las Pilas, a 12km round trip through the orchard-lined countryside, is one of the very best ways to experience it.
Beach weather; May onwards: While you can obviously stretch out on the sand at any time when the sun’s shining in southern Spain, locals tend not to venture onto them until summer has really kicked in. May and October can regularly touch on 30 degrees Celsius – more than warm enough for most of us to get the beach bag out, in other words.
Cork oak harvest – Los Alcornocales Natural Park; June-August: The serious business of the cork harvest is still carried out by hand and mule every summer in the cork forests of Los Alcornocales. A morning winding your way through the sun-dappled trees, stopping off to watch the trees being painstakingly stripped of their bark along the way, can be neatly finished up with a long, leisurely lunch in a stunning mountain town like Gaucin, Jimena de la Frontera, Ubrique or Zahara de la Sierra.
Our guide to when to visit Andalucia is far from definitive. There’s simply SO much more to see and do in this fabulous region of Spain – to the extent, in fact, that we’ve missed out, not just one but two, entire provinces in Almeria and Jaen.
So what’s stopping you? See the best of southern Spain from one of our luxury villas.
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If the bird's eye view of the inside of the cathedral looks spectacular, then to cap it off you emerge outside with 360-degree rooftop views of Malaga. [email protected]
Visit Malaga Cathedral's Roof
The top tip of Lindsay Gregory, Director of The Luxury Villa Collection: “Stroll around Malaga historic centre, take a hammam at Mammam Al Andalus and finish with cocktails at a rooftop bar.” https://malaga.hammamalandalus.com/en/
RELAX IN A HAMMAM
A rather lovely town with a Moorish fortress complex and no fewer than 30 churches. Don’t miss having tapas in the impressive Plaza de los Escribanos.
Meander in Antequera
Just outside Antequera, these are some of the largest and most complete megalithic structures in Europe. Museosdeandalucia.es
Visit Three 5000-year-old Dolmens
The ruins of a 9th-century church carved out of rock are the highlights of a larger fortified town complex. Anything 9th century and still standing is incredible in our books.
Wonder at a 9TH Century Church – Bobastro
A house with a garden in the Albayzin (the oldest part of Granada city) is known as a Carmen. These Carmens look out towards the Alhambra Palace, often have wooden balconies, plant-filled patios, babbling water features and decorative tiles.
Nose Around the Carmens of Granada's Albayzin
This 17th-century abbey and college comes complete with holy caves/ancient catacombs. The view of Granada alone is worth the walk.
Visit the Abbey of Sacromonte, Granada
This village has stately houses gripping onto the edge of a gorge, cobbled streets and spa credentials. Our top tip is to escape the summer heat in Granada and visit Alhama – it has a unique microclimate where summer nights cool to a comfortable level.
Take a day trip to Alhama de Granada and its Natural Hot Springs
Once part of several fortifications, the castle that sits on this tiny island dates back to the 13th century.
Find Out the Mysteries of the Island of Sancti Petri, San Fernando, Cadiz
This pristine white village, sitting high on a rocky hilltop, really comes into its own at sunrise and dusk. Aside from the dramatic light, there are lovely boutique shops, great restaurants and, during the summer, look out for their candlelight festival.
Experience the Beautiful Light in Vejer de la Frontera
While it's got a great beach with some decent Atlantic surf, it’s the laidback-hip bar vibe in El Palmar that makes it stand out from other stretches of southern Spain's coast.
Surf and Sip in El Palmar
David, chef at De Tako's top tip is, “One of the best ways to experience a country is through its food and an even better way is to enjoy perfectly cooked food is in an incredible setting surrounded by friends". We entirely agree – hire a private chef at your villa for the ultimate in convenience.
HIRE A Private Chef
One of our top hidden foodie treats in Andalucia is delicious Retinto beef from Cadiz. Much is spoken about fried fish, olives and olive oil, jamón ibérico and Sherry but this meaty option is also a real gastro-standout.
Taste Riotinto Beef
Hire a boat and hit the sea - you’ll almost inevitably come across a pod of dolphins in the Mediterranean.
Take to the Sea – Dolphin Watch
This forgotten about 12th-century arched gateway and wall was the main entrance into Seville, and is certainly off the beaten path.
Puerta de Macarena/Walls of Seville
You'll never have experienced a bar like Garlochí, a homage to Easter in Spain. All year round there's incense burning and procession music playing – they call it the cathedral of bars. Don’t miss their signature cocktail: Grenadine, whisky and Cava.
Drink at a Bar Dedicated to Easter in Sevilla
There’s a succession of beautiful waterfalls running over some interesting limestone formations in Sierra Norte de Sevilla Nature Park.
Wild Swimming at Cascadas de Hueznar in Seville Province
Fiona Flores Watson, Telegraph Travel Writer and Seville resident recommends: “The summer outdoor concerts held in the Alcazar Palace… a magical setting for live jazz, flamenco or classical music by moonlight.” Alcazarsevilla.org
SEE LIVE MUSIC IN THE ALCAZAR PALACE
The castle of Castillo de Almodovar del Rio was built in 740. You can join theatrical tours, do some medieval combat training or spooky storytelling. Castillodealmodovar.com
Visit Highgarden, the Tyrell’s House in Game of Thrones
Manni Coe of Toma & Coe Tours' top tip is: “One of the most consistently excellent restaurants I know in Andalucia is located on a little-known street, in the little-known town of Lucena. It's called Tres Culturas and it's also a handy stop off en-route to Cordoba." Tresculturasrestaurante.com
TRAVEL TO EAT AT TRES CULTURAS
In the Sierra de Cazorla natural park this castle was built at the start of the 16th century. A beautiful monument in an even more beautiful part of the world.
Marvel at the Castle of Iruela, Jaen
The colours of autumn over the vast landscape of rural Huelva is the perfect way to disconnect. Local people flock here to experience the change of the season.
Reconnect with Nature and See Autumn in Aracena
This breath-taking beach near the charming village of San Jose feels like another world.
Genoveses beacH in Cabo de Gata, Almeria
A bit of a cheat but do a tour…
Our top 5 are: Most unusual is in Segura de la Sierra in Jaen province: this square bullring is the old courtyard of a castle and was built in the 18th century. Ronda bullring is the second oldest and the biggest. Seville bullring is the oldest; Antequera's is famed for appearing in Madonna’s Take a Bow video; Mijas has spectacular views and is simply charming. Archidona usually erects a bullring inside its eight-sided main square during the summer season. Like this and want to know more about visiting southern Spain? Check out our 50 things to do in Andalucia and our guide to the five best cities to visit in Andalucia [post_title] => Hidden Andalucia [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => hidden-andalucia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-01-31 15:25:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-01-31 15:25:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://theluxuryvillacollection.com/?p=139603 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 133379 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2020-10-03 15:27:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-10-03 15:27:14 [post_content] =>
See Andalucia through its Bullrings
(As of Nov 2020)Since the global pandemic reached our countries in early 2020 there has been restrictions in one way or another on the way we live our lives. With the sheer amount of press on Covid-19 it’s difficult to see the wood from the trees. So we wanted to reach out to our guests and give you a clear idea of what it’s really like to be in southern Spain in 2020. As we become used to Covid-19 not going away we’re getting better at carrying on with our lives but with safety measures in place. Obviously, those who are at high risk may adopt a more stringent approach to their activities but for the rest of us we’re getting out and about responsibly. While we at The Luxury Villa Collection welcomed guests during 2020 we realise that clarity on what it's like in southern Spain is needed.
What restrictions are there in southern Spain?Shops, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, events, museums and art galleries all have capacity limits to ensure social distancing can be adhered to safely. Businesses all have hand sanitizer at the door so customers can clean their hands upon entering and leaving an establishment. As of 25th October there is a curfew between 22.00hrs and 07.00hrs. Further restrictions have been put in place to limit the movement of people outside their municipalities. Face coverings must be worn at all times if over 6 years old, other than:
- People playing sports do not have to wear a mask whilst engaged in the sporting activity.
- Masks do not need to be worn by customers who are eating, drinking, or smoking.
- In the sea or swimming pool.
- In a designated household sunbathing area on the beach.
Do I have to wear a face covering?The use of face coverings is mandatory for anyone over the age of 6 years old at all times unless during one of the points stated above. This includes in all forms of indoor and outdoor public spaces even if social distancing can be applied. For countries that haven’t adopted this measure, face coverings seem a huge inconvenience but what they have allowed people to do is enjoy their holiday as normal with face coverings and social distancing being the only restrictions.
Are restaurants open?Yes, restaurants and cafes are open with limitations place upon their capacity to ensure tables are spaced out enough so customers can remove their face coverings while drinking or eating. Serving staff and chefs must wear masks at all times.
Are Beaches open in Andalucia?Yes. Once on a beach in your own sunbathing area and in the sea you may remove face coverings. The sunbathing areas must be 2 metres apart and social distancing must be adhered to in the sea. Some beaches have allocated sunbathing areas others are flexible but there are personnel checking that people adhere to social distancing rules while enjoying the beach. No distancing is necessary within your family unit. The norms that local governments put in place over summer 2020 worked to great effect and people could enjoy the beaches of the Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz and Costa Tropical.
Are tourist sights open?Yes. Restrictions on numbers being allowed into famous landmarks, tourist attractions and galleries has meant some sights have never been so quiet. Achieving the perfect photo of the Alhambra Palace or Real Alcazar de Sevilla without other sightseers is actually possible.
Does a face covering need to be worn while driving?When driving alone or with your household no face covering needs to be worn, but if there are passengers or a driver from a different household then everyone must wear a face covering.
What’s the general mood in southern Spain?Summer 2020 saw fewer parties for sure: the dancing all night in a club and watching the sunrise from a buzzing rooftop bar was and is not on the cards at the moment. However, long lunches beside the sea, visiting theme parks, historic sights, galleries and museums, beach days and outdoor activities are all there being enjoyed. It's really business as usual with the some sensible parameters in place. Some of our guests used our villas with entertainment rooms, cinemas, spas and abundance of space to organise private experiences from chefs to talks to spa treatments and live music. Bringing the wonderful Spanish culture into the safety of their private villa.
What is State of Alarm and What Does it Mean?The phrase state of alarm sounds very official and, well, alarming however, it is really just an administration step for the government and helps regional governments put in place restrictions. This phase allows the government (if necessary) to limit the movement of people at specific locations and times, temporary use private industries (such as private hospitals), limit the use of services and ensure the supply of necessary goods and services. In 2020 during Covid19, the state of alarm has meant limiting the movement of people between different provinces and curfews been implemented (from 23.00-06.00hrs). In no circumstances does state of alarm mean visitors aren't permitted to travel back to their home country.
Air travel – Is it safe?So far there has been little evidence of in-flight transmission of coronavirus, but there have been a couple of examples of transmission early on in the pandemic before more stringent controls were in place. Shaun Fitzgerald, Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor at the University of Cambridge said, aircraft ventilation systems are unique, the “replacement rate” - the number of times a volume of air equivalent to the volume of the cabin is removed each hour - can be four minutes in a aircraft. Compare this to 20 or 30 minutes in an indoor environment on the ground and it’s very brisk. The air filters themselves on aeroplanes are sophisticated and much more effective than filters found in indoor venues on the ground. Most airlines say face coverings are mandatory, limit food and drink services and don’t allow queuing for the toilet. The airports themselves are being diligent ensuring social distancing is in place as well as temperature controls in some. As from October 2020 if traveling from Europe or the UK:
- You must complete a health control form - which includes a HCF - a negative PCR test within 72hrs of your arrival to Spain.