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10 exciting ways to pass the Winter in Andalusia

Andalusia may be best known for its sweeping beaches and seemingly endless summer sun, long serving as a haven for those wishing to soak up some reliable rays. This reputation is well founded; however, even throughout the winter there is no shortage of fascinating and exciting things to do. And with the best climate in Europe and more than 300 sunny days a year, you should still be guaranteed a healthy dose of sunshine. A long term winter visit of a month or more is the perfect way to delve under the surface of this region, to live like a local and discover why Andalusia has so much more to offer than sun swept beaches. Here are a number of ways to achieve this. 1. UNESCO World Heritage tour Spain holds more UNESCO World Heritage designations than all but two countries in the world, and Andalusia is home to seven of these, including one new designation in 2016 for the Dolmens of Antequera. These 5,000 year old megalithic structures are already enjoying renewed attention as a deserving counterpart to the other world famous Andalusian sites such as the Moorish Alhambra Palace in Granada and the Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral in Cordoba. Cave art as old as 10,000 years can be seen in Almeria, Granada and Jaen provinces, while the Renaissance towns of Ubeda and Baeza are virtual open air museums. While the UNESCO sites of Andalusia are spread across the region, it is possible to experience all of them with an extended stay and in winter you can experience them more tranquilly without the tourist crowds. Alhambra de Granada 2. Learn Flamenco dance or guitar The Flamenco art form itself was awarded a UNESCO designation for “intangible cultural heritage” and Andalusia is the best place to get first hand experience of it. Many would suggest that Seville is the Andalusian heart of Flamenco and the prime location to witness it, but there are various forms of Flamenco within Andalusia and not just the “Sevillana” style. Most of the major cities of Andalusia will have experienced dancers and guitarists available and eager to share their skills with private performances and individual lessons. 3. Hike the “Grand Senda de Malaga” This is one activity you don’t even want to think about in summer time when the heat is simply too excessive for extended hiking. The Grand Senda de Malaga is a full circular route through the province, stretching more than 600km and covering a startling array of landscapes through mountains and valleys, across cliffs and plains, and a vast stretch of the Mediterranean coast. Of particular interest on the route is the “Caminito del Rey,” now fully restored and easily accessible it was previously known as the “most dangerous hike in the world.” Caminito del Rey 4. Ski the Sierra Nevada The Sierra Nevada above Granada is the second highest mountain range in mainland Europe after the Alps, and the ski resort there hosts an impressively long season. The highest station sits at 3300m and from there you may forget you are in Spain at all; however, the resort is little more than 30 minutes from the coast and it’s entirely possible to hit the slopes in the morning and the beach in the afternoon. Ski Sierra Nevada 5. Cooking courses and culinary tours The cuisine of Andalusia, and of Malaga province in particular, has been making headlines of late for a gastronomy that has risen above traditional tapas and paellas into a world class and varied offering. Beneath the surface you’ll find supreme artisanal producers of local cheeses, unique products such as organic caviar and snail eggs, traditional and new age wines, and the best olive oils in the world. To really discover it all you’re better off with a guide, and the experts at Paladar y Tomar (https://www.paladarytomar.com) have got you covered with a wide range of in depth local culinary tours and in-house cooking courses. Cooking courses 6. Wine and sherry tours As part of the unique gastronomic scene of Andalusia, explorations of the regions exquisite sherry and wine deserves separate attention. The so called “sherry triangle” of Jerez, Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria near Cadiz exhibits the perfect climate for fine sherry production and is the centre of the centuries old process linking French, German and British trades. The “hip factor” for sherry is on the rise once again, and the afore mentioned experts at Paladar y Tomar, themselves based in Jerez, pride themselves especially on their knowledge of all things to do with this unique family of wines. 7. Museum tours The city of Malaga alone boasts more than 30 museums; here in the birthplace of Pablo Picasso you’ll find two Picasso museums, the Carmen Thyssen Museum, a Pompidou satellite museum, Russian museum, contemporary art museum, and specialist museums dedicated to everything from wine and glass to doll houses and automobiles. The Fine Arts Museum in Seville holds the best collection outside of Madrid, while every major city will offer unique historical, anthropological or fine arts museums. Picasso 8. Surfing, kite surfing, wind surfing The Atlantic coast around Cadiz and Tarifa is a favorite spot for surfers of all sorts. The winter winds blow that much stronger and create a haven for surfers who come from all across Spain and beyond for the sport of their choice. Instructors are easy to come by and surfers of all ability levels can find a place on the vast, wind swept shores. You’ll definitely want your wet suit for in the water, but even in winter time there is no shortage of sunshine for lounging on the beach before or after a session on the board. 9. Yachting, cruising, whale watching The Andalusian coastline stretches hundreds of kilometres, from the Atlantic coast at the Portuguese border to the province of Valencia on the eastern shores of the Spain. Peppered all along this coastline are some of the busiest ports on the entire Mediterranean, and from places like Cadiz, Marbella, Malaga, Almuñecar and Almeria, a day trip yachting excursion is easily organised. Migratory whales frequently pass through the narrow Straits of Gibraltar and this passage from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic is the prime for whale watching, especially in late winter. You’re sure to see dolphins at the same time, along with countless other marine animals and migratory birds. If a Mediterranean cruise is more your style, the port at Malaga hosts cruise liners almost daily and makes for a great starting point for a tour of the wider Mediterranean. 10. Learn Spanish The city of Malaga is home to dozens of Spanish language schools, while all of the major cities of Andalusia will offer numerous others. It is very common for the instructors teaching at these schools to offer private lessons on the side and most will even travel to you to deliver lessons wherever you may be staying. With a long term stay in Andalusia of a month or more, you have plenty of time to learn more than just the basics, and this will in turn help you get even more out of your other explorations on this list. Alan Hazel is Owner and Director of Cortijo El Carligto. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. We actually live nearby and have to say it is not a bad place to spend the winter at all! (i’m not spanish) There truly is a bit for everyone here…

  2. I also live in Andalusia and would vouch for everything Alan Hazel has written so well about here. The only thing to add is that the temperatures are ideal in winter for getting around, though it may rain at times.

    1. Hi there, I am planning a Winter (Jan or Feb) visit to Jaen, Pozo Alcón. Can you tell me what the weather is likely to be like and what attractions would be open at that time of the year

      Many thanks


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