Saturday, 15 Dec 2018

Insiders tips to make the most of your road trip in Southern Spain

Your choice is definitely made. You are going to hit the road in Southern Spain this year (hell yess). We definitely can’t argue with that. There’s only one tiny problem: it is impossible to choose between the cool spots from the different regions in the South of Spain… Not to mention the food!!! SEND HELP.
Don’t panic, let’s focus on Andalusia and Valencia for now. We teamed up with some of the best Spanish travellers and bloggers that are actually from those regions. Be ready to get the best tips from locals. De nada!

  1. Southern Spain: Valencia
  2. Southern Spain: Andalusia

1. Southern Spain: Valencia

By Paula

Hi travellers! I’m Paula, a passionate traveller who practices slow travel and ventures out into the unknown. I’m spontaneous, a dreamer, kind and always looking for something new to write about on my blog, Nos vamos de rutica. I always wanted to live my life like in an American movie… Let my hair down, drive a convertible car and follow the road all night long.

Southern Spain - Travel tips in Valencia - By Paula

Paula

I’m from Elche, the Europe’s largest palm grove and a lovely city from the Valencian Community. I consider myself a citizen of the world, travelling around the world and living in another country at the moment, yet Valencia is my favourite place to live in the world by far. Nice environment, cool lifestyle, best food ever and wonderful people. I don’t know what heaven looks like but it must definitely look like this beautiful region.

First of all, I would like to give you some advice on how to enjoy my region when you come to visit us:
Located beside the Mediterranean sea, Valencia has some of the best weather in the peninsula. Temperatures are wonderful throughout the year and remain well above freezing conditions. Sunglasses are a must due to the strong sunlight (can’t argue about that), they are really recommended if you come from a country that is not as sunny as Spain (hello UK).

Southern Spain - Magical beach in Alicante @that_traveling_manMagical beach in Alicante @that_traveling_man

We have a large amount of beautiful beaches, perfect to simply relax. If you’re looking to soak up the sun and laze on the beach, our region is the perfect place to be. But if you get bored on a hammock (hard to picture this, but who knows), you can also enjoy different water sports such as snorkelling, paddle boarding, coast steering, diving and sailing.

If you want to explore your adventurous side and you prefer mountains or natural spots, there is a huge number of trekking paths where you´ll be able to enjoy the countryside and be mesmerised by the magical landscapes of the region. Also, some of the routes are going through small villages where you should definitely stop to try our delicious food and traditional desserts.

What about regional food?

Okay, things are getting real: the reason number one on why you should come to Valencia is our gastronomy! Its traditional recipes are prepared with loads of love. The basic ingredients of the Mediterranean cuisine come from our countryside and sea. Fresh vegetables, meat and fish always dressed with our “secret” ingredient: olive oil.
We usually eat five times a day (true story). Breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack and dinner. So get your stomach ready!

Traditional paella @PaulaYou better be hungry for this traditional paella! @Paula

Valencia is the best place in the world to eat Paella (no other region can compete). Anything you try outside of this region will be a simple imitation. So don”t forget to taste one when you travel there!

Have you ever heard of Horchata? It is the most popular drink in our region. It’s a non-alcoholic drink made of a weed-like tuber called chufas. We usually drink it liquid or granizado, which is like a frappe drink.
Besides, in order to have the perfect experience you should dip Fartons in your horchata beverage. These are long sweet baked pastries made of milk, sugar, oil, flour, eggs and glazed sugar on top. Delicious!

We also have so many festivals involving food but these are the ones you defo shouldn’t miss out:

Las Fallas in Valencia @PaulaDon’t miss Las Fallas if you visit Valencia @Paula

– Las Fallas from 15 to 19 of March. (Valencia)
– Las Hogueras de San Juan from 20 to 24 of June (Alicante),
– El Misterio de Elche from 14 to 15 of August, (Elche)
– La Tomatina celebrated on the last Wednesday of August (Buñol)
– La Magdalena starts on the third Saturday of Lent (February, March or April) Depending of the year (Catellón)
– Moros y Cristianos from 21 to 24 of April (Alcoy)
– La Cordà de Paterna is held on the last Sunday of August. (Paterna)

You should know we celebrate everything with Fireworks. Yes, I know! It might be a bit unpleasant if you get easily scared but its the tradition in all of our fiestas.
I highly recommend la “Nit de L’Albà” on the night of 13th of August in Elche and “La Nit del Foc” on March 18th, Valencia.

What languages do we speak?

We speak two different languages: Spanish and Valencian, and sometimes you will see signboards in both languages. So don´t get mad!

My favourite spots in Valencia:

Let´s explore some of the best things to do in the Valencia:

Santa Barbara Castle, Alicante @scarpalessandraStunning view from the Santa Barbara Castle, Alicante @scarpalessandra

Alicante, in Costa Blanca, Alicante has so much to offer weither you’re looking to relax or for adventure. Santa Barbara castle has some of the most beautiful views over the city and over the Mediterranean sea. Get lost in the neighbourhood called “El barrio” and enjoy with El Tardeo (party after lunch) in Castaños Street. Salud!

The largest palm tree grove in Elche @PaulaThe largest palm tree grove is in Elche @Paula

Elche is listed in different categories of the Unesco´s World Heritage lists, the Misteri d’ Elx (a religious representation), the largest palm tree grove and The Pusol School Museum.
Traditional food in Elche is “arroz y costra” (rice with egg on top cooked in the oven) and dates with bacon and almonds.

Pink building in Calpe @chu_morrThis blue and pink building in Calpe will make you want to take the stairs!! @chu_morr

Calpe is a coast city where you can enjoy fresh see food picked straight from the sea. There is also an amazing trail that goes beside a cliff and ends on the top of the Peñón de Ifach with an unbelievable view of the coast line. Not to mention the stunning architecture… Don’t miss the beautiful blue and pink stairs.

Altea is an authentic Mediterranean town nestled in a hill next to the sea. Picture this: white houses, blue doors and windows… It’s the perfect location to take thousands of pictures. Altea also has amazing restaurants where you can taste modern Mediterranean cuisine. Fish, squid and see food are the top choices.

Beautiful view, Tabarca @PaulaBeautiful view, Tabarca @Paula

Natural spots:  Snorkelling in Tabarca island, visiting Font Roja Natural Park and hiking Aitana mountain.

Historical places: Guadalest Castle, a route of Castles from Elda to Villena and Orihuela´s Cathedral.

Valencia: Ontinyent offers much more than travellers usually expect. Its natural spaces, gastronomy, culture and historic places make it a must place to visit in the centre of Valencia.
In the capital of the Vall d’Albaida you can try la “Butifarra” (onion sausage), rice dishes and cured meat products.

Natural pools of Pou Clar @raquelgm31

Impossible not to swim in one the natural pools of Pou Clar @raquelgm31

Sagunto preserves many monuments and archaeological ruins in the old town. This historic city has been declared a Property of Cultural Interest. If you want to explore this old town you should visit the Roman theatre, the castle and Sagunto’s main square.
Cherry on top: Cake stuffed with vegetables, tuna and egg, Paella and pastisets de boniato (sweet potato cakes) are the most typical dishes in Sagunto.

Gandia is the party city (yess). In summer it is full of visitors looking for some relaxing days on its dreamy beaches and a little bit of fun at night. There are so many bars, pubs and restaurants with plenty of food options and great cocktails for a very cheap price. Sold!

Natural park of Albufera @arthr_lndrTry a boat tour to explore the natural park of Albufera @arthr_lndr

Natural park of Albufera @caethekleinstylingWanna take a dip? @caethekleinstyling

Natural spots: Boat tour in La Albufera, Canyoning in Hoces de Cabriel and Exploring El Pou Clar (Ontynient).

Historical places: Valencia Cathedral, La Lonja in Valencia and Xativa´s Castle.

Castellón de la Plana: Morella is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Spain. This city has some outstanding monuments such as Santa Maria´s Church or the castle, which was declared an artistic-historical monument along with its defensive walls.

Castle of Morella? @PaulaReady to explore Castle of Morella? @Paula

Morella has a typical gastronomic city of the countryside where meat plays an important role. You should try their traditional croquetas morellanas, lamb chops grilled and “The Collà” which is a homemade sweet junket. Yummy!

Vilafamés is a lovely medieval town crowned with a castle and beautiful surroundings. It is a perfect place to relax and immerse yourself in rich history and culture. The old town was originally built by the Muslims.
There are plenty of other historic buildings such as Sala Quatre Cantons, The Abbey House or the Town Hall. But if there is one thing you shouldn’t miss it’s “The massive Rock” which stands with a 34° inclination. If you are brave enough, place yourself under the huge stone, ask for three wishes and one of them might be fulfilled.
Cherry on top: Vilafamés’s cuisine is exquisite and well prepared. Traditional dishes are la olla (meat and potato soup), grilled lamb with aioli (sauce made of garlic and olive oil) and almond pastries.

Peniscola @ireikerA house entirely made of shells??! @ireiker

Peñiscola is one of the most popular cities in the Valencian Community. Well known now because some scenes were filmed there for the famous TV show “Game Of Thrones”.
Even though it is mostly a holiday town, you’ll get impressed by its Templar castle, which rises above the sea. Let yourself be seduced by walking through city walls, getting lost in their narrow streets and buying a souvenir in one of the little shops around the old town.

Sweet food in Valencia @PaulaMake sure to try one of these cuties @Paula

Traditional food in Peñiscola is related to the sea. So, popular dishes you must try are Suquet de Peix (fish stew), All i Pebre de rape (monkfish cooked with garlic and pepper) and rice with see food. If you want something sweet let´s taste flaons de Peñiscola (cottage cheese and almond cake) or pastissets de carabassa (pumpkin pulp with cottage cheese and little bit of honey).

Historical places:  Chivert castle, Onda Castle and the historic town of Segorbe.

Natural spots: Peñagolosa, the highest mountain in Castellón and Sierra de Irta has a route where you´ll get great views of the Mediterranean sea.

 

2. Southern Spain: Andalusia

By Jose

I’m Jose Lop and I was born in Malaga, a beautiful city in Andalusia. I have lived in Córdoba, Cádiz and Huelva in various stages of my life, so I know Andalusia like the back of my hand. I am currently dedicating my time to travelling and reporting it in El Viaje me hizo a mí, my travel blog.

The type of trip that I propose is a trip on my own, independently and as a couple since I usually travel with my girlfriend Gloria. In our posts we usually provide a large amount of practical information, which usually accompanies our personal impressions. A trip without emotions is a decaffeinated trip.

Andalusia @jose@Jose

I think that to really get to know a country you have to travel slowly, leave the most touristic areas from time to time and, above all, interact with the local people. That’s why you have to explore markets, some neighbourhoods that are not full of tourists and share your experiences with the local population in something more than just buying an excursion or talking with the guides.

Gastronomy is, for me, one of the keys to get to know any place I visit as it is a reflection of the society and history that accompanies a country, region or culture.

What Makes Andalusia so special?

Andalusia is a region with rich history, which has given a unique and unrepeatable character to its inhabitants that still survives today. Due to its privileged situation and its good climate it has been conquered by many people and each one of them has left its cultural imprint on the region.
Romans turned Andalusia into another province of the Empire and gave it the name of Betica, along the Betis River, now the Guadalquivir River. However, the influence of the Islamic culture is even deeper, since Arabs were in the region for eight centuries and left behind a large amount of poetry, magical architecture and art that still exists today.

@timezonemingle alhambraAlhambra, Granada @timezonemingle

The last bastion of the Arab caliphate, the kingdom of Granada, fell in 1492 at the hands of the Catholic Monarchs, the same year that Columbus left for America from the Andalusian port of Palos de la Frontera.
One of the most well-known slogans in the tourist promotion of Andalusia is “Andalusia, there is only one”. And I couldn’t agree more. Thanks to its more than 2,800 hours of sunshine per year and the richness of its landscapes and people, Andalusia is currently one of the most visited regions in the world that attracts millions of people every year.

In Andalusia you will find almost everything you can see in Spain. From Sierra Nevada, the largest ski resort in Spain to the largest stretch of beach in the whole country.
I always like to say that it is one of the few places in the world where you can go skiing in the morning, catch some rays and take a dip in the sea in the afternoon. From Sierra Nevada to the beaches of Motril there are only 90 kilometres which is just an hour and a half by car.

What about the Culture in Andalusia?

If you want to discover the culture of Andalusia, as well as enjoying the sun and one of the hundreds of Andalusian beaches, there are many traditions, art and festivities that are worth discovering.

The most important is undoubtedly flamenco, which appears on the UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. There is some controversy about the origin of this art, since some attribute it to the gypsies, who came to the peninsula from India in the fifteenth century, whereas others believe that its origin dates back to the Arabs for its resemblance to some Islamic songs.

I recommend that if you get bitten by the bug, you need to attend a flamenco event or festival to make the most of your visit in Andalusia. If you simply want to go to a tablao or flamenco party and enjoy a good atmosphere with a drink, I highly recommend the famous Sacromonte Caves in Granada.

What about traditional food in Andalusia?

One of the first food that comes to mind when I think of Andalusian cuisine is olive oil, as it is one of the main ingredients of any typical dishes of the whole Andalusian territory. Nowhere else in the world do they grow more olive trees or produce as many extra virgin olive oils as in Andalusia.

The oil is present in most of the traditional dishes of Andalusia, for example in a good gazpacho or salmorejo. Other dishes that you cannot go without if you visit Andalusia are the migas, the patatas a lo pobre, the Iberian ham and the fried fish that are in the hundreds of freidurías. Do not forget to try fried fish in a beach bar.

Salmojero @desidesign31
Delicious Salmojero @desidesign31

Of course, if you go there you will want to try the typical tapas in each area, which are often offered for free with just a drink. The most typical area to go for tapas is Granada, although you can find them throughout the region.

My favourite places in Andalusia

If you are going to visit Andalusia you should start by getting to know some of its most important cities. Granada, Seville, Cordoba and Malaga are some of the most beautiful cities in Spain and have plenty of places to discover.
In addition to cities, the beaches are must-sees, especially if you go during the summer months.

Seville and Granada: Seville and Granada are the two most visited cities in Andalusia. Seville is the capital of the region and one of my best-liked cities in Europe. If you decide to go I recommend walking around the Giralda and visiting the Reales Alcázares.
Then you can take a walk along the banks of the Guadalquivir River and go to Plaza España, one of my favourite places, not only in Andalusia but around the world. I usually cross to the other side of the river and eat some tapas in the neighbourhood of Triana.

Alhambra, Granada @paradisecollectorAlhambra, Granada @paradisecollector

In Granada my favourite places are the Alhambra, the Arab influence that is breathing in its streets and also the neighbourhoods of Albaicín and Sacromonte. In the Alhambra you will find narrow and steep streets in which there are always views of the Alhambra from one of its viewpoints. As I mentioned earlier, it is said that Sacromonte is where the passionate art of flamenco was born.

Sacromonte, Granada @milesjeffersonSacromonte is a must see in Granada @milesjefferson

Sacromonte @explorewithtorrSacromonte @explorewithtorr

Don’t miss the beer and tapas bars that are all over the city. The tapas of Granada must be experienced first-hand. With each beer, they give you another dish and the best thing is that with three tapas dishes you have dined.

Málaga and Córdoba: Malaga is my city and it is fair to say that in recent years it has changed for the better. It has become a cosmopolitan city, which knows how to perfectly combine its historical legacy with newly created neighbourhoods such as Soho.
It houses a large number of museums and has a cultural agenda at the level of that of Seville, in which the Malaga Film Festival, which takes place every year at the Cervantes Theatre, stands out.

Pedregalejo @e.ytcMake sure to stop in Pedregalejo @e.ytc

For lunch I recommend you go to Pedregalejo beach to try some sardines or grilled squid. To finish you can go to a bakery and ask for some borrachuelos, a typical sweet of the city.

Another city that you mustn’t miss is Córdoba. I love to walk through the streets of the Jewish quarter to the Mosque, a must-see in the city. Don’t miss the street of the handkerchief and admire the colourful geraniums, one of the most typical flowers of Andalusia.
Very close to the mosque is Bar Santos where they make the largest Spanish omelettes in the city. Although if you want to taste real Cordovan food the specialities of this city are salmorejo and oxtail.

Beaches: In Andalusia there are almost a thousand kilometres of coastline and it is home to some of the best beaches on the peninsula. You can swim in both the Atlantic Ocean and in the Mediterranean Sea.
In the area of ??the Costa del Sol there are some very touristy beaches with many amenities. It is the area of ??Marbella or Puerto Banús. But I prefer other quieter beaches such as Cabo de Gata, the cliffs of Maro near Nerja, Cádiz and Huelva.

Cabo de Gata @laniitaramosAndalusia has some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain like in Cabo de Gata @laniitaramos

These three coastal areas contain virgin beaches where you can enjoy the climate of Andalusia with tranquillity. Of course, there are no other amenities on these beaches, so you should take water with you and everything you need for the time you are there.

The white villages of Cádiz: Not everything in Andalusia is about sun and beach. The White Villages of Cádiz are a group of inland villages that you should visit at least one weekend, peacefully and taking your time to explore. I love the Ubrique area, a place where leather products are manufactured for the best brands in the world.
In addition to this town, there is Setenil de las Bodegas, a town literally built between rocks, Grazalema and Villaluenga del Rosario, the town further north.

Setenil De las Bodegas @eastwestquestDon’t miss the cute little white village of Setenil De las Bodegas @eastwestquest

To visit the White Villages it is necessary to have at least two or three days and rent a car. Once this is done, make a route and enjoy from town to town.
The gastronomy of the interior is different from that of the coast. White villages include strong stews and Retinto beef, a typical variety of the area.

Gruta de las Maravillas @manuel_7abrilIs this place real?@manuel_7abril

Huelva Mountains: Huelva Mountains encompass beautiful villages such as Aracena, in which the famous Gruta de las Maravillas stands out. The visit to this cave takes about an hour and a guide will explain everything about the geology of the place.
In Almonaster la Real, the Islamic legacy has been preserved as in no other village in the area. It specifically emphasises its mosque, one of the only rural mosques that is conserved in Spain.
As in the area of the White Villages, in Huelva Mountains, strong casseroles stand out and in the season it is very easy to find game meat. But if we had to choose a food that stands out above them all, it would have to be ham. In this area the best Iberian hams from Spain are produced.

 

What are you waiting for?!

Which regions of Spain do you want to explore? If you have any other tips, feel free to leave us a comment ?

Want more inspirations in Spain? Check out these articles:

 

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