Los Caños de Meca & Cape Trafalgar - 12km.

This small beach resort is famous not only for its superb scenery, cliffs, sandy bays and sheltered water but also for being a lively nightspot in the summer months. The lighthouse of the historically famous Cape Trafalgar, where Nelson defeated the French fleet with superior seamanship, dominates the horizon. This lighthouse is well worth a visit for the spectacular surrounding beaches but beware of the strong currents on the Cape. The best swimming area is in the Los Caños bays.

Los Caños is also famous for the “Playa de las Cortinas” where fresh water falls from the cliffs above. This beach is well worth a visit but is not suitable for taking young children. Walk east along the Los Caños beach and under the cliffs. You will get there about 20 minutes after you start climbing over the rocks. You can also climb the cliffs and walk to Barbate through the El Pinar Natural Park.

This is also a famous windsurfing & kitesurfing area, with excellent wave conditions in the winter for both surfing and waveriding. Beware of sailing beyond the lighthouse as the currents are very powerful. The best spot for launching is at the western end of the “Playa del Estrecho” apartments. Snorkelling and spearfishing are also popular here. The reef just off the Los Caños beach has plenty of fish.


Barbate - 13km.

This town has a fishing tradition which dates back to Roman times when the area was important for tuna and whale fishing. Today the fishermen use the same method for catching fish as they did in the 13th C. The nets are set at about 3kms out to sea and the fish are caught as they swim into the straits looking for warmer water. You can see the fishermen working offshore in May to August.

Sightseeing

  • Fishing harbour - the catch is auctioned off early in the morning and can usually be visited.
  • Marina – visit the marina and take a walk along the pier.
  • Food market - in the town (Mercado de Abastos) is one of the most interesting in the area, with dozens of varieties of fresh fish, shellfish and fresh vegetables from the surrounding region.
  • Playa del Carmen - main beach in the town which has an interesting promenade with lots of shops and restaurants.
  • Playa de la Yerbabuena (which means mint) is on the other side of the harbour and fabulous cliffs full of nesting birds hang over it and there is a path here to the El Pinar Natural Park.

Things to do

  • Nightlife - mostly on the Rio Viejo on the banks of the river (late).
  • Walking - excellent footpaths in the El Pinar Park.

  • Conil de la Frontera – 12km.

    The fishing industry in this town has been important since roman times and continues in importance today. the surrounding countryside is rich with fields of vegetables and orchards of fruit. its location next to the sea surrounded by pinewoods make it a popular tourist area.

    Sightseeing

    • Guzman tower
    • Parroquia de Santa Catalina (an ancient convent)
    • Church of Santa Catalina
    • Various watchtowers

    Things to do

    • Market - Fridays on the beach in front of the main town, it's one of the best in the province


    Zahara de los Atunes - 18km.

    Zahara has a long tradition as a fishing village. Inside the fortified wall of “El Palacio” was an entire Roman whale and tuna fishing industry. There was a prison here in Shakespeare’s time where Spain’s famous writer, Cervantes of Don Quixote fame, was said to be imprisoned. Certainly he was a spy, and it was rumoured that he and Christopher Marlow met here on the beach. Cervantes’ story “La Fregone Ilustre” (The Illustrious Mop”) has inspired the name of bars and streets in the village. Hemingway noted the town’s infamy, practicing piracy on the ships halted by the “levante” (the fierce wind from the east) in the Straits of Gibraltar.

    There is also “cachondeo”, the Spanish word for a joke, named after the river Cachon which flows through the village. The villagers used to stand in the river, which nowadays flows in to the sea only in winter, casting nets and joking.

    These days Zahara boasts a variety of small hotels, fishermans bars and many cafés and has become a small Spanish tourist resort. Although a bit scruffy the town is full of character and its 14km. long beach is well worthy of a ‘paseo’. At the far end of the beach to the south there is a development of new villas in the magnificent countryside of the Sierra de la Plata, an idyllic spot. Walk up to the lighthouse (Faro Camarinal) at the furthest point of the road and admire the views extending from Tarifa to Cape Trafalgar and magnificent views of the North African Rif mountains.

    Things to do

    • Horses and bikes for hire at Hotel Atlanterra
    • Walks to Bolonia and in the Sierra
    • Water sports at Hotel Atlanterra
    • Walking on the beach


    Chiclana & Sancti Petri - 34km.

    Chiclana is located among old saltpans and the municipality stretches down to the developed Barrossa beach. The town is worthy of a short visit though its monuments are few and far between. More interesting is the old fishing village of Sancti Petri with its marina, good beaches, sand dunes and estuary where windsurfs, canoes and catamarans can be rented. You can canoe out to the Island of Sancti Petri on which stands the ancient castle of Sancti Petri & legends tell us that the ruins of a Roman temple dedicated to Hercules was here.

    Sightseeing

    • Church of San Juan Bautista - in Chiclana’s old town delapidated sqaure
    • Church of San Telmo - Baroque church is home to a religious painting by Sebastian Gomez, a pupil of Murillo
    • Sancti Petri
    • La Barrosa - white sand, calm waters and sheer length of beach make this a favourite for beach-goers. Stay clear in August as it gets overcrowded.


    Tarifa & Bolonia - 40km.

    Tarifa is the most southern town in Europe with spectacular views of North Africa and the Rif Mountains. The atmosphere here is young, cosmopolitan, trendy with the surf culture overlaying everything from shops to bars & restaurants. There are long stretches of deserted beach and uncongested cobbled streets and squares. Tarifa is justly famous for being a “windy” city and at high season is a mecca for European windsurfers & kitesurfers.

    The best view of Morocco is from the Castillo de Guzman el Bueno. Guzman el Bueno may not be seen as “all good” by all standards. When Tarifa was under siege to the Moors, they captured his son and demanded the city keys or they would cut off the child’s head. Guzman is now famous in Spanish history for sacrificing his son for the greater good.

    Things to do

    • Day trips to Morocco from the town port - take the hydrofoil to Tangiers - take your passport!
    • Windsurfing & Kitsurfing
    • Bolonia Beach and ruins - the Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia are a delightful background to a picturesque bay, white sand and dunes - this is usually a very quiet spot except at very high season - its ruins are the remains of the ancient fishing and whaling community that once lived here


    Arcos de la Frontera - 55km.

    To walk around the old town of Arcos, perched on a steep rock, with wonderful views of the Guadalete Valley, is to discover a new ancient building around every corner. The narrow streets twist like a Moorish maze, an inheritance from its Moorish past. Follow the long street up to the castle and you’ll be rewarded with views in all directions. The outstanding Gothic church of Santa Maria dominates the main plaza, its magnificent west facade is a plateresque masterpiece and inside there is late Gothic vaulting and impressive baroque choir stalls. The bell tower is worth a climb.

    Take a coffee in the 18th C Parador opposite the church or admire the views from the “mirador”. From here start the guided tours (see below). San Pedro, the church to the left, perilously perched above the town has a striking 15th C retable. Climb on the roof top for a great view.

    Arcos was a seemingly impregnable fortress only taken by Alfonso the Wise from the Moors in 1264. Down below is the lake, a cool contrast to the buildings of the town. The best views of “old Arcos” are from below.

    Things to do

    • Guided walks - free - leave 1100 from the Parador square


    Cádiz - 55km.

    Founded by Phoenician merchants over 3000 years ago, the commercial port of Cadiz, linked to the mainland by a sandy isthmus, is one of Spain’s oldest cities, if not the oldest. Hannibal lived in Cadiz and the Romans under Caesar traded salt fish here.

    When Rome fell, so did Cadiz. For centuries it suffered invasions from Visigoths, Arabs and Normans. With the discovery of the New World, Cadiz regained prominence as “the city of explorers” and headquarters of the Spanish treasure fleets. In cutthroat competition with the merchants of Sevilla, Cadiz gained a monopoly over trade in the Americas that made it the wealthiest port in Western Europe. This prosperity also made Cadiz the target of foreign powers. In 1587 Sir Francis Drake torched the Spanish Armada as it lay at anchor, and the port was invaded several times. Cervantes story “La Española Inglesa” (the Spanish Englishwoman) presents a fictionalised account of a little girl kidnapped during one of the raids and brought up in England.

    Sightseeing

    • The Cathedral
    • The Cadiz Museum - describes the history of Cadiz. Many important Phoenician and Roman artifacts. Tues-Fri 0900-1300 & 1700-2000, Sat-Sun 0900-1300
    • Plaza Topete - market and shopping area in the old town. The best fish market in the province
    • Plaza de Mina - near the Tourist Office
    • Torre Tavira

    Things to do

    • Every Tuesday there are guided tours of the old part of Cadiz. Leave from the Plaza de España, opposite the monument to the Cortes. Tickets from the Tourist Office on Playa Victoria and Plaza de Minas.

    Carnival - Cadiz is host to Spain’s greatest carnival. There is a strong Cuban influence in its masquerades and music. Very pagan with masses of beer, song and jokes but don’t expect Rio style parades, this is very much a locals festivity. Worth a visit. Late Feb-March.


    Jerez de la Frontera - 62km.

    In 1587 Sir Francis Drake made a devasting raid on Cadiz, setting fire to the whole of the Spanish fleet, and helping himself to some 300,000 gallons of sherry. This huge supply of wine must have contributed to establishing a taste for the wine in Britain. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a large number of English, Irish and Scottish merchants arrived and settled in the area. There have been strong ties between Jerez, Britain and Ireland ever since, evident from the names of the famous wines of Osborne, Terry, Sandeman and other well known names. Jerez is an attractive town small enough to visit on foot. A walk from plaza to plaza will take you past an imposing variety of recently commissioned statues & outdoor scultpures.

    Sightseeing

    • Alcazar (11th C Moorish fortress) open 1030-1800
    • Ayuntamiento - renaissance town hall in the beautiful Plaza de la Asuncion
    • El casco histórico – the run down old town slowly being restored. Discover a trove of ruined palaces & manor houses & quaint back streets.
    • The bodegas – Gonzalez Byass, Domecq et al.
    • In front of the fortress in the Alameda Vieja there is a market selling examples of various crafts, stamps, coins (Sundays)

    The bodegas
    Don’t miss a visit to the sherry bodegas. Visits round the “bodegas” may be arranged in advance by calling the various sherry houses (they all speak English). Visiting times are normally between 1000-1330 Mon to Fri. You may be charged for the visit and asked to wait for more visitors to make up the group numbers.

    Real Escuela Andaluz de Arte Equestre - this is the famous Jerez horse display school. Displays: 1200 every Thursday (book through hotel or travel agent) Horse Training: 1100-1300

    Flamenco Foundation - 1000-1400 Mon-Fri Plaza de San Juan 1


    El Puerto de Santa Maria - 62km.

    Built on the Guadalete, the “river of forgetfulness”, el Puerto came into its own after five centuries of Moorish occupation. Cristobal Colon (Columbus) lived here, and the “Santa Maria” was one of the ships that sailed with this expedition. El Puerto became a thriving port and the shipowners built themselves luxurious palace-like houses which are still standing today such as the “Casa Palacio de Aranibar” in the Plaza Alfonso X. These houses have patios and lookout towers where merchants would wait for a sight of their fortune returning from the New World.

    Sightseeing

    • Castillo San Marcos (13th C) - Mon/Wed/Sat 1000-1330(summer) Sat 1100-1330 (winter)
    • Iglesia Mayor - a gothic structure with chapels dating from the 16th to 18th C

    Things to do

    • Aquasherry Park - water park
    • Golf - Vista Hermosa Course & Club
    • Bodegas Terry - Tel 956 85 52 11 to reserve
    • Street Market - Fridays on the road to Puntillo beach
    • Flamenco - ask at the Tourist Office
    • Bullfights - ask at the Tourist Office
    • Bullring - inaugurated in 1880 and can be visited even if there is no fight
    • Steamship “Vapor” - not to be missed! leaves Puerto 0900/1100/1330/193 leaves Cadiz 1000/1200/1400/1830/2030

    Fiestas

    • Carnaval - Feb/Mar
    • Easter - A beautiful time in this region with processions and music
    • Spring Fair - May
    • Corpus Christi - June - processions and music
    • Fisherman’s Fiesta - July
    • Vendimia - Sep - Thanks for the Wine Harvest


    Sanlucar de Barrameda - 92km.

    Sanlucar de Barrameda on the left bank of the River Guadalquivir topped with the castle of San Diego and dotted with towers and bell gables. In the 15th C it was already a rich walled city serving as a commercial centre for the Dukes of Medina Sidonia. The town is built on two levels: the aristocratic “Barrio Alto” (upper quarter) and “Barrio Bajo” (lower quarter) which is built on land reclaimed from the sea.

    Sightseeing

    • Castle of Santiago - built in the 14th C and altered in the 16th C has an elegant Mudejar portal and its naves and aisles are covered with coffered ceilings in the same style
    • Church of La Merced - served as a model for the first Andalucian Baroque style but today is in bad condition
    • Palace of the Counts of Niebla - present residence of the Duchess of Medina Sidonia - traces of the Mudejar style
    • Bajo de Guia – the long beach promenade and crossing point to Coto Doñana Naional Park

    Things to do

    • Bodegas Barbadillo - C/Luis Egulaz - by appointment
    • Horse racing - on the beach during August from 1800 - check with Tourist Office for exact dates
    • Tour Sanlucar - Thur 1030 from the Tourist Office in Calzada del Ejercito
    • Coto Doñana visitors centre
    • Beach walks along the estuary


    Gibraltar - 90km.

    The resolute and severe peninsular of Gibraltar juts into the straits, guarding the entrance to the Mediterranean. The Spanish conquered Gibraltar from the Moors in 1492 only to lose it to England after the War of the Spanish Succession.

    Gibraltar is excellent shopping for English goods, foods and anything duty free including watches, cameras, perfumes and tobacco. Historically and geographically it is unique while culturally it is curious seeing red buses and english ‘bobbies’ under the palm trees.

    Take your passport. It’s better to leave your car in Spain and walk to the town of Gibraltar.

    Things to do

    • Cable car - for the view
    • Dolphin Watch from the marina
    • Visit the apes
    • St Michael’s caves - 1000-1300
    • Gibraltar Museum - Mon-Fri 1000-1300 & 1500-1800, Sat 1000-1300
    • Changing of the Guard - Main Street - Governor’s Residence at 1100


    Seville - 160km.

    Seville is a wonderful city, where everyday is a joy, whether walking through ancient streets or by the river, sampling tapas, admiring monuments, climbing the Giralda tower or just relaxing under the orange trees. Seville’s importance as a strategic river port in a fertile region caused invasions and settlements by Carthage and Rome. The Moors made it capital of Al Andaluz and Ferdinand III reconquered it in 1258. In the 1500’s cultural and economic wealth poured in from the American empire and made it the architectural and cultural wonder you see today. First you will want to explore the old city on the east bank of the Guadalquivir River. A wonderful introduction is to take a horse drawn carriage from the Cathedral, the biggest Gothic building in existence, around the Maria Luisa Park. There is also a tourist bus from the Torre de Oro (Golden Tower). Other interesting, less touristy areas are Macarena, enclosed in medeival walls, with the bejeweled Virgin, the most reverred in Seville. Triana, over the river, Alameda de Hercules with a Sunday flea market.

    Tourist Office: just south of the Cathedral at Avenida de la Constitucion 21. Opening times: Mon-Fri 0930-1930, Sat 1000-1400.

    Sightseeing

    • Cathedral and Giralda Tower (largest surviving Almohad tower, with its twin in Marrakesh)
    • Alcazar - 14th C Mudejar palace built by Pedro the Cruel
    • Barrio Santa Cruz - walk around and visit Casa de Pilatos
    • By the river - Torre de Oro (Golden Tower)
    • Flamenco - you can search out the little bars in Triana or Alameda de Hercules where musicians sing for the love of it but it is much easier to go to a show, for example at “Los Gallos”, Plaza de Santa Cruz

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