The warm Mediterranean sun has done something special to southern Spain, or Andalusia as the autonomous region is called. This region is home to some of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Spain, such as the city of Seville and the fortress of the Alhambra in Granada. That said, travelling the region in the summer can be overwhelming and tiring if you stay to the tourist trail. If the tourist sites are not on the agenda for your Spain holidays this summer and the focus of the trip is the culture, food and the scenery of the region, there are numerous options to just relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
Rather than starting the trip in Seville, consider flying into Cadiz. Somehow the tourist hordes usually overlook this beautiful and ancient port city. This is both unfortunate and a blessing. When food is on the mind, Cadiz should come to the forefront. While in the city, everyone should ensure that they at least try the tapa of Cazon en Adobo, which is a small shark marinated in spice, or consider an order of the shrimp fritters, called Tortillitas de Camarones. Being a port city, almost all of the seafood options will usually be good.
For those looking for a beach to relax on where the scene is a little more laid back and less packed with tourists from around the world, consider Los Canos de Meca, which is less than an hour from Cadiz. This beach and adjacent small town are slowly gaining prominence, but they still retain that small town Spanish vibe and lightly tourist-packed sand.
The alternative vibe of Barbate-small and lonely beaches blending with their tuna-based gastronomy, with Mojama, the seafood equivalent to Spanish cured ham, as the highlight, would satisfy the tastes of all travellers and be an even further flung destination for most tourists. Once you are wandering around Barbate, you could also try and visit other spots such as Zahara de los Atunes.
When in the area around Cadiz, a wonderful option for taking in a bit of nature is the Bahia de Cadiz Natural Park. The park has numerous walks or hikes ranging from easy to challenging. A moderately challenging walk that is worth the work is the Sendero Pinar de Algaida. This 12km walk begins at the University of Cadiz and follows along the river. It is a truly peaceful walk that provides a glimpse of the southern Spanish natural bounty while also allowing for some quiet reflection.
And if you are interested in trekking, remember to take a look at Los Alcornocales Natural Park, one of the most unique natural parks in Europe. From the “canuto” forests to its strange animal life, Cadiz Natural Park per excellence is the ideal place to escape from the city while we learn more about the Tardigrada or waterbears
Often when people are thinking of Spain, holidays are focused on seeing the big sites, however a more relaxed trip focused on the area around Cadiz can be more memorable and rewarding, particularly when it comes to food and scenery.
About the Author: Samuel Stokes is a British travel writer. He spends most of his time planning or writing about finding the best budget and backpacking holidays in the Mediterranean coast, after spending most his youth living in different parts of Spain.
Photo Credit: Image by Michael Osmenda used under creative commons license.