Our Contributor Vantika Singh, spent her winter holidays (2019) in Southern Spain exploring Malaga, Mijas and Granada. Here’s her perfect list of what to do when in Andalusia!
The charm of southern Spain has captivated my husband and me for the last three years. After our trip to Seville and Córdoba, we decided to explore the Costa del Sol, which literally means the ‘Sunshine Coast’. It has some of the most beautiful beaches and whitewashed towns which can be visited during the colder months. We chose Malaga, Mijas and Granada as our winter destinations for December 2019.
Malaga – Pablo Picasso’s birthplace and the heart of Costa Del Sol with over 300 sunny days a year is ideally located if you want to travel to the other neighboring towns as well that are situated along its stunning coastline. Malaga is quite popular for its numerous historic landmarks, bustling port and local gastronomy. To explore the city, a bus ride is recommended to view its famous Cathedral, the Botanical Gardens, the Alcazaba Citadel and the Picasso Museum. Walking is an option too as most of the tourist spots are within a short reach.
In the evenings, one can watch the glorious sunset from the Malagueta Beach or one of the bars lining Malaga’s Muelle Uno promenade, enjoying local wine, tapas and more.
After Paris, the Centre Pompidou found its place in Malaga. The colourful cube which represents the art gallery below is a sight to behold. Also, Calle Larios, the city’s main shopping street has the most amazing Christmas lights during the festive season.
Each year, it has a different theme and this year it was the Christmas Forest highlighting the trees full of autumn leaves and cute angels. The light show in the evening happens at an allotted time and it was a perfect end to our trip in this lively city!
Mijas has been a tourist hotspot for many years now. It is divided into Mijas Costa – the part of the city facing the sea coastline and Mijas Pueblo – a small and scenic village located up the hill. We chose to visit the latter.
Mijas Pueblo is a picturesque white town on the Costa del Sol. A 30-minutes car ride from Málaga to Mijas is not only convenient but offers breathtakingly beautiful and serene views of the mountains and the seaside. It is famous for its ornately decorated donkeys and horse carriage rides. The souvenirs are full of these cute creatures from handwoven wall hangings to magnets. Mijas is flooded with alleys full of cafes, restaurants and artisanal shops. We were spellbound by this cozy little place on a sunny and warm afternoon. Also, this town has a wonderful playground for children in front of Plaza De Toros De Mijas. It was a day trip etched in our memories forever!
Granada – the muse of various artists and celebrities throughout its history. The city’s name may have been derived either from the Spanish Granada (“pomegranate”), a locally abundant fruit that appears on the city’s coat of arms, or from its Moorish name Karnattah (Gharnāṭah), possibly meaning ‘hill of strangers’.
The lamp posts in the city are designed in the shape of pomegranate and even the pothole covers highlight the significance of this fruit.
Granada has been my favorite Winter destination in Andalusia as it lies on the foothills of South Spain’s highest mountain range ‘Sierra Nevada’.
We reached the city in 1hr 45 mins by bus from Malaga.
The local Cuisines – a foodie’s haven
Every morning, we woke up to the smell of Churros and frequented Café Fútbol in our neighbourhood to devour them with divine hot chocolate. Also, we tried the popular local dessert – Pionono at the famous bakery Ysla. I loved this wobbly custard which wasn’t overtly sweet and had a strong hint of cinnamon.
The ancient Arab district Elvira is a melting pot of different cultures from Syria, Palestine, Morocco and many other countries. We were served the most appetizing platters at a very pocket-friendly price.
Besides Tapas which is found all over the city, this neighborhood is a foodie’s haven. Jerusalem Restaurant is highly recommended for its fresh and delicious food. Alcaicería is another Arab styled Souk or bazaar in the heart of the city where people can pick up leather purses, souvenirs and jewelry.
A fusion of cultures
Granada is unique in so many ways as it offers a heady fusion of Christian and Moorish cultures.
The Alhambra Palace is a ‘must-see’ and an exquisite example of the exemplary Moorish artwork and beautiful gardens. The Albaicín is yet another old Moorish quarter behind the Palace and boasts of the most scenic street Carrera del Darro and can’t go unnoticed! To the North of Albaicín is the city’s ancient gypsy district Sacramento which is famous for its flamenco shows and makes the city even more culturally charming! Our trip concluded with a visit to the famous local restaurant Jardines de Zoraya Tablao in Albaicín that hosts unforgettable flamenco shows.
“Granada is Spain’s most valued treasure; a melting pot of flavours, smells and passion” Rightly defined by Victor Hugo.
Be sure to visit South Spain in the coming Winter holidays as Andalucia can be as lively and active or as quiet and peaceful as you want with sunshine all around.
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