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Art and culture holidays on the Costa del Sol

Art and culture holidays on the Costa del Sol

In the winter months, holidays to the Costa del Sol change from lying on the beach to being active, enjoying the bright sunny weather to play sports, be outdoors and experience another side of this beautiful place. Another thing we love to do in the autumn and winter is to experience the culture and art that we have on our doorstep and this is a great thing to incorporate into a winter break.

Enjoy art

Malaga is a hotspot for amazing art galleries including the Picasso Museum, the CAC, the Carmen Thyssen gallery and the Pompidou Centre. A day trip to Malaga is essential for any culture vulture and is particularly nice in the quieter winter period. Discover the 10 best galleries in Malaga

Marbella too has some really nice galleries to visit. One of the largest is the Ralli Museum, just off the beachfront in the Golden Mile, which has one of the best collections of Latin American Art in the world. Tucked away in Marbella Old Town in a beautiful old building is the “Engraving Museum” which houses a small but beautiful collection of engravings and graphic art including works by Picasso, Dalí and Miró. There are also some nice private galleries which you can visit and even pick up a piece to take home. Check out this list of the best Marbella art galleries  to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Estepona is another great place to visit for a bit of art and culture. There are 45 beautiful murals on buildings around town which you can explore with the Murals Walking Route. You will also find lots of beautiful sculptures and pieces of poetry scattered around the town and this is a lovely way to explore the town, while also enjoying art. The Kempinski Hotel Bahía has regular art exhibitions in the hotel, which are open to the public and free to view. Until the 10th of January, you can see 20 works by the musicians Brian Travers from UB40 and John Illsely from Dire Straits in their gallery, and iron sculptures by Nimrod Messeg in the lobby.

Experience the Spanish Culture

This is a great time of year to take in a flamenco show, listen to traditional music, or see a performance. During the Christmas period, there are many great performances from the town bands and choirs, as well as a chance to try Spanish Christmas delicacies. Depending where you’re staying, check out the Town Hall’s website, or pop into the local tourist office and find out about these performances, as they aren’t always easy to find online, but are very special.

Roads are quieter this time of year, so hire a car and explore the amazing culture nearby. Learn about the history and spirit of bullfighting in Ronda, flamenco in Seville and sherry making in Jerez, all an easy day trip away from Marbella.

For a taste of Christmas in Spain, look out for “turron” a kind of nougat which comes in all shapes, sizes and forms over Christmas, “polvorones” round almond based biscuits with an unusual powdery texture and the “roscon”, a round cake in the shape of a donut, with a sweet bread exterior, filled with cream and candied fruits.

If you want to take a cultural holiday to the Costa del Sol, please contact us for advice. If you have a particular focus to your holiday, or a few key destinations in mind, we can recommend perfectly located holiday rental properties for you. Staying in a holiday rental, gives you the flexibility to come and go when you please, cook, make a packed lunch, and generally feel at home and give you a comfortable base to explore from. We hope to welcome you here very soon.

Easter week on the Costa del Sol

We love this time of year in Southern Spain! The towns and beaches receive a spring clean after the winter, and the days start to get considerably warmer! Easter is an important time in the Spanish calendar and is hugely celebrated by the whole country.  If you are lucky enough to be on holiday here during this time, you will be sure to find plenty of things to see and do!

The history of Easter in Spain

Holy week (Semana Santa) is an event rich with culture, celebrations and fantastic processions which have become a big part of Spanish tradition since the 16th century.  You may have already seen various groups of people (nazarenos) wearing tall pointed hats and robes with faces covered; this is all part of the Easter tradition in Spain and has a symbolic meaning. The face cover represents shame for the sins committed throughout the year and mourning for Jesus Christ. The pointed hats are said to bring the penitence closer to heaven and are removed on Easter Sunday to mark a victorious end to mourning.

From every Catholic Church, a local brother hood “costaleros” carries a large antique throne, traditionally to the cathedral then back to the church, with some of them weighing as much as 5,000 kilos! The pain and suffering coursed by carrying such a heavy weight is actually a symbol of what Jesus experienced carrying the cross. In fact, all of the parades from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday depict the story about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is a great reminder of why we celebrate this time. Every part of Spain has different rituals to celebrate the Easter story, so where ever you go you are sure to have fun and learn something new!

Here are some great events happening over Easter in the Marbella area;

  • Processions – One of the biggest Easter processions in Spain is held in Malaga, so definitely worth a visit if you’re here on holiday. It’s worth keeping in mind though that parades will be cancelled if it rains! You can see the timetable for the local Marbella processions here.
  • Easter egg hunts – There are some great Easter egg hunts planned on the Costa del Sol for the kids to enjoy this year, you can find out when and where they are held on websites like MarbellaFamilyFun.com. If the weather isn’t brilliant though, you could always have your own Easter egg hunt at your holiday home! You can find everything you need including all your favourite chocolate eggs at the local supermarkets such as Iceland and Supersol.
  • Kids activity days – The art camp at the Picasso Museum in Malaga and the multisports club in Nueva Andalucia are both good for being creative and burning off some energy! For younger children the Galaxia Play centre is holding a fun Easter party with loads of activities and a special visit from the Easter bunny!
  • Round of golf – While the kids are being entertained, why not enjoy the start of warmer weather with a spot of golf! There are plenty of courses to choose from for people of all levels.
  • Easter boat fair in Puerto Banus – This very popular event is held in the famous Puerto Banus Marina and makes a great day out for yacht lovers.

It’s not too late to book holiday homes on the Costa del Sol for your Easter break, just visit our website  to browse available properties or give us a call with your requirements on 952 839 595.

 

Tour Guide app for Andalucia

Gone are the days of buying disposable cameras in bulk for your holiday or lugging around video cameras, as most of us now do it all from our mobile phones and there is an app for just about everything!  Now you can even have  you own personal tour guide on your mobile for those visiting Andalucia, it is called ‘En tu mano’ (in your hand).

En tu Mano was presented by the Junta de Andalucia Councillor for Tourism and Commerce, Rafael Rodriguez at the recent international tourism fair in Madrid and is available on all smart phones.

The useful app provides users with up to date information on local events, history, shopping, dining, activities and lots more in five different languages! En tu Mano uses a GPS signal to pin point your area, so you can easily find out things to do and more about the area with a touch of a button.

So if you are going on holiday to the Costa del Sol this year, make sure you check out the tour guide app, more destinations throughout Andalucia are being added all the time. You can see the list of current destinations on the En Tu Mano website.

Check out our previous blog for more technical tips and apps to use when on holiday in Spain.

Day trip from the Costa del Sol – Colourful Jerez

Tio Pepe JerezJerez is the birthplace of sherry and is also famous for horses and flamenco. This ancient and fascinating city is a fantastic place to visit if you’re staying in a holiday rental on the Costa del Sol as it’s just 2 hours drive from the Coast. It can be easily seen on a day-trip – unless you want to stay over to experience more. 

 

Top 3 things to do in Jerez:

 

Take a Tour – Get your bearings and see the city by following the sign-posted sherry and brandy route around the city. Pick up your map from the tourist office and follow the signs around the most important sites. This is a great way to start your Jerez trip and will probably take two hours, depending how fast you walk.

Visit a Bodega – There are over 20 to choose from and are prominent features throughout the city. The most famous and popular would be the Gonzalez Byass tour, the bodega which manufactures both Tio Pepe and Crofts sherry as well as a host of brandies. You travel on a cute little train around the vast grounds, visit some of the cellars and are given a few informative guidelines to the process and history behind sherry production. You also get a tasting of Tio Pepe and Crofts at the end. This tour comes highly recommended and will probably take about two hours. English tours take place about every hour and you don’t need to book. 

Watch the Equestrian Show – The dancing horses are one of the highlights of Jerez and the one to see is at the The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. They have displays on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12noon throughout the year, so make sure you build this into your itinerary.

If you stay overnight then you can watch one of the passionate flamenco shows in the many restaurants and bars around the city. For more information on any of these, and other, great things to do in Jerez visit the tourist board’s website www.turismojerez.com. Visit our website for a fantastic range of self-catering accommodation in Spain.

Take a day trip to Nerja!

The Costa del Sol isn’t just about the stretch of coastline to the west of Malaga. It also covers the coastline east of Malaga, where the beautiful beachside town of Nerja on the eastern-most tip of the Costa del Sol is a firm favorite with visitors for many reasons…

Hola,

The Costa del Sol isn’t just about the stretch of coastline to the west of Malaga. It also covers the coastline east of Malaga, where the beautiful beachside town of Nerja on the eastern-most tip of the Costa del Sol is a firm favorite with visitors for many reasons.

The gorgeous town of Nerja, Spain
The gorgeous town of Nerja, Spain

Nerja is much like Marbella in that it was once a sleepy fishing village, but has now been transformed into a modern beach town with a large and thriving population, many of them foreigners.

Despite the changes, the town has still managed to avoid the kind of over-development that has turned other coastal resorts around Spain into veritable concrete jungles.

The Old Town in particular remains relatively unchanged and as charming as it’s ever been.

The main reason why most people visit Nerja, though, is undoubtedly to take a look around its famous caves, which are located inland approximately 3 kilometres from the centre of town.

The caves boast many archaeological treasures, including cave paintings estimated to be over 20,000 years old, as well as other pre-historic relics, plus an enormous natural cavern which has been transformed into a concert hall hosting musical performances during the summer.

Back in Nerja itself, the view from the spectacular Balcón de Europa or ‘Balcony of Europe’ is definitely not one to be missed, preferably in the late afternoon when the sun is gently saying goodbye to the day.

The Balcón de Europa is basically a pedestrianised walkway along the edge of a towering cliff, once the site of a Moorish castle. There are stunning views out across the Mediterranean and the small coves and beaches below, and if you need to rest your weary bones, there are numerous restaurants and cafes nearby to choose from. You can even jump aboard a horse-drawn carriage for a quick spin round the town.

Other places to visit in Nerja include the 17th century Church of El Salvador, a charming clash of Baroque and Moorish architectural styles, and the Gardens of Capistrano Playa, which lead down to Burriana Beach.

Hasta luego for now folks!

Cádiz – one of the true cultural treasures of Andalucia

Hola people!

Andalucia has so much to offer those seeking a little more than the traditional sun, sand and sangria holiday. Cultural tourism is expanding and one of the main attractions is the ancient and very charming city of of Cádiz.

The charming port city of Cádiz
The charming port city of Cádiz

Cádiz is surrounded by the sea on three sides, and it comes as no surprise the sea has played a significant role in its chequered history.

Believed to be at least 3,000 years old, Cádiz was originally founded by the Phoenicians as a trading post, and later served as a major Roman port.

In the 16th century, of course, it became key to the Spanish as the ideal setting off point for crossing the Atlantic, both on voyages to first discover then settle the Americas.

Around that period, Cádiz also had the distinction of being raided by Francis Drake in an attempt to gain control of this New World, was held siege by the Napoleonic armies, and finally, as a refuge for anti-Monarchists, it became the seat of the original Spanish constitution.

Today, a wander around the beautifully preserved old town is worth the 3 hour drive from the Costa del Sol alone, as is the seafood to be sampled in the local restaurants.

Cádiz has Spain’s oldest fish market, with each day’s catch literally being brought straight from the fishing boats to the market and then served on the tables of the local restaurants, sometimes within less than an hour.

The famous cathedral is also worth a visit. An unusual pathway winds its way up inside the main belltower, providing an incredible view across the city rooftops in all directions to the sea.

Spain plans to keep the country a top holiday destination

Spain now rates just behind France in terms of the total number of holiday visitors and second only to the Americans in terms of the volume of sales and the Spanish government want keep Spain on top of the international tourist destination ratings until 2020 and well beyond…

Despite the considerable social and economic reforms that have taken place in Spain over the last three decades, and modernisation that has lead the country to become one of the most forward-thinking in the world, good old fashioned tourism still remains one of the country’s most important industries.

In fact, it’s the single most powerful stimulus of the country’s overall economic well-being and employment, providing 12% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Spain now rates just behind France in terms of the total number of holiday visitors and second only to the Americans in terms of the volume of sales and the Spanish government want keep Spain on top of the international tourist destination ratings until 2020 and well beyond.

To do this, they’re actively implementing what they call their “Plan del Turismo Español Horizonte 2020” which is undertaking significant investment in more environmentally sustainable leisure resorts and in the country’s key road, rail, sea and air transport networks, which they see as key to the flow of tourists both into and around the country.

In our area, the Málaga province alone, evidence can be seen of this investment through the current expansion of Málaga airport, which will see a second runway and new terminal opening next year in what is already Spain’s third biggest airport.

There’s also the recently-opened high-speed AVE train linking the city of Málaga to Madrid (now two hours between cities) and the rest of Spain, plus the expansion of the city’s sea passenger port.

The lesser-known areas of Spain – such as the Costa Azahar in Valencia – are also being promoted by the government to foreign markets, together with other aspects of holidaying in Spain, such as the exploration of the country’s vast cultural heritage.

The government also want to extend the holiday season, by marketing Spain as an all year-round tourist destination.

In short, they want visitors to see Spain as a culturally enriching holiday destination throughout the autumn and winter, as well as the spring and summer – a place that offers far more than just the traditional ‘sun, sand and sangria’ package deal fortnight in a cheap hotel during the summer on the Costas.

So far, despite the worldwide recession, the plan seems to be working.

In Andalucia alone – historically one of the most popular package deal destinations – the Spanish Tourist Board now say there are noticing a marked trend, especially amongst the British, for exploring the less commercialised areas of the region.

All fantastically positive news if you own a holiday rental property in the area!

That’s all for now, hasta mañana!