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The ‘Coast of Light’ will dazzle you with rich history, natural beauty, and fiery Andalusian culture.

Venture to the sandy shores of the Costa de la Luz and you will arrive in a distinctly Spanish heartland – Andalusia is a land of flamenco, bullfights, horsemanship and sherry. What’s more, it has arguably the oldest city in Europe – a naval hub that inspired architecture oceans away – and deep veins of different cultural influences running through its core.

Further inland, you have the regional capital of Seville, which dates back to Roman times. It squares off against the smaller city of Jerez, famous for sherry production, that stakes a rival claim as the true home of flamenco. So, saddle up and prepare to explore the highlights of Spain’s ‘Coast of Light’ – a place that will bedazzle and enchant you.

 

Culture and history

In many ways, the culture of the Costa de la Luz is what people think of when they think of classic Spanish culture. The Andalusians are proud of their Spanish heritage, where the Catalonians and residents of the Basque Country may feel distinct

Additionally, a high proportion of conquistadores who conquered the New World hailed from Andalusia. As a result, many cultural traits from the area, including dialect and architecture, are reflected in Spanish colonial settlements across the world.

Flamenco music was born near the Costa de la Luz, inspired from across the Mediterranean by Moorish musical influence on local gypsies. Guitar music and folk singing is also a huge part of the regional culture – bolero and rumba too!

Food is also something of a religion in this region of Spain. The cuisine of the Costa de la Luz is rich in influence – the clams of Cadiz and Huelva are famously delicious, and the jamon serrano from the Andalusian mountains melts in the mouth. But of course, the true gourmet show-stopper for the region is the sherry of Jerez.

Although Moorish influence is found throughout the region – Andalusia even derives from the Arabic word ‘Al-Andalus’ – the main religion is Roman Catholicism. There is a particular local focus on devotion to the Virgin Mary, and Holy Week sees processions in many towns near the coast.

Things to do

Whether you arrive on the coastline from a cruise ship, or fly direct for a stay in a city hotel, the Costa de la Luz will hold more activities than you can possibly manage in just a few days. You will find so many treats for the senses, from the taste of freshly caught Mediterranean seafood to the spectacle of Andalusian horsemanship. And of course, the region’s richly varied heritage will keep your mind engaged as well.

Seville

Like Europe’s oldest and greatest cities, Seville has deep and varied layers of history. Myth says that the city was founded by Hercules, and fact confirms that the city nicknamed ‘el sartén’ – the frying pan – has been a real melting pot of cultures over the centuries. Since it was founded, around 2,200 years ago, Seville has been inhabited by the Romans, the Moors and the Castilians – plus the city was an essential Spanish port for New World trade. Such legacies are etched across the landscape, from ancient ruins to medieval street engravings and colonial architecture. Must-sees include the Moorish castle, Alcazar, and the many churches like Basilica de la Macarena.

Doñana National Park

If you love nature, birdwatching, or pilgrimages, then Doñana National Park is the place for you. This expanse of protected forests and lagoons is the biggest surviving area of European wetland, and was given UNESCO biosphere reserve status in 1994. The park hosts a huge range of bird life, and half a million water fowl winter there each year. But it isn’t just birdlife that flocks to the area – the El Rocio pilgrimage, which concludes in a little village just north of the national park, brings around a million visitors through the region each year, from across Spain and beyond. Many pilgrims pass through the park to experience the wonders of creation first hand.

Cadiz

How about a trip to the oldest city in western Europe? Cadiz perhaps isn’t Spain’s most famous destination, but its history and influence is far-reaching. Originally settled by the Phoenicians in 1100 BCE, this strip of land was the launching point for the Spanish Navy. The distinctive style of Cadiz can be seen in Spain’s old colonial settlements in the Caribbean and the Americas, and it’s little surprise that the city had such an impact on sailors. Boasting sumptuous seafood, Baroque cathedrals and over 100 unique watchtowers, Cadiz is blessed with romance, history and culture.

Jerez de la Frontera 

Famous worldwide as the home of the oldest sherries, Jerez de la Frontera is a place where traditional Andalusia meets modern Spanish chic. In fact, sherry is actually named for the city – being an English derivation of Jerez or Xerez. By national law, much like champagne in France, all sherry produced must be made in the ‘Sherry Triangle’, which has Jerez at its easternmost point.

But there’s much more to the city than fortified wine. Jerez holds a strong regional pedigree as the home of traditional horse-breeding in Andalusia. The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in the city is devoted to preserving the traditions of local horsemanship and the abilities of the region’s horses – the famous ‘dancing stallions’ pull in tourists from across the globe.

Flight time

Flights to the Costa de la Luz from London take just under 3 hours. You’ll have enough time to get through a few chapters of your book before you arrive.

Currency

Euro - Like many of its European counterparts, Spain uses the euro as its currency.

Passports and visas

British citizens don’t need a visa to enter Costa de la Luz. Just make sure that you have a valid passport for the duration of your trip.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

Taking a knowledge of basic Spanish with you to the Costa de la Luz will help with everyday encounters in hotels and shops. Here are a few useful phrases to get you started:

¡Hola! – Hello

Buenos días – Good morning

¡Perdón! – Excuse me

Por favour – Please

Gracias – Thank you

¿Cuánto cuesta? – How much is this?

Me gustaría – I would like

¿Habla inglés? – Do you speak English?

¡Salud! – Cheers!

Timezone

Like all of mainland Spain, Costa de la Luz is only one hour ahead of the UK. With minimal time difference, you won’t experience much in the way of disruption to your usual sleep patterns.

Electricity

Hotels in Costa de la Luz will use European, two-pin sockets. You can find cheap European travel adapters online and in supermarkets.

Remember to buy some before you leave, because they are much more expensive to purchase at airports once you arrive.

Language

Spanish; Castilian - As a part of Spain, the main language in Costa de la Luz is Spanish. As a popular holiday destination, many staff on site at resorts speak some English and German.

Tipping

Good restaurant service should be met with a tip of 10% of your total spend, as long as there is no service charge included in the bill. It’s not customary to tip in bars, but if you’ve been served food or received exceptional service, then you can leave a few euros when you depart to show that you’ve enjoyed your evening.

It’s usual to give hotel bellboys €1 per piece of luggage, and €1 or €2 per night can be left in an envelope for cleaning staff. If you’d like to tip your taxi driver, particularly if they’ve helped you with luggage, then you can round up your fare to

Climate

The ‘Coast of Light’ is true to its name in summertime, with about 12 hours of daylight each day. Refreshing Atlantic winds combine with the regular sunlight to make a pleasantly temperate climate. The average temperature from June to October is around 20 degrees Celsius.

Summer highs can reach as high as 31 Celsius, so be sure to pack sun cream, light clothes and maybe a wide-brimmed hat. If you visit in the quieter off season, the weather remains mild. Just make sure to pack some warm clothing for evenings and nights, just in case.

Health

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

The largest city, Seville, has a population of about 675,000 – slightly larger than Glasgow. Jerez has around 215,000 people, on a par with Rochdale.

The coast itself is over 200 kilometres long, which means England’s ‘Jurassic Coast’ (or Dorset and East Devon Coast) would fit inside it once, and one-third again.

Smoking

Smoking is banned in public places like restaurants and bars, but private smoking clubs that don’t sell cigarettes, food or drink are permitted. Smoking outside is also allowed, so if you’d like to smoke then choose an outside table.


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