I am Molly Sears, a British Expat living in Granada, Spain. I am a Nottingham girl. I moved to Spain in 1998. First I lived in Barcelona, I am now living in Granada I began writing about the city in 2011.
Motril Air Show is one of the four Spanish Air Shows celebrated anually. The Costa Tropical has it´s own Air Show on the first day of Summer. This year it is the 13th Edition of the Festival Aereo Internacional de Motril.
This festival is an international one and has pilots from different countries. Last time there were French, Turkish and Spanish pilots made up the display. The commentary on the beach was mainly in Spanish but two parts were done in French and English.
The most impressive and noisy plane by far was the F-16 C Block-40 aircraft display by SoloTurk.
I´m not even going to try to describe this.
Check out the video below:
SOLOTÜRK Motril / İSPANYA Hava Gösterisi - YouTube
The Sea Rescue Helicopter from Almeria performed a rescue in the sea just off the shore, winching up a man from the sea into the low flying helicopter.
Finally to close the International Air show the Patrulla Aguila (“Eagle Patrol”) the aerobatic demonstration team of the Spanish Air Force, impressed the crowds with their formations. Closing the display with this colourful fly past, the Spanish flag trailing in coloured smoke along the coastline.
The show lasted around 3 hours and made a great day at the beach.
Northern Spain is truly a great place for foodies. To Eat in Gijon , enjoying typical Asturian Food was pure delight.
You will be spolit for choice when you visit.
My 4 day city break in Gijon surprised me, it was my first time in the region and I had no idea what to expect.
Typical Asturian Food are dishes such as Cachopo (a meat dish) Fabada Asturiana (a hearty dish made with beans) and Cabrales cheese.
It is also well known for its production of Natural Cider too. This was more or less all I knew about local food before visiting the region.
Since then I have learnt much more. Here is my Gijon Food Guide
My first stop on arrival in the city was Lunch at La Galana. This busy Sidrería on the Plaza Mayor serves food at lunchtime and in the evenings. La Galana was busy yet welcoming. It has a warm traditional atmosphere and is popular with the locals.
Located close to the church and on the Main Square of Gijon it is easy to find.
Whether you choose to have some food at the bar or dine in the restaurant, service is friendly and efficient. I got the chance to do both.
Lunch was chosen from the menu. I sampled the Fried Cornbreads (seen above) called Tortos. They are served with chorizo eggs and black pudding. We also chose Grilled Octopus and a House Salad. (which was huge)
Dessert was a Mango Panna Cotta which was delicious.
They do serve a Daily Menu with a fixed price. Three courses including a drink. The portions are generous.
Of course on both occasions we drank cider. Asturias is known for it´s Natural Cider and is the most popular drink in the bars of Gijon.
This is served by the waiter. They pour the cider from a height, escanciar in Spanish . Then the cider should be drank when poured, not left to stand. This way you get the best taste of the drink.
Local Craft Beer
Despite all the tasty Cider available in Asturias, I am a Beer drinker. At Cerveceria Vor there is a huge selection of Asturian, Spanish and International Beers to choose from. Among the selection from the U.K they had Samuel Smith Stout, Newcastle Brown Ale and Bombardier.
A microbrewery since 2002, Avorigen IPA is one of Vor´s most popular ales. I also tried their Christmas brew which was infused with Licorice and Chocolate. This was perfect for dessert with some dark chocolate.
I was surpried at how many Craft Beers I came across in Gijon. They have quite a large selection of local artisan brewers in the area now.
Inside the bar was lively, the night I was there they had live music.
Vor also serves food too. We enjoyed Pizzas (10 euros) and huge hamburgers. (around 8 euros) Good to see that they have Gluten free, Vegetarian and Vegan friendly choices on their menu.
Vor has two locations in Gijon
Calle Decano Prendes Pando, 29
Calle Instituto, 21
Ciudadela – Eat in Gijon
On the first evening we enjoyed dinner at Restaurante Ciudadela . Located off the seafront on Calle Capua 7, this welcoming venue has a selection of seafood and local recipes.
As well as the restaurant it has a lively tapas bar for casual dining. Downstairs there are private dining rooms set in ´caves´ recreating a spanish wine cellar.
After sharing some starters from the menu, I chose Roast beef for main course. My partner chose the Lobster dish (seen above) which is one of the house specials.
The choux pastry dessert with sweet rice and coffee ice cream was the winning dessert here.
This restaurant is one of the options of the Gijon Gourmet. A tourism project to offer great gastronomy at set prices. (more on this below)
It is also listed in the Michelin Guide too.
Gijon Gourmet is a foodie pass to eat your way around the city. Eat in Gijon for a set price. 50 euros per person (including tax) and select one of the participating restaurants from the list.
I visited Ciudadela and also the Michelin Star Restaurant El Salgar with Gijon Gourmet passes.
Get details and book your spot with Turismo de Gijon.
It was a real treat to dine at La Salgar. Located inside the grounds of the Museum of Asturian People, the view from your table is of the typical Granary buildings (horreos). Even though you are in the city you feel that you are also in a countryside setting.
The glass building is surrounded by lush trees and greenery. It has a conservatory vibe to the restaurant.
Family Run Restaurant
This restaurant achieved it´s michelin star in 2013. Run by Chef Nacho Manzano and his sisters Esther, Olga Sandra. It´s an ideal place to sample local recipes and produce.
Since some of my previous Michelin Star experiences have been more foam and froth than food. I was sceptical about heading to another Michelin Star restaurant. I was also wondering what would be included in a 50 euro service.
It wasn´t long before I was eating my words. The service was slick yet discreet. There were good portions sizes too. Our starter, seen above, is the traditional Corn fritter, known as Torto. Topped with Cabrales cheese from Asturias and caramelised onion.
My highlight of the meal was the Rice dish, Arroz con Pitu de caleya was Free Range Chicken with slow cooked rice. Absolutely delicious. It made me want to eat this all weekend.
Dessert is always my favourite course. This creation with mango and ice cream was the perfect way to end the meal.
The 50 euro Gijon Gourmet set menu was such good value for money.
A great way for visitors to the city to discover local chefs and Asturian cuisine.
At one time Gijón was the city in Spain with most Cake Shops per capita. The selection of Pastelerias and Bakeries in the city is wonderful. For someone with a sweet tooth and a penchant for baking cakes this is ideal.
On the Gijon Goloso route in the city you can buy a pass from the local tourist board to try different cakes around the city.
Gijón Goloso – 5 tickets for 7 euros
Gijón Goloso 10 tickets for 13 euros
Participating shops give you a local delicacy or small cake when you present your pre purchased card. Like a Cake Passport!
The most typical cake in Gijon is called Casadiella a delicate pastry tube filled with a walnut paste.
Find them at Danas or Biarritz on the Gijon Goloso route.
We stopped at Madalenas de Colores where they make lots of customised cakes for birthday parties and wedding favours. (photo above)
This delicatessen has a huge selection of gourmet products. But the cheese counter is particularly impressive. With lots of local Asturian cheeses to discover I sampled four different asturian varieties paired with local craft beer.
Did you know that there are 42 kinds of Artisan Asturian Cheese?
My favourite cheese from the tasting was Quesos los Beyos. Made in Amieva region of Asturias with pasturised cows milk and matured for a month or so. This artisan cheese stood out from the rest, I enjoyed it balanced taste.
Cabrales cheese is the most famous one in the region and one of the most well known Spanish cheeses. This pungent variety is a little strong for my palate. Cabrales is used in different recipes to give a punch of flavour and also great for sauces.
At La Gijonesa the cheese range includes artisan cheeses from Spain and also lots of International varieties too. When I had finished the Cheese tasting I choose a few products to bring home with me.
Cider infused Chocolates in pretty yellow boxes. Casadiellas pastries to take back to the office and I also bought some Cheese.
In May I visited Northern Spain for the first time. Gijon was a wonderful introduction to this region.
With a population of of 272,000 (2017) this Coastal City on the Bay of Biscay is the largest city in Asturias.
After spending 4 days in Xixon as it´s called in Asturiano, here are my tips to make the most of a city break here.
15 Things to do in Gijon
Elogio del Horizonte
This huge sculpture by Spanish Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida is one of the must see places in the city. From this vantage point, you can see across the coastline and the city. The Cerro de Santa Catalina was a military ground until the nineties. Once decomissioned, this area of the city was transformed into a public park. This iconic sculpture was added in 1990.
As you stand underneath the concrete sculpture you can hear the waves below amplified. Echoing the sea like a gigantic seashell. From this point both beaches, Playa de San Lorenzo and Playa de Poniente are visible.
Coloured Steps from the Harbour into Cimavilla
The Old Town of Gijon is called Cimavilla. Located on the hill overlooking the coast, this area was once home to the fishing community. Small houses are packed into its sloped streets. The narrow alleys and colourful façades have a nostalgic feel to them.
You may notice that some of the houses have the staircase on the outside, this was done to save space on the inside.
This part of town has plenty of small bars and cidererias. One of the most popular places to hang out in Gijon is the wall opposite the harbour on the edge of Cimavilla. Known as Cuesta del Cholo or the Tránsito de las Ballenas.
As this street looks out across the water it makes the perfect spot to watch the sun go down and have a cold beer.
The Romans Baths are dated from the 1st – 2nd century B.C. The entrance of the baths is next to St Peter Apostle Church on Campo Valdés. The museum has been carefully designed so the church building was not affected.
Once underground you can see the Cold Room, the Hot Room and even the heating system of the baths. (photo above) This chamber was built underneath the main floor.
It is quite spectacular to see original parts of this Roman settlement all these years later. They certainly built it to last.
Open 9.30am to 2pm and 5pm to 7.30pm. (Closed on Mondays)
Playa de San Lorenzo
When you first arrive in Gijon, the huge expanse of golden sand is one of the first things you will notice. The beach is huge and the views across the bay are wonderful. The sands quickly disappear as the tides come in each evening.
At one end of the beach you can see the River Piles where it meets the sea.
Be sure to check the times of the tides when you are staying in Gijon, especially if you plan to go to the beach. Depending on the time of year locals choose PLaya de Poniente or one of the other ten beaches around Gijon to get the best beach day.
In Summer season the tourist information office is open on the seafront, next to the main beach. Also in Summer months you can see the coloured stripey tents set up on the beach.
These are typical and characteristic of Gijon. Even some of the kiosks and bins along the promenade mimic the fabric beach huts.
The Universidad Laboral de Gijón is the biggest building in Spain. It´s surface area covers over 270,000 m2 (That´s 2906.256 square ft)
Originally built as an orphange for children from mining families. As Asturias was an important coal mining area, many families experienced deaths and serious accidents over the years. Children here had a programme of workshops and classes. They could learn skills for a specific trade, keep fit and strong through sports activities too. The academic classes here were known to be of a high standard too.
Over the years the activity changed and it became a school. Nowdays the building is known as City of Culture and has a variey of uses.
Part of the University is here, there is also a large theatre and several private companies too. There are cultural activities here such as exhibitions and tourist activities.
World´s Biggest Oval Church
On this site perhaps the most impressive part of the architecture is the church. As you approach it, it appears to be circular, but it is actually an Oval shape.
The biggest church in the world with an elliptical shaped floor. So quite an architectural gem.
Views of Gijon
The Tower is 117 metres high and the tallest building in Asturias. It is also the tallest stone building in Spain.
You can visit the tower which has a super fast lift up to the top and enjoy these views like I did.
Part of the tower resembles the Giralda Belltower in Seville if you look closely.
I had two hours to wander around but it was nowhere near enough for me. This site is absolutely huge. Located next to the Laboral University it actually has 25 hectares, 16 of which are open to the public.
With 30,000 plants arranged in four areas representing the Atlantic geographies of the world.
The Jardin Botanico Atlantico is comprised of the Cantabrian area, the Vegetable Garden, the Island Garden and the Atlantic Garden.
The whole site is impeccably maintained. Some of the highlights are the Walkway of Florencio Valdes (seen above) with huge plane trees forming a natural green corridor. A little further on at the Island garden there is a quaint stripey bathing hut overlooking a natural pool. This part of the garden is over 100 years old and was used by a prestigious businessman of the time Florencio Valdes.
Some of the flowering plants were really spectacular when I visited in May. The Rhodedendron bushes were all in bloom and there were some cabbage roses which caught my eye too. I even got to see the typical Cider Apple Tree in flower on this site.
I didnt get chance to try to find my way around the Labyrinth on this visit but would love to when I go back.
If you are interested in gardening, horticulture or just want to wander in nature this visit is highly recommended.
Price 2.90 euros (adults)
Shopping in Gijon
As with any decently sized Spanish city Gijon has plenty of shops.
The main shopping area is around on Calle Corrida, Calle de los Moros and Paseo Begoña.
Although I did also see some nice little boutique style stores on Menendez Valdes.
Spanish High Street Stores such as Bimba & Lola, Massimo Dutti and Zara are all in Gijon as well as El Corte Inglés Dept Store.
For typical food from Asturias look for La Gijonesa. They have pretty packaging and typical delicacies to take home with you. They have three different stores around the city centre.
Museum of the People of Asturias
I was looking forward to visiting the Muséu del Pueblu d’Asturies as I wanted to learn about the typical horreos & paneras I could see dotted around the edges of the city. In Asturias they are estimated to be around 10,000 of these constructions.
They are granarys or barns. Used to store corn and grain up high, out of the way of rodents. Some are wooden and some are made from stone.
This one below is quite an elaborately decorated example.
International Bagpipe Museum
At the Museum you can see different examples of these typical granary´s around the site and other kinds of houses used in the region.
They also have the International Bagpipe Museum located in one buidling. As Asturias has lots of Celtic heritage, bagpipes is an important part of local history too.
Here they have bagpipes from many different countries across the world and some early example of pipes.
One room has the International collection and another has Asturian Bagpipes. There are two other rooms with related displays on local culture and social activities.
You won´t get very far in the city without coming across the name of Jovellanos.
Gaspar Melchor Jovellanos was an influential figure in Spain (1744-1811) born in Gijon.
Studying Law he became a Judge but worked as a Politician, Author, and Philosopher throughout his life.
He also did a lot to promote and improve Asturias, due this legacy he has a Theatre named after him Teatro Jovellanos
The Theatre is a stunning vintage theatre, if you get chance to hear a concert or see a musical here, it must be a fabulous experience. There are few theatres like this left now.
You can also visit his Birthplace the Museum Casa Natal de Jovellanos
Inside the Musuem are works of art by Asturian artists.
The most impressive piece is a wooden tableau depicting a typical scene in Cimadevilla in the 18th century.
Head underwater with the turtles, fish and sharks at the Aquarium.
Located close to the Playa de Poniente it´s open from 10am to 7pm. The Acuario de Gijon takes a look at the local Cantabrian Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and other seas futher afield such as the Red Sea.
There is also the opportunity to dine ´underwater´ at the Aquarium on special event evenings.
Having dinner next to the sharks and turtles must be a great experience.
The Aquarium is located on one side of the harbour, just off the Playa de Poniente.
Families & Children
As well as the Aquarium and the Botanical Garden which will be a hit with families, Gijon has other activities for families.
There are Boat rides along harbour in Summertime. Several different companies offer excursions in different sizes of boats.
The Railway Museum, Museo del Ferrocarril is also a good idea for Train enthusiasts. This museums has some great exhibits and you can see the industrial past of this busy city. Some of the engines and train carriages inside really take you back in time.
(Open 9.30 to 6.30pm Daily Closed Mondays)
Gijon is a great place for Water Sports. Jet skis can be hired and Older Children may like to try Surfing the waves.
Local companies offer Surf lessons and Equipment hire.
At the Ciudadela Celestino Solar you can take a peek into the Industrial history of the city. It is tucked away on Calle Capua in a narrow alley.
These small houses were set within inner courtyards. Invisible from the main streets and were a solution to the lack of housing when Gijon was growing.
As the city grew quickly these slums were built in 200 different places around the city.
This centre gives us an idea of Gijon in 1877 through its exhibition.
Eat Local Food
The local food is just excellent. So much to explain on this it deserves it own chapter.
Read more about this on a dedicated Food post. (coming soon)
Cider production in this area is very important and Fishing is too.
The region has endless varieties of cheese too.
Gijon Tourist Board have vouchers avaible for visitors for food experiences. One is Gijon Gourmet and the other one is Gijon Goloso (for sweet toothed visitors)
Most travellers come an vague idea of Things to do Granada. Top of the list is usually the Alhambra Palace. A magnificent historical building which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Albaicin neighbourhood is also listed by UNESCO too.
These two main sights in Granada are wonderful to experience, yet there are many other points of interest in the city.
Though they may not be as well known as the Alhambra or the Albaicin.
Since I have been living here for over 12 years I thought I would share some of those hidden gems with you.
Here is my list of 50 things to Do Granada and see around the city, which will help you plan your next visit.
50 Things to Do Granada
1. Cathedral and Royal Chapel
This huge construction in the heart of the city was completed in 1561. In Baroque and Renaissance styles, you won´t be left indifferent when you wander inside.
The mass of huge white columns inside and detailed ceiling domes are quite breathtaking.
The Royal Chapel is the resting place of the Catholic Kings Ferdinard and Isabel. It is next to the Cathedral.
You can go down the narrow stairs and actually see their coffins.
The ornate metal railings and altar piece in the Chapel is extremely detailed and grand.
This visit is one of the most popular monuments in Granada.
2. Gardens in Granada
Not only does Granada have the Generalife Gardens in the Alhambra to visit. There are many other stunning locations for greenfingers and peaceseekers. Carmen de los Mártires is one of my personal favourites. Set to one side of the Alhambra Woods, now a public park, there are peacocks strutting around, there are ducks on the lake and many fragrant flowers too.
From some areas of the Carmen de los Martires there are wonderful panoramic views of Granada too.
The Huerta de San Vicente is a city centre park, and the summer house of Poet F.G.Lorca. This is also a wonderful place to wander around in too.
3. Albaicin photo tour
Wander through the Albaicin quarter discovering small squares and stepped streets.
The views from here across to the Alhambra and Sierra Nevada are magical.
You can also enjoy this area of Granada on on the Albaicin Photo Experience guided by a local Professional Photographer, take home memories with you, with fabulous shots of your time in Granada.
4. Try Local Produce with Spain Food Sherpas
The Taste of Granada Food Tour is a 3 hour tour in the historic centre, focusing on local food. Products grown in the province of Granada are tasted and you also get the chance to buy some to take home if you like.
Meet a few local characters along the way and enjoy the seven different gastronomic stops.
Feel like a local as you taste you way around the city.
Located opposite the Royal Chapel, the Madraza is currently owned by Granada University. However you can visit, it costs 2 euros. The top floor has this stunning carved blue woodwork ceiling. On the ground floor there are a small room with wonderful plasterwork engraving.
This was the Koranic University in medieval Granada and was the foundation of the current University which we have in the city today.
6. Arab Baths in Granada
With the legacy of the kingdom of Al Andalus Granada had many Hammam´s or Bathhouses around the city. Today we can enjoy this ritual at one of the modern Bathhouses in the city. There are quite a few offering different services across the city.
Depending on your budget and schedule you will be able to find one that suits your travel itinerary.
7. Romantic Dinner with views
One of the best ways to spend an evening in Granada is to dine at one of the Typical Carmen Restaurants in the Albayzin. With amazing views of the Sierra Nevada and Alhambra Palace this will be a memorable setting.
If you manage to time it well, a sunset view will make it even more special.
The best way to do this is to go by taxi and book ahead of time. Some get busy especially on weekends.
8. Bike or Hike in Alhambra Woods
As Granada is surrounded by natural spaces, it makes it a great location for Ramblers and bikers. With trails leaving from the city you can enjoy short hikes and return without a car.
There are also routes in the Sierra Nevada N.P which require a car (just 15 mins drive from city centre) but offer different landscapes and routes around the local area
Whether you are a beginner or an experience cyclist there are lots of great routes in Granada. A bike can be arranged (with or without motor) for your outing. The rides can be half day or full day activities and are arranged with English speaking locals who know the geography well and understand the local weather too
Closer to the city centre is the Basilica de San Juan de Dios which is quite breathtaking inside.
11. Tapeo in Campo Principe
You can´t come to Granada without trying some of the typical Tapas. The Realejo area is my personal favourite. Campo del Principe is a large square with lots of restaurants and bars with outdoor seating across the square.
With a lively atmopshere and plenty to choose from this is a good option for warm weather.
Calle Molinos is also lined with some great places to eat out too. (photo below Tapas in Papaupa)
12. Graffiti Walk
The Realejo quarter is also decorated with lots of Urban Art too. The Niño de las Pinturas is a local Granada artist who is well known outside Spain for his creations.
Wandering around the area along Calle Molinos, Plaza Joe Stummer and Cuesta del Caidero you can see some of the main grafittis.
13. Virgen de las Angustias
The Church of Virgen de las Angustias on Carrera del Darro is where the Patron of Granada is kept. This Virgen keeps Granada safe from earthquakes. In Autumn the city offers her thousands of flowers to thank her for the protection.
If you step into the church when you come to Granada you can see her up high on the main altarpiece. The baroque design of the church interior is very lavish too.
14. Route of the Alijbes
All around the Albaicin quarter you can see these curious constructions. Walk the Aljibes Route to discover the enginnering skills of medieval granada. These cisterns and water tanks were ingenious works to look after the most precious resource in the city. Each group of houses had its own.
You can find out more at the Aljibe del Rey too.
15. Fajalauza Ceramic
Granada had an important ceramic tradition. Local craftsmen created the Fajalauza pottery style. Mainly blues and greens with typical symbols such as the pomegrante shape or flourishs like leaves and plants.
Seek out these designs in local pottery stores around the city or try your hand at a ceramic workshop yourself. A memorable experience in Granada
16. Alpujarra villages
The remote villages of the Alpujarra is my favourite day trip. Discover these berber style houses South of Granada on the side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. You can drive if you are happy to negotiate curvy mountain roads but you will need around 2 hours to get there and back from Granada.
This is a long day but worth it to see such unique villages. If you stay overnight it makes the experience much more relaxed and the area is a perfect place to immerse yourself in nature too.
Granada in 1997 was quoted to have “the most beautiful sunset in the world” when Bill Clinton visited the city with his wife Hillary & daughter Chelsea.
One of the most popular places to see the sunset is the Mirador de San Nicolas in the Albaicin quarter. But it is not the only place.
There are many other places to watch the sun go down as the sky turns pinky purple.
To see the Sierra Nevada snow turn a delicate pink is one of the best views in Granada wherever you contemplate it from.
Mirador de San Cristobal, The Camino de Sacromonte, Carril de la Lona and San Miguel Alto are all worthy spots to set up your tripod too.
As Granada is such a bustling city there are often street markets at the weekend
Some of the best to look out for are: Granada Pinta bien which is Local Art, paintings and Illustrations.
Made in Granada which are local crafts made form paper, card, knitting and fabrics
or EcoMercado which is usually opoostire Palacio de Congresos on the first weekend of the month. Organic local products are sold in the mornings.
19. Local Food Workshops
Whether you are looking for Spanish Cooking Classes or Food Tastings of local produce.
Since I have been living here over 12 years I know have the local knowledge to recommend the best of local gastronomy.
Cooking Classes with local products and traditional recipes can be arranged in small groups ahead of time
Food tastings are also possible but are set up and personalised to your requirements
The lesser known Coastline of Granada has plenty to offer. Motril Salobreña or Almuñecar have some great gastronomy, a golf course and good aquatic activities too.
Although the beaches are not as sandy as some of the other regions of Andalusia, the area is pleasant as it is not overcrowded and prices are reasonable.
Whether you want to sail at sunset and see the dolphins or enjoy a seafood paella on the beach, you can enjoy a beach day at 35 minutes from the city.
21. Taste Local Craft Beer
Over the last 5 years Craft Beer producers in Granada province have increased.
Local beers are made with water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and are infused with different flavours from the region. Lemons from Lecrin Valley, Rosemary from the mountain tracks or Chirimoya fruit from the Costa Tropical.
Try some of the Granada Craft beers when you visit. If you are lucky you may even coincide with the annual Granada Beer Festival held Mid June
22. Learn Flamenco
If you love Flamenco music Granada has some great dance schools where you can learn to play Cajon, Clap Flamenco Rhythms or get to grips with basic footwork. If you are a beginner or have already had some lessons, the teacher will adapt to your skill level.
Perhaps not that most obvious idea of Things to do Granada. However this is a good activity for families or visitors on a very hot day or rare rainy day. This museum is ideal for Children with its hands on DO..
The Costa Blanca is popular for its moderate sunny climate. There are also lots of different towns and villages to explore.
If you are looking for a Spanish Villa or rent for several months each year. It can make a great base to explore the Eastern coast of Spain.
Day trips from the Costa Blanca to Valencia, Murcia or Almeria will allow you to explore the region.
August is the hottest month with an average temperature of 29C (84F). The coolest month is January with the average temperature of 11C (52F). Even in winter months you can enjoy more than 5 hours of sunshine a day.
This makes the Costa Blanca a great place for a holiday home or even a retirement destination.
5 popular Costa Blanca destinations
Located on the edge of Montgo Natural Park, Javea has both sea views and mountain views. There is more Javea information here.
As well as it having some fantastic beaches and nature surrounding the town. It is a great location for water sports but also for hiking and birdwatching too.
The festivals in Javea are also worth seeing. The Lady of Loreto is exciting and not for the feint hearted. Bulls are let loose in the harbour and beach in the evening. Ending with fireworks, it´s thrilling to watch from a distance. Celebrated at the end of August and first days of September each year.
Mid July the festival of the Moors and Christians takes place. A re-enactment of the historic battle some 700 years ago in the region.
One of the largest cities in the region. Alicante is an important port, yet also has beaches, a castle and a bustling commercial area.
The hub of the Costa Blanca this makes a good base due to the transport links via air, ferry train and bus service. Alicante Airport is the busiest one in the Valencian Community.
Santa Barbara Castle offers spectacular views over the city and the port. Get up there by taking the street level lift built into the side of Mount Benacantil. You can also take a boat across to Tabarca Island which is just opposite the city.
One of the most popular festivals is the Bonfires of San Juan celebrated in June. On Postiguet Beach fireworks and bonfires are lit for the Summer Solstice.
Very popular with European tourists since the 1970´s. It is no surprise as the e beaches of Benidorm are excellent. It is a popular resort all year around. Benidorm has lots of nightlife and shows to keep you entertained whenever you visit.
The bustling town also has quite a good commercial and shopping area. In low season the resort is still lively, from November to March with visitors still come along for winter sunshine.
Looking to rent or purchase in the area is a sound move as this popular tourist hotspot is thriving and growing.
Terra Mitica is a great place for families staying in Benidorm. This water park has day passes and is a fun way to spend a hot day. There is also Terra Natura, Animal Park of the complex which will be a hit especially with younger children.
You can get there by train on the excellent cercania service which runs from Benidorm along the coast if you do not have transport.
Altea was once a fishing village and is a quieter resort. With its quaint marina and small fish market. This makes a lovely location for a quiet break.
The restaurants along the seafront make a charming place to dine while watching the boats come in from a day on the sea. Walking along the palm tree lined promenade in the evening makes a pleasant end to the day.
The location is protected from the sea breeze, tucked behind the Sierra de Bernia. This gives it a very mild climate all year round. It is also a good location for families as it is not as busy as other resorts along the Costa Blanca.
This small fishing town is well known for the vibrant colourful houses along the seafront. It also has a chocolate factory too.
Although it is a small resort. It is quaint and well connected with the Cercanias railway service. Trains run to Alicante, Benidorm and other places of interest along the coast.
This resort is more seasonal, although the locals do live there all year round. Quieter in winter months it gets busier from Easter week through to end of September.
Whether you are looking for a busy popular resort or a quiet fishing village the Costa Blanca has something for to suit all tastes.
In May we celebrate the Crosses festvial but this month is especially lovely in Andalusia as Oranges trees waft the scent of orange blossom through the air. Plants and flowers all are lush and green. The weather begins to get warmer and days are longer.
Straight after Easter the Festival of the Crosses of May comes along on May 3rd. Some villages and towns celebrate around the May bank holiday, 1st May. This festivity reminds me of the traditional well dressings in Derbyshire.
Floral decorations celebrating springtime.
Origin of the May Crosses
It´s not clear how this festival originated in Spain. It is probable that Pagan May Day celebrations influenced this festivity. Some May celebrations also date back to Roman times.
Some theories trace back this tradition to the middle ages. When Jesus Christs cross was found by Saint Helen. Also known as the True Cross. The actual date in the liturgical calendar is the 14th Sept which is when Holy Cross Day is observed by the Church, yet the Crosses of May are celebrated on 3rd May in Spain and some other countries.
In Andalusia you can find crosses in all of the provinces. I can highly recommend the Crosses in Almeria, Granada and Cordoba especially I have visited these ones myself. This tradition spreads across all of Spain and even in some South American countries too.
You will see them in some locations in Valencia Toledo and Alicante provinces too.
Cruces de Mayo
In Cordoba the Crosses of May celebration is combined with theCordoba Patios competition. Usually 25 crosses take part and over 50 patios are decorated with ceramic painted plant pots and brightly coloured geraniums and spring flowers. In 2012 the festival runs from 2nd to 13th of May.
You can also head to Jaén or Ubeda where the festivities are also popular. In Malaga and in Almeria the crosses are located in places around the city centre. In some larger towns there can be over 40 different ones to see. They are easy to locate as there are always people around them.
Cruz de Mayo
In Cádiz the crosses are celebrated with evening verbenas and often patios are decorated in flowers also in nearby El Puerto de Santa María across the water. The Cruz de Mayo of San Pedro in Huelva is notable but there are others in Huelva province such as Rociana del Condado or in Bonares.
In Seville the festival is still celebrated and in nearby Ecija where the children carry crosses along in processions.
Dia de la Cruz in Granada
In Granada the city has around 100 crosses set up around the different squares and patios. There are also events happening for on the weekend next to the 3rd of May. A competition is run by the town hall for the best cross display.
There are also decorated balconies that are awarded prizes too. There are often culinary activities and of course there´s dancing and singing too.
The Albaicin and Realejo are good areas to see the crosses, as well as the historic city centre.
Traditional food such as migas and broad beans are typical and Sevillana dancing or Rocio choirs can be spotted around the city too. Sometimes you see children dressed in typical Andalusian dress.
They have a small portable floral cross. Boys wear striped trousers, braces and a cummerband and a Cordobes hat, girls wear flamenco style dresses and flowers in their hair.
They ask for money (like penny for the guy in UK on bonfire night) they say Give me a Chavico for the cross, the chavico is an old name for a small coin at the beginning of the 1900’s.
Other places to check out the crosses in Granada are Almuñécar, Armilla which is just outside the city to the south, Baza and Motril. In Motril which is a sea port, the festivities coincide with the Feria Chica (Little fair) and are declared National Touristic interest.
The crosses are usually quite tall and are decorated with red or white carnations or a mixture of flowers. They include local ceramics, embroidered shawls, shiny copper pots, candles and anything representing the local traditions. Adorning the area around the cross in an eye catching display. As this is a competition, naturally the onlookers comment on the flowers and the design of the display.
Apple and Scissors
Don´t miss the apple right at the bottom of the display. This apple has scissors sticking out of it. This is to avoid people gossiping and saying ¨it´s really nice BUT they could have made it bigger, the flowers could have been prettier….¨.
The explanation behind this is that the apple is also known as ´pero´ in Granada (from peral) . The would refers to both the fruit and the word but in Spanish.
So it the scissors cut the ´but´ there are no buts.
People can´t criticise the cross display as it already has the but there.
I understand that this maybe difficult to comprehend if you dont speak Spanish.
Crosses in Lecrin Valley
In the Valley of Lecrin, in the village of Pinos del Valle they celebrate a week of fiesta for the Crosses of May, they are dedicated to Santo Cristo del Zapato (Christ Saint of the Shoe….yes really) The celebrations include activities for children, firework displays, bike rides and chocolate with churros.
Then there dancing in the evenings on the village square, great if you like to dance tango or the Paso doble ; ) One main festival day they make a huge Paella for all the neighbours probably over 1200 people and everyone has lunch together outside.There are processions around the village with a marching band and majorettes.
Cars and tractors pulling carriages decorated with crosses and flowers make up part of the procession. The women wear typical flamenco style dresses and it´s a colourful display to see, welcoming the Spanish Springtime.
Often there are firework displays which close the weeks festivities but in the daytime to accompany the procession there are often bangers or rockets to make sure you know that there is something going on.
In Granada city years ago there would be bars set up along the streets. Close to each Cross, usually organised by each group of neighbours. This was regulated by the authorities and drinking on the street wasnt allowed now during the week of the crosses festival for several years.
In 2018 the bars will be closely controlled (for noise and anti social behaviour) but will be set up in certain city centre locations.
There is a busy atmosphere around the city with people having tapas and beers while walking around to see the crosses displayed around the city. It is a fun and colourful week in Andalusia.
Tickets on sale at Teatro Isabel la Catolica, close to Puerta Real (Shown in picture below) or in El Corte Ingles (Customer Service desk in Basement Floor -1)
The show is inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca´s work and recreates surreal and flamenco landscapes. With different styles of music and dance such as seguiriyas, granaínas, fandangos, country style songs, bulerías, tangos, romances alegrías and soleares. Some put to words of Lorca´s poetry
Palacio de Congresos de Granada
La Nube is an open air terrace above the Palacio de Congresos. They serve food and have a cultural agenda throughout the summer season.
The entrance is on the Calle Profesor Enrique Tierno Galván.
Alhambra tickets can be tricky to purchase at peak times of the year. The Alhambra palace is visited everyday by thousands of people. So its important to book ahead. Reserving as soon as you can you will guarantee that you get a ticket on the day that you are in Granada.
The reason that Alhambra tickets are limited to a certain number is to protect the interior of the Nasrid palaces., Some of the walls and floors are delicate and need to be protected from wear.
Nasrid palace – Get Alhambra tickets
If you want to visit this UNESCO World Heritage site you need to book Alhambra tickets well in advance. They often sell out epecially around Eastertime and Summer months.
If you do manage to buy on the official site from Patronato de la Alhambra. You can collect you ticket at the Alhambra ticket offices when you arrive. There is a window for people who have prepaid their tickets and usually no queue at all.
The Tienda Librería Alhambra in Plaza Nueva, a bookshop in Granada just up from Gran Vía no longer print out Alhambra tickets.
Corral de Carbon at Calle Reyes Catolicos now print Alhambra tickets. They are open until 7pm Monday to Friday. (photo of Corral del Carbon below)
Please note that since the end of 2013 it is no longer possible to print your Alhambra tickets in Servicaixa cash machines outside of Andalusia. If you are in Andalusia you will be able to print out your tickets at any Servicaixa ATM.
Which type of Alhambra visit?
There are two options for planning your visit. Night time or daytime visit.
When you go to purchase online Alhambra tickets you need to take care when you select the ticket you are buying.
The night time visit is to enter the Nazrid palaces only. This is includes the famous patio of the Lions.
The day time ticket includes Alcazaba, Nazrid palace and rest of the complex.
Generalife Garden visit refers to the Summer palace and it´s gardens. This visit is a great compliment once you have seen the rest of the monument. In spring and summer the fragrance from the plants and colors from the flowers are spectacular. This ticket only allows entry to the Gardens. You will not see the Lions Courtyard or Nazari Palace on this ticket.
Entrance time on your ticket
*Really important information*
When you are heading to the Alhambra palace for your visit, it is very important to arrive earlier than the time printed on the ticket.
The time printed on the ticket is not the time to go in the Main entrance.It is the time which you have been allocated too visit a certain area of the monument. If you arrive at the Nasrid palace door later that the time printed on your ticket you will not be allowed entrance. They are not flexible on this point at all.
Please note that the door for Nasrid Palace is quite a way from the Main entrance. You will need about 15 mins to get from the main entrance gates to the Palacio Nazaries. (you could get a little lost on route, so allow plenty of time)
Also remember to save your ticket after going into the Alhambra. You may need to show this on different doors further along the visit.
The full Alhambra visit
If you go for the whole day, wear comfy shoes or trainers. Along the route there are dusty tracks, cobbles, steps to climb and smooth marble floors. Please make sure you are prepared for the day, some parts of the visit are outside.
You may need to take a jumper/coat or sun cream and hat depending on the time of year.
I recommend the Audio guide for the daytime visit. (for those who do not have a guided tour)
Following the numbers on this guided route ensures you take a logical path around the huge complex to prevent having to back track and walk further.
If you would like a guide to accompany they offer the tour in several languages. So you can tailor the alhambra palace visit to your exact requirements.
You can even enjoy a Nighttime visit with them (seen below)
Visitors with reduced mobility
Take a taxi Palacio Carlos V and just see the Palacio Nazaries. This is the heart of the Alhambra. This visit will keep steps and long walks to a minimum.
Food inside the Alhambra
To have lunch or dinner inside the alahambra palace complex, there are several options.
You may want to take your own food. This is not a problem, however you need to eat in one of the areas outside of the palaces. Benches in the gardens or one of the open spaces around the monument. Near to Carlos V or the Wine Gate are good areas. A packed lunch would be a good choice if you plan to be there all day or want to stick to a budget.
Restaurante El Mimbre or Jardines de Alberto. Both are reasonably priced but not inside the complex. They are located opposite the main entrance.
Hotel America is a small white building just up from Palacio Carlos V. They serve simple food in their courtyard.
Inside the Alhambra some sandwiches, baguettes and hot drinks are sold in a small hut next to the Alcazaba entrance on Plaza de los Aljibes.
Vending machines and the toilets are located close to Palacio Carlos V. This is in the centre of the Alhambra complex.
Parador de Granada. The restuarant is fabulous and overlooks the Generalife. It is the more pricey option but wonderful for a treat after all that walking about.
Getting to the Alhambra
• Take a C3 small red bus from Plaza Isabel la Catolica (ticket 1.20 euros)
• If you want you can walk up the steep hill from Plaza Nueva. Take Cuesta Gomerez all the way up through the woods and you will go past the Hotel Washington Irving & then to the Ticket office and main entrance.
To go to Carlos V Palace or Nasrid Palaces get off at the second stop (Puerta de la justicia)
• A taxi will cost around 6 euros to go the the Alhambra ticket office (of course the final cost depends on where you are in the city) I think this is the best option, especially if there are two or more people. The walk downhill is better after the visit, for a pleasant stroll.
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Astrofest is in its second Edition. The Canary island of La Palma will host AstroFest La Palma in 2018. Shining a light on the island’s astronomy. AstroFest La Palma festivities will run from 5th April to 30 May.
Inlcluding a variety of diverse activities centred on the island’s starry skies.
La Palma – The Pretty Island
Known as ‘la isla bonita’ (the pretty island), La Palma is internationally recognised by UNESCO as an official Starlight Reserve for the countless stars which can be observed and the island’s commitment to its environmental preservation.
La Palma’s longstanding recognition has also been bolstered by their internationally acclaimed observatory, El Roque de Los Muchachos. Sets at an altitude of 2,420m.
Balcony of the Stars
Often referred to as the ‘Balcony to the Stars’, it is one of the three best observatories on earth, and home to the largest optical telescope in the world. Astro Fest La Palma, kicks off on Thursday April 5th with the Carrera de las Estrellas (Star Race).
It is the first ever competition to be certified as a Starlight Sports Event.
Starlight Night Race
A 2.4km uphill race to the islands stars, the race begins at night in Hermitage Pino of the Virgen and along the forest track of La Hilera.
Lit up the way by the starry skies. Another sporting event takes place on 12 th May. A reinvention of the world renowned Transvulcania trail runs. Known as Transvulcania “Space Runners” 2018, the race climbs to the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory; the highest point on the island.
The race is one of toughest in the world, with a distance of 74.33 kilometres through volcanic terrain.
From the 15th to the 21st May, the Vi Astromaster La Palma takes place, giving the opportunity to join world-leading astrophotographer Babak Tafreshi for a 7-day intensive workshop focusing on Advanced Timelapse imaging, processing & landscape astrophotography.
The program includes tours to astrological viewing points on La Palma. One has a visit to the European Northern Observatory too. Another popular event is the 12th edition of the Little Festival of Stars held from 19th until the 27th May.
Based in Los Llanos de Aridane until the 23rd and then finishing off in the capital, Santa Cruz de La Palma, activities are focused on creativity, consciousness and
During this week, visitors will be able to take part in film shootings, music concerts, poetry sessions and astrology workshops, all underneath the starry night sky.
La Palma, Canary Islands
La Palma’s homage to astronomy provides activities day and night. Some are exciting, but also educational for all ages. Conferences on “Preserving The Skies” on the 20th April and the Night Landscape Conference on 23rd May.
Astro-photography master classes, children’s drawing contests, outdoor inema screenings, and local musical performances.
The AstroFest La Palma is one of the highlights of the year on the island, mixing astronomy with sports, education, investment, music, culture and much more.
Return flights to La Palma are available with EasyJet from London Gatwick from £74.
Return flights to La Palma are available with TUI from Manchester Airport from £69.