The mellow winter is the perfect time to see Seville, but
don’t spend all your time in the city – there’s plenty to do if you leave town.
Cordoba: A mere 45 minutes away from Seville on the high speed AVE
train, Cordoba’s main draw is its Mezquita – dating back to the eighth century,
it was formerly the third largest mosque in the world and now a cathedral. The
Moorish architecture – huge, red and white striped arches in the praying hall –
is some of the best Islamic art in the western world. There are plenty of other
things to see too, including Roman remains, an Alcazar (Moorish fortress), and
architecture along the Guadalquivir river.
Jerez de la Frontera: Jerez is only an hour’s drive south of Seville and if you’re
into booze, you’ll love it – it’s the hub of Spain’s sherry industry. Don’t be
patronizing, either – good sherry here is a totally different beast to what
you’re used to, and it’s well worth going for a tasting in one of the many
bodegas to get converted. Drink aside,
it’s also a beautiful, typically Andalusian town with winding streets,
Gothic churches and even an 11th century Alcazar.
Cadiz: On the coast below Jerez, pretty Cadiz is a laid back
fishing town set on a peninsula jutting off the mainland. Its history goes way
back – it’s actually the oldest continually inhabited town in Spain, founded in
1104BC by the Phoenicians, and you’ll find ancient city walls, a Roman
amphitheater and a host of architectural styles since then (including modern
pylons which turn functionality into an art form. And once you’ve had enough of
culture, hit the beach.
Tarifa: The southernmost point of Spain, which faces Morocco, is
known for its great surfing, and with its long sandy beaches, it’s also a great
place to try kitesurfing, too. There are plenty of schools offering
instructions along the beachside, so either sign up or hook yourself up with
some equipment and go for it yourself. There’s a lively nightlife scene, too,
if you decide to stay overnight.
Gibraltar: Only two and a half hours away from Seville, you can’t miss
this outpost of Little Britain. The British Overseas Territory lies on a
peninsula hanging off the southern tip of Spain (just east from Tarifa) has the
architecture you’d associate with Andalusia (a Moorish castle, a cathedral
built over a mosque) but UK postboxes, signs in English and British police
officers. Then, of course, there are the famous monkeys of the Rock of
Gibraltar, which have become so tame that they’ll approach you, climb on you
and even steal your belongings.