Just about every turn in southern Spain yields an awe-inspiring vista. From cobblestoned towns to idyllic island getaways, the southern coast of Spain and the Canary Islands offer stunning cultural showstoppers and natural wonders for every type of traveler.
Here are some of the most Instagram-worthy highlights to hit during your Spain vacation that will leave your friends wishing they were there.
Málaga and Surrounding Areas
Rio Chillar: Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy hiking through the shallow Rio Chillar, a river that leads to the caves of Nerja, starting in Málaga City. Bring your waterproof camera gear, and get ready for some of the most spectacular views in the area. Be prepared to walk through ankle-deep water for a four- to six-hour trek next to cavern walls and over pebbled river beds — the stunning photos will be well worth the journey.
Once you reach Nerja, take in architecture influenced by the Romans, Moors and Christians, and peppered with modern-day cafes set against the azure blue of the Mediterranean. When it’s time to rest your weary feet, head to neighboring Benalmadena, one of the top places to visit in Spain, where Diamond’s Sahara Sunset apartment resort provides a tranquil reprieve. If you’d like to vacation in your own version of a traditional white-walled town, Diamond’s Mediterranean-fronted Royal Oasis Club at Pueblo Quinta in Benalmadena offers a unique experience.
Mijas: Take a moment to bask in the beauty of this Andalusían “pueblo blanco,” a town characterized by the buildings’ whitewashed walls, with Moorish architecture and flower-adorned patios. Thirty kilometers from Málaga city and up a few winding roads, you’ll find vistas along every scenic street.
Stroll the old Arab wall and gardens for panoramic views across the Costa del Sol, and on a clear day, across the Mediterranean to Morocco’s Rif Mountains. Head to the Cuesta de la Villa for access to some of the most jaw-dropping views. Once you’ve hiked around town or taken a stroll down the city’s Red Trail, take a break at Diamond’s family-friendly and relaxing Los Amigos Beach Club. Here, you can soak your feet in the ocean and watch the setting sun to wind down your day.
The Alhambra: Granada, located in Andalucía province, is home to the majestic Alhambra fortress, palaces, courtyards and gardens. Every geometric tile, smooth stucco wall and white-marbled corner holds an ancient tale. Start with a trek up the Torre de Vela, or Candle Tower, where you’ll have a virtually unimpeded view of Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountain range beyond.
Sacromonte: Above Granada’s Medieval Albayzín neighborhood sits the city’s Roma quarter, known as Sacromonte. The neighborhood is dotted with white-washed caves hollowed into the cliffs, where you can catch a Zambra show — a type of Flamenco. Go at sunset and watch the city below light up in shades of plum, nectarine and rose gold while chords from a Spanish guitar set the mood.
Seville is hands down one of the top places to visit in Spain. If you’re a fan of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” you’ll recognize the Alcázar of Seville, which doubles as the seat of the House Martell in Dorne on the beloved show. The 700-year-old palace played the role of Dorne’s fabled Water Gardens in the fictional city of Sunspear. The crew filmed in four key areas: the Ambassadors’ Hall, Mercury’s Pool, the Baths of Maria de Padilla and the gardens. With its ornate ceramic tiles (or azulejos in Spanish), Arabic architecture and rose and orange blossom-scented green gardens, this area will provide endless opportunities to snap the perfect pics.
A Canary Islands vacation is the perfect opportunity to soak up Spain’s sun, sand and scenery. On the island of Lanzarote, you can hike the impressive, moonscape-like Timanfaya National Park, take a camel ride among dormant volcanoes or hit Famara’s long, sandy beach for some surfing or paddleboarding. But you’ll be missing a modern-day cultural experience if you don’t go to the underground cave system made chic by Lanzarote’s famous artist, César Manrique, called the Jameos del Agua caves. This site features a restaurant, pool, auditorium, rock-hewn bar seats and fern-covered walls. Go for the live music and a rotating roster of events, then stay for the ambiance. Once you’re done exploring, head back to Diamond ‘s Club del Carmen, or take in the sights and sounds of Santa Barbara Golf and Ocean Club, both located on Tenerife.
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