On the Portuguese border, Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light) in Huelva province is a lesser known and better preserved holiday destination than the Costa del Sol and its concrete coastline. Huelva, the capital of Huelva province is a modern, industrial, port town with no particular charm. That said, there are a couple of things worthy of note, such as the Christopher Columbus monument - a massive statue of the discoverer of the New World which was offered by the United States in 1929 - and the beautiful arenas, where you can cheekily watch a show 'for free' from the top of one of the abandoned hills that overlooks them. The impressive statue of the navigator stands at the confluence of the Tinto and Odiel rivers, at the foot of the towers of the port's petrochemical plant. It is nevertheless the town's emblem and its most photographed site. In contrast, the most interesting religious monument is undoubtedly the Santuario de Nuestra Senora de la Cinta, a white chapel where Christopher Columbus came to pray before embarking on his first expedition. The interior is tiled with azulejos that date back to that period. Finally, the Caravelle dock in La Rabida offers a display of replicas of the ships of Christopher Columbus. One day is enough to take you around the town, so don't linger here for too long and head directly to the incredible and wild beaches of the Costa de la Luz, its marshes, its lagoon and its natural parks! Numerous resorts are being built in the region and it is soon to become even more developed with the upcoming inauguration of an airport in Huelva.
Bird watching with binoculars from the El Rocio bridge in Coto Donana Natural Park, one of the most beautiful marshy sites in Europe, declared a biosphere reserve by Unesco.
A walk among the chestnut trees of Sierra de Aracena y picos de Aroche Natural Park on the rout of the Iberian Pata Negra ham.
A swim at the beaches of Costa de la Luz or at the seaside resorts of Isla Canela and Isla Cristina.
A game of golf in the natural reserve and marshes of El Rompido, an ancient fishing village that is now experiencing a tourist boom.
An excursion into the Portuguese region of the Algarve.
The monument to Christopher Columbus (Spirit of Exploration) in Huelva - a huge statue of the renowned explorer -, the Santuario de Nuestra Senora de la Cinta at Huelva, a white chapel where Christopher Columbus is said to have prayed before embarking on his first voyage, and the beautiful arenas of Huelva and the Caravel Dock in La Rabida, where replicas of the ships of Christopher Columbus are on display.
The region is not directly served by an airport, you must therefore land in Faro, Portugal, or Seville.
There's no doubt that it is very pleasant to enjoy some of the Andalusian specialities with your toes in the sand, next to the water, in an exotic setting... But keep in mind that the seafront restaurants are usually more expensive and of a lesser quality than the small stalls in the heights of the city. Don't hesitate to give one of them a try while strolling through the less crowded laneways.
Tapas, of course! In Huelva, as everywhere else in Spain, tapas represents the great gastronomic tradition. At the bar, on the terrace of a cafe, at the table of a restaurant, you will taste small portions of the most diverse dishes (meat, cheese, prawns, olives), served with a glass of Malaga, Jiora, Sangria or a nice cold cerveza (beer). Feria's special drink is Manzanilla, it's a tasty, sweet and treacherous beverage! Huelva is home to the best ham of the world though: the Iberian Pata Negra ham, especially the one that comes from Jabugo. If you want to be sure you're getting the highest quality ham, ask for the cinco jotas label of the Sanchez Romero Carvajal brand. The price is quite high, but this is truly a luxury product! Gaspacho is also on of the Andalusian specialities; this nice soup, served cold, includes oil, garlic and tomato and it is garnished with cucumber, onion, tomato, peppers and bread. It is also served in glasses with ice-cubes. During your trip don't forget to taste all the fresh fruit on offer: pomegranate, persimmon fruit, figs, strawberries and oranges. Breakfast without a delicious freshly pressed orange juice is simply out of the question!
One of the best hams in the world is to be found in the Huelva region: the Iberian Pata Negra ham, especially the one that comes from Jabugo. If you want to be sure you're getting the highest quality ham, ask for the cinco jotas label of the Sanchez Romero Carvajal brand. It is quite expensive, but it is truly a luxury product!