Probably, when thinking of Andalucia, most people have places such as Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba and Malaga in mind. Join us as we show you another side of the region. We present you the Huelva province – an Andalucian destination off the beaten track for most travellers.
Huelva province, home to the famous Iberico ham and the starting point for the journeys of Christopher Columbus. Here you will find serene beaches, historic sites, national parks, green forests, a mountain range and picturesque, white villages.
Road trip to the White Villages of Huelva
Located in the northern part of the Hualva province is the Sierra de Aracena mountain range. They’re not the highest of mountains but have more rounded tops, mostly covered in lush green. Most noteworthy are the white villages of Huelva. They are the big attraction here. And rightfully so. Located in the hillsides and the valleys they almost look like a postcard, one more charming then the other.
Hiking is a common activity in the area. Because of several marked routes, hiking from one village to another is popular. If the hunger gets you after some hours, don’t fret. There are several nice restaurants serving excellent Andalucian food. Above all, try the Iberico meat.
Almonaster la Real
Almonaster la Real, with a population of 1848 (2017), is proud to say that it has been voted one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. Certainly, the place is a sight for eyes. Perched on a hilltop above the village is the Mezquita, a 10th century mosque. It’s an inhertitage from the moorish rulers of Andalucia. Below the Mezquita lies the village with narrow streets, small squares, churches and cute white houses. Stop at one of the street side cafes for a cortado, a limonade or a glass of local wine while you enjoy the atmosphere. Life here is relaxed and, wandering the streets is the biggest attraction itself.
Perched on a hill above the village of Alájar, the La Pena de Aria Montano offers stunning views over the below village and the surrounding areas. Also, there is nice chapel here. A bell gable on the edge of the plateau is a sought-after photo motif.
Linares de la Sierra
Linares de la Sierra, with a population of 267 (2017), is another of the white villages. Also this with narrow streets and lanes, inviting for a walk around. There are some nice restaurants at the main square in the village (which also used to serve as a bull fighting arena!) All of them offer dishes with very delicious Iberico meat, famous for the region.
Another 15-minute drive from Linares and you will arrive in Aracena. That’s the largest town in the area, with a population of 8048 (2017). The town is more lively, with nice shops, cafes and restaurants. On a hilltop above the city you can also visit the citadel. After a stroll around, you might have worked up some appetite again.
If you are in for sweets this is the place to be. There are several bakeries serving the most delicious pastries. A curiosity in Aracena is that you can buy pastry or cakes at any bakery, and then bring it to one of the nearby cafes. A local custom allows you this, as long as you purchase drinks at the cafe.
Punta Umbria and Huelva (city)
Huelva has a population of 145.000 and Punta Umbria has approximately 15.000 inhabitants. Punta Umbria’s main attraction is the beach. The long, sandy beach attracts thousands of tourists in the summer. Among Spanish tourists the town is a popular beach holiday destination. Furthermore, the season is long in this part of Spain. Therefore, you can enjoy the sun earlier or later of the year than in many other places along the coast.
There are several cafes in the centre offering traditional Andalucian breakfast; baguette with tomato, olive oil and Iberico ham. Also, there is the seafood. In Spain the area is famous for it’s fresh, daily catch. The many restaurants prepare it to perfection. The choice is yours!
Stop in Huelva city to check out the mix of architecture and the street art. There are several murals with really great art work. Also, Huelva Museum has an archeological collection on one floor and a collection of fine art on the next. Along the river you can walk the Muelle de Riotinto, a 19th-century pier open to pedestrians. Furthermore, in Huelva you will also find restaurants serving classic Spanish food, including delicious seafood and Iberico ham.
Huelva and Columbus
The province of Huelva has an important historic value. From here Christopher Columus set sail with three ships wanting to find a shorter route to India. As we know, he ended up discovering America.
Lugares colombinos (Columbian places) is a tourist route that includes several places with a special relevance to the preperation and realization of the first voyage of Christopher Columbus.
An important stop on the route is La Rabida Monastery, a Franciscan monastery. It was here Columbus and his crew prayed the night before their departure. Close to the monastery is the Wharf of the Caravels, a museum with real-size replicas of the ships Columbus’s ships.
Continue to the town of Palos de la Frontera. It also plays an important role in the history. From here Columbus sailed in the morning of 3 August 1492. To get most out of your visit here, plan to go in March. Then there is huge medieval festival going on, as a rememberance of Columbus’ first return. Furthermore streets are decorated and filled with happy people. Some are dressed in costumes, there are music, dancing and there is food. Lot’s of food.
Getting there and around
To visit the Huelva province you can fly to e.g. Sevilla, Malaga, Jerez or Faro in Portugal. There are trains and buses between the bigger cities. The highlight in the province is definately the white villages. To get to the mountains and the villages you need a car. Driving is easy, as the traffic is limited.