The last citadel of the Moors in Europe is a tempestuous place where Andalucía’s complex history is laid out in ornate detail. The starting point for 99% of visitors is the Alhambra, the Nasrid emirs’ enduring gift to architecture, a building whose eerie beauty is better seen than described.
Palma & the Badia de Palma
Petite, sea-splashed, party-loving Palma is one of Europe's most underrated capitals. For a city of its size, its sights play in the premier league with major metropolises. Take its immense Gothic cathedral, moored like the prow of a great ship on the Mediterranean's edge.
Gran Canaria is the third-largest island in the Canaries’ archipelago, but accounts for almost half the population. It lives up to its cliché as a continent in miniature, with a dramatic variation of terrain, ranging from the green and leafy north to the mountainous interior and desert south.
Fuerteventura lies just 100km from the African coast, and there are striking similarities not only with the landscape, but also the houses, with their North African–style flat roofs for collecting rainfall. In other ways, Fuerteventura emulates its neighbour Lanzarote, only with more colours.
The nation’s third-largest region is also one of its quietest. Castilla-La Mancha not only has Spain’s lowest population density, but it sees fewer tourists than any region outside Navarra. Located on a windswept but fertile plateau known as La Meseta, this is the land where Cervantes set the fictional journeys of Don Quijote.
‘Ser español es un orgullo’, the saying goes, ‘ser asturiano es un título.’ ‘If being Spanish is a matter of pride, to be Asturian is a title' – or so most asturianos believe. Asturias, the sole patch of Spain never conquered by the Muslims, they claim, is the real Spain; the rest is simply tierra de reconquista (reconquered land).
Málaga is a world apart from the adjoining Costa del Sol: a historic and culturally rich provincial capital which has long lived in the shadow of the iconic Andalucian cities of Granada, Córdoba and Seville. Yet, it has rapidly emerged as the province's city of culture with its so-called 'mile of art' being compared to Madrid, and its dynamism and fine dining to Barcelona.