Category Archives: Sightseeing

Exploring Fuerteventura – The Tranquil Canary Island

Fuerteventura may be Lanzarote’s closest neighbour of the seven islands that make up the Canaries, but it is actually offers a very different experience to visiting holidaymakers. It is not only reckoned to be the oldest of the islands but it is also the nearest to the African continent.

Beach, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
Soft white sands…

While tourism has taken off more slowly on the second largest island (after Tenerife), its wonderful white sand beaches are an understandable lure to those seeking a sunshine destination. In fact it has more beaches than any other island in the archipelago, including the amazing Dunas National Park which lies just outside the northernmost town of Corralejo.

And although the island’s formation was also the result of volcanic activity, there hasn’t been any seismic activity on Fuerteventura for around 7,000 years. This means that its landscapes are less rugged than those found in the Timanfaya region of Lanzarote, as the elements have given Fuerteventura’s volcanoes a more worn and weathered feel.

Nevertheless, there are still plenty of picturesque villages to visit, such as Betancuria, which was established in 1405 by Jean de Bethencourt. For several centuries it served as the island’s capital and has an impressive church as well as well preserved examples of the colonial style of building that typify the historic towns and villages of the Canaries.

The central region of the island is home to a handful of other towns, such as Pajara, Antigua and La Oliva. Each of these villages was founded during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by the first wave of Spanish inhabitants and many of their former residences have been transformed into accommodation for tourists looking to experience a different side of Fuerteventura.

The main coastal tourist hotspots range from Corralejo in the far north, which has plenty of apartments and hotels right by the beautiful beach, to Caleta de Fuste which is just south of the new capital Puerto Rosario. Caleta de Fuste has good self-catering and hotel accommodation arranged around the pretty sandy bay.

Thanks to its incredible beaches and ideal wind conditions, the island has become known as a great place to practice windsurfing and every July the Professional Windsurfing Association meets in Sotavento for one of the stages in its annual competition.

Also in the far south of the island is the beach at Jandia, which again extends for several kilometres of fine white sand and turquoise waters. It is widely considered one of the best beaches in the whole of Europe and has been awarded a blue flag for several consecutive years. Here there are several larger hotels, almost bordering the beach.

The Costa Brava’s Best Beaches

Despite the region’s name denoting it as the ‘Wild’ or ‘Rough’ coast of Spain, the Costa Brava is actually home to some of the most picturesque beaches to be found anywhere in the country. And these stretches of golden sand, rounded pebbles and turquoise waters are much of the reason why the area was landmarked for tourist development in the 1950’s. So which are the best beaches to visit or plan a holiday around?

Secret Coves and Bays

Cadaques, Costa Brava, Spain
Beautiful Bay of Cadaques

Starting in the northern most part of the Costa Brava, there is the pretty seaside town of Cadaques, which has a stunning natural harbour and a shingly shore lying just in front of the promenade.

Only a few kilometres south of Cadaques are several smaller beaches and bays that make this one of the prettiest stretches of coastline. In fact, Cala Calella, Cala Pedrosa and Cala Ferriol in the Montgri Massif area are only accessible by foot which means that these little bathing spots never get overcrowded. The rocky promontories all have pathways leading down to the shore, where there are gently shelving pebbly beaches.

Golden Sands

For those who prefer long vistas of golden sands, the five kilometre stretch at L’Estartit joins up with Pals beach and is also where the Ter river meets the sea. L’Estartit is also favoured by scuba divers, while the usual beach facilities come in abundance, with pedalos and kayaks for hire and a good range of beach side bars to choose from.
Along this part of the coast you will also come to Platja de la Pletera, which is close to the Ter Vell Nature Reserve, so this is a good place for birdwatchers to come. The beautiful sand dunes and rocky islets just off shore give this beach a very unspoilt feel.

Further south, the beach at Lloret de Mar successfully combines a seafront holiday town with a lovely curving bay of golden sand, surrounded by stone pine forests and rocky bluffs. This pretty spot is ideal for a family day at the beach, although obviously it can get quite busy during the height of the summer season.

City Beaches

Holiday makers who prefer the more vibrant scene of a city break won’t have to sacrifice the opportunity for a spot of sun-bathing as the beach at Barcelona is equally stunning. Not only does this cultural hotspot have its very own stretch of golden shoreline just minutes from the town centre, but there are also the neighbouring sandy bays at Castell de Fels and Sitges only a few kilometres away.

Don’t Dilly Dally, Do Dali

The Costa Brava is well known for its rugged coastline, cosmopolitan cities and top quality cuisine. But for culture lovers the real icing on the cake is the region’s close relationship with the world famous surrealist Salvador Dali, who was born in Figueres close to the coast of Catalonia, adding a huge dash of stylish flash to the region’s already varied roster of tourist attractions.

Salvador Dali
Surreal Salvador

All About Dali

Salvador Dali was born in 1904 into a relatively comfortable middle class family (his father worked as a notary, a role very similar to that of a registrar in the UK) and went on to study at the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts – an institution also attended by his close contemporary Cesar Manrique, who also had a similar, pronounced impact on his respective birthplace of Lanzarote.

He staged his first one man show in Barcelona in 1925 before finding international recognition at the Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh three years later, which was the first step on the road to establishing himself in the vanguard of the Spanish surrealist movement, which also counted Picasso and Miro within their number, before his expulsion in 1934 after a disagreement with other members of this highly influential artistic clique.

Throughout the 1940´s and 50´s Dali´s work developed along different lines and he began to focus more on larger canvasses, exploring quasi-religious and scientific themes, such as The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus and The Sacrament of The Last Supper.

Dali Attractions in The Costa Brava

Towards the end of his career Dali founded the Teatro Museum in Figueres before living a more secluded lifestyle after the death of his wife Gala in 1982. Today this is just one of a three high quality Dali attractions that are a real must for any visitors to Costa Brava and which are sometimes referred to as The Dalinian Triangle!

Dali Museum, Costa Brava, Spain

Dali Theatre Museum

The Dali Theatre Museum is located on the site of a former municipal building in Figueres, which was raised by bombing during the Second World War. Dali rebuilt the edifice which boasts a wealth of his finest surrealist work.

Open : 09.30 – 18.00 daily
Admission : 12 euros adults, 9 euros children students and OAPS
Tel : 34 972 677 500

Dali House Museum

Dali actually lived in this property in Portlligat for much of his career and it now operates as a house museum.

Open : 09.30 – 18.00 daily
Admission : 12 euros adults, 9 euros children students and OAPS
Tel : 34 972 677 500

Gala Dalí Castle House-Museum

Located in Pubol this is the castle that Dali retreated to not long after the death of his beloved wife Gala.

Open : 10.00 – 18.00 daily
Admission : 8 euros adults, 6 euros children students and OAPS
Tel : 34 972 488 655

Further Info

For more information and to book tickets online for any of these Dali Museums in Costa Brava visit www.salvador-dali.org

Exploring La Palma

If you’re planning a stay in one of our villas in Mallorca then make sure you pay a visit to the island’s vibrant capital.

Palma de Mallorca is one of the oldest European capitals in the Mediterranean, dating back to pre Roman times and has seen many successive cultures taking root since then, including a period under the Moors, a Byzantine presence and the arrival of the Spanish in 1229. As a result, the city has a pleasing mixture of architecture and a real feeling of antiquity.

La Palma, Mallorca
La Palma – Mallorca’s Vibrant Capital

The physical layout of the city has the port area at its heart, with the huge Cathedral de Mallorca, known as La Seu, sitting to one side of the harbour and dominating the seaside promenade. The port was obviously one of the most important aspects of the city’s geography in historical terms, providing trading routes to North Africa and beyond.

When Spanish and Catalonian cultures began to diverge after the Succession War of 1714, with the emergence of separate cultures and languages, Mallorca, as part of the Balearics, was firmly entrenched as a leading Catalonian stronghold. Its commercial importance was already well established as can be seen in the architectural splendour of the silk exchange, which was constructed in the 1400’s.

The city is a wonderful place for exploring as a pedestrian, with many narrow streets winding through the oldest parts towards the Bellver Castle and the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, which are yet further examples of the city’s architectural riches. Palm and tree-lined avenues provide pools of shade and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes where visitors can pass the time of day.

The Castell de Bellver is a particularly interesting building as it can claim to be Europe’s first circular castle. It sits in densely wooded grounds, occupying a commanding position overlooking the harbour and dates back to the 13th Century. Similarly the Palace of La Almudaina has a position of strategic importance and while the main structure dates back to the Moorish occupation of the fourteenth century, it is believed to be built on the foundations of much earlier fortifications.

As a seaside resort, naturally enough, there are some wonderful sandy beaches within close proximity to the city’s centre. The Platja de Palma and Platja de Palma in the El Arenal area boast fine sand and palm trees, ideal for city break visitors who fancy a day at the beach. With a vibrant nightlife and several large hotels the city is an exciting alternative to the traditional beach holiday location.

Visit the official Palma de Mallorca website for more information about the capital and upcoming events there.