A winning combination of mountains and coastline makes Andalucía the perfect location for a sports-focused break.
When it comes to sunshine, nowhere else in Spain can compete with the 300-plus days per year you can enjoy here. The wonderful climate means the options for an active holiday are almost boundless, spanning everything from wind-powered water sports along the Costa de la Luz to skiing in the Sierra Nevada.
But what really sets Andalucía apart is the chance to effortlessly mix and match activities, not just between sports but also culturally and gastronomically.
A combination of snowboarding in the morning and snorkelling in the afternoon is perfectly feasible, but you can just as easily round off a day on the golf course with a night at a sherry bodega in Jerez de la Frontera, or spend a morning exploring Málaga’s art scene before a spot of sea kayaking along the Mediterranean cliffs of the Costa Tropical.
On the water
Few destinations can match Andalucía’s range of water sports, not only along its 1,000km (620-mile) coastline but on its lakes and rivers too.
In the west of the region, along the Costa de la Luz, Tarifa is one of Europe’s best spots for sailing, surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding thanks to its favourable position on the Strait of Gibraltar. Here the warm easterly winds of the Levante collide with the dry Poniente breeze blowing in from the west, combining to create perfect conditions for wind-powered sports year round.
Underwater adventures are best experienced further along the Mediterranean coast, around the resort towns of Estepona, Nerja, Almuñécar and Cabo de Gata. All of these have dive and snorkel schools where you can get PADI-certified or try a taster dive with a qualified professional, giving you the chance to experience submarine landscapes such as the Cabo de Gata Natural Park. And inland, ramp up the adrenalin with a whitewater rafting experience on the Genil river, easily accessible from the urban centres of Málaga, Córdoba and Granada.
Back on land
Of all Andalucía’s land-based activities, golf is by far the biggest draw. The region has some of Europe’s most prestigious clubs, and the sheer diversity of terrain means you could be teeing off amid rocky mountain landscapes one day and cactus-lined, desert-style fairways the next, all with spectacular views.
The full spectrum of adventure sports is also available, from bungee jumping off the Madroñalejo bridge in Aznalcóllar to canyoning in the gorges of the Grazalema Natural Park.
If that is too intense, more sedate diversions include a gentle horse ride along beach or forest trails, or one of several easy hikes in the Sierra de Aracena, a protected mountain range north-west of Seville, known for its hilltop castles and forests.
And the Sierra Nevada town of Pradollano is the southernmost ski resort in Europe, offering access to more than 1,156km of ski runs across 120 marked pistes.
All abilities and interests are covered – there is a snowboard park, a Nordic skiing slope and a children’s alpine garden and ski school for starters – and at just 45 minutes by car from Granada, you could be enjoying some jamón de Trevélez, a celebrated local ham, and pomegranate cocktails by nightfall.
For more information on Andalucía and Southern Spain, visit andalucia.org/en