For the sun-starved, living in places where winter is a real threat to well-being, the longing for warmer climes begins as soon as multiple pairs of socks are required. But fear not, Europe is a home to many sun-soaked destinations that are only a few hours away. Spain and sun are practically synonyms. Travelling to Spain’s southern coast provides much more than a fast-and-easy cure for the winter blues, as it allows you access to three destinations that will surely make your senses come alive. To find some great value flights click here.
Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun)
This costal region is comprised of towns, villages and one of the oldest cities in Spain, Málaga. At first glance, parts of the city look like they’ve fallen victim to unchecked development. High-rises provide a mountainous backdrop along the beaches and super-yachts are herded together like cattle in the marinas. However, venture deeper into the city and you are sure to discover history’s strong pulse running through the veins of Málaga. Forgo unpacking the beach towels just yet, and head straight for Museo Picasso Málaga.
This museum represents Picasso’s end-of-life dream to have his art work housed in the city where he was born in 1881. The majority of works in the museum’s collection were donated by Picasso’s daughter-in-law and grandson, which makes the experience for museum goers far more intimate and akin to looking at the artist’s very own family photo album. Picasso’s persona as a skirt-chasing, temperamental genius recedes into the background. What emerges is his tender, family-oriented side, the side that shines through in his depictions between mother and child.
Roughly forty minutes by bus east of Málaga is the pretty town of Nerja, where you will find those coveted white sandy beaches nested into coves— the ideal location to roll out the beach towel and perhaps read the collected poems of Federico Garcia Lorca (a frequent visitor of the town). After soaking in some long-overdue sun, go underground and visit the Caves of Nerja, which are home to the world’s largest stalagmites hanging at 32 meters (105 feet) long. These caverns continue to unearth new discoveries. In 2012, scientists discovered 42,000-year-old paintings of seals created by Neanderthal man, which makes these the oldest works of art ever discovered!
Take an hour and fifteen minute bus ride north to Granada to one of Spain’s most visited destinations. The Alhambra is a palace complex that represents the human quest for paradise on earth as one that can perhaps be achieved. In short, it will leave the most loquacious observer completely tongue-tied. The Alhambra has been a military fortress, a refuge, and a royal residence to Nasrid kings, each of whom contributed to what can only be described as the most divine remodeling ever! The palace buildings are arranged so that all rooms open onto a central court allowing wind and sun to enter freely and play off the magnificent stucco patterns and arabesque archways. From the citrus trees paired in the gardens to the geometric tiles that inspired M.C. Escher’s art, each and every detail at the Alhambra seems to keep in mind the dream of an earthly paradise.