5 Spanish Resort Destinations to Escape for Winter Sun
Spain's resort towns are still a destination when the summer is over and most of the tourist are gone. The winter months offers a different feel to the region, and depending on what you are into and what you would like to do these five cities will offer you just that and more.
PALMA AND MAJORCA
Palma has emerged as one of the most liveable cities of the Balearics. Full of character, the Majorcan capital is beloved by locals and visitors alike for it year-round laid-back resort vibe, its labyrinth of cobblestone lanes in the historic quarter, melodramatic Gothic architecture and beautiful bay - all set against a mountain backdrop.
There's no danger of forgetting Palma's grand artistic and cultural pedigree, with architectural flourished such as the pink-hued 13th-century Santa Maria cathedral, the Arab fortress of Almudaina and cliff-hugging, circular Castell de Bellver a striking medieval fortress. But Palma is young and forward-thinking, with laptop-toting millennials drawn here by the sunshine hours, the healthy lifestyle, the affordable dining and drinking scene, and Palma's convival vibe. West along the promenade sits Es Baluard, Palma's contemporary art museum, housed in a revamped 16th-century structure that formed part of the town walls.
It is this effortless weaving of old and new that gives Palma its distinctive and decidedly moreish flavour, and makes it so much more than a beach destination.
Few cities offer travellers the abundant cultural riches of Madrid, the dynamic and addictive Iberian city famous for delivering the good life, Maddrileño style. With a melodramatic skyline spanning everything from medieval courtyards and gothic spires, to Belle Epoque mansions and the sharp angles of contemporary constructions, Madrid is ideal for a culture-packed getaway at any time.
From famous street murals to big-hitting museums such as the Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, art is everywhere in Madrid. Explore the independent boutiques and galleries in the diverse neighbourhoods of Chamberi, Tribunal and hip Chueca, or head to Serrano for high-end retail therapy.
Throughout winter the sun continues to shine, and autumn and spring are equally inviting thanks for the balmy weather and series of festivals, just don't forget your stamina.
Málaga is a culture-lover's delight, with a beautiful restored historic centre perfect for sultry evening strolls in summer and atmospheric wanders in the cooler months. The formerly shabby port has recently undergone a makeover and millions have been pumped into the art scene, thanks for a 'mile of art', with a striking glass cubic branch of the Parisian Pompidou Centre among recent openings.
As well as visiting Picasso's childhood home, the Picasso Museum houses more than 200 sculptures, drawings and ceramic in a restored mansion. And art isn't confined to indoors, the recently gentrified Soho district is being developed into an open-air gallery.
It's Málaga's eclectic and arty nature that seduces travellers. Terracotta-tiled roofs cosy up to warehouse-style loft apartments and gothic spires, all presided over by the king of the skyline, the 11th-century Castillo de Gibralfaro. The labyrinthine lanes that surround the Gothic cathedral are flanked with traditional tapas bars as well as intensely instagrammable quirky cocktail bars. Málaga is contemporary and classical, grand and gritty, open-armed yet intimate - a destination full of surprises.
The most enigmatic of Andalucian cities, Granada is instantly recognisable for its spectacular Moorish architecture, particularly the 1,000-year-old Alhambra palace, the final stronghold of the Moors in western Europe. Steeped with mystique, this femme fatale in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Combines eastern and western influences to intoxicating effect.
Beyond the Alhambra, the regal mausoleum at the Capilla Real is a must for those whose tastes tend to the dark side, and the faded grandeur of the Cármenes (mansions with gardens) of Barrio Realejo, the former Jewish quarter, is almost as eerie.
Couterculture is the mainstream in Granada, and this means supreme street art, a vibrant live music scene and a melting pot of residents, including bohemians, artists and musicians, who all come together at cultural hubs such as Discoteca Aliatar. You also have the opportunity to step yourself in history at a traditional hammam, such as the mosaic-tiled Baños Arabes. Elegant yet edgy, grand but gritty, open yet oddly mysterious, Granada is anything but predictable.
Ibiza is more of a state of mind than a geographical destination: a sun-kissed, life-loving island where anything goes. Since the 1960s, Ibiza has been a haven for artists, writers and hangers-on, and the glorious coastline still exudes a bohemian spirit, drawing 21st-century hedonists, privacy-craving celebrities and creatives in search of inspiration.
Ibiza's party girl credentials are impeccable, and the good life still comes easy here. But in recent years it has carved out a niche as a healthy, soul-nourishing haven. Throw in a creative culinary scene, stylish and sumptuous boutique hotels and Unesco-stamped historical landmarks, and you've got the recipe for a perfect year-round weekender.
With its own unique brand of barefoot luxury, Ibiza is a magical and profoundly Mediterranean wilderness hideaway, just the spot to linger a few days in an infinity pool, sip a Pisco Sour in a beach bar, and hit the town for a taste of that world-famous nightlife. Tempted?