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      our holidays > Walking Holidays > Spain & its Islands > Andalucía > Costa de la Luz

Costa de la Luz

Spain's Southernmost Reaches
Starting point

Casa del Califa in Vejer de la Frontera, where you stay for three nights.

Days 1 & 2

There’s no denying the Moorish influences of Vejer de la Frontera, whose flat-roofed, whitewashed houses cluster on a ridge that rises abruptly from the plain. We provide a short walking trail to introduce you to the town, taking in its main points of interest and some of its many pretty courtyards.

In addition, we suggest a couple of walks nearby:

Circular walk from Vejer: 10km, 3hrs

Step out of the whitewashed streets of Vejer, passing windmills to take an undulating, shaded path through woodland. Along the way you are accompanied by excellent views over the Barbate river plain.

Linear walk to Barbate: 8.5km, 2.5hrs or 10.5km, 3.5hrs

You’ll need to drive to the coast for the start of this walk, perhaps taking in the dune-backed headland of Cape Trafalgar (site of the famous naval battle), before setting off on sandy tracks through a forest of pines to reach the 16th-century watchtower of Torre del Tajo. From here you gently descend beneath biscuit-coloured cliffs, to the evocatively named beach of Hierbabuena (mint). You won’t see any pirate ships these days, but you may spot dolphins, particularly at the start and end of the season, or shoals of tuna in April and May. Your target is Barbate, where you can relax on its attractive seafront promenade, or visit the town’s tuna interpretation centre to find out how these huge fish are still caught using the ancient netting technique known as the almadraba which dates from 1,000BC. Return to your car by taxi.

Day 3

Today you drive towards the atmospheric coastal town of Tarifa, stopping just short of it at La Peña, where your base for four nights is the Hotel Hurricane. The direct inland route is a mere 45km, but you may prefer the coastal road, perhaps stopping to take a stroll along the virgin beach that stretches for miles beyond the whitewashed fishing village of Zahara de los Atunes.

Days 4-6
Walking

There are various walking options from which to choose while staying in La Peña:

Linear walk from Bolonia to La Peña: 13km, 4hrs

This varied and enjoyable walk starts with a taxi transfer to the extraordinary Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia. Set above the golden sands of Bolonia, this is one of the best preserved Roman settlements in Spain; a town that was once famed for the production of a fermented fish paste that was exported throughout the empire. After an amble around the informative visitor centre, take a delightful path through coastal pine woods, beyond which lies a secluded beach and the massive sand dune of Valdevaqueros. Crossing the dune, you descend to more golden sands and one of the best kite-surfing beaches in the area. From here it is a short walk back to your hotel.

Linear walk to La Peña: 10km, 3.5hrs

After a taxi northwards you have the chance to walk the final 10km of the trans-European long-distance footpath that links Athens to Tarifa. It’s a pleasant walk through pastoral scenery with far-reaching views towards the sea.

Linear walk from La Peña to Tarifa: 8km, 2.5hrs

Steps in the hotel grounds lead down to the inviting sands of Playa de los Lances, which you can follow all the way to Tarifa. Pause at the end of the sands to ponder the fact that you are standing as close as you can get to Spain’s – and mainland Europe’s – southernmost point before retracing your steps back to the hotel or taking a taxi.

There-and-back walk from Tarifa: 11km, 3.5hrs (5.5km each way)

This beautiful coastal walk leads eastwards from Tarifa along a grassy shoreline interrupted by intimate coves. You can walk as far as you like, but our suggested turn around point is a delightful, flower strewn headland from where you can see the watchtower of Guadalmesí and below you the graceful arc of a pebbled bay.

Exploring

• Laid-back, cosmopolitan Tarifa is well worth exploring, either combined with a walk or as a separate outing. While its coastal setting is very different from that of Vejer, this is another fortified town with strong Moorish roots and a rich history (it was here that the Moors first landed, that Guzman the Good later gave up his own son to end a siege of the castle, and an Anglo-Spanish force withheld a siege by the French during the Napoleonic Wars).

• Having looked across to Morocco from Tarifa’s castle and ramparts, you may want to take to the sea. Not only do boat trips depart daily between March and October (weather permitting) in search of pilot whales and common and striped dolphins, but, given the proximity to Africa, frequent catamarans ply the strait to Tangier (the crossing takes just 35 minutes), offering a rare chance to visit two continents on one holiday.

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 Grade 1 Walk
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