Why winter is one of the best times to visit Andalucia
This week's guest blog post is from Lucy Crane, owner of the glorious El Olivar, a stylish four bedroom villa in Andalucia, Spain.
Think of inland Andalucía and images of geranium-filled, white-washed villages baking in the summer heat spring to mind. But once the summer heat has faded and the autumn fiestas are over, the Serranía de Ronda offers the smart traveller a tranquil world of wild beauty, incredible culture and unforgettable gastronomy.
With average winter temperatures of 15°C, November to January is a great time for a spot of winter sunshine and if the weather does take a turn for the worse there are so many activities to choose from you’ll be wondering why anyone would want to come during the sweltering heat of summer.
Andalucia’s unhurried pace of life is reflected in a well-established slow tourism philosophy where visitors can connect with locals to discover the hidden secrets of the Serranía. For easy access to the delights of the area, local, slow tourism company, Entrelenguas, offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in Ronda's diverse culture and if you want to get to grips with the language they even offer Spanish courses.
We offer attractive rates for longer breaks over the winter please contact us for a price.
The Serranía de Ronda’s slow food movement is evident in the many, family run eateries offering locally grown, seasonal produce. The area has an array of specialist products from organic olive oil and award winning cheeses, to the famous Iberian ham. Spend a day visiting one of the local farms and sample the best that Andalucía has to offer.
If you fancy improving your culinary skills you can book yourself a cookery course in the home of a local food enthusiast or you can combine a gastronomic lesson with some fabulous local wines by cooking in an organic vineyard with the most spectacular views imaginable.
There are 21 bodegas in the local area and many of them offer wine tasting experiences that are truly memorable. From the big producers like Doña Felisa who produce the award winning Encaste, to much smaller, artistic producers like Descalzos Viejos whose cellars are housed in a medieval monastery and organic, biodynamic vineyards like those at Samsara and F. Schatz, Ronda has some excellent wines that each have their own story.
If the weather is more suited to curling up by the fire then you can arrange a winetasting at the house alongside a selection of local specialties. Combined with a winter hike in the surrounding hills, what better way to spend a frosty winter break?
The landscape around El Olivar is simply stunning. The wild beauty of the Serranía is right on your doorstep. You can walk straight up into the hills for uninterrupted views of the surrounding countryside or head towards Grazalema Natural Park (famous for its walking and its raptors) or the Sierra de las Nieves, both packed with unusual wildlife and designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. Fabulous opportunities await the landscape or nature photographer and the light rivals that of Provence. For a truly memorable experience book a jeep tour with cmorex4 to discover the hidden beauty of this magnificent landscape.
Cycling in this area is incredible, challenging rides there are aplenty, the mountainous terrain offers some grueling ascents or you can enjoy easy rides in the valleys. The area is famous for its equine history and both beginners and experienced riders can enjoy rides through stunning scenery or you can ride a local vineyard and combine your ride with a winetasting.
The tranquility of winter allows visitors to see the cultural gems of this area without the crowds of day trippers up from the coast, Ronda’s Neo-classical Peunte Nuevo and Plaza de Toros, beautiful medieval walls and rambling Old Town can be experienced in relative solitude. For lovers of architecture and history the area is hard to beat, you can visit a C1st A.D. Roman theatre at Acinipo and Spain’s best preserved Arab baths in the same day, tour the sleepy white towns or head off the beaten track down medieval roads into the mountains.
Not content with watching one of the local Flamenco shows? Try out this ancient art form for yourself with a lesson with the professionals. Or if you are looking for a truly relaxing retreat you can book yourself into Ronda's own Spa, Hammam Aguas de Ronda.
Hiking, cycling, horesriding, learning Spanish with the locals, brushing up on your cookery skills, or just relaxing, whatever you choose to do, winter in Andalucia is certain to be an authentic and truly memorable experience that will have you wanting to return again and again.
Set within its own olive grove and surrounded by a patchwork of fields, El Olivar feels delightfully rural and remote, and yet it is just a few miles from the beautiful hilltop city of Ronda, one of Andalucia’s finest ‘pueblos blancos’. The house itself, decorated in a soothing palette of muted colours and filled throughout with whitewashed beams, terracotta floors, antique furnishings and original artwork, is truly gorgeous. And outside a south-facing terrace stretches the whole length of the house and overlooks the garden, the swimming pool and the panoramic views beyond. One week in low season costs from £995.