Being such a popular destination, it can sometimes feel impossible to get away from the well beaten tourist trails in Spain. The amazing Paradores change all this for returning visitors, and along with a few insiders tips make for a truly unique and surprising vacation. The Paradores are historic buildings including convents, castles and monasteries which were identified as culturally significant structured and restored into modern accommodations full of character and retaining plenty of original features. There are around 100 dotted across Spain. Each Parador promise the very best of nature, local produce and regional cuisine; as well as the opportunity to stay in utterly unique surroundings.
Literature lovers shouldn’t miss Alcala de Henares, a world heritage site just outside Madrid. This was the world’s first city specifically founded as a university in 1499. It is the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, the famous Spanish novelist, playwright and poet who gave the world Don Quixote.
If you fancy giving the popular city of Toledo a miss due to the ever present crowds, medieval Segovia in Castile and Leon is well worth a visit instead. Its most famous landmark is the roman aqueduct which stretches across the skyline. Legend has it that this was created overnight by the devil in repayment for the soul of a young woman who was tired of carrying water up from the river.
El Valle de los Caidos – the Valley of the Fallen is an ancient monastery and burial place also not far from Madrid. It is dedicated to the dead of the Spanish Civil War. Here you can see sculptures and paintings by Juan de Avalos. A great place to stay whilst exploring this area is the Parador de la Granja hotel, 100 km from Madrid in Segovia. Located in a former royal palace in San Ildefonso, the Spanish like to call this their version of Versailles.
For unusual trips in Andalusia, how about Mijas near Malaga, east of Fuengirola. This small village high up in the mountains is well worth a visit for the panoramic views of the surrounding area and to see the only square bull ring in the whole of Spain. Alternatively, take a bus or train up the windswept roads from Malaga to the village of Ronda which is built on the edge of a precipice. Once you have recovered from the ride up you can marvel at the spectacular views. But hurry, word has got out and it is one of Andalusia’s fastest growing towns.
For 4 star luxury in nearby Malaga, try the Hotel Parador de Malaga Gibralfiro which offers an idyllic retreat right in the shadows of the old fortress. It has all you would, expect from a hotel of this caliber and a wonderful fish restaurant which serves up a daily ‘catch of the day’.
Guest article by Escapio.com – the reservations website for luxury, boutique and design hotels in Spain and beyond.