Looking to holiday in Spain but keen to avoid classic ‘Brits abroad’ hot spots? Not interested in the notoriously vulgar, lager-fuelled, raucous resorts brimming with British holiday makers? Searching for an authentic Spanish experience?
I recommend the small but perfectly formed resort of Conil de la Frontera, in Spain’s Costa de la Luz region. This picturesque fishing village is somewhat of a hidden gem with British holidaymakers, though Spaniards have flocked to Conil for years. As a result, the resort is quintessentially Spanish; it is rare to hear other English voices, and it’s safe to say you’d be unlikely to catch sight of an English football shirt.
Situated on Spain’s Atlantic coast, Conil enjoys 16 kilometres of stunning beaches. They are vast, sandy, and gently shelving, however be sure to watch out for large waves due to its Atlantic location. The Costa de la Luz – which means ‘coast of light’ in English – is renowned for its spectacular 3,200 hours of sunshine a year. During the day it is the custom to relax in the shade over tapas, and then head to the beach in the afternoon and early evening, when the temperature is more agreeable than the lunchtime heat. Whilst paddling in the sea take a glance towards the undeveloped town, with its vista of low-rise, white buildings. As a rule in Conil, locals must whitewash their houses at least once a year to maintain the look of the town – a true ‘pueblo blanco’.
It is charming to see the vibrancy and energy that enriches the town as the sun goes down over the sea. As is to be expected in Spain, everyone stays up late here. Children stroll around with their parents into the night, marvelling at the artists, caricaturists and performers that line the streets, while young people enjoy the animated bars and nightlife. There is a wide range of restaurants and tapas bars to cater for everyone, from local specialities and seafood to international cuisine. After your evening meal, be sure to sample some delicious ice cream from one of the many parlours, and take a seat by the beautifully illuminated Church of Santa Catalina to enjoy the live music.
Day and night, Conil’s cobbled streets burst with quaint, family run shops that sell clothes, jewellery, and all sorts of Spanish delicacies. Make sure to look out for the market stalls that are on the seafront every day, as well as the large market that travels to the town every Friday morning, for some unusual gifts and bargains.
While you’re in the area, it is worthwhile to take a daytrip to the region’s capital, Cádiz. An ancient Roman town, Cádiz is believed to be one of Europe’s oldest cities, and is full of beautiful architecture including palaces, cathedrals and museums. Situated on a headland, Cádiz also boasts beautiful Andalucian beaches, as well as a number of stunning parks, such as the Grazalema Natural Park. You may also be interested in visiting nearby Tarifa, which is a windsurfer’s paradise due to its southern location. From Tarifa you can also take a daytrip to Tangier in Morocco, as the coast of Africa lies just across from the southern tip of Spain.
British travel companies do not go to Conil, so you will need to book your flights, hire car and hotel separately. Flights are available from most British airports to Malaga for as little as £44.99 in high season. From Malaga it is easy to hire a car from Hertz or Avis for the drive to Conil, which takes approximately three hours. The journey features many interesting sights, such as the Rock of Gibraltar and views of the African coastline. Once in Conil there is a vast array of hotels to choose from, as well as many apartments and villas so you can handpick your holiday. Conil provides you with the opportunity to select exactly what you want out of your summer retreat, giving you the freedom to relax, soak up the rays, and explore this lovely region of Spain.