Travel Guide to the Costa de la Luz
The Costa de la Luz is the most southern all the Spanish Costas located within the provinces of Cadiz and Huelva. It is aptly named the Coast of Light as it boasts over 300 sunshine hours each year.
The coast runs from Tarifa in the east to the Taguas estuary bordering Portugal in the west. It is home to some of the best tourist attractions in Spain including the Donana Nature Reserve, long golden sandy beaches, championship golf courses and some of the finest gastronomy anywhere in Spain.
The main cities of the Costa de la Luz are Cadiz and Huelva, both of which are well worth visiting. The whole coastline is clad in pine forests, picturesque fishing villages and tranquil surroundings.
Top 10 Things To Do When Visiting The Costa de la Luz
- Visit the amazing beaches at La Barrosa, Caleta and Matalascanas.
- Spend the day in the Donana national park.
- See the historic Cape of Trafalga
- Visit Christopher Columbus's boats the Muelle de las Carabelas.
- Explore a fortress in Cadiz, the Castle of San Sebastian.
- Visit a Roman Theatre.
- Enjoy the freshest seafood in Sanlucar de Barrameda.
- Visit the historic Sherry bodegas of Jerez.
- Spend a day at the renowned port of El Puerto de Santa Maria.
- Take a stroll around Cadiz Old Town and visit the splendid Cadiz Cathedral.
The Costa de la Luz has a slightly more milder climate than its more famous neighbour to the east, the Costa del Sol, however this coastline retains a more authentic Spanish feel as the tourist resorts have kept to low rise hotels that blend perfectly into the natural settings.
The sand on the Costa de la Luz is much finer than other parts of Spain, although it must be said can be prone to stronger winds that seem to fan the province almost every day. A plus for many though as the windy conditions have made the Costa de la Luz a firm favourite with water sports enthusiasts from all over the world.
Top things to do on the Costa de la Luz
Spend a day at the Donana National Park
A wetlands area of outstanding beauty where you can enjoy a huge variety of migratory birds, unique fauna, pine forests and the spectacular shifting coastal dunes. You may also be lucky enough to spot an Iberian Lynx, a carnivore indigenous to the Iberian Peninsula and the park's emblem.
Spend time on the stunning the beach at Zahara de los Atunes
With long stretches of fine white sand the beaches here are second to none and are usually uncrowded.
See the famous horse festival in Jerez
If your looking for authentic Spain then head to the Jerez horse festival, where the locals show off their finest horses, it is a festival full of colour, music and dance and where the locals love sharing a tipple of the famous Sherry wine.
A quaint Spanish village located close to Chiclana de la Frontera, with striking beaches and a long seafront boulevard for evening strolls await not to mention some of the finest seafood bars in the area. Try the popular white prawns, gambas blancas, caught locally they are quite delicious cooked simply over a griddle with sea salt and a dash of extra virgin olive oil.
Spend a day at the Playa Balonia
A deligthful and spectacular beache located near Tarifa, made of fine white sand popular with water sports enthusiasts as this stretch of the Costa de la Luz is prone to windy conditions, perfect for kite surfing and many other aquatic sports activities.
Top Costa de la Luz, Towns & Resorts
- Zahara de los Atunes
- Conil de la Frontera
- Puerto de Santa Maria
- Isla Cristina
- El Rompido
- Sanlucar de Barrameda
- Punto Umbria
Popular Costa de la Luz resorts
Cadiz is divided into two main parts, the modern and the old. Although the newer part has all the trappings of modern day living, the marinas and fine dining restaurants located in the historic quarter reveals the true history of Cadiz.
The old town center is abound with character and an authentic Andalusian atmosphere. The casco antiguo ( old town ) is and made up of three barrios, the Barrio La Viña , home to the fishing district, the Barrio El Populo, said to be the oldest part of the city and the Barrio Santa Maria.
A good time to visit Cadiz is during the February carnivals held each year. It is one of Spain’s best carnivals with ten days of street processions and an unrivaled party atmosphere.
Huelva City – the capital of the eastern region is quite an industrial area and at first glance may not be that inspiring to the visitor however it does house a few gems that are well worth visiting.
Places worth visiting include the Barrio Obrero ( the workers neighbourhood ), the Tinto and the Tharses wharfes. Other attractions include the main Cathedral, the Odiel wetlands and the provincial Museums housing thousands of Archaeological artefacts. Huelva is famous for being home to some of the best beaches in Spain.
Endearing fishing village with access to all the best beaches and the natural parks in the area, low rise tourism with plenty of good eating houses.
Fresh fish is a must and Barbate has enough eateries to satisfy the most enthusiast of fresh fish and seafood lover.
Very popular with the Spanish tourist, again lovely long sandy beaches. Chipiona has a very Spanish ambiance about it and is a great family destination.
The town is located on the lower reaches of the Guadalquivir river and is a centuries old fishing village. There are a few well kept monuments to keep the history buffs happy, notably the Roman built lighthouse, the highest in Spain, a 12th century castle and a 16th century parish church.
Explore the back streets and you will be rewarded with finding some of the cheapest fresh fish restaurants and tapas bars anywhere in the area. Head for the bars busy with the local trade to find the best deals.
Zahara de las Atunes
Typical example of how a small town with one of the best beaches along the coast has maintained its small village charm due to lack of high rise development or any major construction for that fact.
Like many of the fishing villages along the Costa de la Luz Sol the main catch here is the Tuna which is fished using the traditional almadrabas method, this is where fishermen use very long poles with a line and hook.
The apres beach and sun activities here are laid back and peaceful nights are guaranteed here whilst you sup your favourite brew in one of the many quaint local bars.
Conil de la Frontera is a former fishing village which has become a popular, low-rise resort. It's long fine white sandy beach and authentic Andalucia village feel are well worth a visit.
You will find a fine selection of fish restaurants along the Paseo Maritimo ( beach front area ) which buzzes nicely with a Spanish vibe at night as the locals join the holidays makers in enjoying the catch of the day.
The smallish white prawns ( gamba blanca ) are a delicacy along this coast and although can be on the pricier side are well worth trying for there excellent flavour.
Also for fish lovers June is a good time to visit when the Tuna is celebrated and many restaurants offer this locally caught fish at discount prices.
The town of Islantilla is located on western end of the Costa de la Luz and although it is pretty quiet in the winter months the stunning long sandy beach.
The area is great for the beaches, water sports, fishing, dining out, playing golf and enjoying the tranquil setting of pine forests and low rise hotels.
The town of Isla Cristina is the farthest resort at the western end of the Costa de la Luz and is a bustling fishing town with a fleet of over 200 fishing boats.
Foodies will love the fish restaurants dotted around the town serving some of the freshest sardines and tuna anywhere.
There are a number of popular long sandy beaches nearby including the Isla Canela and Isla del Moral.
The town Punta Umbria used to be a small fishing town but has steadily grown over the last 30 years although it still retains its low key resort status.
Many of the narrow streets at the southern tip are made up of homes built by the British owned Rio Tinto mining company during the 19th century.
Mazagon is a typically low key Spanish holiday resort located close to Punta Umbria and Huelva city. Holiday makers can enjoy the long promenade and high quality sandy beaches.
There are few decent attractions well worth visiting including the Picacho lighthouse ( Faro De Mazagon ), Casa del Vigio, the Ermita del Carmen and the modern Mazagon church ( Iglesia de los Santos Corazones )
Golf on the Costa de la Luz
The Costa de la Luz is fast becoming one of the leading golf holiday destinations in Spain and now boasts over 20 golf courses located all along the picturesque and pine clad coastline.
Golf courses Huelva
Costa Esuri Golf, La Monacilla, Isla Canela, Islantilla, El Rompido Golf Resort, Bellavista and Nuevo Portil.
Golf Courses Cadiz
Novo Sancti Petri Golf, La Estancia, Montenmedio, Shery Giolf, Monte Castillo, Villa Nueva and Golf La Estancia.
Eating out on the Costa de la Luz
Besides its charming beaches the Costa de la Luz offers holiday makers a whole range of authentic eateries scattered all around the area.
Here are a selection of restaurant's offering authentic Spanish dishes.
» Restaurante El Faro de Cádiz - Located at Calle San Félix, 15, Cadiz. As its name suggests you will find this restaurant next to the lighthouse at the end of Cadiz harbour. A very popular eatery, noted for service the freshest fish and seafood in the area. Oysters, white Sanlucar de Barrameda prawns, lobster, clams, fresh anchovies and whitebait are just some of the top notch seafood on offer.
» Restaurante Francisco La Fontanilla - Located right by the sea on Fontanilla beach in Conil de la Frontera. If you are looking for super fresh seafood cooked and presented perfectly then this restaurant is for you. Enjoy the sea breeze whilst you taste dishes such as Tuna infused with rosemary served with sweet red peppers, scarlet shrimps and spider crabs or fresh oysters and scallops in garlic.
» Taberna La Manzanilla - Located on Calle Feduchy, 19, Cádiz.
» Casa Manteca - Located on Calle Corralón de los Carros, 66, in the Cadiz harbour area.
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Recommended hotels on the Costa de la Luz
For a luxury experience try the 5 star Hotel Royal Hideaway Sancti Petri located in the pretty coastal resort of Chiclana de la Frontera. First class facilities include a private beach, suana, outdoor pool, Turkish steam bath, golf course, restaurants, lounge bars, night club and discotheque. Reviewer Rating: 9.1
For an authentic Andalucian experience try the charming Hotel El Palomar de la Brena located close to the fishing village of Barbate. Tranquil countryside location set within a converted old Andalucian Cortijo farm house make this a special place to stay. Facilities include a sun deck, large charming patios and the historic decor and surroundings. Reviewer Rating: 8.8