Another of my summer trips this year was in Arcos de la Frontera. In the region of Cadiz, this beautiful little Andalusian town is situated on a hill which sets a backdrop to the most picturesque setting. Location wise, Arcos is nestled somewhere in-between the city of Seville and Gibraltar, being around a 90 minute drive from either. You’ll find a lake, man-made beach and Arcos gardens all within this quaint town.
It’s a real little Spanish gem. It’s relatively undiscovered to the majority with it’s neighbour, Jerez de la Frontera, perhaps being better known and more frequented by tourists. I preface this blog post being slightly bias in that my parents have a place out here so it’s like a second home to me, but this does not alter my perception of what I think is a charming place that is rich in history, culture and people.
Things to do
Explore the old town
Situated at the top of the cliff you’ll find the Old Town, filled with beautiful cobbled streets, white washed buildings and architecture inspired by Moorish culture. Visit the El Parador viewpoint and you’ll be treated to spectacular views overlooking the rest of the town.
As the town isn’t terribly huge it doesn’t take too long to walk around. However, be warned it is very hilly – and almost maze like, being laden with windy streets leading to different parts of the town. It’s a great place to just lose time walking around and finding opportunities for photos and stunning views.
The lake and beach
Arcos Gardens is home to a famous Golf Course. I’ve never been but I hear it’s hugely popular! The Lake comprises of a manmade beach.
One amazing thing about this beach is that you’ll definitely not be fighting with others for a spot!
There are also other parts to the town, one of which holds a Friday Market and local festivals, Ferias.
Such as the Feria de San Miguel. In September the town totally transforms with the Feria de San Miguel. It’s a 5 day festival where the market area transforms into an array of casitas hosted by local bars and restaurants. This area comes alive with music, delicious food and drinks and dancing. Lots of dancing! In the day horses line and parade up and down the streets, ridden by people of a variety of ages. All professional nonetheless. What is special about this festival is the sense of community spirit. It’s completely inclusive to people of all ages, with groups, friends and families spending quality time together. Plus women and girls dress up in their traditional flamenco dresses!
Museo del Belen
You’ll also come across Museo del Belen, a little museum that houses a Nativity Scene. It’s all created by one man, Salvador, an extremely talented artist. He created everything from scratch, from the little woven furniture to the objects and characters and even hand paints each intricate little detail. It’s well worth a trip to see, it’s beautiful, and he radiates a rare passion for his work which is just infectious. Not to mention such a great guy!
One thing I absolutely love about Arcos is the fresh fruit and vegetables. A lot is grown locally and is pretty inexpensive, so eating well here is all too easy. Tapas I would recommend trying: pulpo a la gallega (octopus on a bed of potatoes with paprika), pimientos (fried padron peppers in garlic) and chipirones a la plancha (grilled squid with salsa verde).
Some noteworthy places to eat:
Avenida 34: This place really comes alive in the evenings and hugely popular amongst the locals, which for me speaks very highly of a place. Worth noting that it’s very veggie friendly here, which isn’t always synonymous with Spanish eateries.
Parilla de Regantio: A new up and coming restaurant that’s a little out from the main town but well worth a visit. This place ticks all boxes – the food was great, the atmosphere always seems to be buzzing and the staff were lovely.
Bonsai: Next to Parilla de Regantio, this place is cheap and cheerful. Which in my book is not a bad thing! If you fancy a salad for 4euros, or a huge pizza for 5, this is your bag.
Bar Carcel: A little more upmarket and on the pricier side compared to the a lot of other places, possibly due to it being located on the main stretch of tourist attraction leading up to the old town. But do not let that put you off. The tapas selection is certainly more innovate that standard and combinations of flavours were delicious! Also a bonus that they pay great attention to the food presentation, if you like that sort of thing.
Paquetito: A really friendly, family run cafe that tends to offer live music on weekends. It gets pretty busy though, so bear that in mind!
This area of Spain is full of charm, culture and Moorish character – and still relatively undiscovered. There are other lovely towns close by which makes Arcos ideal for stopping at on a road trip.
Have you visited this area of Spain before?