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Sitting pretty on the Costa de la Luz in vibrant Andalusia, Punta Umbria still has its historic fishing village charm. It’s unspoiled and quiet, and a fabulous beach has attracted excellent accommodation. Three nature parks nearby are great attractions for walkers, bird watchers, and photographers, and the big city thrills of Seville aren’t too far away.
The coast here is wilder, and the Atlantic waters not as warm as the balmy Med off the Costa del Sol to the east. That’s given the Costa de la Luz a more low-key holiday scene, with much of the Atlantic seaboard protected for its natural beauty.
Nature lovers have lots to explore here. Sharp-eyed visitors might even catch a glimpse of the endangered Iberian Lynx – one of Europe’s few wild cats – in the Doñana National Park, with its sands, dunes, and swamps.
You don’t need walking boots to enjoy your stay in Punta Umbria though, the village itself is lovely, with a beautiful, long beach, and lots of traditional charm as well as modern hotels.
Behind the seafront lies the city of Huelva, with its busy port – try the local seafood – and historic centre. Seville is around two hours’ drive away, but it’s worth the trip to experience one of Spain’s most exciting cities.
Punta Umbria’s beach is big and beautiful, with the coveted Blue Flag status for water cleanliness. There are a couple of bars on the seafront – conforming to the resort’s low-key, family-friendly atmosphere – and boat trips run up and down the local coast.
Doñana National Park claims to be the most eco-diverse area in the entire continent. Chief among its more than 300 species are migrating birds heading to or from Africa. The park is split between pine woodland and huge salt marshes towards the sea. The Iberian lynx, if you’re lucky enough to see one, is the park’s signature species, but the very rare Spanish imperial eagle is just as spectacular.
The Los Enebrales Natural Area is smaller and less important, but it’s right on your doorstep in Punta Umbria and still an important and beautiful wild area. It’s easier to get around, too, with footpaths running through the woodlands – including a rare juniper grove – and a major cycle path running along the park’s seafront.
You may fly in via Seville, and it’s worth returning to the city while you’re on the Costa de la Luz, even if it’s a bit of a drive. The historic old town is built around the gigantic cathedral, the Giralda tower, and the Moorish-built Alcazar palace, one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe. The modern city is lively and smart, and if you want to catch it at its liveliest visit in April for the massive feria carnival.
Huelva is a pleasant city, and one of its top historic sites is the La Rabida Monastery, a beautiful and very calm oasis in this busy port town. The historic ship moored – unusually for a monastery! – by the quayside here commemorates Christopher Columbus’ time at the monastery before he got busy “discovering” America.
Andalusia is the heartland of Flamenco. Seville is pretty much the capital of this way-of-life art form, but Huelva also hosts shows, festivals and has good Flamenco venues.