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Spain: Hidden holiday hotspots where you can avoid crowds – and tourist trap prices

Simon Calder’s Travel

Spain has long been a favourite of British holidaymakers. Reigning as the country most visited by UK residents for years now, a YouGov poll for 2024 shows no change on the horizon: 15 per cent of UK travellers plan to head to Spain this year, the most of any country (except for the UK, where 17 per cent plan to staycation).

Whether it’s the Costa Del Sol and Canary Islands’ beaches, the party towns of Ibiza and Mallorca or the cities of Barcelona and Seville, the majority of travellers head to the same select few destinations. Something locals in these places are naturally pretty tired of. Having lived in Barcelona myself since 2019, I know this is nothing new (”go home tourists” graffiti long preceded the Covid pandemic) but it’s stepped up recently with protests in the Canary and Balearic Islands, and visitors to the Catalan capital sprayed with water.

Luckily, there is plenty more of the country to explore beyond these hotspots and by doing so you will avoid the commotion, crowds and prices that come with them. I have been lucky to explore much of the country both on assignment and on holiday and here are some places you might be missing…

History, beaches and cheap tapas in Cádiz

Cadiz seafront is dubbed ‘Little Havana’ due to its colourful buildings
Cadiz seafront is dubbed ‘Little Havana’ due to its colourful buildings (Henry Ren)

If you’re looking for a city break that rivals the beachside vibe of Barcelona and the historic charm of Seville, then Cádiz might just fit the bill. In the southwest corner of Andalusia and easily reached via flights to the nearby airport at Jerez de la Frontera, this port city is charming from the get-go. The old town, a maze of narrow streets and sun-drenched squares, claims to be the oldest city in Western Europe, founded 3,000 years ago by the Phoenicians. The seafront, with its colourful line up of houses is known as “Little Havana” – so much so it stars in scenes of the Cuban capital in the Bond film Die Another Day. Understand the layers of history with sites such as the epic cathedral and Roman ruins, and climb the Baroque watchtower, Torre Tavira for impressive views before feasting on the bargain tapas (fried fish is the speciality here) and relaxing at the beach.

Read more on Spain travel:

Where to stay

Hotel Casa de Las Cuatro Torres, an 18th-century Baroque building on a quiet square in the heart of the old town restored with lots of…

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