As Britain’s love affair with Spain rightly continues to grow – with visitor numbers rising by 12% last year to 17.8 million – you would be forgiven for assuming that it is difficult to escape the crowds and find an under-visited paradise destination blessed with an outstanding location, rich history and unique traditional culture.
Throw in dramatic 360° high-in-the-sky battlement vistas across fertile orchards, olive groves, lush farmlands, unspoiled Atlantic beaches, the Barbate River and visions of Africa across the Straights of Gibraltar and you have it. Vejer de la Fontera.
A spectacularly characterful Moorish hilltop town awash with bright-white houses, twisting narrow streets, colourful palm-tree plazas, all unchanged with time. To this day a vibrant community town with washing hanging off castle walls, as well as bars and restaurants spilling onto the narrow Kasbah-style streets. Fun and vibrant, yet gentle, giving this Costa de la Luz settlement a feeling of walking through in a living museum. Wine bottle man-hole covers, groaning orange trees, flamenco horse dancing et al.
Instantly one of my favourite Spanish experiences. Which, having been on a magical jaunt to Vejer this week, has left me feeling particularly giddy. Celebrating the wedding of friends who got married in the town’s spectacular 14th century church – Iglesia del Divino Salvador. Bathed in late afternoon sunshine, with sweeping views across the town below, the gentle pace of life almost breezes through the surrounding streets. Particularly prevalent when walking, post marriage service, down through the old town to the dramatic cliff-top high north facing old city rampart wall. Complete with sea of sunflower fields blowing in the Atlantic breeze below.
My advice, even if only looking for a short escape, is to follow in the footsteps of Phoenicians, ancient Romans and Moors, to Vejer de la Frontera. A perfect destination to hole up in, with the biggest problem being quite how to drag yourself away from the town to even begin exploring the wonderful local countryside and nearby historical towns of Andalusia.
Delightfully set away from traditional tourist traps, this town just needs to be kept under wraps from the rest of the 65 million annual international tourists to Spain.