Honeymoon: Destination: Viva Andalusia
WHAT TO EAT: Spanish tapas are the perfect, commitment-free way to sample many local specialties. The custom is to enjoy a few with drinks and move on to the next place until you’re too full, or too tipsy, to continue. From the many delicious offerings, you’ll always find a variety of olives, cured meats, cheeses and hot dishes like gambas al pil-pil (shrimp sautéed in olive oil, garlic and hot chili peppers). For a more formal, fine-dining experience, try any of the paradores’ on-site restaurants (see “Where to Stay” for more on paradores), where you’ll be treated to authentic regional specialties, top-notch service and an excellent selection of regional wines. Among others, the restaurants in the Parador de Jaén, Parador de Carmona and Parador de Ronda stand out for their spectacular dining rooms.
WHERE TO STAY: Sleep in a castle: The paradores are a network of Spanish, state-run luxury hotels, 16 of which are in Andalusia. Options include medieval
palaces, fortresses, convents and other historic buildings that have been converted into modern hotels. Some standouts: the Parador de Ronda, Parador de Málaga Gibralfaro and Parador de Granada. For a true off-the-beaten-path experience, the Parador de Carmona and Parador de Jaén offer breathtaking views and great solitude — in accommodations so amazing you won’t mind that there is almost nothing else around. Package deals and suggested routes are offered on the paradores’ website. In Marbella, you’ll find more typical American-style hotels, like those offered through Marbella Options.
WHAT TO PACK: A little bit of everything: Be ready for the beach, sightseeing, nightlife, dining out and even hiking. Days are generally warm and nights can be chilly, so bring layers. And don’t forget your passport!
BEST TIMES TO GO: The coast is mild and temperate year round, while inland temperatures are more extreme, with hotter summers and colder winters. If the beach is your top priority, visit from April through September, but if you want to ski the Sierra Nevada, go from December through April. Early and late summer are ideal because it isn’t too hot for sightseeing — but it’s also likely to be great beach weather.
NEWLYWED NEWS: Many hotels have romance packages; inquire about them when booking.
GETTING THERE: Fly into Seville or Málaga on US Airways, British Airways, Spanair or Lufthansa. There are no direct flights from Philly, but with a stop in Madrid, Barcelona or another European city, the trip averages about 14 hours total.
ROMANCE RATING: Four Hearts