Canadian Traveller recently had the chance to travel to Spain with G Adventures and discover a whole new side to one of our favourite countries. Joining along on the Discover Moorish Spain tour, which explores five amazing cities, we knew we couldn't keep our favourite three underrated ones to ourselves. Keep reading to discover the hidden gems of Spain you can explore on your next tour.
If you're looking for a Spanish gem hidden in the hilltops outside of Madrid, roam no further than Toledo. Previously the seat of the Spanish court until its16th-century move to Madrid, its cobbled lanes have been filled with Romans, Visigoths, Jews, Arab and Christians for more than two millennia. Wander through the pastel-hued streets and glimpse inside the lush, leafy private courtyards of the locals.
But the real reason to visit Toledo is for its captivating architecture. From the gothic cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo, to the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, and Iglesia de Santo Tomé, it's hard to miss the distinct look each religion brings to the architecture of the town.
Simply put, it is a city that inspires beauty. So much so, that the famous painter, El Greco, decided to make Toledo his home. Today, you can visit his namesake museum and admire his strange, ethereal style before scavenging the town in search of his other works housed in local buildings.
To top off the day, sip on a glass of Domus, Toledo’s local dark brew, and take in the sunset from the top of the town.
Most visitors stop here to experience the famed Moorish Alhambra, but visitors who stay to truly experience the city will be floored by the unique food culture and distinct white-washed buildings that gives Granada its charm.
The Alhambra, a Unesco World Heritage site, stands as a massive fortress housing 13th-to 15th- century palaces and gardens. With a viewpoint over the entire city, the Alhambra was once a military fortress, as well as the royal residence. With three separate palaces, plus the summer home on the property, this is a not to be missed attraction.
Beyond the historic landmark, Granada is teeming with creative local dishes, artisanal creations and gypsy culture. Visit El Bar de Fede and enjoy the art deco interior alongside tapas including: octopus garlic salad, squid ink paella, egg and bacon smash and more. It's hard to escape Granada's food culture when there is an abundance of fresh seafood on offer. After lunch, stroll through the Alcaiceria Market, where the walls and arches speak of a bygone time. If shopping isn't your thing, pull up a chair at a local coffee shop and let the colourful people-watching opportunities pass you by. In the evening, visit the neighbourhood Sacromonte, known for its gypsy culture. Witness a flamenco show in the birthplace of the Zambra, a flamenco dance and singing party that goes back to the Century XVI.
Córdoba is an ancient Andalucía city that feels both stuck in time, yet modern. With a revitalised, bustling riverside filled with cafes and restaurants, tourists are beginning to flock. The best time to visit this city is May, as the annual Unesco-listed Patio Festival takes place and Córdoba can be seen in full bloom. Pots of every colour of the rainbow can be spotted overflowing with jasmine, orange blossoms and gardenias. Only a place as beautiful as Córdoba could make flower decorating into a sport.
But for many, it's the Mosque of Cordoba that is the real highlight of the city. It is a building of many names-the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption- the list goes on and on. It has been renamed many times as it has been conquered and re-conqoured by different rulers over its lifetime. Just stepping inside will take you back through the centuries-as you move throughout, the architecture moves through history as well.
Return to the present day at hip Regadera by the river. With Mediterranean fare and a spacious, boho venue, it's a refreshing break from the rest of the bustling city. On the menu expect household Spanish dishes with a modern twist. I suggest the duck risotto, tuna tartar, garlic soup and for a surprise, request the lemon dessert. Walk off your meal with a stroll across the city bridge and take in the sight of the Mosque from a distance. To cheers the end of a long day, Califa is a craft beer spot that will leave you seeing the city in a whole new light.