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Chasing the winter sun

Where to find that last blast of warmth

Can you point to Europe’s only desert on a map? Do you know where you can stand with your feet in the snow while looking at Africa? Guess where you can find castle-crusted crags, stranded in time, yet only an hour’s drive from bustling seaside resorts? Fancy skiing this morning, followed by a dip in the sea this afternoon?

Escape for winter

The festive season has been and gone, the seasonal feel-good factor has long since evaporated and the painful wait to be released from winter’s chill grip has begun.

But hang on - you can short-cut all this tedious waiting. Andalucia may offer up to 3,000 hours of sunshine a year but this region, along the southern coast of Spain, is a popular winter destination for many in the know. ‘Snow birds’ appreciate its bright, dry winters with average temperatures of 160C (and warmer on the coast).

They also come for the huge sweeping beaches of the Costa de la Luz, the friendly resorts of the Costa del Sol and miles of unspoilt coast. The cities of Seville and Granada are the flamboyant grand old dames, while Malaga offers fantastic all year round beach life and Picasso’s birthplace.

And of course, they also are drawn by superb campsites, with remarkable facilities and extremely attractive offers designed to entice you to stay for a prolonged stay during winter months.

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Join the club

Andalucia is a world destination for golf. Valderrama at San Roque was voted top European course in Golf Monthly. But there are others: Sotogrande, Finca Cortesin and Las Brisas for starters. Green fees and club rental are available and, depending on where you play, expect stunning scenery and even cacti and dry river beds among the hazards!

Top sites in Andalucia

Top choice: Granada's Alhambra - an ornate Arabian palace inscribed on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites and one of Spain's most visited attractions.

Top choice: Alcázar of Seville - UNESCO-listed palace complex recently featured as a location in Game of Thrones.

Mezquita - Mosque of Cordoba, perhaps one of the world's greatest examples of Islamic architecture.

Catedral de Sevilla & Giralda - the third largest cathedral and the largest gothic cathedral in the world and home of the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

Cueva de Nerja - a series of caves, one large enough to house an amphitheatre which regularly holds concerts and one of Spain's most popular natural attractions.