As you’ve probably read in my latest travel diary, I had the pleasure to visit the province Huelva, which is situated in southern Andalusia in Spain. To be more precise, I explored a region called Aracena de Sierra. If you want to travel off the beaten path while enjoying gastronomical adventures in charming villages full of tradition and surrounded by a beautiful lush scenery, then Huelva is the place to go!
What To Do and See
Explore the Jabugo Route
Sierra de Aracena is well known for its famous acorn-fed Black Iberian ham. When visiting, it is a must to learn about the traditions and work behind each step of preparing the finest ham in the world!
A tour includes all steps of the process: from seeing the pigs roam freely in the dehesa (fields of cork and holm oaks), to experiencing the salting process and visiting the natural cellars, where the ham is cured. All work is done manually and the Iberian ham matures traditionally. The acorn, the surrounding nature and the traditional preparation of the ham contribute to the distinct and exquisite taste of the Iberian Jabugo ham.
At the end of the Jabugo Route comes of course, what everyone was waiting for, the ham tasting. As I’m a vegetarian, I haven’t tried the ham. However, the taste is described as quite flavorful and more sweet compared to ‘regular’ ham. The ham tasting sessions is accompanied by local wine.
I did tours with the family-run Jamon Eíriz, the organic farm Finca Montefrío and Cinco Jotas and had a great experience with all of them.
Stroll through the village Jabugo
Jabugo is the home of the Iberian ham and besides ham, this villages offers charming cobblestone streets, which are perfect for an afternoon walk. You will realize that Jabugo is dedicated and proud of its famous ham. Hence, the main square is called ‘Plaza del Jamón’ (yes, this actually translates to ‘ham square’)!
Visit the Gruta de las Maravillas
If you are planning on visiting the Huelva region, then you need to put Gruta de las Maravillas on your list! The spectacular natural spring formed naturally a series of halls and beautiful lakes with crystal clear water over time. The route through the underground cave is about 1 km long and over the course of the tour you will see that the appearance of the cave changes. The pictures actually don’t do the Gruta de la Maravillas justice, as it is even more impressive in real life. I highly recommend a visit!
Explore the village Almonaster
I am sure that all visitors would agree that Almonaster is not only a beautiful and charming place, but also a must-visit in Huelva. Almonaster is situated between the lush mountains and has a rich heritage and culture. Make sure to enjoy the view from the former mosque, take a look at the stunning Capilla de las Santisima Trinidad and learn about the traditions behind the festival ‘Cruz del hoyo’.
Watch the sunset at Castillo de Aracena
To end a day of exploring Huelva, head to Aracena and make your way to Castillo de Aracena. The castle sits on a hill, so that it is the ideal spot for a sunset. Watch how the sun slowly sets between the white houses of Aracena. The best way to finish a day!
Wander through the streets of Aracena
Aracena is not only a great starting point to explore Huelva, but it also has a lot to offer: delicious restaurants, beautiful narrow streets white houses (that I took too many pictures of) and the impressive Gruta de la Maravillas. You can’t go wrong with putting Aracena on your Andalusian itinerary!
Have a picnic with a view at Pena de Arias Montano
Pena de Arias Montano was described as a spiritual place in Alajar. On the top of the hill you can find a beautiful, little church and an arch. It’s a great place to enjoy the view while having lunch or to discover the surrounding nature.
Have a break at Linares de la Sierra
The surrounding area is ideal for being active – whether you prefer hiking, nordic walking or bicycling to explore the Huelva region. Linares de la Sierra is the perfect spot to take a lunch break after being active in nature. This place is another charming and quiet village that should be on your list.
What To Eat
You can’t visit Huelva and not eat the renowned Iberian acorn-fed ham! Due to the acorn, the ham tastes slightly sweeter than ‘regular’ ham. Two production sites that you can visit to learn more about the traditions and preparations of the ham and also taste it yourself are Cinco Jotas and Eiriz.
Bar Manzano is a casual tapas restaurant located on the main square in Aracena. It is known for its delicious home cooked style meals and local cuisine. My favorite dish were the local wild mushrooms that were prepared to perfection. Too good!
Situated in Linares de la Sierra, this charming Michelin recommended restaurant convices with local ingredients and a passionate team. My favorite dishes were the melted goat cheese with herbs on bread and the most delicious potato salad I’ve ever had!
Restaurante Monte Cruz
Monte Cruz is a great tapas restaurant in Aracena. They combine local recipes with modern cuisine. Besides delicious dishes, Monte Cruz offers good local wines and great service.
Lunch in the country side
One of my highlights on this trip was having lunch in the open countryside – literally! Upon arriving, there was a table set up in the middle of nature. A cook prepared several tapas, while we were enjoying some wine and the extraordinary atmosphere. Pure bliss!
Essentia Hotel Restaurante
If you’re looking for a nice dinner location, then head to Essentia Hotel Restaurante. The hotel and the restaurant offer unique interior in Aracena. The food is prepared with a creative twist and definitely a good recommendation.
Confiteria Rufino is a local bakery in Aracena that was founded in the 19th century. They staff prepares the delicious baked goods with fresh ingredients daily. Perfect for a sweet afternoon treat!
Where to Stay
I stayed in Hotel Convento Aracena & Spa, which is a beautifully restored convent from the 17th century in the heart of Aracena. The charming four star property consists of several gardens completed with palm trees and gorgeous flowers, an outdoor pool, restaurants and a spa. I really enjoyed my three night stay there and can recommend it without a doubt.
Thank you to Somos Destino Rural for inviting me to Huelva. However, the opinion and photos are as always my own.