Ask Joan: Walking in Puglia and a family trip to the Costa de la Luz
Heading south to the less touristy parts of Spain and Italy in search of activity breaks
We are a family of five: our children are 13, 18 and 20. We are flying to Seville at the end of June and want to spend a day there and then travel to the coast for 10 nights. Can you recommend a town on the Costa de la Luz that is not very touristy, has authentic Spanish restaurants, sandy beaches and plenty of things to do? We would like to stay in a nice villa or apartment in walking distance of the beach. Our budget is €2,000 for accommodation. Do you have any suggestions for entertainment that will keep us all happy? – LF, Dublin
The Costa de la Luz is a lovely part of Spain; quite unspoiled with fabulous Atlantic beaches. The fishing town of Zahara de los Atunes is probably a good place to start. It has a lovely long beach and traditional restaurants. There are plenty of water sports and you can hire bikes too. The beachside chiringuitos become nightclubs later in the day.
The next town to it is Atlanterra, also lovely but quite hilly and exclusive. There are some amazing houses built into the hillside.
Zahara is beside the Doñana National Park where there is great bird watching.
The Roman town of Bolonia, with the 2,000-year-old settlement of Baelo Claudia, is a short drive away. It has some amazing sand dunes to explore.
A little further along the coast, where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean, is the medieval town of Tarifa. Here there are great water sports such as windsurfing and kite surfing. It is a windy town but very quaint and quite cool. There is long sandy beach called Los Lances and a good variety of accommodation. You will find accommodation within your budget on homeaway.co.uk and GoTarifa.com.
My partner and I plan a trip to south-east Italy in late March/early April to meet up with her son who is travelling in the area. We want to fly to Bari, spend a couple of days there and then do some walking. We are keen and capable walkers so 25km a day would not be a problem. Ideally we would like to follow walk off-road from point to point carrying our own baggage and staying in budget accommodation. Despite spending hours on the internet we have been unable to find any useful information. – TM, Wexford
Puglia is one of Italy’s least developed regions and that also extends to waymarked trails and walking routes. It is a beautiful region and spring comes early, so walking in March and April would be nice. There are B&Bs, mostly agriturismos and, local to Puglia, masserias (fortified farmhouses).
It is a big region, 400km from top to toe, with great coastal scenery to the east and long sandy beaches to the west. There are walking trails in the Gargano National Park and Foresta Umbra. You will find some suggestions for walking in Gargano on wanderingitaly.com and accommodation on visititaly.com (search Apulia).
Two travel companies in Ireland arrange trips in Puglia. Both are owned by people from the province and they would be able to suggest some routes and book accommodation. You can contact them on discoverypuglia.com and Puglia.ie.
Ramblers Worldwide will have a walking holiday in Puglia in April. Staying in the town of trullis, Alberobello, with guided walks each day. See details on ramblersholidays.co.uk. The official tourism website for Puglia is viaggiareinpuglia.it.
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