I asked myself why it took me so long to visit Huelva, Spain. After all, it is only 2 hours distance from where I currently live. The truth is, sometimes life doesn’t allow us to take the time we need, and in the between so many things you have to solve and do, resting and fun comes in last place of the list.
However, I was in need of a weekend far from my routine and life – a weekend to explore, eat and drink and have some fun! So, me and my best friends decided to spend a weekend in the country of nuestros hermanos.
I wasn’t with high expectations, really; I knew Huelva is a small city, touristic place and beach destination – something that wasn’t in our plans. But, I was surprised as Huelva is much more than it looks like and what you see and read on internet. It is truly a wonderful place to be, with very friendly and warm people and well, where you find magnificent food!
Some useful information to visit Huelva
It is very easy to get to Huelva from the Algarve. It is only around 69 km from Vila Real de Santo António – about 45 minutes drive. A very positive point: tolls are free in Spain, so taking your own car is beneficial and practical. Fuel is also very cheaper than in Portugal. A negative point though, it is very difficult to find free parking in the city, especially near the historical centre.
The city is very dog friendly. It is possible to take your dog in most shops and restaurants. The streets are extremely clean, even with the big quantity of animals you see. There are always available, in multiple places, bags for dogs poo-poo.
Huelva is also safe, I find, even during night time. Even with all the bars and discos in the area, and be considered a party town, it is also a place to be with family, especially if you have kids. The quantity and quality of playgrounds is insane!
Best time to visit Huelva
October was the month we went and we don’t regret a minute of our month choice. There was still some tourists, but nothing masified, so it was ideal to be comfortable wandering around. The weather was fantastic – really hot days (temperatures around 27ºC and 30ºC), sunny and blue skies.
This is also considered low season, therefor the best time to find hot deals in hotels, etc. You just need where to look and take some time to search for the best ones.
Map with the best points to see and explore
These are just a few of the most spectacular things to see.
Nuestra Señora de La Cinta Sanctuary
Situated a bit outside the historical centre, there is this sanctuary, built in the XV century in honor of Señora de La Cinta.
The sanctuary has gothic architecture and you can find some art pieces there, including this beautiful tile mat right outside walls, which has actually survived a fire a few years ago.
Plaza de las Monjas
Big square which follows the Gran Via; here is a place of encounters, drinks and many tapas. Open space, with shadow provided from some trees, it seems there is always something happening. We caught a recently married bride and groom eating and celebrating in one of the small huts!
You can also find the statue of Colombo here.
Muelle de Riotinto
It was a comercial pier, used for ore commerce. It thinks around 150 millions tons of ore were shipped over the pier.
Now it just a pleasant place to be for pedestrians, fisherman, runners… It is the perfect place to be at sunset hour. Just look at the photos and you know what I mean!
Mercado del Carmen
Good place to find fresh fish, fruit and veggies, and meat, especially hams and chorizo. The qualidade of the products is amazing! You can find many local producers and don’t be shy to talk with them… They really and proudly talk about their products and are happy to explain everything! I bought some ham and regional chocolates.
It is closed at Sundays.
I leave here the mention of Caravelas Museum, Huelva Cathedral, Monument of Cristóvão Colombo and the walkway of 5 km by the River. If you want more information of other places, don’t be shy and ask them away! I’m happy to share with you my itinerary!
I already had bad experiences in Spain with the food; in the end, it always left me disappointed. I guess it has to do very much with the where in Spain you are – after all, Spain is a huge country! Huelva, however, surprised me. The food is great and I really have to admit here, the Spanish, know how to eat in Huelva. I thought and believed, we Portuguese, knew how to eat and knew the value of the tradition of eating in family. But, from what I lived in Huelva, we still have a lot to learn compared to our neighbors brothers.
It was extremely hard to find places available to eat – impressively, since there are loads of restaurants, tapas bars and coffee shops. They have the habit of booking and reserve their meals, very much before the hour of the meal. So, when in Huelva and if you really want to try an specific place, book it beforehand. It is what I will do the next time for sure.
When you are at the table, the first thing they ask right away is what do you want to drink, even without bringing the drinking menu. Ask it anyways, as they can treak you with the prices. The sangria is great, but they have a big variety of wines. The sweet white wines in particular, are something do die for.
The tapas are the big thing though, and I have to say, for three or four days of visit, it is the best to go for. The quantities are enough and you can always end up ordering many things to try this way. In our tapas there were always included cheese – from the region, which were deliciou! – obviously I had to bring one home -, patatas bravas – French fries served with a hot sauce -, huevos rotos – scramble eggs with some sort of meat, especially ham -, and cold salads. The best salad I had in my entire life was here – a salad of shrimp . Oh yum!
Pay attention when they bring the starters – bread, olives, etc. -, even if you don’t want it, you will pay for it no matter what. Make sure they understand you don’t want it. The law it’s pretty much different from Portugal, for instance.
If you want to drink a coffee, make sure you specify that you want an expresso. “Café” for them is served with milk.
Final thoughts… I will go back. Without any doubt. I loved Huelva and its pretty, organized and clean streets. I went with my best friends but will return with my family. It seems to me it is the ideal place to relax and have some tranquil days. It is not an expensive destination, and the language, although different, it is possible to understand. You only need a certain dose of patience – for those you don’t know, Portuguese and Spanish have this “love-hate” relationship, since ever!
If you have been in Huelva or want to know more, leave a comment on the section bellow or send an email. I would love to share my itinerary or help you with extra information (where to stay, where to eat, etc.).