Could this village have it all?
I’ve travelled a lot, and over the years, I think I’ve worked out the magic ingredients to the perfect travel destination.
- Small and authentic, with more locals than tourists
- A small, boutique hotel, with quirk, and views
- Local restaurants and no tourist traps
- A nice beach is a bonus
Who agrees with me?
Tiny little Vejer de la Frontera, in south-west Spain ticks all of these boxes!
Vejer de la Frontera, or simply Vejer (pronounced Be-hair), sits on top of a rocky hill just 10kms from the Atlantic Ocean. It is a typical Andalucian white village, with a labyrinth of tiny, winding streets, a distinct Moorish flavour, and a ruined castle dating back to the 10th century.
Vejer’s size and location prohibits mass tourism. It is 50kms away from Cadiz, where the closest train station is, and only standard cars can get up the hill; no buses. Even if you do arrive by car, good luck trying to navigate the narrow one-way streets, and find a park!
There are only a handful of small hotels, all occupying authentic village houses, a fact which also limits the number of visitors the town can handle at once.
Casa Califa Hotel has to be seen to be believed. A union of ten houses, dating back to the tenth century, make up the hotel complex, each room with a unique design and blend of Moroccan and Andalucian style. It is a treasure trove.
Many of the rooms boast patios overlooking the straits of Morocco, or windows facing onto the lively square.
There is a large rooftop terrace bar, where they serve evening cocktails, and fresh mint tea.
One of the hotel’s best features is its restaurant. Set in a lush, palm-filled courtyard, the ‘Caliph’s Garden’ dishes up Middle Eastern and Moroccan cuisine, in an exotic setting.
As well as the Caliph’s Garden, Vejer offers plenty of other delightful restaurants, all serving traditional and modern takes on local cuisine. There is also a small central market, where you can buy local cheeses, meats, fruit and vegies.
Vejer is home to a lovely mix of locals and expats. The type of expats who embrace the local culture, not those who try to impose mushy peas and Yorkshire pudding on the villagers. One of these expats is Annie, founder of a boutique cooking school in the village, which she runs from her typical village home. Owner of a successful catering company in the UK, Annie visited Vejer 15 years ago and fell in love with the place so much, she bought a house there, on the spot! Her rooftop terrace has 270 degree views over Vejer and the Straits of Gibraltar, with views of Morocco on a clear day.
Annie’s bubbly personality and passion for Andalucian cuisine and sherry, means she is a much-loved member of Vejer’s community.
Not all Spanish beaches are created equally. Head to the beach over near Malaga, on the Costa del Sol, and you’ll be jostling for an overpriced sun lounger on the beach with half of Britain. On the other had, head to El Palmar beach, just 14kms from Vejer de la Frontera, and you’ll be wondering why the word hasn’t got out about this place yet.
Miles and miles of white sand, and barely anyone there! There are a handful of laidback beach shacks dotted along the beach, offering simple food, drink and shelter should you so desire, otherwise, this is an unspoilt beach, popular with surfers. Note that this beach can get quite windy, in which case we recommend the nearby beach of Los Canos de Meca, which a bit more sheltered.
Get yourselves to Spain and become one of the privileged few to experience delightful Vejer de la Frontera, before it is ‘discovered.’
- Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways and other reputable airlines fly in to Madrid, with good connections from Australia.
- Take the train from Madrid to Cadiz and hire a car from here
- Stay at La Casa Califa 2* Hotel – trust us when we say this hotel is worthy of at least 2 more stars!
- Do a cooking class with Annie at https://www.anniebspain.com
- While in Andalucia, check out other gorgeous destinations. You can get ideas here