Huelva Explore Guide
If you’ve never heard of or been to Huelva, let me tell you that place is gorgeous. Basically, Huelva is a province in Southern Spain with a capital town that goes by the same name. It’s part of the Andalusia region and borders Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s known for its beautiful mountains in the North and the marvellous seaside with beautiful beaches. The region is rich in culinary and nature, that feels very distinctive throughout all Spain.
I went there by plane to Sevilla and then about an hour drive by car. Since it’s located just beside Portugal, an alternatively you could go by plane to Faro and then drive there by car for about 2,5 hours.
I stayed at the 4**** Hotel Convento Aracena in Aracena, which is one of the small towns in Sierra de Aracena Natural Park. It’s a perfect starting point to discover all the surrounding villages and the village itself is stunningly pretty with all the white houses that brightens up under the sun. The hotel used to be a convent from the 17th century that respectfully incorporated a lot of the architectural heritage into the building now.
1. JABUGO ROUTE
Jabugo Route describes the journey through the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche, which are distinctive landmarks in Huelva in terms of producing the Iberian ham. It begins with a visit to the “dehesa”, which is a special habitat of cork and holm oaks, that produces the important acorn to feed the pigs. The “dehesa” meadow is a special forest environment that gives the ham its special features.
Second part of the ham journey is to experience the Iberian pigs, that roam free in the “dehesa”. Iberian breed of pigs on this region are historically deeply rooted and are running free in a perfect environment filled with the acorn-producing trees. Every pig has at least 1-2 hectares of land to exercise and run freely, according to the farmers raising the pigs.
I made a great experience visiting the “dehesa” and walk along with the pigs at Finca Montefrio.
The Jabugo Route experience also includes a visit to the ham production, which involves four steps: salting, get rid of the water after salting, natural drying and finally slow maturing. All of the process is done traditionally by experience and skills that has been passed of for generations. You need to know how to control the temperature and humidity during the drying period without any new technology, rather than keeping the windows open or closed.
The last part of the ham experience is of course the taste test. In that step, you’ll be able to understand how important it is, that Iberian pigs are acorn-fed, because the acorn is what’s going to bring the magic in taste. You’ll smell the ham, feel it between your fingers and let the thin slice melt in your mouth.
I made a great experience visiting the ham production with Jamones Eiriz.
2. ALMONASTER LA REAL
Almonaster la Real is a cute little town in the region of Huelva. Stroll around the small streets and hike up to the mosque to see some remaining before it was reconstructed to a Christian church. Enjoy a beautiful sunset if you’re up there a beautiful view over the town, bedded between the green mountains.
3. GRUTA DE LAS MARAVILLAS
Gruta de las Maravillas was the first Spanish cave ever to be opened to the public in 1913. It takes around 50 minutes to walk through the entire cave, where you can learn more about the beautiful calcium carbonate rocks in all the forms an varieties. You’ll find magnificent lakes inside the cave and even underwater formations that look like cauliflowers.
4. Pena de Arias Montano in Alajar
La Pena is the name of a mountain that overlooks the town Alajar. It’s a peaceful spot to stop and enjoy the views, looking through the Romanesque white windows on top of the hill. There are many trails you could hike around that area and learn more about animals and nature.
Here are some activities you can do around that area:
- Hiking, Mountain Biking, Nordic Walking, etc.
- Astronomy, Bird Watching, Mushroom Picking, Learn about botanic, etc.
- Environmental education and Ecotourism
5. Aracena and Castillo de Aracena
Aracena is the largest town in Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche. The biggest landmark is the castle on the hill, where you can easily go up and have an amazing view over the entire village and beyond. Take some food with you and enjoy a picnic at sunset, I promise, there aren’t more things in life that’s going to make you feel more blissful.
I was invited to Huelva within a trip organised by the Chamber of Commerce of Huelva and with the technical assistance of Somos Destino Rural with no strings attached.
All words, photos and opinions are my own.