The Sierra Nevada ski resort in Granada province. / SUR

Andalucía: the region for an action-packed holiday

It’s not an exaggeration to say that this Spanish region is the place where you can practise almost any sport imaginable, from the most challenging running races to the highest of ski slopes

SHAY CONAGHAN MALAGA.

Andalucía is one of those few places in the world where you can take up practically any sport you want.

Spain’s southernmost region is famous for its sun-filled days and pleasant temperatures throughout the year. But Andalucía is so much more than sitting around in the sun or cooling off in the sea.

Not only does the region boast over 900 kilometres of coastline, but it also offers verticality, thanks to its diverse mountain ranges.

So whether you’re pumped for an early morning hike up Sierra Nevada, want to spend the day at Tarifa and take advantage of those perfect surfing waves or even work up a light sweat on one of many world-class golf courses, Andalucía covers every possible sport.

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Marathon breaks

Every year, athletes across Europe travel to warmer climates as they attempt to escape the harsh conditions in their colder countries. The pleasantly mild winters that Andalucía enjoys, especially in the coastal areas, make it a no-brainer for those willing to make a trip down south.

With its many roads and trails, Andalucía offers the perfect mix for amateur and experienced cyclists alike. With many nature reserves, trails and countless roads on offer to cycle on, exercising on two wheels can also be a great way to visit several viewpoints or villages in a single day, with many routes offering the chance to see more of the region.

Similarly, runners of all distances will find that Andalucía is the perfect place for them, and not just because of the weather. Most of the major cities and towns offer a wide variety of races to take part in.

Malaga is an up-and-coming hub for athletes across the globe, especially that it now hosts an annual marathon inDecember, as well as a couple of half-marathons and several 10 and 5ks in different parts of the city. The Seville Marathon is also popular with visiting runners from other countries.

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Though the summer months are tougher due to the soaring temperatures, that doesn’t deter athletes. The extreme heat means that there are unique competitions held across the region during the night, which is a good change of scenery compared to the early-morning events.

One of the more interesting night races is the trail event that takes place behind the steep slopes of the Alhambra fortress, in Granada. Held in June, runners race through an 11 or 17km trail that offers stunning nighttime views of one of the most incredible pieces of Islamic architecture in the world.

Best of both worlds

Granada is also home to the Sierra Nevada mountains, which is where the highest peak on mainland Spain can be found. With around two dozen peaks reaching over 3,000 metres, the mountain range is the perfect place to put on your skis on and descend the over 100 kilometres of alpine skiing routes.

But to the west of the most visited Sierra Nevada ski resort is Puerto de la Ragua, a popular centre for cross-country skiing. And these snowy mountains are also very close to the coast, with just an hour-long car journey to one of the beaches on Granada’s Costa Tropical or the Almeria coastline.

And that’s part of the charm Andalucía has to offer: you can start your day off skiing before heading to the beach in the afternoon following a short trip.

Though the Mediterranean offers good spots to go diving, and despite water sports enthusiasts going to its beaches to take up any of the surfing variations, the area’s go-to body of water has to be the Atlantic Ocean.

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Cadiz province is famous not only for its incredible white beaches, but also for its surf culture. The consistent wind that comes off the Atlantic fuels the waves that surfers, kitesurfers and windsurfers can only dream of. Tarifa in particular is considered to be the mecca for Spanish surfers, and it’s also been the host of countless local, regional, national and international competitions.

And if you’re really up for a gruelling experience that combines different sports, Andalucía isn’t short of triathlons to put yourself to the test. Each province has its own unique type, conditioned by the surrounding nature and infrastructure. Marbella hosts a half Ironman every year, so it’s a very attractive option for those looking to combine an extremely tough challenge with a beautiful destination to relax in after completing the exhausting race.