Throughout Spain, Andalucía is known for the quality of its olive oil, air-cured ham, wild mushrooms, seafood and artisan cheese. Winegrowing remains at its heart too, from traditional sherry bodegas to small vineyards cultivating grapes just like the Romans did. Culture, old and modern, thrives in all its color. Old shepherd trails carry us through the beautiful countryside in our boots, quiet roads lead to hilltop villages little changed from their Arabic roots.

20 years on from creating our first trips here, we still come back year after year to discover new places to explore, new experiences to enjoy and new people to meet. It's this combination of experience and fresh eyes that makes our trips so special.

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Tapas bar hopping

According to a 2010 study, there is (or at least was) one bar or restaurant for every 129 Spaniards.

Read that number again – a bar or restaurant for every 129 people. Whether or not that number holds true over a decade later, it does prove that you simply can’t understand Spain without understanding its food.

Spanish food is an amazing melting pot, both outside its borders but also within: the ancient kingdoms that united to become Spain all having their own culinary traditions.

The one that stands out above all though is that of the tapa - a great social institution around which we can come rub shoulders with locals and graze the culinary delights of Spain.

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At night Seville's tapas bars are a hive of activity
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El Rinconcillo perhaps Seville's most iconic tapas hangout

Tapas can be practically anything, from a chunk of tuna, olives or a piece of Spanish omelette, to hot meat with sauce served in a miniature clay dish. Strictly speaking, it can be any kind of food as long as it comes out of a bar's kitchen on a small plate - so paella or cheese on toast can be tapas too. ‘Tascas’ (tapas bars) are a window into the Spanish soul and local gastronomy. To go ‘de tapeo’ is thus not only a panorama of the local cuisine, but also a fun and expedient manner in which to chat to locals.

Seville is the home of the tapa.

So while you might want to sit down for a full meal in a restaurant at lunch, what is more normal of an evening is to stroll from bar to bar, enjoying a drink and a bite to eat at each, in the Barrio Santa Cruz - the maze of narrow streets in front of the Cathedral bell tower. There are excellent tapas bars and tourist traps in equal measure, but follow your guide Davíd, our recommendations or indeed your nose and you'll likely walk into the right bar at the right time.

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Flamenco photos adorn the wall of many a tapas bar...
Spain seville sherry bottles tapas bar chris bladon
... as do bottles of sherry from Jerez

In Jerez you might spend an evening with locals in the tabancos (old wine shops), sipping sherry, eating tapas and listening to gypsies playing guitar and singing flamenco songs of pain and love. If the stars are aligned, your wine might come with a side of spontaneous flamenco dancing. Of which you can read more here.

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