Huelva tucked in the South-west corner of Spain has been called the “Secret Coast” by Huelva tourism, popular with nature lovers and foodies Huelva is otherwise not on the radar of most other holiday-makers. The lesser-known status, beaches, amazing food and natural parks is the appeal of Huelva, and what makes Huelva worth a visit.

Check out the top things to do in Huelva!

I happened across Huelva really by chance. With direct flights starting up from Dresden, Germany, where we were living, to Faro in Portugal I cast a net to find a home exchange opportunity within a few hours from the airport. A family in Huelva with 2 children of a similar age were our match and we were introduced to the gastronomic delights, beautiful beaches and hospitality of the region.

With locals to advise me I got to experience the best things to do and what to see in Huelva, top attractions, the best beaches, hidden gems and of course the best local food to eat.

Spain Holiday in Huelva old town buildings


Huelva is the name of the city and the surrounding province with Andalusia being the region (also home to beautiful Seville). Sitting on the confluence of the Odiel and Tinto rivers Huelva is an active port. The industrial port means Huelva is far down the list of beautiful cities in Spain but the charming cobbled old town and beauty of the surrounding province with its beaches and natural parks make up for the aesthetics of the centre.

Sitting on the Costa de la Luz, the “Coast of light” the sparkling waters and wide clean beaches will have you coming back.

Huelva can be reached from either Seville airport to the North East or Faro Airport across in Portugal to the West.

For another of our favourite Spanish destinations check out Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.


  1. Where to see Flamingo in Huelva
  2. Wildlife and Bird spotting at Donana National Park
  3. Christopher Columbus sites in Huelva
  4. What to Eat in Huelva
  5. Wharf walk in Huelva
  6. The best beaches in Huelva
  7. Daytrip from Huelva to Portugal


Across the river from the town of Huelva you will find the Natural Park of Marisa del Odiel. This is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Salt plains indicate Human input in this area and somehow the balance has been achieved that still along the bird life to thrive, so much so that the park has been granted Biosphere reserve status by UNESCO. At the entrance to the park, you will find the small visitors centre with an exhibition about the park itself (all in Spanish but easy to interpret the visual media), friendly staff then showed us the best places to see Flamingo and other seabirds.

Bird-watching is many of the things to do in Huelva in SpainWe look a 10minute walk to one of the observation huts, we had borrowed binoculars from our home exchange family, we were able to stand in the shade and watch the Flamingo move across the marsh in unison heads coming up and down as they walked and fed in the shallow water.  I had never seen Flamingo in the wild and had never had a particular interest in these birds but seeing them in nature, with their bright pink under feathers and moving with such grace, hardly rippling the water with each step, it was a very memorable moment, we loved it so much we even went back the following day to watch them a bit more.


The largest Nature reserve in the area is Parque Nacional de Donana, due to forest fires we didn’t make it there. a 20-minute drive from Huelva town and 1 hour from Seville. Donana is made up of marsh, lagoon, river and beach, there is a wide Variety of animal life in Donana. Many migratory birds nest here or stop on the journey between Europe and Africa. It is a great place to see flamingo and it is also possible to see lynx, deer and wild boar. Since the park is so large it is recommended to join a tour which should be arranged ahead of time


Many of Huelvas attractions are focused on Christopher Columbus. Huelva is also the place where Christopher Columbus or Cristóbal Colón (as he is known in Spain) planned his trip to the Americas. There is a monument to Christopher Columbus in the old town on Plaza de la Monjas.One of the Attractions in Huelva is the Christopher Columbus sites and landmarks.

The La Rabida Monastery is where Christopher Columbus resided in 1490 while he was waiting for financial backing for his plans to discover the new world. There is a museum which gives information on the voyage to the new world as well as the life of Christopher Columbus. The Monastery is surrounded by beautiful botanical gardens with exotic plant specimens and a manmade lake.

At Muelle de las Carabelas (Wharf of the Caravels) you can see replicas of the 3 ships which discovered America moored in the sand. The Niña, Pinta and Santa María were built to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery. Most people are surprised how small the ships are, it is possible to board the ships and there is a small museum and video display.

Christopher Columbus facts for kids. 


Huelva is also known for its food and is the Gastronomic capital of Spain in 2017. Sitting on the coast of course seafood such as clams, white prawns, seabass and cuttlefish feature heavily on menus. Look out for these regional specialities, guisos marineros de rape (monkfish stews), corvina (sea bass), adobos de pescado (marinated fish), pez espada (swordfish), chocos fritos (fried cuttlefish), fideos con caballa (noodles and mackerel), raya en pimentón (skate in paprika), salmorejo (Andalucian tomato and bread soup).

If you don’t want to leave the beach you can enjoy fresh seafood, cold beer and cocktails at the many “Chiringuitos” along the coast, kids will love being able to dine with their feet in the sand.

Recipe for Chilled Andalucian Tomato Soup 

A must try while you are in Huelva is the Iberian ham, dried and cured for more than a year, it has an earthy flavour. The locals are very passionate about the ham and you can find it in many stores and restaurants, there was whole counter dedicated to it even just at the local supermarket. What to eat in Huelva? Iberian Ham is delicious.Heulva Gastronomic capital of Spain known for its Iberian Ham.


The Muelle del Tinto pier is over 1km long and was built in the 1870’s at a wharf to allow shipping of the minerals which were being mined in the area. Over the last few decades the pier has been rehabilitated and declared a monument of cultural significance. Now it is not in commercial use, but visitors can walk, bike or fish on the wharf and it serves as an extension of the waterfront promenade area. Landmark and attraction in Huelva Muelle del Tinto a large wharf.


Huelva is a popular area for Spanish tourists to visit but with its lack of high rise resorts the British and European package tourists have not ventured into this area. This makes it a great place to visit for those that like a more laid-back holiday and dare I say it “like a local” experiences.

Don’t get me wrong, the best beaches in Huelva can get busy in the Summer when the locals escape to the seaside for the weekend. But with 120km of wide sandy coast line it is easy to find quiet beach and a patch of sand to call your own.

The sea temperature is a few degrees warmer than the chilly Algarve coast in nearby Portugal and more refreshing than the Mediterranean which gets too warm for my liking in mid-summer.What are the best beaches in HuelvaHere are my top picks for the best beaches in Huelva:

  • Punta Umbria

  • Playa de la Ria

  • Playa El Portil

  • Playa de la Bota

  • Playa de la Mata Negra and Los Enebrales

  • Playa El Espigon

  • Playa San Miguel

  • Playa El Rompido

  • Playa la Fletcha

  • Playa de Rompeculos


Punta Umbria, the largest seaside town on the coast of Huelva is popular in the summer months with visitors from the nearby inland towns and Seville. The beach here sits on a peninsula and the sea extends up into the estuary. The blue flag beach has fine clean sand. There are restaurants and a vibrant nightlife.


On the other side of the small peninsula is Playa De La Ria, this is an estuary beach and good for small children especially if it windy on the main beach. Be cautious though as on an outgoing tide there will be a strong current where the water deepens.


At only 40m wide Playa El Portil is one of the narrowest beaches in the area however it makes up for it in length at 3.6km long. The beach has all the usual facilities you will need such as cafes, toilets, showers and lifeguard patrols.


Playa de La Bota can be one of the busiest beaches in the summer since it is one of the easiest to access from Huelva. The beach is accessed via the biking and walking paths that run parallel to it. It has cafes, lifeguards, showers and toilets. There can be strong currents here, so children should swim between the flags.


Mata Negra BEACH is one of the quietest beaches in this area since it doesn’t have facilities like the other beaches, it is reached through the Los Enebrales Natural park, stick to the boardwalk as there are endangered fauna here.


El Espigon beach is access through the Las Marismas del Odiel wetland area, head to the information centre and then keep driving straight for another 15-20 minutes. There are several access points to the beach, there are no facilities here, you won’t have the beach to yourself in the summer, but it is relatively quiet.


Further west you will find the sandy estuary beaches of the Rio Piedras protected by a long sand spit. Perfect for water sports or paddling with children.


El Rompido is an urban beach with 1km of golden sand. There are showers, toilets and lifeguards with cafes and restaurants found in the nearby township.


La Flecha is a beach on the sand spit opposite the town of El Rompido. You can catch a small ferry called a ‘Flechamar Dos’ from the Marina in El Rompido. When you disembark on the spit walk across boardwalk #3 which will take you to the ocean side. ‘Flechamar Uno’ takes visitors to a quieter section of the beach but with a longer walk across the dunes. Take plenty of water and food and be sure to check the Ferry times for the return trip.


Sitting on the edge of the Donana National park Play de Rompeculos is accessed via a gentle boardwalk when the cliffs that tower about the beach part. Secluded and clean it is a beautiful stretch of beach.

Paddle boarding and watersports are a fun activity in Huelva


It is easy to jump in the car and head across to Portugal for a daytrip from Huelva. A visit to Tavira with its white washed houses, cobbled streets and Moorish architecture gives a good taste of Portugal. Take the short boat ride to Tavira Island a long sandspit which shelters the city from the sea. Beach side restaurants overlooking the fine white sand beach and serving traditional Portuguese seafood dishes make a perfect spot for a long lunch.

Tavira Island Portugal. A great family destination on the Algarve. Beaches,

So with beaches, historical landmarks, amazing food, fun things to do for free and with family Huelva won’t remain a secret for long. Have you had a holiday in Huelva? Please let me know in the comments.

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Called the secret Spanish coast by the local tourist board Huelva is an undiscovered heaven for gastronomic travellers, beach goers and nature lovers. Spains gastronomic capital with long wide sometimes deserted beaches and abundant birdlife in the UNESCO protected national park make Huelva an upcoming destination. Checkout what you can do in Huelva, click through to read more about this hidden gem. #beach #vacation #europe #travel #food


  1. Ruth Dalzell Reply

    Hi I just visited Huelva for three nights as part of a trip to Portugal and Spain. We stayed in an apartment near the Cathedral so we were very central for restsurants etc. We can’t really decide how much we really liked it. It’s plus points were the nice friendly people, the lovely plaza de Monjas where most of the events on the city were centred around. We were there on Halloween and for the procession on Nov 2nd carrying the statue of the virgin Mary through the streets with drums and music which was great to see . We had pretty good food too. We visited the museum and art gallery 👍, the monastery at Rabida 👍and the replica Columbus ships . The English quarter 👎, not worth a visit, Punta Umbria nice beach but not much to see there, the Rio Tinto 👍 pier, Mazagon along the coast which had a nice beach and a pkeasant Parador wherewe had lunch. There were lots of horrendous smelly industrial and petro chemical sites on the outskirts of Huelva leading down to the Marismas and the beaches that were a bit off putting.The architecture in Huelva was A bit uninspiring apart from one or two squares and a few streets.There was the usual grafitti and unfortunately a rather drainy smell in most places probably due to the heavy rain that had preceeded our visit . All in all worth a visit but I think I’ll try Seville next time.

  2. Hi Kaylie,
    Thanks for all this very useful information. Looking forward to my trip. We are going to stay in Punta Umbria and flying in to Faro Airport on a Sunday morning. The taxi and shuttle services look very expensive and buses on a Sunday are quite far apart. I was wondering if you have any tips for a reasonable way to get to Punta Umbria from Faro Airport. Also, transport ideas for going for a day trip to Seville from Punta Unbria? Thanks in advance.

    • Kaylie Reply

      I used a shuttle service, I agree it was a bit expensive but better than the bus. I would also consider hiring a car.

  3. Kevin Wedd Reply

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog .Thank you for taking the time to write it. My partner and i are travelling to the area in September 2019 and your article has been a great source of information.

    • My sister lived in Huelva for many years,So I’ve stayed there many times.Even had a few hols in Punta umbria.Which is a beautiful place.My favourite time was May.Chirngito,s on every corner.Music and bands in Victoria park.

  4. Theresa McManus Reply

    We are heading to Huelva in a few days, am I right in thinking it is a good place to buy shoes and boots?

    • Kaylie Reply

      There are a reasonable amount of shops in the main centre, but not as many options as larger cities.

  5. Erica Lee Garcia Reply

    Thanks so much for the post! My family and I are going to be in Huelva for 4 weeks while I am on a work assignment, and reading this overview got me very excited. We leave next week! Hurray!

    • Kaylie Reply

      Thanks for reading Erica, enjoy your time and let me know if you find any other fun activities while you are in the area.

  6. Very interesting as we are visiting Huelva right now from OUT YE GO Leisure Club. We enjoyed a delicious anniversary meal yesterday! Today we are heading down to the waterfront To explore. Kris

    • Kaylie Reply

      I’m so glad you are enjoying the food, what a great time of year to visit as well. Let me know what else you end up doing in Huelva. Happy Travels

    • Maureen Johnson Reply

      Hi. We have a house in Martagina, slightly off the beaten track not far from Soto Grande and Torreguadiaro. We have friends joining us for a trip to Huelva. You mentioned you had found some great places to sample the food (We love sea food) and am wondering if you could share some of them with us. We have been before but were staying in the Parador nearby, unfortunately not the best experience.
      I enjoyed reading your blog.
      Thank you!


      • Kaylie Reply

        Our most memorable meal was at Restaurante Miramar on Punta Umbria beach. The chilled tomato soup, octopus and breaded sardines were amazing.

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