Andalucia is southern-most Spain, sun baked and sultry, offering hedonistic pleasures and cultural ones in equal measure. It's possible to ski the Sierra Nevada and swim in the sea on the same day in the province of Granada and spend the next immersed in the fairytale fortress that is the Alhambra, a mix of Moorish and Catholic splendour, just one of the highlights of a stay in the city of Granada.
Then there's hedonism and culture wrapped into one during the legendary fiestas enjoyed in every city here, but perhaps most intensely in Seville and Cadiz. Both cities make super destinations for short - or long - breaks, Seville with its squares filled with orange blossom and streets lined with history; and Cadiz with all the charm of a port city and an intriguing old quarter.
Almost every city here - even the glitzy Costa del Sol playgrounds of Marbella and Malaga - enjoys an enticing old quarter with mazes of narrow winding streets rich in history. Which is no surprise really, as the entire region carries the legacy of layers of occupation over the centuries, and is indelibly stamped with a mixed Moorish and Catholic influence, as encapsulated in the Mezquita, Cordoba's old mosque with a cathedral built right at the heart of it.
Although Andalucia cities are popular for short breaks, there are so many surrounding pleasures to be enjoyed that it's worth incorporating some into a tailor-made tour of the region. Take two or even three cities, add pristine beaches and time to take in some of the splendid inland scenery - hills dotted with charming white villages, vast nature reserves - and you have the ingredients for a holiday full of cerebral culture and sensual indulgence.
Whatever combination of Andalucia you decide to sample, it will be tinged with the sounds of the guitar and flamenco, and the taste of robust intensely flavoursome cuisine. The emphasis is on fresh ingredients, rich local olive oil and deeply savoury ham and pork, fresh seafood and sun-filled tomatoes - to be found everywhere in the form of tapas, an Andalucian invention and speciality.