ok lets try again....
First off. Granada.....the most beautiful city and wonderful place to hang out. I'd say spend much more time there than anywhere else, and the tapas are free with every drink! Everyone seems to have already said a lot about here so i won't go on about it.
I stayed in a lovely guest house called makuto. Great little place, very chilled, and clean. Only dormitories though so take some earplugs in case of snorers.
THe alpujarras are a range hills near granada, Skip Orjiva, and carry on further into the hills towards ugijar. Much more beautiful, and less hippys (unless you like that sort of thing), and generally much friendlier ( and madder) people!
Altenatively, go skiing for the day in the sierra nevada. If you are a big fan of skiing, and have been to resorts in Northern europe, it's probably best to avioid here, as the skiing is not as good. I've heard it's the most expensive resort in europe for ski passes. Hell and if you think of places in Austria where the royals go, that's saying something. Having said that, it is fun, and the slopes empty at lunch time as all the spaniards eat their extended lunch.
Malalga city has the picasso museum and a new(ish) museum of modern art, which have some very good quality exibits on view. Worth checking out, the historic old city centre is small but kind of cute. Some good bars and night life.
I personally would avoid anywhere on the malaga coast, coasta del sol, nerja. There are much much nicer places to go. For example, the Granada coast is beautiful as well, and a lot less people. especially in december. Or go along the Cadiz coast... beautiful place. A bit windy sometimes, and that's problably why it's not built up like malaga, but I love it. Tarifa is a surfers paradise, and you can see Africa from there.
seem to be getting a bit carried away here on the food front in Seville, so decided to split this into a new bit.
I live in seville. Personally, I think Seville is a bit over-rated. The tapas, for which this place is famous are generally greasy, fatty fried, and in 90% of the bars are exactly the same, you can order your food in most places without looking at the menu. There is also a lack of seating in a lot of bars. Most spaniards like to eat standing up.. I hate it! not all the places listed below have a lot of seating, but i think these are pretty much the only places worth visiting in seville. Don't bother with restaurants unless they are pizza places. Traditional restaurants don't give you anything more that you could get at half the price in a tapas bar, and often the food is not as good.
Barrio Santa Cruz
First off somewhere typical.
Bodega Santa Cruz, or Las Columnas, depending on which sign you want to read. Whatever, it has a few columns on the front. It's on Mateos Gago (most of the time you don't need to say Calle (street), just the name), just behind the cathedral. you would think it would be a tourist trap type of place like all the other bars in the area, but it's actually full of locals too. Good traditional tapas, and no inflated prices. It gets very busy so you'll probably be standing.
Don't sit outside for a coffee in the restaurant directly on the square behind the cathedral unless you want to pay €3 a shot (normal price €1)!
There is a little hotel just off this square on Don Remondo. you can go to the roof terrace for a coffee in the afternoon, after 3pm i think, or in the evening after 9pm. It's not too expensive and the views of the giralda and the cathedral are worth it.
On calle Santa maria La Blanca there is a tapas bar called Cava de Europa, probably the best tapas in town, they also have friendly and efficient staff ( a rare sight in seville. see my not below). It is a bit more expensive, but worth it.
There is a new place called Duplex. I've only been once, but i seemed a good place. Modern tapas and seems to be a bit more experimental. Again a bit more expensive, but not wildly so.
Next area to try is in the Alameda
There are hundreds of bars in this area, or you can just buy something from the shops and drink it in the street like thousands of others in a phenomenon called the "Botellona". But PLEASE, put your rubbish in the bim after....ok so no one else does, but that's my point.
There are some good places to eat around here. First off
Casa Paco on the Alameda de Hurcules does a roaring trade. Best to get there when the kitchen opens though (9pm for dinner), or late (around midnight) as by 10pm it's heaving and the quality of service and tapas and sizes of the tapas go downhill when it's busy. The only thing here is that the Ensalada de gamba (literally: Prawn salad, but prawn cocktail to you and me) is just that. Gamba, singular. Gone are the days when it had more than one solitary gamba in a tapas! It seems to have turned into a fruit salad with lettuce and marie rose sauce.
Naranja. Is a modern resaurant with some very interesting ideas (and prices). The food and service is best when the owner is there. (a chap called Fabian from Argentina). When he's not, things tend to slip (you just can't get the staff these days). Having said that, the food is genrerally excellent.
Madraza is on Calle Peris Menceta gets rave reviews from people, though i think it's a bit over-rated. I resent paying good money in restaurants for food that comes out of a tin, you may like it though, and after 4 years they may have finally repaired the door so that people sitting in the restaurant don't freeze their socks off while eating cos it doesn't shut properly. Then again maybe the staff still don't give a damn what you think, after all you are only a customer.
Don't be put off by the appearance of Ambigu (or the waiter with a kevin keegan style perm). It may look like a typical dump, with it's lack of shadows inside (these Sevillanos just love having flouresent strip lights in their restaurants..such ambiance! Apparently it's because they want to see the food properly. Really. I'm not joking. And there's us thinking that all you needed was a candle). Anyway, choose stuff from the specials rather than the normal menu, which is fairly bog standard.
near the Alameda there are a few places i'd recommend.
Eslava on Calle Eslava, near plaza San Lorenzo. Great service, friendly, interesting well prepared foood, and very, very busy. You can get a table at the back if you put your name on the waiting list behind the bar.
Alcoy 10, is on the corner of Alcoy and Teodosio. Some interesting modern tapas and good specials.
Just round the corner from there is San Lorenzo on Marques de la mina, (you can see it from Alcoy 10). Traditional, but good stuff. I think they do paella on sunday afternoons as well.
(A word about paella: there are plenty of places that sell paella from a company called paellador. You will see the signs. these are not the real thing...they are factory made, frozen and sold to gullible tourists, and not fit for human consupmtion!).
One more place to mention is Antigua casa Ovidio on Calle de Hernán Cortes. Lots of pictures of Semaña Santa, very traditional, but i like it. no menu, they tell you what they have that day. Some good stuff there, try the chorizo crillolo (i think that's how you spell it). Basically a white chorizo, very tasty, but lots of other stuff there.
Thinking of traditional places, Rinconcillo on calle Girona and near Plaza de los treceros. It is the oldest bar in seville allegedly. Go there for the Jamon and the cheese, and the cold cuts of meat, go for the atmosphere, go cos it is the oldest bar in Seville, but don't go there for the food. A friend of my girlfriend is from the family that own this place, and the only time i get decent protions and acceptable food is when i go with her, otherwise, over rated, and generally poor quality and a pricy for what you get. The Jamon and cheese however are the best you can get. Oh and you can't sit down unless you go to the restaurant, and that has very bright lights and you know how i hate that!
There is also Las Columnas on Plaza Cristo de Burgos, just round the corner from Rinconcillo. Cheap cheerful and very busy. Expect to wait for a while to get a table (don't forget to get your name on the blackboard). Alternatively, eat at the bar. Good wholesome food.
Finally....(I really didn't mean for this to go on so long!)... for going out, as well as the alameda, there are lots of bars and life around plaza de Alfalfa, including a little place on Calle Huelva called chiringito. You dit outside on benches, huddled round a coal brazier, and if you're lucky you'll get some good "real" flamenco, or just some good chat otherwise.
Carbonaria on Levies also has some good flamenco, from ten(ish) onwards. It is an institution, and seems to be packed with (mostly american) foreigners, but don't let that put you off. Great place to hang out and listen to live (free) music.
Calle Betis overlooks the river, and has some good places to go out, and some lovely views at night.
Finally, and i am going there tomorrow night!, Elefunk on Calle Adriano is about the only place to go where there is decent music to dance to...well there may be others, but i haven't found them yet. Most places seem to play a mixture of Pop idol style pap or spanish europop, and trust me you don't want to dance to that!
A quick(ish) word on wait staff and service.
The wait staff are on the whole rude and about as unhelpful as possible. This is partly cos no-one ever taught them to multi-task so instead of taking a order and then cleaning a few tables before taking the drinks order back to the bar and kitchen carrying dirty plates at the same time waiters will on seeing you want to order. First go back to the bar to get an order pad, then come and take your order (assuming they don't forget en route), then take your order as quickly as possible (don't forget they are very busy), if you don't rattle out your order like a machine gun, the waiter will run away with what he has. Likewise, if you pause to take a breath this means that you have finished telling him your order so he will walk away...without checking of course that everything is correct. Then he will go back to the kitchen, walking past the dirty plates piling up. Then he will come back and collect the plates, go back to the kitchen, come out with half your drinks, which your friends will have finished before yours arrive owing to the fact that he was so busy he didn't have time to bring you the rest. Oh and it's all your fault for coming to his bar.
Ok, so it isn't quite as bad as that...well it can be but not all the time. There are some very friendly wait staff, but don't expect to get the kind of service i would expect in the UK, USA or France for example.
Well i hope this helps! may put this as a separate new topic since it's soooo long!
I wouldn't miss Malaga. Although I have never been there, friends and clients say wonderful things about the city. It's close to the sea, nice city with great food. Museo Picasso, the Cathedral and the Gibralfaro Castle are a must there.
Regarding Nerja, which somebody has mentioned. There are some caves close to the town that you can visit, but this is mostly a summer resort (more lively from april to October more or less), so, as far as I am concerned I wouldn't swith Malaga for Nerja.
Ronda as they have already told you is a must. Since you are travelling in Winter you could try skiing in Sierra Nevada, a massive ski resort close to Granada.
In Granada, apart from the Alhambra do not miss the Cathedral (you can visit there were the catholic king and queen of spain are buried. Royal Chapel) and the Albahicin quarter, very cosy and traditional. If you want to enter the Alhambra you should book your tickets in advance with a credit card. For more information check out this web page: http://www.alhambratickets.com
If you have enough time I would take a day trip to Cádiz, down south from Seville. Or Úbeda & Baeza, to close-one-to-another towns in the province of Jaén, north to Granada.
If you need further info you can write me anytime!
Has anyone visited Malaga on 28th Dec for Fiesta Mayor de Verdiales before? This is the first time I go to Spain and Malaga. And anyone know where I can join the festival? Thanks.