Huelva is located in Andalucia in southwestern Spain and is the capital of the Huelva province. It is located on the Gulf of Cadiz and is an important port city, with a population of approximately 145,150. Huelva is one of the cities in Andalucia least-visited by tourists, but still has a lot to offer and much that is unique. There is a fair amount of industrial sprawl surrounding the city, but the centre is historic and charming. It contains beautiful plazas and parks, old churches and monasteries, museums, and many interesting streets to explore. Huelva is also situated in a remarkably scenic area of Spain, making it a great holiday destination, and the fact that it is not particularly touristy is one of its advantages.
Huelva and the rest of Andalucia are known for having a delightful climate. Summers are warm but usually not too hot, and winters are quite mild. Summer temperatures are usually between 20-28ºC/77-82ºF, and winter ones between 10-16ºC/50-60ºF. Spring and fall are typicaly pleasantly warm seasons, with some occasional cool days. There is a lot of sun in all seasons. Huelva is a bit more humid than other areas of Spain since it is near the sea.
Castilian Spanish is the official language of Spain and the version of Spanish spoken in Huelva.
Roman Catholicism is by far the most common religion in Spain, and likewise the most prevalent in Andalucia. Between 79-94% of the population declare themselves to be Catholic, though many Spaniards identify as Catholics just because they were baptized, and not because they practice the religion. Spain overall has become more secular in the last decades. Immigration in recent years has brought a steadily increasing number of Muslims to the country, who now number around 1 million and are Spain’s second largest religious group. Jews are scarce, the cause of which goes back to the expusion of the Jews in the15th century. They currently make up about 1% of the population.
The currency used in Spain is the Euro. Notes come in denominations of €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5, and the coins in use are €2, €1, € 0.50, € 0.20, € 0.10, € 0.05, € 0.02 and € 0.01.
Service charges are almost always included in bills from restaurants, but a small tip is usually expected in addition. There is no official norm on how much to tip, and it is up to the individual. The locals tend to leave quite small tips. In a restaurant, 5% is usually the maximum one would give except for outstanding service. In cafés and bars, service charges are not included, so a slightly higher percentage of tip is given, between 5-10%. It is also customary to leave small tips for the hotel staff and restroom attendants. Taxi drivers should be tipped between 10-15% of the meter price.
Taxes on purchases bought in Spain can be refunded to people who live outside of the European Union, if the purchases are over €90. This amount needs to be spent in the same shop. The shop will present you with a tax-free receipt to show to airport customs officials in order to receive the refund.
The country code of Spain is +34 and the local area code for Huelva is 959. To call Huelva from abroad, dial 00 39 959 followed by the local number. There are several good mobile networks throughout Spain, and it is usually easy to pick up a signal with a foreign mobile. International phone cards with cheap rates can be found at a variety of newsstands in Huelva.
The size of Huelva is very manageable and thus internet cafés are very rare in this town. There is one called “Ciberforo” at the Calle Mackay and one at McDonald’s.
Emergency Services: 091
Local Police: 092
Guardia Civil: 062
Fire Department: 080
Typical opening times for shops and other businesses in Huelva are Mon-Sat 9.30 am - 2 pm and 5 pm - 8 pm. Almost all shops close for about three hours in the afternoon to accomodate lunch and a siesta. The only kinds of stores that remain open are supermarkets, department stores and malls. These stores also usually stay open later, until 9 or 10 pm. On Saturdays, it is not uncommon for small shops to close early, around 2 pm. Banks and government offices are closed on Saturday.
The following days are public holidays in Spain, and means that shops and banks will be closed. Transportation may also be more limited, and taxis add a small surcharge to the bill.
· 1st January, New Years Day
· 6th January, Three Kings’ Day
· 20th March, San José Day
· Easter Thursday and Friday
· 1st May, Labour Day
· 15th August, Feast of the Assumption
· 1st November, All Saints Day
· 6th December, Constitution Day
· 8th December, Feast of the Immaculate Conception
· 25th December, Christmas
In general Huelva is a quite safe place for holidaying. Like in every city there are some things that should be considered, for instance scams and petty crimes. Especially in crowds and touristy places visitors have to be careful. As a costal port town there are some beaches in the surrounding where visitor should give special attention to their personal belongings.
The centre of Huelva is of the most interest to tourists, while the outer areas are mainly residential or industrial. The centre is fairly small, and for the most part one can see the sights by travelling around on foot. The main hub of the city is located around the Plaza de las Monjas, a square lined with palm trees near to the big shopping areas on Concepción and Berdigón streets. Branching out through the centre, the main sights include historic churches and houses, museums, a monestary and public gardens that offer a refreshing view.
Plaza de las Monjas
This plaza is located at the heart of Huelva and is a great place to start exploring the city. It is a pleasantly shady square, surrounded by palm trees with a large fountain in the middle. One of the attractions within the plaza is the Convento de las Agustinas, a 16th century convent built on the site of an old Arab graveyard. The building has been renovated several times, but two large original sections remain. These areas, the Mudéjar cloister and the Renaissance courtyard, are some of the most beautiful of the convent. In and around the square of Plaza de las Monjes are also a variety of shops and restaurants worth visiting.
La Rabida Monastery
This monastery, also known as Santa María de La Rábidía, is located just east of Huelva in the small town of La Rábida. One of its claims to fame is that Christopher Columbus and his son stayed here right before setting off to America, and it was the place where Columbus made the final plans for his journey. The monastery’s chapels contain a variety of beautiful art works, in particular the famous Virgen de los Milagros statue from the 1300s and the frescoes decorating the gatehouse. The frescoes were painted in 1930 by Daniel Vászques Díaz, one of Huelva’s prominent artists. The upper level of the monastery is an art gallery, with emphasis given to art portraying Columbus and his voyages, such as Goya’s Admiral of the Ocean among many others. Another charming area of the monastery is the Mudéjar cloister from the 15th century, next to the monks’ quarters.
Mar - July and Sept - Oct: Tues-Sun 10 am - 1 pm and 3 pm - 7 pm
Aug: Tues - Sun 10 am - 1 pm and 5 pm - 8 pm
Nov - Feb: Tues - Sun 10 am - 1 pm and 4 pm - 6 pm
Barrio Reina Victoria
This neighbourhood, also known as Barrio Obrero, is an old worker’s district. Most of it was built around the turn of the 20th century by British architects, giving it some noticeably English characteristics. The houses were built for the workers of the Río Tinto Mining Company, and are in a mock Tudor style. The streets in the neighbourhood are lined with trees and most houses have their own rose garden. In addition to the mainly English style, some Arab and Oriental influences are present, primarily in the house façades and layout of the gardens. While not a major attraction, many tourists visit this neighbourhood for its unique blend of architectural styles and quiet atmosphere.
Iglesia de San Pedro
This is the oldest church in Huelva, built during the 15th and 16th centuries. It is situated on a hill, on a historic site that used to be a mosque and next to the ruins of a medieval fortress. The church has a beautiful and ornate interior, constructed in the mudejar style. There is a carved artesanado ceiling with decorative 17th century crosspieces, and three grand naves separated by arches. The tower was badly damaged during an earthquake in the 18th century, and subsequently rebuilt by the architect Pedro de Silva. He was resposibile for installing the belfry with its blue and white tiled spire and ornate detailing. The church faces the Plaza San Pedro, and just to the north is a wooded hill, the Cabezo de San Pedro. From the top of the hill, one is rewarded with a beautiful view of the city.
Mo - Sun 10 am - 12.30 pm and 6.30 pm - 8 pm
Catedral de la Merced
This church is the most magnificent in Huelva, and one of the best examples of Spanish Baroque architecture in the south. The cathedral’s outer walls are bright pink, with a grand Baroque façade, and the interior contains a lot of bright white marble. The building used to be the church for a nearby convent, the Convento de la Merced, and was only made a cathedral in 1953. It has had to withstand three major earthquakes over the years, and as a result has been extensively renovated in 1765 and 1696. Noteworthy items within the church are the 17th century statue of the Virgin of Cinta, Huelva’s patron saint, oil paintings by Herrera el Viejo and the ornately-carved 17th century wooded pulpit.
Mon - Sat 7 pm, Sun and holidays 11 am, 12 pm and 7 pm
Jardines de Muelle
These are the best-kept gardens in Huelva and very lovely, but not exactly a quiet and reflective place, due to the busy roads and bus station in the area. The gardens are also located next to the River Odiel. There are many varieties of tropical trees and shrubs growing here, as well as beautiful tended flower beds. The gardens are home to well-known statue of Alonso Sánchez, the man who preceded Columbus in attempts to explore the Americas.
El Conquero and Parque Moret
These are two adjacent parks in Huelva, on either side of the Avenida Manuel Siurot. Typical of the city’s parks, they have a somewhat neglected appearance, but are still worth visiting for the open space and great views that they offer. From the elevation of the parks, one can see a wonderful view of the Odiel estuary. Parque Moret also contains a large woodland area, including fruit trees and communal gardens along one of its edges.
Doñana National Park
The edge of this immense national park begins about 16 kilometers southeast of Huelva, but is well worth a day trip out of the city, especially for nature lovers. The park is over 1,300 square kilometers in total and extends out of Huelva into the provinces of Sevilla and Cádiz. It is one of the most important wetland reserves in Europe, but in addition to marshlands also includes Mediterranean scrubland and coastal dunes. It is a popular place to go birdwatching as it is home to a great variety of species and a major stop for migrating birds. The park has a long history as land set aside for wildlife, and was designated as a hunting ground for the Castilian kings as early as the 13th century. Access to the park is strictly controlled, and you must enter at one of the official entrances. The main entrance at El Acebuche is the nearest to Huelva, about 45 km from the city centre, and is accessible by car and bus. The La Rocina entrance at El Rocío is not much further, about 49 km from Huelva. There are a variety of guided tours offered.
Tues - Sun 8.30 am - 6 pm
El Acebuche Tel.: +34 959 448711
El Rocío Tel +34 959 430432