The weather has gotten so cold recently that you might be dreaming of sunny destinations and already planning your Spring break. If you are, and not keen to travel too far, I would recommend Andalucia. The weather in South of Spain is glorious in Spring, not too hot, just right (20 to 27 degrees in May but we went in early April last year so the weather was a bit more unpredictable although still much more enjoyable than London!). The whole region is packed with historic richness, beautiful quiet white villages, dramatic countryside landscapes. There are some amazing affordable restaurants. And of course there is Sevilla, Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada. So you can basically do whatever you fancy: farniente under the sun, sightseeing, foodie expedition, or a combination of all of that.
First, Sevilla. It is the capital city (confusingly jointly with Granada) so a proper city but with human dimensions as everything is within walking distance. In Sevilla, you want to wonder around on foot and discover the various sites at your own pace: spend half a day in the Alcazar castle and its mesmerizing gardens (the Alcazar was actually used to shoot certain scenes for the HBO TV series Games of thrones); visit the impressive Gothic cathedral in the centre where Christopher Columbus is supposed to be resting in peace (at sunset have a drink at the EME Catedral Hotel which has a series of small terraces with great views over the cathedral); get lost in the maze of narrow streets of Barrio Santa Cruz (the former Jewish quarter) and stop for a drink and/or tapas under an orange tree, remember your student years and enter the impressive University of Sevilla (founded in 1505), sit on one of the azulejos (ceramic) benches on Plaza de España, a harmonious but somewhat futuristic architectural revival of Renaissance, Moorish and Spanish styles (the nearby Oriza restaurant has a very pleasant terrace if you need to take a break as beyond there is not much until you reach back the city centre); spend a couple of hours in the Casa de Pilatos, an andalucian palace dating from the XVIth century, and sit in the shades of gigantic bougainvilleas; have a standing up tapas dinner at Sevilla's oldest bar, El Riconcillo (from 1670).
But there is also plenty to see and do outside Seville if you are staying more than a few days. A particularly stunning area is the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park where most of the 'Pueblos Blancos' are located. The most famous of these small whitewashed walls villages is Ronda, a mountaintop city divided between its old and new town by a massive gorge (El Tajo) and bridged by the incredible Puente Nuevo. It is a very captivating sight and I would highly recommend making a stop there, not least because you can also find some amazing food in Ronda at De Locos Tapas and Casa Maria for example.
Beyond Ronda, a number of other pueblos blancos are worth a detour, especially as you will get to see the very scenic countryside of Andalucia.
Among these villages, I would personally recommend Alcala del Valle, Zahara de la Sierra, and Grazalema. Visiting Ronda and other villages takes about a couple of days. So you may want to stay in the area for a few nights. If so, Cortijo el Guarda is a perfect place to stay: one of the most secluded luxury B&Bs, the rooms are very spacious, tastefully decorated, incredibly quiet. There is a pool and lovely communal areas. And Hans and Miranda, the owners, will both do their utmost best to make your stay memorable.
My other recommendations in the region would be Cadiz for a stroll along the city's bay and for the street food in the Mercado Central; Jerez but only to attend one of the horses shows at the Fundacion Real Escuela Andalucia Del Arte Ecuestre which the city (and the whole region) is famous for.
And of course, but perhaps more obvious and on the beaten track (although absolutely gorgeous too), Cordoba (and its incredible Mosque-Cathedral) and the Alhambra in Granada (the famous Moorish palace and fortress). I did not have time to go last time I was in the area so no nice pictures or recommendations to share unfortunately.
Where to stay
Seville - Hotel Palacio de Villapanes
Picturesque Andalucian Valley - Cortijo el Guarda (a 500 year old farm reconverted into a lovely Bed & Breakfast, extremely peaceful, lovely views)
Where to eat
Seville - El Riconcillo tapas bar
Seville - The Albarama which serves great fusion food on Plaza de san Francisco (easy to miss, behind the Ayuntamiento)
Seville - Oriza near the Plaza de Espana
Ronda - De Locos Tapas (hard to get a table so book in advance but don't give up, definitely worth your efforts: fantastic modern tapas from food fanatic chef Guillermo)
Ronda - Casa Maria (a family run restaurant, no menu, they will serve you what is fresh, amazing food in a very simple decor, walls covered with postcards from all over the world, make sure you are very hungry when you get there)
Cadiz - Mercado central food stalls (for informal but joyous food on the go)