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Top 10 free and natural places to visit near Malaga with children

Over 15,000 km², or nearly one fifth, of Andalucia's surface area is protected natural park. The largest proportion of any autonomous region in Spain.

The diversity and richness of its landscape is just staggering. This natural beauty, coupled with over 300 days of sunshine a year, make Andalucia an authentic paradise for people who love the outdoors.

Here are 10 of our favourite family excursions. This list could have been a lot longer. There are just so many beautiful things to see and do. The others I had in mind will be saved for possible parts II and III.

All the activities selected have all been tried and tested with young children in tow. Every last one of them makes an unforgettable day out for the whole family. They take place within areas of outstanding natural beauty and are open to the general public.

Although free in the sense that access is unrestricted, if you don't own the equipment, you may need to rent it, recommended places to rent kayaks and bicycles are listed by following the respective links under each activity. The Nerja caves are the only ones that charge an entrance fee. All of these places are within a two hour drive from the centre of Malaga.  

We hope you enjoy these experiences as much as we did and appreciate the invaluable importance and tremendous fragility of this local environment. Please respect it, conservation deserves all the efforts we can give it. 

Sea Kayaking in Maro 

Sea kayaking from Burriana beach in Nerja to Maro is an exceptional journey through the Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo natural area. Waterfalls, hidden beaches, crystal clear waters and some of the most pristine coastline on offer. Do it, you won’t be disappointed.

For more information on sea kayaking from Burriana beach to Maro

Walking the hanging bridges of Monachil

Always a big hit with the family. A real Indiana Jones day out. The hanging bridges will leave a lasting impression, as will the waterfalls, the river pools, the caves and tunnels and the exceptionally beautiful countryside. 

For more information on the hanging bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil, Granada

Swimming in Bermejales lake

Bermejales lake is a man-made reservoir. A big one. The lake has a circumference of 28km. The water quality is amazing. Very clean and warm. It is almost like swimming in bath water. The lake is also filled with fish. Canoeing, sailing, pedalos, cycling…you name it. Every outdoor activity is catered for.  

For more information on Bermejales lake

River pools at La Resinera

The river pools are situated within the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park, near the village of Fornes, very close to Bermejales. They form near the source of one of the cleanest rivers in Andalucia – the Rio Cebollón. Looking for an unbeatable picnic spot? This is it. There's also some great hiking around here.

For more information on the river pools at La Resinera

Discovering the El Torcal Natural Reserve

Dinosaur country. The whole area was under the sea some 100 million years ago. Fossils are continually being found, all amongst some of the most striking karst formations in Europe. Rock formations with names like the sphinx, the jug, the camel and the screw. Your children’s imagination will run wild spotting them. There are three set routes within the reserve, from green to red. Bring a picnic and spend a fantastic day out exploring.  

For more information on El Torcal natural reserve

Cycling the Via Verde de la Sierra

The Via Verde de la Sierra runs from the village of Olvera to Puerto Serrano. It was voted as the best Greenway in Europe in 2009 and came in second place for 'Excellence' in 2013. You cycle through tunnels of varying length, across bridges and viaducts, through lush valleys, along river banks, through meadows and fields and past some of Andalucia's most carefully protected natural monuments, including the home of Europe’s largest colony of nesting griffon vultures.

For more information on cycling the Via Verde de la Sierra

Walking in Alhama de Granada

Alhama de Granada is a place that has inspired poets and travellers alike throughout the centuries. The romantic traveller Teofilo Gautier summed up its existence as ‘hanging on an enormous rock or peak like an eagle's nest.’ The name Alhama is derived from the Arabic - al-hammam - meaning the thermal baths.

The gorge offers some great hiking routes, picnic spots, places for swimming in the summer months and, of course, the thermal baths.

For more information on Alhama de Granada

Birdwatching at the Guadalhorce Natural Park

The little known natural park is situated right in the centre of Malaga. A place of peace and tranquility, its very hard to believe you are only 15 minutes from Malaga’s International airport. An important ornithological spot, it's a bird watchers paradise, sitting on one of the main migration routes from Africa to Europe. There are also some great mountain biking trails and hiking routes.  

For more information on birdwatching at the Guadalhorce river estuary

Exploring the Nerja caves

One of the Costa del Sol’s most visited attractions and by anyone’s standards a natural wonder. Home to the world’s largest stalagmite and some truly awe-inspiring inner chambers. A visit should be high on any family’s to-do list. 

For more information on the Nerja caves

Walking up the Rio Chillar

One of the Costa del Sol’s classic family walks. Walking up the Rio (river) Chillar in Nerja is a summer tradition in most households.

It can get crowded on weekends throughout the summer months, but is well worth the effort. The higher you go, the more spectacular the countryside. River pools, waterfalls and nature galore.

For more information on walking up the Rio Chillar.

 

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