May 28th, 2012
Perhaps you´re planning to spend a couple of week this Summer on the famous Costa del Sol? Good choice! A seaside holiday with all the attractions of Spain´s sunny South coast – you´re guaranteed a great time. Have you hired a car too? Then make the most of it by taking an away day or two inland – an afternoon or a full day away from Málaga and the coastal resorts – see what this area of Spain wears underneath it´s sunny holiday jacket!
Close to Home
Exploring the rest of this lovely part of Andalucía is great fun, and you´ll always discover something surprising and different, Spain has so much to offer the traveller for 2012. Don´t forget to take a day to get to know Málaga itself too – it´s not just for arrivals and departures!
Too many visitors think of just the airport when there´s heaps to discover, and the Old Town is especially characteristic. Meet up at the Picasso Museum, see the Cathedral with it´s fabulous façade, the Roman Amphitheatre, the city´s well planted parks, the Port – one of the oldest in the world – not forgetting the elegant shops and atmospheric restaurants and café bars for a cool beer or a sweet sherry…
- Malaga harbour
Say `allo to Álora
My husband and son recently had half a day to kill before making their way to the airport so caught the new train out to Álora, just 40kms from Málaga. It´s a hilltop white village and the gateway to the Garganta del Chorro gorge. They say if you do take the train then watch out for the hundreds of Cranes at the side of the track – birds, not building! A hilly and winding Moorish town, with a large church – 17th century and actually the largest in the province of Málaga. The whole village is topped off by the romantic ruins of a ruined castle.
The flamenco of Málaga – Málagueno – originated here in Álora – and a special flamenco festival is held here every June – so you may be just in time! Musicians come from all over Spain and take part – so, go on…shake a leg!
Stay a while after the music has stopped and choose a place to rent in Álora from this list here…
Have a Gin in Ojén
Just a short 8kms drive from the posh yachts and jet set of Marbella, spend an afternoon wandering around Ojén. Nestled in the hills at 200 metres above sea level behind the playground of the rich and famous, this village once belonged to the Moors - it´s name in Arabic means `bitter´. But bitter it is most definitely not, and once supplied the world with the anise liqueur Aguardiente - literally firewater.
Staying on the alcohol route, close to Ojén in the neighboring Sierras was once also the home to the wealthy Larios family,who had their hunting lodge there. They were an influential family that moved to Málaga from the Rioja region, producing first textiles, then sugar cane and of course, my favourite tipple….Gin. Mmm….cheers!
Break for dinner in Benahavís
Often referred to as the Dining Room of the Costa del Sol, you´ll find Benahavís again just 8kms from the coast, you´ll know you´re getting close as your stomach rumbles…!
A mountain village it might be, and strategically placed, but there´s nothing plain about the fare on offer,this is serious dining country. Renowned for the amount of restaurants, don´t expect a bargain lunch, the amount of golf clubs and proximity to Marbella generally mean that caviar rather than chips are possibly on the menu in the grander establishments. But there are good value Spanish fare restaurants too, indeed Indian, French and Italian all make an appearance – give them all a go if you are feeling flush.
We have no less than 11 lovely properties here in Benahavís on the menu for you to choose from…if you possibly can! Can´t you just see yourself stretching out here…?
Say cheese in Casares
Best pose please – well, this is one of the most photographed villages in all of the country – so remember the camera when you pop up for the day from the coast.
25 kms up from the coast at Estepona, enjoy jostling with the hordes of tourists who travel here en masse to Casares during the Summer to capture on film – well, on digital camera anyway – the tumbling white houses set into the hillside – little craft shops and art galleries compete for your custom. Admire the Moorish castle atop the village from a restaurant with a view – but don´t do as we did and try and drive to the top unless you have the skills of Alonso – extremely narrow streets and guaranteed thrills and screams!
If you happen to have had too much Gin and firewater in the previous villages – then you will do well to remember that Julius Caesar was cured here of a liver complaint – he took the remedy from the sulfuric waters….perhaps one to remember if you overdo it…
A village with a view – Gaucín
Travel 64 kms in from Marbella to visit gorgeous Gaucín. Another white village, surrounded by a patchwork quilt of farmed fields of cereals – the pretty drive takes you to this interesting location with narrow streets and twisting alleys leading to the sharply rising summit – topped by the Castillo de Aguila.
Stand at the top for rewarding views to the coast and the Rock of Gibraltar sharply rising from the sparkling sea. Feeling lucky? On a clear day your camera lens can capture the Rif Mountains of North Africa. Nestled against the mountain range of Sierra del Hacho, the village name can be translated from the Arabic Strong Rock.
So remember to explore further than your front door when you visit the stunning Costa del Sol this Summer – these are just a taster of all of the villages you can hope to discover in this area…Don´tforget to foray into the Montes of Málaga where you can experience the flora and fauna of Andalucía as well as more of the traditional villages and taste the local food. Learn to cook it too – Lynsey Drake close to Colmenar serves up cooking courses for all levels – perfect your Paella skills and she also runs a pop up restaurant - she´ll come to your chosen place in the sun and cook right there for you and your guests...you just sit back and relax…..well, you are on holiday!