Places Of Interest In Costa Del Sol

Those visitors who never leave the coastal strip will never appreciate that famous slogan ‘Spain is different’ run by the Spanish tourist office for many years.

The Costa del Sol is a diverse region steeped in history and rich in culture and tradition that it deserves to be explored and enjoyed.

By travelling a mere 10 miles inland to a rural village or town, even the casual visitor will begin to feel that he or she ‘is abroad’ and by going further afield to one of Andalucia's provincial capitals, the feeling will be stronger and the reward greater.

Caves of Nerja The wonderful Caves of Nerja in Maro Village are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. They are set in the slopes of the Sierra Almijara mountains and stretch for over 3 miles. Paintings over 20,000 years old, along with stalactites, can be found, whilst classical concerts are held here in the summer.

Balcon de Europa The Balcon de Europa is the focal point of Nerja town, and formerly a fortress designed to keep out British pirates. Today it offers spectacular views up and down the coastline. It’s a hive of activity and completely pedestrianised, as are the adjoining streets and is lined with cafes, restaurants and ice cream parlours.

Granada Granada is best explored on foot and has its Moorish past evident at every turn.

Any visitor will be impressed with the breathtaking snow capped Sierra Nevada, the magnificent Alhambra, the old Moorish quarter of Albaicin with its maze of narrow steep cobbled streets and elegant villas and the famous Sacromonte Abbey, high up on the hill, its gypsy caves and flamenco sounds.

The centre is full of historical buildings of great interest and beauty and a visit to this hospitable city should be on your itinerary.

From Malaga take the N331 following signs to Granada and exit on to A92.

Alhambra Becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984, the Alhambra Palace in Granada has become one of the most popular monuments in Spain, attracting well over a million visitors every year. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortification.

Frigiliana Frigiliana, located 4 miles from Nerja, is one of the picturesque ‘white villages’ with a maze of cobbled streets and whitewashed houses. Set on a hillside, there are many viewpoints offering views of the surrounding countryside towards the coast.

Cordoba Cordoba is a city in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia, best known for La Mezquita, an impresive mosque dating from 784 AD, featuring a columned prayer hall and older Byzantine mosaic. It was also an important Roman city and a major Islamic center in the Middle Ages.

Antequera Located in the centre of a rich and fertile plain, 28 miles inland, Antequera dates back to prehistoric times and its subsequent history is marked by a profusion of remains including dolmens, located in a park to the west of town, Roman baths, a Moorish castle, Gothic churches and Renaissance fountains.

For those with a sweet tooth, buy delicious pastries from the nuns at the Convento de las Descalzas, from just inside its entrance.

The town is attractive, hilly and interesting and the surrounding countryside including La Peña de los Enamorados, and El Torcal are also worth visiting.

Take the N331 north of Malaga.

Alora Located in the lush green valley of the Guadalhorce valley as it meanders south to the coast, Alora borders the lovely Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park on its western side and was once home to Cervantes.

Its ruined Moorish castle shadows the picturesque town of white houses and steep narrow streets, lemon trees and an impressive 17thc church of the ncarnacion. Alora’s economy comes mainly from agriculture and there is a lively street market on Mondays. Combine Alora with a trip to the lakes (reservoirs) just to the north.

Take the A357 from Malaga to Cartama, the M402 to Pizarra and the A343 to Alora.

Golf Hotel Atalaya Park The Golf Hotel & Resort Atalaya Park is situated on the beach in the very heart of the Costa del Sol between Estepona and Marbella with San Pedro de Alcantara also nearby. This lovely offers a good choice of restaurants and bars together with diverse watersports, tennis, golfing and diving activities.

El Chorro El Chorro Gorge is one of Andalucia’s natural wonders found north west of Alora where three lakes are dammed across a 200m high river gorge.

Built in 1921 and opened by King Alfonso XIII there was originally a walkway called the Camino del Rey, a catwalk clinging to the sides of the gorge, but this is now closed for repairs.

Drive across the dam to reach the lakes where there are several good restaurants and plenty of space for sunbathing, picnics and swimming.

Take the A357 from Malaga, via Cartama and Pizarrra, the A343 To Alora, turning left at Alora for El Chorro.

El Torcal Places of outstanding beauty surround Antequera. El Torcal, 8 miles away is a unique natural beauty spot and designated a Natural Park.

1483 yards at its highest point with grey limestone shaped by weather conditions over the centuries, it is a haven for wildlife and a huge variety of wildflowers such as orchid, peonies and dwarf irises.

Bird watchers flock to see the Booted and Short Toed Eagles and many other species as well as the abundance of reptiles including the rare green eyed lizard. The keen naturalist can follow trails and there is a visitors centre.

From Malaga take the N331 to Antequera and follow signs.

Ojen A winding road climbs through spectacular countryside with breathtaking views over the Sierra Blanca arriving at the white village of Ojen.

The whitewashed walls and steep narrow streets are evidence of the Moorish influence and with around 2000 inhabitants, it has retained its charm.

Best explore Ojen on foot, visiting the 17thc parish church of the Encarnacion in the Plaza de Andalucia, built on the site of a mosque, the remains of a 10th c castle and the caves located in Calle Cuevas.

Finally a tasty tapa and local wine in a traditional bar would go down well.

Take the A355 inland from Marbella to Ojen.

Las Nieves Natural Park Sometimes, during the winter there are snowy peaks in the lovely Sierra de la Nieves Natural Park.

Located just north of Marbella and bordering Ronda to the west, El Burgo to the north and Yunquera and Tolox to the east, it was declared a Natural Park in 1989 and covers an area of exceptional ecological richness and beauty.

It boasts a wide variety of flora, in particular, the rare pinsapo, and on lower slopes, cork and evergreen oaks, chestnut and algarrbo.

Many species of protected animals live here, notably the wild cat and the Spanish royal eagle.

From N340 take the A376 San Pedro to Ronda road.

Ronda Ronda is one of Andalucia’s most visited inland towns with its famous deep gorge and historical old town. The Puente Nuevo – new bridge – joins the old Moorish town and the newer, El Mercadillo parts of the city, and is arguably one of Ronda’s most famous landmarks.

Benahavis The pretty village of Benahavis, located 4 ½ miles inland, is justifiably known as the centre of gastronomy.

It has the highest concentration of restaurants in the area and visitors come from all over the region to enjoy the cuisine.

The streets are narrow so leave the car at the entrance and explore this picturesque village on foot.

The ruins of the llthc Moorish fortress of Montemayor nearby deserve a visit and also La Aldea, the village within the village itself built by a local British sculptor has antique and craft shops with a true Andalucian feel.

West of San Pedro take the MA547 to Benahavis.

Seville Seville, Andalucia’s capital, is famous for its flamenco, beautiful buildings and oranges. You can immerse yourself in culture or simply sample tapas in pleasant surroundings. There’s plenty of things to do and see. Its historic centre is a fabulous mix of palaces, baroque churches and winding medieval lanes to explore. Impressively, the Gothic Seville Cathedral houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

Casares Legend has it that Julius Ceasar bathed in the sulphurous waters of Casares, one of the most picturesque white villages in breathtaking scenery, 9 ½ miles inland from the Costa del Sol.

The road up is good but narrow and rounding a bend you will be greeted by a fabulous view of the Moorish village and its fortress.

Stroll around and savour its steep cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, the hilltop fortress, the 16thc church of the Encarnacion and the 17thc Church of San Sebastian.

Good traditional tapas bars too.

Reach Casares via the MA 546 inland, between Estepona and Manilva.

Gaucin Gaucin is a beautiful mountain village between the Ronda hills and the Cadiz Sierra with outstanding views down to Gibraltar and the Rif Mountains.

Of Roman and Moorish origins, there are many remnants of its turbulent history notably its magnificent Castillo del Aguila, an Arab fortress where the occasional concert is held.

The baroque 18th c convent of the Carmelitas Descalzas and the 16thc renaissance temple should also be visited. The Algeciras to Ronda railway has a stop here and is a charming way of visiting the village and enjoying the breathtaking surrounding countryside.

From the N340 at La Duquesa take the A377 to Gaucin.

Jimena de la Frontera Located in the province of Cadiz and one of the main towns of the Sierra is Jimena de la Frontera, another hilltop village which notably remained under Moorish rule for the longest time.

Its castle, restored by the Christians in the 15th c is amongst the best preserved in the region, particularly the triple arched gateway.

The narrow steep streets are enchanting and worth exploring. Visit the gothic Misericordia church and the baroque Coronada church with its collection of images. The 15th c Franciscan Convent is also worth a visit.

From Guadiaro, west of Sotogrande take the CA513 and the A369 to Jimena.

Arcos de la Frontera Archetype of the ‘white villages’ Arcos de la Frontera is a site of Roman, Visigoth and Arab settlements whose magnificent old quarter has been declared to be of historical and artistic interest.

Perched on top of a high ridge overlooking the Guadalete River, the views are impressive. The narrow stepped and cobbled streets of whitewashed buildings and the tinkling fountains in quaint plazas where the elderly locals sit and chat are bathed in sunlight.

Don’t miss the llthc Arabic walls and castle and the 15th Gothic Mudejar church of Santa Maria.

From Puerto Duquesa, take A377 to Gaucin, A369 to Jimena and C331 to Arcos.

Gibraltar Gibraltar has a fascinating history and probably a colourful future – who knows!

The border with Spain was shut for 13 years from 1969, during and after the death of the dictator, General Franco, with Spain pursuing her claim to the Rock.

Nevertheless, it is a welcoming destination with a mix of Arabic, Spanish and British influences with plenty of history and sights to see.

Don’t miss the Great Seige Tunnels built in 1782, the views from the cable car and the endearing colony of apes that will steal your wallet with a swish of their tail.

With dolphin trips and good duty free shopping, take your passport and enjoy.

Jerez Jerez de la Frontera is famous for its sweet wines and the word ‘frontera’ relates to frontier between the Moorish and Christian kingdoms that once stood there.

Jerez is also famed for its horsemanship and in May, a fabulous Horse Fair is celebrated in the city.

The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art is also based in the city where visitors can see spectacular equestrian ballet and dressage displays. The bodegas, of which there are many, also open to the public for visits and tastings.

Historically, Jerez is fascinating which is reflected in its fine buildings and monuments.

From Algeciras take direction Jerez via Los Barrios.

Tarifa Known as the ‘windy city’, Tarifa’s atlantic coastline and sandy beaches situated at Europe’s southernmost point provide some of the best windsurfing conditions in Europe.

This unspoilt area of Tarifa attracts nature lovers too and sports facilities such as horse riding, hang-gliding, and kite-surfing are first class.

The town of Tarifa dating from 711 has Moorish origins and the restored city walls are clearly visible. There is also a fabulous indoor market selling all kinds of produce that should not be missed neither should the church, castle, museum or the many tapas bars and moorish restaurants .

Reach Tarifa on the N340 west of Algeciras.

Cadiz Cadiz has the reputation of being the oldest inhabited city in Europe that was founded over 3000 years ago.

It is now a seafaring and trading town that appears as an island after passing through the old city gate, La Tierra, to cross the long strip of land which joins Cadiz to the continent.

The city is now a popular port of call for cruise ships and celebrates an acclaimed Carnival in February.

There are many interesting sights, including the baroque cathedral and the neo-classical Oratory of San Felipe de Neri as well as the tightly crammed streets of the old city centre scattered with churches, and pretty squares,

Malaga Compared to the hustle and bustle and cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Costa del Sol holiday resorts , Malaga is a very "Andalucian " city. The vast majority of holidaymakers pick up their hire car , venture no further than Malaga Airport and give the city itself a wide berth and in doing so they are missing a true opportunity to mix with the Andalucian people and see how life goes on.

Historically, Malaga dates back to the Phoenicians. It was then occupied by the Romans and afterwards the Moors occupied the city from the eighth century until 1487 when during the re-conquest, the Christians retook Malaga after a long and very bloody battle. The most recent fighting took place during the Spanish Civil War between 1936-1939 when the city, by supporting the Republican cause, was severely bombed by the Italians who had come to the aid of Franco's Nationalist side.

Anybody wishing to explore the city on their villa holiday , should do it on foot. Most of the sights are centred on Malaga's old quarter which is a maze of narrow cobbled streets and found around the cathedral, park and bullring areas. Most of the sights have a Moorish flavour but the discovery of a Roman theatre close to the Alcazaba has been very exciting.

Visit a traditional Spanish tapas bar. Visit the port and take a boat trip around the harbour. Shop at El Corte Ingles or better still in the little old fashioned shops in the old quarter. Hop on a bus up to the castle overlooking the city for fabulous views of the city and coast and finally spoil yourself with a drink at the adjacent Parador. Malaga Cathedral is also worth visiting on your holiday to Costa del Sol . It was built in the 16th century and is nicknamed 'La Manquita', the one-armed lady, due to one of the two towers never having been completed.

Paseo del Parque One of the most charming areas of the city is this wide tree lined avenue that was built at the end of the 19th century reclaimed land. In fact, the Palacio de Aduana was once on the water’s edge but the park now houses the city’s botanical garden which is one of the largest tropical and subtropical enclaves in Europe with around 160 different species of plants and trees. Take a stroll and enjoy some of the city’s interesting architecture such as the old post office, the art nouveau ayuntamiento (town hall) and the Italian Renaissance Genovese fountain at the eastern end.

Museo de Artes y Tradicones This is perhaps the most fascinating museum in Malaga, housed on two floors with an attractive central cobbled patio and fountain. It was originally a 17th century inn known as the ‘Meson de la Victoria’ and the stables and lodging rooms are nowadays used to house examples of furniture, arts and crafts, costumes, boats, carriages, winemaking and agricultural implements and replica rooms from different periods. The museum is found in Calle Pasillo Santa Isabel 10, behind the central market close to the river Guadalmedina.

The Alcazaba Alcazaba means Moorish Fortress and its original structure built on the site of a Roman fort dates back to the 8th century although much of what you see today belongs to the llth century. It is the most visited monument in Malaga and has been lovingly restored over the past few year. Look out for the Puerta del Cristo (Christ’s Door) where the first mass was held after the Reconquest. Enjoy attractive gardens with fountains, the small palace which now houses the Archeological Museum and wonderful panoramic views over the harbour and city.

The Roman Theatre Dating from Augustus and found by accident in the 1950’s during excavation to extend the Casa de la Cultura, the theatre took precedence and after many years it was well restored and is now used as an auditorium for outdoor events. Located in Calle Alcazabilla close to the Paseo del Parque and next to the Alcazaba.

Malaga Cathedral The cathedral in Malaga is worth visiting and although it is not one of the most beautiful buildings, it has character. It is fondly known as La Manquita, the one armed lady, because one of the towers has never been completed. Construction began in the 16th c and continued until the 18th c accounting for the interesting combination of architectural styles. Exceptional is the 17th c choir with the famous sculptor Pedro de Mena responsible for 40 of the 58 carved wooden figures. Noteworthy too are the magnificent organs dating from 1871.

Malaga market The Mercado Atarazanas is found in the busy centre of Malaga just north of the Alameda. It’s a fabulous indoor food market where the visitor can really soak up the atmosphere of the daily life of the Malagueño. Before you enter, however, look up at the 14thc Moorish arch located on the southern façade that was built for Yusuf 1 of Granada when Malaga was once part of the Nasrid kingdom. The building you see today was built in the 19thc in Mudejar style but In Moorish times an arsenal stood here.

Concepcion Gardens La Concepcion is considered the most beautiful and important tropical gardens in Spain and one of the best in Europe. It was created by Amalia Heredia Livermore in 1850 and a visit will prove unforgettable. While visiting, you will have the sensation of being deep inside a tropical forest even though all around are the parched hills of Andalucia. Populated by perennial tropical plants a visit at any time of the year is rewarding. Take the Malaga ring road, direction for Antequera and watch for signs on the right side near a petrol station and restaurant

Picasso Foundation The Casa Natal de Picasso is the celebrated artist’s birthplace in an imposing and elegant house in one corner of Malaga’s traditional Plaza de la Merced. The house was declared an historic monument in 1983 and has recently became the headquarters of the Picasso Foundation. It is not a gallery but more of a cultural centre, where visitors will be able to see memorabilia and documentation relating to the most famous son of Malaga. The Picasso museum has been opened in the Palacio Buenavista where many of the artists paintings and other works are housed.

La Carihuela From Torremolinos, its attractive Paseo Maritimo extends west to the traditional old fishing village of La Carihuela which is a charming area of whitewashed old houses in narrow cobbled streets that has managed to retain its ‘spanishness’ despite attracting thousands of visitors eager to savour its reputation for the excellent fish and seafood restaurants on the sea front. Once upon a time these restaurants were right on the beach and called ‘chiringuitos’ but these days a fine promenade separates them from a fine safe beach with good facilities. At weekends these restaurants are packed with Spanish people who flock from the city.

El Ranchito Horse Show If you don’t have the opportunity to see the dancing horses in Jerez, you can visit an impressive version in Torremolinos. The enjoyable weekly show includes displays of dressage, elegant exercises with the rider dismounted, groups of Spanish horses moving to the rhythm of traditional Andalucian music and riders wearing the colourful costumes normally seen at the famous Andalucian fairs. The Rhythm on Horse show is a real equestrian ballet and a recommended experience for all horse lovers.

El Torcal National Park The Torcal National Park is based around a massive craggy limestone mountain moulded into spectacular shapes by weather conditions over the centuries and dating from Jurassic times. Spring or summer are the best times to visit the peak, and at 1639 metres, you are greeted with breathtaking views across the province. Lots of flora and fauna to enjoy and maybe a chance sighting of a rare short toed eagle. Reach the park from Malaga on the N331 road to Antequera, or if you want the real scenic route then turn off onto the MA424 via Villanueva de la Concepcion.

Colmares Castle This unusual creation is located on the outskirts of the village on the twisting road that leads down to the N340 coast road. The fairy tale style castle is set in lovely grounds and was built by an eccentric back in the 70’s to commemorate the achievements of Christopher Columbus and has remained a firm attraction ever since. In the same area is the Jardin de las Aguilas, the eagle garden where under the supervision of expert handlers, these majestic creatures and other birds of prey perform with regular displays throughout the day – fascinating indeed.

Cable car Starting from outside the Tivoli Amusement Park in Arroyo de la Miel, on Benalmadena Costa you can enjoy the thrill of a 9 minute ride in a 4 person car to the upper station on the Calamorra mountain at 724 metres above sea level. Views from the top are breathtaking along the coast and across to Gibraltar and Morocco. There are refreshment facilities and donkey rides for the youngsters and if you are wearing strong enough shoes you can climb up a little further for that extra viewpoint.

Muro gardens These beautiful gardens are located next to the Santo Domingo Church on the outskirts of the village off the twisting road down to the coast. It is a really peaceful spot and the tropical gardens of unusual plants are a must for any garden lover. The gardens are perched up high and can be reached via a lift from the parking area set just off the road.

Benalmadena Puerto Benalmadena in Costa del Sol is just 19 kms from Malaga airport and has the privileged position of overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The area is split into three distinct areas: Benalmadena Pueblo (the old village), Arroyo de la Miel (the town centre) and Benalmadena Costa (the coastal area with hotels, beaches, nightlife and the marina) The picturesque 'white village' of Benalmadena located in the Sierra de Mijas is Benalmadena's original settlement long before the development of land near the coast. This Spanish village retains its white buildings which show vestiges of ancient civilisations that settled on this land over the centuries. Benalmadena Pueblo (the Old Village) is always popular with visitors to Costa del Sol who come to stroll and enjoy the sights. Our Villa Nicole is a large villa with private pool to rent at Torremuelle, a pleasant residential area 3¾ miles east of Fuengirola on Benalmadena Costa. The beach and local facilities are a short stroll away from this villa rental. Casa Mi Sueno, a 3 bedroom villa for rent at La Capellania is inland from Benalmadena Costa. Fuengirola is 5 miles west of this Spanish villa and the beach and villages of Mijas and Benalmadena are a short drive away. For those who enjoy relaxing on holiday with a round of golf then Torrequebrada Golf Course is within driving distance of these two Costa del Sol villas. Also if you enjoy tennis on yourvilla holiday, several hotels have courts and equipment for hire. A car is essential for these two private villas, and can offer competitive rates for car hire which must be booked in the U.K. before yourvilla holiday. Banalmadena Pueblo has a lot of interest for those on holiday in Costa del Sol.

Sea Life Benalmadena For thousands of years the lost city of Atlantis has been one of the world’s great mysteries. Here at Sea Life in Benalmadena port you can join Plato to explore the fabulous Temple of Poseidon overlooking the legendary city itself. Now the home to sharks and many exotic and beautiful tropical fish you will be fascinated by the world of sea life. Boasting the biggest shark collection in Europe with over 20 species Sea Life campaigns hard for shark conservation. A thrilling and enjoyable day out for all the family.

Torrequebrada Casino Located on the N340 coast road on Benalmadena Costa between Fuengirola and Torremolinos, the Torrequebrada Casino is part of the 5* Hotel of the same name. Here, over 18’s can enjoy American Roulette, French Roulette, Black Jack, Punto Banco and Poker. There is also a Slot Machine hall and a classical grill room offering fine Mediterranean cuisine. With a table reservation there is free entrance to the Casino and under the same roof is the Sala Fortuna a popular venue for extravagant international floor shows, flamenco and dancing to live bands.

Fuengirola Cosmopolitan Fuengirola is a big, busy, sophisticated Spanish seaside town that is hugely popular with visitors who are particularly keen on the resort’s whopping eight kilometres of sandy beach. There is a full range of water sports to choose from, plenty of sun loungers and parasols to add a degree of comfort, and some attractive little chiringuitos – beach shacks – serving fresh food and cold drinks to keep you going till the evening. The holiday resort offers great shopping and dining, the attractive yacht-filled marina is a great spot for both these activities as well as watching the Beautiful People at play. There are theme parks and water parks in the area, and one of the best of these is Tivoli World. Part show, part vast amusement park, this makes a big day out in a beautiful setting. It is a world within a world with its own currency, a train to help you get around, and more than forty rides as well as go-karts, bumper cars and Tiny Town for tots. There are three purpose-built theatres with mini discos, magic shows and very popular flamenco shows throughout the day – great when you need a rest!

Fuengirola Zoo This new zoo, called Bioparc Fuengirola has created different zones with tropical planting, waterfalls and a river to reflect the natural habitats of the animals you can view there. Watch the Nile crocodiles basking in the sun and chimpanzees playing in the trees as well as Sumatra tigers, leopards, hippos, turtles, kangaroos and much more. In July and August, the zoo stays open until 11PM so you can see the animals who are at their most active at dusk. Guided tours in English are available.

Cartujano Horse Show The Finca Cartujano puts on a weekly unique spectacle showing the visitor the dance and elegance of the pure blooded Spanish carthusian horse with examples of dressage and ballet with traditional Spanish costumes and Andalucian music. Conveniently found in Camino Campanales 71, by taking the Coin road opposite the Fuengirola Aquapark inland and turning right at the Venta La Morena.

Fuengirola Castle High on a hill at the western end of Fuengirola is the Castillo Sohail dating from the 10th century. When the Christians took the town during the Reconquest in 1485 it was destroyed and rebuilt in 1730. Extensive renovations have taken place over the past couple of centuries and the building you see today is used mainly for concerts and exhibitions. Gardens have been laid on the surrounding area and there is an attractive path through a wooded area up to the top from where there are panoramic views out to sea and over Fuengirola town.

Mijas Costa The 8 miles of coastline known as Mijas Costa is ideal if you are mad keen on water sports, from the simple pedalo to the fast moving jet ski and everything inbetween. It’s also a great spot for golfers, with La Cala Golf, Santana Golf, El Chapparral and Mijas Golf all nearby and awaiting your call! If you head inland and upwards, you will find the white-washed village of Mijas Pueblo on the mountainside. From here on a clear day – and most days are – there are stunning views across the Costa del Sol, Gibraltar, the Atlas Mountains and over to the African coastline. For a family day out, try the Parque Acuatico Mijas, a small but perfectly formed water park that is ideal for young children.

La Cala de Mijas and Riviera del Sol The municipality of Mijas is one of the largest in the Province of Malaga. It is divided into three urban areas, one of these is the seaside town of La Cala de Mijas. "Cala" means bay, and this is a bay surrounded by a charming fishing town that has managed to hang on to its traditions and its "Spanishness". The streets are narrow, with small shops and whitewashed houses and the elderly residents still sit outside their homes chatting to neighbours, a traditional Spanish pastime but something seen less and less these days. During the summer, the population swells considerably – it is a popular holiday resort in the Costa Del Sol with many of the Spanish people themselves, renting their beachside properties as holiday homes. The beaches are clean and safe with pedaloes, sun beds and shades for hire and a tree lined beach promenade complete with stylish lighting and wrought iron benches. The promenade has recently been extended and provides a lovely walk overlooking the beach wth many attractive bars and restaurants with views out to sea. The best place to park your hire car is on the main street and then walk down any of the side streets to the sea. An impressive look out tower in the middle of the town reminds us of its historical past. There is a large, colourful open market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. For those who like to relax on their villa holiday with a game of golf, Miraflores Golf Club is located in the hills of Mijas Costa.

Riviera del Sol Riviera del Sol is one of the expanding residential areas off N340 coast road which also has good access to the inland A7 toll motorway. This urbanisation, made up of wide avenues and small cul de sacs with spacious villas, town houses and low rise blocks of apartments is always popular with holidaymakers and provides an excellent choice of restaurants, bars, small shops and a twice weekly street market close by. The beach is reached via an underpass and golfers can enjoy the Miraflores Golf complex which is adjacent.

Marbella The Marbella area has no less than 24 beaches, and most of them have at least one chiringuito or beach shack to keep you supplied with cold drinks and good, simple, fresh food, such as the famous espeto - delicious charcoal-grilled sardines served on skewers. The town has grown dramatically and little remains of the fishing village it once was. Today upmarket boutiques and high-class restaurants line wide, elegant boulevards, ideal for strolling. A lot of the town is quietly residential, with thousands of up-market holiday villas and apartments for its temporary summer residents. On the other hand, Marbella is one of the most famous places in Europe for its glamorous and stylish bars and clubs.

Plaza de los Naranjos The Plaza de los Naranjos is in the centre of Marbella’s old town. A delightful spot, shaded by orange trees, it is a traditional meeting place and is architecturally interesting with the lovely Casa del Coregidor completed in 1552, a Renaissance fountain dating from 1504 and the 14th century Ermita de Santiago on the southwest corner. Collect a map at the tourist office in the 16th century Town Hall and enjoy a drink or a meal at one of the many bars and restaurants while wathing the world go by.

Parque Arroyo de la Represa This pleasant park is quite close to the old town of Marbella and worth a visit after exploring the interesting streets that surround it. Made up of terraced gardens and lakes it offers plenty of shade and comfort during the heat of the day. The Bonsai museum is located in this park. Nearest parking would be Plaza de la Victoria in the old town.

Marbella old town The old town, known as the ‘casco antiguo’ is located within the perimeter set by Avenida Ramon y Cajal, and the smaller streets of Huerta Chica, Peral, Solano, Portada, Arte and Avenida Nabeul. It is a fascinating area, a maze of narrow cobbled streets lined with whitewashed houses, shops, bars and restaurants that are worth exploring. Several interesting museums are housed here as well as remains of the castle and town walls and the imposing church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnacion, dating from the 16thc in the Plaza de la Iglesia.

Marbella Club Hotel This luxury hotel is situated on the famous Golden Mile, the stretch between Puerto Banus and Marbella. It was founded by Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe of Liechtenstein, nephew of a Spanish aristocrat, who set up a small beach complex to attract the jet set to Marbella in its early days as a resort. This complex eventually became the Marbella Club Hotel, and with its elegance and wonderful sports facilities set in beautiful gardens leading down to the sea, it is no wonder that it boasts celebrities and royalty amongst its clientele.

Avenida del Mar The Avenida del Mar is recently developed thoroughfare in the centre of Marbella leading down from the lovely old Alameda Park close to the Casco Antiguo near to the Paseo Maritimo. It is wide and attractively tree lined with flowers and fountains. Look out for the collection of sculptures cast from moulds by Salvador Dali to be found in the avenida and take a break at one of the shady spots under the trees. There is a public car park in Avenida del Mar, perfect for exploring the old town and seafront.

Bonsai Museum If you are interested in these Japanese style miniature trees then head for the Bonsai museum located in the delightful Arroyo de la Represa Park close to Marbella’s old town. It is the only one in Spain and has a magnificent collection of trees, claimed to be one of the best in Europe. It is a private collection and tended lovingly by its owner Miguel Angel Garcia.

Puerto Banus Puerto Banus, six kilometres away from downtown Marbella, is estimated to attract 4,400,000 visitors a year. It is a millionaire’s playground with the ultra-chic marina as its focal point. Marbella’s world-famous port continues to attract the jet-set, so if you enjoy celebrity-watching as a sport just take a front row seat at one of the waterside cafés, and be prepared to pay quite a lot for your coffee. (You will need a copy of Hello magazine for last minute swotting.) The marina has berths for 915 boats, some of which belong to the world’s wealthiest people. Don’t expect a Happy Hour at any bar round here! Puerto Banus is Marbella´s answer to the Champs Élysées, and home to the biggest names in fashion such as Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Armani, Prada, Valentino and Jimmy Choo. The high end shopping is matched by luxury apartments, night clubs, piano bars and gourmet restaurants. To get away from it all, boat trips to various destinations are available from the central promenade.

Hotel Andalucia Plaza An imposing and attractive 4* hotel located just of the N340 coast road in between Puerto Banus and San Pedro de Alcantara, set in the fashionable residential area known as Nueva Andalucia. It has spacious public rooms and a very attractive marble ground floor lounge and coffee shop area where snacks and afternoon tea are served to non residents. Set in lovely gardens with an underpass down to the beach, it has two pools and boasts a famous casino.

Andalucia Plaza Casino This popular casino, located underneath the Hotel Andalucia Plaza in Nueva Andalucia is open daily and offers Punto y banca, French Roulette, Stud Poker, American roulette and Black Jack. The large slot machine hall opens from midday with a wide range of machines including touch screens for Poker, Bingo and Keno. For an enjoyable evening why not dine first at the Casino restaurant for excellent international cuisine. Visitors are required to show their passports for entry into the casino, where entry is restricted to over 18.

Nueva Andalucia Nueva Andalucia is a fashionable residential area lying l mile north of Puerto Banus and 3 miles west of the elegant resort of Marbella. The whole area is set in lush green surroundings with many wide tree lined avenues, manicured gardens and attractive properties. Three very fine golf courses, those of Aloha, Los Naranjos and Las Brisas are all located to the north of Nueva Andalucia as well as being convenient for all the facilities at Puerto Banus and Marbella. Nueva Andalucia itself has several small shopping complexes particularly at Central Plaza alongside the bullring where a popular weekly flea market is held..

San Pedro de Alcantara San Pedro’s new promenade runs through the town until it meets the sea, and then along the length of the beach. This where locals come to see and be seen. It is a place to stroll and relax, especially on Sunday. If you don’t fancy barbequing lunch at the villa, between the palms, there are a few chiringuitos where you can indulge in freshly caught seafood – try sardines straight off the grill. By day, you can choose between two beaches – Playa San Pedro and Playa Cortijo Blanco, both backed by the wide prom with its cafes and bars waiting to refresh you. If you need a break from the beach, head for the central plaza and surrounding narrow streets which are packed with intriguing small independent shops, pavement cafes and bars. Or head for nearby Puerto Banus and amuse yourself sipping a cocktail whilst watching Ferraris and Lamborghinis glide by, and be glad you don’t have the problems of the mega-rich on their luxury yachts!

Refugio de Juanar The Refugio was originally a parador built on the site of an old hunting lodge, nowadays it is a privately owned hostelry with a fine restaurant. After enjoying a meal or drink here, walk or drive the 1.5 miles to the mirador which is 1000 metres above sea level from where in a dramatic mountain setting there are some breathtaking views down to Marbella and the coast. From Marbella take the A355 to Ojen, drive through the village and take a left turn to the Refugio on the MA469.

Basilica de vega de Mar ruins Nearly 200 tombs have been discovered here dating from Roman times to the early 8th c. Another ruin just along the beach in the Guadalmina urbanisation close to San Pedro is the Roman Baths and the third site is at Rio Verde close by which contains some interesting mosaics, including one of Medusa’s head with four snak,es amongst the strands of her hair and another two coiled around her neck. These ruins are all surrounded by railings but the tourist offices as San Pedro and Marbella can arrange visits.

Cueva de la Pileta This fascinating prehistoric cave is located south west of Ronda, 3 miles from the village of Benoajan. The cave was discovered in 1905 and skeletons of Paleolithic Man together with pieces of pottery dating from 25,000 BC were found. Wall paintings of deer, fish and a goat were also found and the visitor can see stalactites and stalagmites. You will be given an oil lamp because it is pitch dark and quite chilly – there is also a colony of bats in residence!

El Madronal When driving from San Pedro de Alcantara on the N340 inland to Ronda, you will pass by the attractive hillside village of La Heredia. A little further on is the luxury residential area of El Madroñal. Apart from the several popular restaurants here the views across Rio Guadalmina valley are stunning.

Guadalmina Quiet, calm Guadalmina Beach is 1,600 meters long and 30 meters wide with a swathe of thick golden sand and sparkling clear water, ideal for wind-surfing and jet-skiing. Guadalmina may be relatively modern, but it is traditional in style. It has its fair share of bars and excellent restaurants but it’s a relaxed and peaceful family-oriented place, not a party town. However, the hot night spots of Marbella and Puerto Banus are just a taxi-ride away. Guadalmina is golfing heaven, with a thirty-six hole golf course and three more great courses nearby, El Paraiso, Atalaya Golf and Monte Mayor. Within a 10 mile radius there are 12 more golf courses. Together they attract holiday golfers from all over Europe.

Guadalmina Hotel The Guadalmina Golf Hotel is a touch of luxury situated in one of the most exclusive areas of Marbella. Surrounded by fine golf courses and the sparkling blue Mediterranean, it offers excellent facilities for the golf and sports enthusiast with a lively beach club with very good facilities open to non-residents. There are tennis and paddel tennis courts, a piano bar and attractive terrace restaurant with a Sunday buffet lunch from 1.30 which is very popular with people from the Marbella area.

Benahavis Reach the picturesque village of Benahavis by taking the N340 west of San Pedro and then the MA547 inland and follow the lush valley inland for about 5 miles. Best to park at the entrance and stroll in to explore this fascinating village which is known for its gastronomy. Foreign residents almost outnumber locals here where the streets are narrow and quaint and you will find interesting shops, small plazas and fountains and most notably restaurant after restaurant. Visit La Aldea, which is a village within the village containing antique, décor and handicraft shops.

Estepona Estepona has all the key elements for a great villa holiday – including an annual 325 days of sunshine. It is a blend of traditional and modern. The bullring on the outskirts of town is modern, and so is the nightlife, but the fishermen in the port still land their catch in the early morning, and mend their nets as they have done for centuries. The old town retains the charm of the Andalucian pueblo it used to be, but with the advantage of excellent shopping and a wide range of water sports for you to try, including kayaking, jet-skis, windsurfing and scuba diving. The tree-lined promenade and beach bars are much the same as they ever were, but the restaurants serve rather more sophisticated fare these days. Despite its size and popularity, Estepona is still relatively quiet and peaceful.

Estepona Port The attractive marina is located on the western side of the town and provides moorings for both pleasure and fishing boats. The small specialist shops, and wide choice of restaurants and bars around the quayside make this a pleasant place for a stroll followed by a relaxing meal. You can watch the fishing boats land and auction off their catch and on Sundays there is a popular tourist market. At night, especially in the summer, the pubs, clubs and discos open and there is a thriving nightlife scene attracting people of all ages.

Tool Museum Located by the bullring, the Museo de Aperos is interesting because it gives an insight into rural and domestic life in years gone by. It houses all kinds of implements that were regularly used in the fishing and agricultural industry together with those of a more domestic nature when Estepona was still a very rural area.

Museum of the Sea The Museo del Mar is located in the Plaza de Los Misioneros and here you can learn about the oceans from a different perspective through a collection of shells and molluscs belonging to a private collector.

Puerto de la Duquesa This pretty marina is just off the N340 in between Estepona and Sotogrande with attractive whitewashed apartment blocks overlooking the collection of luxury yachts and cruisers and a good selection of boutiques, restaurants and bars surrounding the quayside from where you can enjoy a leisurely meal or drink.

Sotogrande Sotogrande is approximately 45 minutes from Malaga Airport and is a well-established, luxury holiday resort, just 10 minutes along the coast from Gibraltar. It is a huge urbanisation and any first time visitor to Sotogrande will be amazed by the individuality and size of the majority of the villas that line the wide tree lined avenues. Well-tended gardens surround these villas and you will be impressed at the beauty of the trees, plants and flowers. Sotogrande is one of the most luxurious sports and residential developments in Europe with a Polo Club, golf, unspoilt beaches, a world class marina, bars, restaurants and leisure centres. Road access from Sotogrande to Marbella, Malaga, Jerez, Cadiz and Seville and all along the Costa del Sol is easy by the motorway or new Toll Road. If you enjoy relaxing with a game of golf on your villa holiday, Sotogrande is home to the famous Valderrama golf course which hosts the Ryder Cup and Volvo Masters and also home to the Real Club de Golf Sotogrande. There are, however, other golf courses to visit in Costa del Sol. Sotogrande is popular with Spanish families and tourists on their villa holidays who visit during the summer to enjoy the beach, restaurants, comfortable accommodation and above all privacy that Sotogrande has to offer.

Sotogrande Marina The first important leisure harbour on entering the Mediterranean is Sotogrande which is situated on the estuary of the River Guadiaro and there is a protected marshland on the west bank of the estuary at the mouth of the river which is of particular interest to bird watchers. For those thinking of taking a boat into the harbour, the entrance width is 80 metres with a depth of 5 metres. Once inside, this picturesque marina is surrounded by up market and extremely stylish apartment blocks, you will see some impressive craft moored and there are many fine restaurants, shops and bars where you can relax and watch the world go by.

Polo Sotogrande is one of the top venues in the world for polo and here it can be played all year round. If you have never seen a match before, this is your chance because during the summer, particularly the peak month of August, tournaments are held most weekends and spectators are very welcome. Polo is a rich man’s sport since each rider needs to stable up to 10 horses which allows for a change of four horses per game who in turn need to be very fast and turn on a sixpence!

San Roque Casino The San Roque Casino is well signposted off the N340 coast road close to Sotogrande on the way to Gibraltar. Here you can enjoy Roulette, Black jack, Poker, Punto Banco and the spacious slot machine hall. In the same complex is a fine restaurant and nightclub where colourful spectaculars are put on. You are required to show your passport to gain entry to the casino where age limit is restricted to 18.

La Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park Apart from having a reputation as being one of the wettest villages in Spain, Grazalema is also one of the most delightful. Located in the province of Cadiz by taking the C339 from Ronda direction Sevilla and following signs to Grazalema, The surrounding national parklands are a haunt of nature lovers, hikers and artists. The mist can come down very quickly so beware on rainy days. Trout farming is an important industry particularly around El Bosque and also look out for the rare variety of pine, the pinsapo. You will certainly enjoy the stunning panoramic views over rugged countryside

Donana Natural Park The delta of the might river Guadalquivir at Sanlucar de Barrameda is its only outlet to the sea with the rest of the delta having been blocked by sandbanks created by the winds which have formed a natural stretch of marshland and constituting about half of the park. The Doñana national park is one of Europes most important wetlands. It provides refuge to many endangered species such as the pardel lynx and Spanish Imperial eagle it is also a natural habitat to many other species of wildlife especially around the 300,000 water birds arriving to winter there from the north,

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