It’s so tempting to just have a “fly and flop” holiday, glued to the sun lounger soaking up those reliable southern Spanish rays, but with over 160 kilometres of coastline there’s more to the Costa del Sol than initially meets the eye.
Marbella may be charming and buzzing with life, but there are other jewels worth unearthing along the coast with more golf courses per head than anywhere else, and a fantastic selection of timeshare resorts to stay at.
Here are some of the parts of the coast worth reaching next time you’re booked to go!
You might have seen the road sign but if you haven’t been to the Castillo Monumento Calomares in Benalmadena, you’re in for quite a surprise.
This elaborate, almost surreal “castle” is a tribute to the life of Christopher Columbus – in fact it’s the largest monument dedicated to him. Take a journey inside, through the life of one of history’s most famous seafaring pioneers…or if you’d rather enjoy the sunshine, wander the gardens and marvel at the architecture. It’s hard to pin down a particular style, it’s almost like something out of a fairytale, a mix of Byzantine, Romanesque, Mudejar and Gothic!
If you saw the Jamie Does… TV series, you’ll remember Ronda from the Andalucia programme. Jamie’s right – this is a dramatic, scenic destination with its steep gorge bridged by the Puente Nuevo. You can see all the way over the Serrania de Ronda mountains from here – this was one of Ernest Heminway’s favourite towns. The bullring is legendary and so is the food – there’s a Michelin restaurant here and a fair sprinkling of tapas bars and bakeries so you won’t need to pack a picnic, you’d be better of soaking up the atmosphere at lunchtime in one of the local cafes.
Not surprisingly, Ronda is the No. 1 attraction on the Costa del Sol on TripAdvisor – it has to be seen to be believed, there’s nowhere like it and it’s a short drive up into the hills from Marbella.
If discovering white-washed villages is your idea of bliss on a warm afternoon, you’ll want to add Arriate, north of Ronda, to your list. It’s home to award-winning restaurant El Muelle, and the views over the Sierra de Grazelama Mountains are fantastic. Go before the sun sets for the best experience.
Malaga’s sea cave La Cueva del Tesoro (the Treasure Cave) is one of the least-known attractions in this region – and one of the oldest! They date back to the Neolithic period (2,000 – 10,000 BC). Carved naturally by the constantly lapping waves, they’re called “Treasure” caves because local legend has it that there’s hidden treasure in there from Malaga’s Arab era back in the 12th century.
So many people pass through Malaga in the summer, but how many of them get to go to the Kelipe Centro de Arte Flamenco? Flamenco runs through the veins of Andalucians, it’s the beating heart of their artistic culture. Located in the historic centre of Malaga, this centre is the place to experience the fire and passion of this dance form – mark this one in your diary, it’s a great night out.