Known for its seaside hubs and glorious sunshine, the Costa del Sol is the ultimate Spanish beach holiday destination. Step away from the crowds however and a world of cultural sights await, just waiting to be discovered.
Home of the Infanta Catalina
Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, is widely known for that very reason. Her childhood however, was spent among the spectacular moorish palaces of Andalusia. Head up to the beautiful Granada to wander the grounds of the incredible Alhambra palace. captivating details from ornately adorned archways to meandering courtyards fit for royalty. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the fountain-lined spaces will take your breath away and are something you will never forget.
Quick Tip: This place gets quite busy during the summer months, so travel out of season or book inadvance to ensure you are not disappointed.
Sat near to the entrance is a lovely street full of pretty shops and eateries. It’s the perfect place to purchase a myriad of fans on a hot day and other unique take-homes. My favourite spot is the reatsuarant opposite. Just up a flower-strewn staircase, the restaurant has a lovely garden setting and delicious food to enjoy either before or after your visit.
Find Your Zen
As you pass by on the highway, you might spot a golden spire breaking up the endless blue of the ocean vistas. Park up to explore and you will find a zen Buddhist temple and courtyard overlooking spectacular views. Find inspiration among the gently fluttering incribed buntin or step inside for serene silance. Towering on high in calming white stone, the Stupa of Enlightenment temple feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the seafront tapas bars in the area. Just across the road lives another lovely sight.
The butterfly park encapsulates a peaceful setting complete with a variety of life forms from reptilian wanderers to winged beauties including, of course, the wide selection of butterflies it is home to, The tropical oasis within is a refreshing alternative to long beach days with plenty to see.
Peer Out From Spectacular Heights
Make the journey along hair-raising cliff-sides to the incredible heights of Ronda with the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Puente Nuevo bridge. Looking like something that would be at home in the Elvish kingdoms of the Lord of the Rings, this jaw-dropping sight is worth viewing from both angles. Take the steep steps right the way down to the bottom to view the bridge in its full glory from below before taking a walk across the top to see just how far down it goes.
Connecting the two sections of the town across the mammoth El Tajo chasm, the bridge itself (along with its smaller cousins alongside) is a sight and a half. Wander through the cobbled streets of the town for a beautiful glimpse of Spanish life in this ancient town with beautiful plazas and more to explore. Wander charming gardens, stop for traditional tapas or sip on thick hot chocolate you won’t find anywhere else in the lovely cafés that line the side streets.
Quick Tip: If you are staying in any of the main towns or seaside resorts a frequent bus service will transport you from the bus terminal to a variety of places including the gibraltar border (la linea) to Ronda.
A vibrant white-washed village perched in the Andalusian mountains, Mijas sits at around 1,476ft above sea level with incredible views to match. One of the more unusual attractions of this Spanish village is the donkey taxi service you’ll see around the streets.
Given its distance from the beachfront, Mijas has managed to maintain much of the traditional Andalusian way of life with charming spots to relax in around every corner along with the usual hand-made wares. Stop for churros and chocolate in the square or head along to the Ermita de la Virgen de la Peña for some of the best views.
Quick Tip: Mijas shares its name with cala de Mijas, a seaside town, head to Mijas Pueblo and you wont go far wrong.
Find Somewhere New
From the spectacularly ornate Alcázar castle of Sevilla, Andalusia’s regional capital to the small hillside towns such as Ojen, southern Spain has some true treasures to discover around every corner. There’s always a party in Andalusia so take your pick of the Ferias for a fun-filled insight into Spanish lives. The Malaga Feria is one of the biggest and can get quite busy but it’s definitely worth the visit along with some pretty wowing views if you manage to make the climb to the top of the hill!
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