Thinking about buying a holiday home on the Costa del Sol in the south of Spain and imagining yourself on the beach or golf course. But there are so many other things one can do. For example there are plenty of fantastic day trips to enjoy! So much culture and exiting events! Where else can you actually ski in the morning and be on the beach in the afternoon? Or visit Africa for a day? Why not visit the Alhambra in Granada or the beautiful Seville? Here are a few of our favourite day trips on the Costa del Sol!
A day-trip to Malaga by Jennifer
Many of us who live or own a holiday home on the coast west of Malaga (Costa del Sol Occidental) rarely take the chance to visit the city itself. Many of us regard Malaga as the “airport” and just a place to get to and from to travel here or home.
Something that we as a family do from time to time is catching the train (Cercanias Renfe) to Malaga from Fuengirola. These trains run every twenty minutes and are very punctual. We sometimes book a “hostal” for the night. A simpler hotel in “Centro Historico”, the Old Town in Malaga. Here you can enjoy the pulse and city life during the evening.
We enjoy Tapas like gambas al pil-pil, jamon serrano, flamenquines and salmorejo at various restaurants. This is generally followed by cocktails on one of the fantastic rooftop terraces that several hotels offer. One of our favorites, with an incredible view of Malaga, is La Terraza Oasis, near the Carmen Thyssen Museum. For breakfast we generally enjoy “Churros con chocolate” – be sure to try one of the city’s many “Churrerias”!
La Alcazaba and El Gibralfaro
If you are a first time visitor to Malaga you may want to visit the many interesting places in the city. Mount Gibralfaro, the mountain with its two flagship monuments “La Alcazaba” and “El Gibralfaro” is a wonderful place to visit. Both if you are a tourist on the Costa del Sol or if you are living here on the coast.
You can get up the mountain in different ways. We walked up once, in the middle of July and this is perhaps not something I would recommend. There are guided electric bicycle tours which are a nice alternative if you still want to enjoy the fresh sea air. Fortunately, you can also get up by bus.
When I moved to the Costa del Sol in the early 1990 and studied Spanish in Malaga, this was a completely different city. There was hardly any infrastructure, except the train, streets were not very clean and buildings needed renovation.
Recently, incredible amounts of money have been invested in the city. For example, the port has been modernised with Muelle Uno, a long pier leading out to the cruise terminal. Muelle Uno has become an attraction in itself. It is really worth a visit as there are nice restaurants and shops along the pier, and you can enjoy watching the many luxury yachts anchored in the harbour. Over 650,000 cruise passengers land in Malaga every year and it is now Spain’s second busiest port, after Barcelona.
We see fantastic plans for the western part of Malaga, along the seafront, where Antonio Banderas and many other famous people, have invested in “Picasso Towers”. Three Miami-like buildings with luxury residences large spa, cinema, several swimming pools, shopping malls, restaurants and bars! Exciting times ahead for Malaga – don’t wait too long before visiting!
El Chorro by Leon
Several times a year and specially in summer we love to go to the El Chorro lakes to spend the day bathing and jumping from the rocks, there are several points from which we can rent pedal boats and canoes. It is located in the interior of the province of Malaga and just an hour from the coast, it is a perfect getaway from your new property near the beach.If you like camping you can spend several nights in any of the enabled campsites.
The star activity in the area is the “Caminito del Rey”, you need to buy tickets in advance and be minimally prepared for a long walk, I do not recommend it for young children as it’s a long walk. There are several restaurants and Spanish ventas in the area to eat well for little money. A perfect plan for the whole family!
El Chorro by David
If you are looking to get away for the day and still want to enjoy the sunshine and water but don’t fancy the beach, then a day trip to El Chorro is perfect.
It’s about an hour and a quarter to get there by car through beautiful countryside. Once you are there it’s as if you have arrived in the Rocky Mountains, North America !
How to get there
If you are travelling from Mijas Costa, say Calahonda, you should drive past Riviera del Sol and cut through La Cala de Mijas. Head towards Mijas Golf but instead of turning right to Mijas Golf, take the Coin / Alhaurin El Grande road. Once you pass Alhuarin El Grande follow the signs to Ardales and El Camino del Rey, that’s where you will find El Chorro.
It is a mountainous area and is made up of 3 turquoise lakes and a huge reservoir that supplies most of Malaga’s water. All surrounded by pine and oak trees. When you start to arrive there and spot the first lake the colours will take your breath away!
Most of the activity takes place around the fist area that you come to. There are small beaches, camping site and barbecues. You just need to bring you own charcoal and food (this is only between October and June due to fire hazards). You can hire a Kayak or pedal and navigate your way around the lake. To access these areas there is a small fee per person and per car which helps to keep the place tidy and maintained.
Be careful when swimming and stay near the shore as the underlying currents are strong. There is a narrow road that circles the area with a few restaurants and cabins to rent for the night.
Where to eat
There is a fantastic restaurant there called “ El Mirador “ which means “the view point” and they are not wrong. Sitting above the road on top of a tunnel bridge, it borders the lake and has an indoor part and out door part.
Choose a table outside and you will have a stunning panoramic view over the lake and hills. As I said before, the natural colours of the area will leave you gobsmacked, it’s so beautiful! You can get a starter, main course and a drink for approximately 18 euros per head. For me, that include a pepper steak in my case. It’s all typical Spanish home made cooking and is delicious!
El Chorro has been made famous by El Camino del Rey, which means the Kings Trail. It is a walkway that is highly hung on the cliff. It goes all around the gorge and above the lakes for several kilometres. This was once described as the most dangerous walkway in the world (check it out on YouTube). Over recent times it has been modernised and health and safety has been put into place. You now have to wear a harness and helmet and since these changes there is a small fee.
The easiest way to do this walk is to book in advance and maybe take one of the many organised excursions. These you can purchase from any of the coastal resorts. There is also a train tunnel that goes through the gorge which you should look out for. This is where the 1965 movie Von Ryan’s Express was filmed. Remember the scene of the train coming out of the tunnel with the “one and only” Frank Sinatra hanging off the back of the train!
This is a must do day trip or even a weekend getaway! For anybody that visits the Costa del Sol or has purchased a property here in Calahonda and is lucky enough to live in such a wonderful place.
Benahavis by Jeremy
When you want to escape the coast there are so many choices that are so close by, caves in Nerja, sailing out of Almunecar, beach day in Cabopino and son many more. When I need to escape the urbanisation’s, villas etc I grab the child and dog and head off towards Benahavis. Sunday’s there is a flea market and just above this there is a wonderful marked out walk along to old water aqueducts.
A lovely day out
The flea market is located just after the golf complex of Campanes del Golf, an open stretch of turf adjacent to the road up to Benahavis. Full of old Spanish antiques, fruit and veg and general car boot sale fare, also many stalls/can be do coffee and snacks, a fascinating array for all!
Even my dog loves it here, so many friends, kids to pay him and then there is the walk.
The aqueducts, originally used for the land, make a lovely route. To walk around and above the market below, only steep for 20 metres or so. It is very child friendly, an inspiring trot through the countryside!
There is a wooden table about half was along for picnics, but just the one so eat early! And the views and vegetation make it inspiring! About an hour to come full circle and now back to the car to seek out a “venta” (rural restaurant) for a hard earned lunch!!
Sierra Nevada by Chris
If you like skiing you are in for a treat! Sierra Nevada is only a 2,5 hour drive from Calahonda and it is my families favourite weekend destination, we enjoy the snow almost every weekend in the winter season. However it also make a fantastic day-trip if you get up early. If you plan for arrival around 8.30 – 9.00 o’clock you have time to rent equipment. Get your lift pass and enjoy the snow until closing time, at 16.45. As you reach the small village of Pradollano you can park in the parking garage right under the main square for maximum convenience.
As you take the elevator up to the square you will find lots of restaurants, a few supermarkets, and lots of ski rentals shops. So, basically the closer to the square and the lifts the higher the price of the rental. Right next to the lift a days rental can set you back 25 Euros. If you walk 300 metres to Massim Low Cost rental you can rent for 10 Euros per day!
Bear in mind this company has two locations, one in the Mont Blanc building that has normal prices and the budget shop that is a big more hidden away up the road. You will find it in the Galeria Exterior, Hotel Melia Sierra Nevada. Here is a google map link: https://goo.gl/maps/PBL3dQXUoQeedBmK6
Sierra Nevada is a great resort both for beginners and the more advances skiers and snow-boarders. For lunch in the slopes I recommend to stay away from the Borreguiles area. Go down to the pizzeria located on the root of the chairlift “Stadium” or to go down to the village. There you can enjoy lunch at the “Las Gondolas” restaurant. Good prices and good service!
Where to go
If you are a intermediate skier I recommend to use the “Stadium” chairlift. Try to stay away from the blue and green slopes by the main “Borreguiles” area. Here it can be full of beginners and the the lines can be long.
From the village there are “lifts” that reach the Borreguiles area, or you can take the chairlift called “Jara”. The “Jara” chairlift is a bit hidden and the lines are normally a lot shorter. But it is not for beginners but for intermediate and up. This is the way to go if you want to reach the “snow park” with the jumps and half-pipe.
For the experts the best place is the area of “La Laguna” which is basically the next valley. On this side there are only red and black slopes!
When going down I would recommend to stop for dinner at “Hostal El Guerra” which is about 15 minutes drive down the mountain. You can enjoy a nice dinner with panoramic views while beating the traffic going downhill!
My favourite DAY TRIP to Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas, by Alex
Ronda is one of the most beautiful Andalusian towns. Situated in the mountain range of the Snowy mountains and Ronda. The town is planted on both sides of the huge gorge, more than 100 meters deep. Enjoying unbeatable bird eye views over the mountains and the valley.
The road to one of the main historical destinations of Costa Del Sol, is the first to say a few words about.
Starting from San Pedro de Alcantara, the serpentine road takes you up to 800 metres above sea level in only 30 minutes! The history of this road goes back to 1877. The old mule road was extended, widened and made suitable for horse-drawn vehicles.
These days the road is safe with good quality pavement. It’s very popular for its spectacular panoramic views. A favourite and well known road amongst bike and motorbike lovers!
The charming town of Ronda, motherland of Spanish “Corrida de toros” (bullfight) and with history going back to the ancient times, has a lot to offer. It keeps surprising you with every new visit!
Here you find the oldest bull fighting arena in Spain and this town was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite places. The bullfighting arena now have become a museum. It opens the gates once a year, to celebrate the famous “Feria de Pedro Romero” the first week of September. It is a great honour for every “torero” to perform in this festival! This is truly a spectacular performance, like a drama theatre with its beautiful decor, traditional costumes and great actors.
History and culture
There is an impressive armoury museum in this arena as well. There they expose a great collection of firearms from different eras. Apart of the museums, we like just to walk around the old town. Following its quiet narrow streets with small shops, cosy cafes and restaurants. All with amazing panoramic views from their terraces over the gorge and the valley.
Children like to climb on the walls of the “Puerta de Almacabar” gate.
This used to be the main entrance to the town and part of the defensive complex back in the Moorish times.
Then we’re all going to one of many local restaurants for lunch. The famous “Rabo de toro” (Ox tail) and you definitely should also try the local red wine from Ronda’s wineries!
After lunch our next stop is Setenil De Las Bodegas. A small village within a short drive of only 10-15 min from Ronda. This village is well known for its typical Andalusian meat specialities and for the houses. Artfully built into the mountains surrounding this settlement, forming an integrated whole with it. Its great to have a nice walk after lunch through this beautiful village. Enjoying the scenery and later to have a coffee in one of the nice local cafes before heading back to the coast.
On the way back, sometimes we make a stop in another interesting place, loved by the kids, Juzcar. Also known as the “Smurfs village”. This village is different to other typical Andalusian white villages. All the houses are painted in blue, to embrace the premiere of the famous world-renowned film – “The Smurfs”, in 2011. The images of this blue little characters can be seen on most buildings of the village.
Between the mountains and the caves, by Natalia
Just an hour and a half from Mijas Costa you find this picturesque town, which you would never believe existed. It’s literally tucked into the mountains.
It’s cave houses and restaurants make it unique, Setenil de las Bodegas. Belonging to the province of Cadiz, but situated approx. 20 minutes from Ronda, makes it a perfect place to visit.
This small, white and beautiful Andalusian town invites you to spend the day. The many caves have remains showing this towns almost 5,000 years of history. It was a relevant post during several battles prior to the time of the Catholic kings. If you like history, like me, this town has more to offer than many other bigger cities.
Much to see in Setenil
There are many attractions but the two main ones are the “Castle of Setenil” and the street “Cueva de las Sombras”. Here the houses and businesses are embedded into the rock and there is even a natural tunnel within the rock.
With several hotels and an endless number of bars and restaurants, this town is a great proposal for a day trip. If you have a second residence on the coast, I recommend going during the week but check first that the bars and restaurants are open.
If you decide to go winter time, keep in mind that this town is situated in the mountain range of Ronda. It may truly be a white town with a blanket of snow. The local gastronomy is extensive and depends on the time of the year.
Famous for it’s vineyards where they produce their sweet wine but also they have their own production of goat cheeses, honey, homemade sausages and their citron squash dumplings are one of the best sweets I’ve tried in Andalusia.
Unfortunately, this town does not have a railway network, so you need a car or take a bus to get there, but I can assure you that it is 100% worth it.