Spain’s Costa Del Sol is by no means a ‘hidden gem’. In 2012, Spain’s southern Andalucia territory welcomed a whopping 7.6 million international tourists to its sunny coast. The region’s many beautiful beaches, family-friendly resorts and idyllic weather speak to its popularity as a tourist destination. It may be a gem, but it’s certainly not ‘hidden’.
However, there’s more to Andalucia than busy beaches and crowded resorts. If you’re looking to take advantage of cheap flights to Malaga in 2014, but don’t want a typical beach holiday, try a road trip through Andalucia instead. The region, particularly the Axarquía area northeast of Malaga city, is dotted with small mountain pueblos that have managed to retain their unspoiled charm. As you plan your drive, make sure to include the following on your itinerary:
This lush market town, known for its strawberries, muscatel grape vineyards, olive oil and sugarcane, would make a fascinating first pit-stop for your journey. Time your visit to occur on a Thursday so you can walk through its bustling market. Also, be sure to visit its 13th-century Moorish castle, where you can take-in panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Just south of Velez-Malaga is the town of Caleta de Velez, the name of which is Spanish for ‘Bay of Valez’. If you’d like to enjoy some time on the beach before heading north into the mountains, this fishing port town is perfect. Walk along its palm-tree-lined promenade and enjoy a meal of fresh seafood just caught that morning.
Continue driving east to the mountain pueblo of Frigiliana, the Spanish Tourism Board’s pick for “prettiest village in Andalucia”. Nestled high on the hillside, the village’s whitewashed houses, narrow steps and cobblestone alleys add to its charm. Despite its small size, there’s always a fantastic bar or tapas restaurant just around the corner.
Wine lovers will appreciate stopping off in the lovely mountain village of Cómpeta, known for its dry and sweet wines. Try to time your visit to coincide with the annual Noche del Vino (Night of Wine) festival, which takes place every 15th August. The village’s Museum of Wine is also worth a visit. Also a restaurant, the Museum is the perfect place to enjoy the local cuisine.
Travelling east of Malaga by car will offer you a far more authentic view of the region’s rich history, unique culture and sundry beauty. Get a true feel for life in the Axarquia region, by tasting its cured meats, drinking its sweet wines, shopping for handcrafted pottery and speaking with its friendly locals.