Costa del Sol day trips and places to visit

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Mountains, Eagles, Flamingos, Lakes and Lagoons

This is by far our favourite day out, far removed from the bustling beaches and paseos it offers sights that the vast majority of visitors are not even aware of never mind actually visiting them.  Andalucia's natural beauty is waiting for you   Each of these places probably merits at least a full day to appreciate all that they have to offer, but this drive is so diverse and satisfying.

If you are feeling adventurous hire yourself a car and follow this route for a full day out, and a memorable lunch - it takes in the spectacular mountainous scenery of EL TORCAL then proceeds via ANTEQUERA to LA FUENTE DE LA PIEDRA where there is a massive salt water lagoon that is home to a breeding colony of 11,000 flamingos.  Back across country to yet another protected natural park at PARQUE ARDALES with its beautiful lakeside drive around the pine clad shores of the reservoir Guadalhorce, with all of its recreational areas and water sports. Then just down the road to the gorge that is EL CHORRO and our recommended stop for lunch.


After lunch we leave the mountains behind and follow the picturesque road down to ALORA and PIZARRA and back to MALAGA and the coast.

If you hire a car to do this route please feel free to print this itinerary, it has been designed to print off in four separate A4 pages with a map on each.

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Not really a day out as such, but if you are in or close by Benalmadena be sure to visit "Paloma Park"   This was an area of wasteland that was transformed into a wonderful parkland with a wide variety of flora and fauna to be be seen while strolling round the the scenic winding paths.  There is a large lake with a spectacular fountain, the lake is stocked with fish, a wide variety of ducks, geese and swans and visited by every type of seagull in the area, and keep a look out for the terrapins basking in the sunshine.  The children will love the domestic animals roaming throughout the park, where rabbits, chickens peacocks allow themselves to be approached to the delight of the little ones, there are also pens with emus and ostriches, goats, rams and sheep. And if they get bored with the animals there are several splendid well equipped children's playgrounds.  

Each year there are additions to the park as the local council appreciate what an asset the park is.  Last year an amazingly stocked cactus garden (click for pictures) was opened with a variety of beautiful flowering cacti flanked by a sculpted waterfall and landscaped lakes adjacent to the library.  This year (2005) they have budgeted for more improvements, particularly extending the stock and presentation of domestic animals.  All of this is completely free and well worth missing a few hours on the beach



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We have eventually made the trip to Granada - A few years ago we got lost and ended up coming out of Malaga on the old (pre motorway) road and we were really taken by the beautiful views and we vowed to complete the journey one day.  Therefore although it can be a day out this trip was four days.

We were not disappointed with the decision to use the old road although it does take a bit of finding at the Malaga end. I have done my best to simplify things find the route by clicking here.

There is so much information on the net about Granada itself that I will limit myself to the more mundane things that I found that might be of use to you.  We booked a hotel in the centre of the old city which took a lot of finding as I had not realised that most of the roads are in fact VERY narrow alleyways and once we turned off at Plaza Real and each turn found us in an even narrower lane than the previous one.  Luckily we found it and it had an underground (very tight) garage and once deposited I decided that the car would remain there for the rest of the stay!

I had carried out a good bit of advance “homework” click here for a really informative site before leaving and found this site very useful.  Even so my mental image of the city was nothing like the reality.  The old city, the Alhambra, Albaicin and Sacromonte are on STEEP hills, and much of it is cobbled, not a problem if you are reasonably fit and you are forewarned that they are on different hills.  This means that you can do the same as us and follow the lines on a map and arrive so close but so far away (the other side of a ravine) and a very long walk down and then up the other side.  We then found a little late, that the turistica mini buses run regularly around these areas and are reasonably priced at one euro per trip, they are easy to use, the routes cross each other and they all meet up in Plaza Nueva.

The one essential piece of advice is to book your Alhambra ticket in advance; I followed the following advice from and avoided a three-hour queue.

You can buy tickets with a credit card by phoning:

902 22 44 60 or from outside of Spain +34 915 37 91 78.

They give you a ticket number and you have to state the day and time of your visit. You can pick up the tickets in the special queue at the Alhambra ticket office. The name of the queue is the "Taquilla de reserva" and it will be much faster than the normal queue.

The girl who answers the phone can speak English. Using this system you can buy your ticket up to a year in advance. You can't buy the tickets on the same day as your visit using this system.

They accept visa, Master Card, Euro card and Maestro (American express is not accepted.)

Note: You can only buy 5 tickets at a time by phone. If you want to buy more than five just get two different people to phone and buy them with 2 different credit cards.

Tip: Recently they have introduced a new system whereby rather than giving each person 1 ticket they issue a group ticket. The problem with this is if you lose your companions you won't be able to get in anywhere. If you are a group of 3 or 4 and you don't want to stick together insist that they give you a ticket each. Also a mobile phone is useful if you lose each other.

Please use other sites for info about the historic parts, where you will find comprehensive information and facts.  But as fantastic as the Alhambra is, it really is worth walking the alleyways of all of the Moorish areas as they are still lived in and every turn presents a different wonderful view.

I will now proceed to Granada tapas - don’t start too early, I would recommend after 8.30 pm and check out the tapas bars, order your drink and you will automatically be presented with a complimentary tapa, another drink a different tapa, a more expensive drink a more expensive tapa.  Bars compete with each other to outdo the neighbouring bar so move around and seek out those that are full of locals.  When you find a menu that you particularly like it is worth buying a racion of something you really fancy.  The tapas bars do not function the same way at lunchtime so this is yet another very good reason for extending your visit beyond the day trip.

Bearing in mind that I made this trip in February I also felt that I should put in a quick visit to the Sierra Nevada ski resort of Pradollano.  We were lucky and found a dry bright day and the 45-minute drive from Granada was a real pleasure on the dry road winding its way upwards into ever deepening snow.  We left the car in the underground car park and took the lift that surfaced in the heart of an alpine style village.  The ski lifts and slopes come right into the village and being half term if was packed with skiers and snow boarders of all ages, and after watching them for a while, obviously of varying talent.  Being only a two-hour drive from the coast this is well worth being listed as a day out in its own right.


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A really beautiful drive that takes in phenomenal sea and mountain views, white villages, in real historic andalucia. We did both loops of this drive in one day and with several stops including a two hour lunch at the nispero festival leaving at 10:30 am and we were back at 19:00 with 182 km on the clock.

Click for a complete description - slideshow - and route


I would highly recommend this trip, the cable car ride itself is exhilarating and if you pick the right day (by far the best day is immediately after there has been plenty of wind, that has shifted the pollution haze) The ride up is around 15 minutes and presents some great views of the area, but once at the summit of mount calamorro (769 metres) the views to the south and the west are truly awe inspiring. Catch it clear enough and you can see Gibraltar and the coast of Africa from the miradors that are well signed. There is a free donkey ride included in the price of the ticket and a marvelous collection of birds of prey that perform a first class display which must not be missed.

Click on the links below for a couple short film clips



Being as the visiting Grandchildren turned us into "holidaymaker's" we decided to visit some of the other attractions that we have managed to sidestep since we have lived here. Sunday was absolutely glorious so we took the coast road from Malaga to Nerja and took in the Nerja Cave. I have often seen the road signs and I know that it is a popular coach trip destination. The cave was only discovered in 1959 and has been developed on an ongoing basis for the tourists. It is now very well laid out above ground with gardens, picnic areas, cars parks (1 euro) gift shops and restaurants etc. The caves I should think were amazing when they were discovered and atmospheric BUT after queuing to pay 7 euros each we joined a file of visitors and entered the sanitised cave.
European health & safety rules have been employed and concrete stairways with nice safe handrails take you into a not very interesting underworld. Having visited caves worldwide I could only advise that with nothing else to do on a dull day I would give it a look, otherwise settle for visiting their excellent web site

Ps. If you are visiting Nerja make sure that you visit The Balcon de Europe And Burriana Beach - Park at or near one and walk along the beach to the other

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