Even for the non - Spanish speaking traveler, this one is pretty easy to figure out = Sunny Coast. And that, my dear friends, is exactly what brings me to Andalucia, specifically the Málaga region, also known as the Costa del Sol. With five decades of rain behind me, it's time to covet the sunshine of Spain. With so much to do, so much to see, for this outdoor gal, a mecca of daily entertainment.
Flying into the Málaga airport is super easy. Small enough to not feel lost, big enough to bring direct flights from the USA. TAP Portugal flies a few days direct out of Miami, and via Lisbon daily. With round trip tickets in the $600 US range, coming to España can be a much less expensive option than many other warm destinations around the globe. Certainly it is true, Europeans flock here for the miles upon miles of beaches...but in my most humble opinion, sand and surf is not this coast's most prized possession. Sure you can find resorts and poolside bars, amazing food and super cheap wine; get off the coastal highway however and you will be treated to incredible history and fairy tale white villages, dotting the mountainsides like so many grazing sheep.
Rent a car ( tell Rebecca, Una sent ya) and find a home base somewhere in a 30 minute radius of Málaga. Personally, I am enchanted with Mijas Pueblo, but if golf is your thing, there are a plethora of courses in the region, all with a number of rental homes and condo's. Waterfront resort or villa, check. You've got those too. Country house with pool and view? Yup, and only a 10-20 minute drive inland. There are two main highways which run along the coast, A-7 and AP-7. Both are very easy to navigate and well signed. The latter is a toll road and the fast route, the former is not tolled, but meanders more parallel the Mediterranean Sea. Sometimes they merge. The towns and communities along the water vary as much as your wardrobe, from glitzy to sleepy and everywhere in between. This is a very popular area for those from "up north" and English is quite common. Heading inland, this will be less and less the case. Local's here however, are warm and forgiving, happy to lend a helping hand with language barriers, equally willing to share a large smile and say "Buenas Dias".
Now what? From wine tasting to horseback riding, to kite surfing to shopping ....there is something here for everyone. Having a home base provides tons of other opportunities all within a days drive. A short meander down to Gibraltar to see the apes and hike the hill. Head into Morocco for an afternoon. Go fishing, hike canyons, take a photo tour, eat your fill of Iberian Ham, rent a kayak, rent a bike. Did someone say cheese? How about learning Flamenco? When a fresh baguette, hunk of brie, pile of thinly sliced, cured pork and a bottle of wine can cost less than a meal at In- N- Out, you can live large!
My favorite, exploring the Pueblos Blancos; loop itineraries are many, easily amusing you and your family for days on end. As an example, head out from Minilva, North following A-377 towards Cesares. Up, up, up, you will travel on curvy, jaw dropping roads. Past wind turbines and cattle and a number of hiking trails. Find a spot for a cafe con leche and enjoy the views. Next stop, Gaucin. Get out of the car as soon as you find a spot, as the roads are teeny tiny and will test your abilities to parallel park. With more instagrammable doors, alleys, homes, flowers and people than you can imagine. Wander until you find the perfect place for a lingering late breakfast or early lunch. Next up, continue North towards Ronda, the main attraction on this day trip. Dating back to 15th century Moorish rule, the highlight of your tour, a mountain top city ready to steal your heart. The views are endless and will take your breath away. Spanning the gorge is Puente Nuevo, completed in 1793 after 40 years of construction; a definite hot spot of photo activity with a number of great tapas joints overlooking the drop.
From Ronda take A-376 / A-397 South, towards Marbella and the coast. There are no guardrails along this stretch, so be sure to keep your eyes on the road. With plenty of pull offs for those perfect snap shots, great locations to catch the sun as it oozes towards the horizon. Other small towns to pull at your heart strings, but take less time, include; Mijas Pueblo, Benahavis and Tolox. Of course the many white villages of Southern Spain are not the only nearby attractions, Tarifa, the most southern tip of Europe is easily done in a days drive. The wind is crazy strong here with massive waves, a delight to watch surfers from local bars which dot the shoreline.
Taking the train from Málaga to Seville for the afternoon is quite doable as well. I recommend using both Rome2Rio and GoEuro to check available schedules. Public parking is lackluster, taking public transportation is best. Also only a few hours away, you will find Granada. Known for it's grand examples of medieval architecture, the Alhambra, a sprawling hilltop fortress, is a must see. There are even tours from the coast if you think driving up for the day may be too taxing. Whew! That is a lot of adventure! Can't wait to hear how your trip goes.
Brush up on your "Una Cerveza, por favor", dig out your shorts and flip flops;
plan on a week or longer to soak up some well deserved eats, drinks, culture and sunshine.
Always happy to help with itineraries and answer questions.