Andalucía, especially Málaga province holds a special place in my heart, as my husband is from Málaga and we got married there last summer! Costa del Sol is a touristy area, as many northern-Europeans see this as the ideal vacation spot due to the year-round temperate climate and the strong sun. The province of Málaga is home to some lesser-known hidden gems, which I will detail below. Although the province is large, you can easily be in the mountains in the morning and find yourself lying on the beaches in the afternoon!
Places to check out in the mountains
Antequera – a beautiful city well-known for its monuments, historical heritage, and well-preserved and restored old buildings. It is a great place for a day trip, or even a few hours walking around! Fun fact- Antequera has the highest church per capita ratio in all of Spain!
El Torcal, located inside Antequera, is a quick drive from the city center and is definitely worth a visit. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is so well-known due the many unusually-shaped rock formations that are thought to have formed from movements in the Earth’s crust and evolved over the years (millions of years).
El Caminito del Rey– the path was built in 1905 and served as an ¨easy¨ access point for to the hydroelectric plant El Chorro’s maintanence workers. King Alfonso XIII walked this path to officially inaugurate its opening in 1921, hence where it got its name. This path, which was restored as well as enforced with additional safety measures, is now apt for people of all ages, as there are fences and barriers that were installed along the way, and the use of hard-helmets is mandatory. Because it is a national park, and there is limited capacity, visitors must make reservations well in advance.
El Chorro- this is a recreational area which has great hiking trails and offers water-sports and activities in the summer! It is a nice area to check out, drive around, and have lunch! I recommend lunch at Restaurante El Mirador Ardales – not only is the view stunning (see below), but the food is delicious too!
Olive groves- this area is filled with olive groves- some are owned by individual families, and others by large corporations. I have yet to do a guided tour, as I picked olives from the family’s olive groves, however, I will be on the look-out for some recommended almazaras and will update this post with more information
Coastal areas that are worth a visit
Playa de Maro– a pebbled beach with pristine water- parking can be a bit of a challenge, so be sure to get there early. I would also recommend bringing lunch, as the chiringuito seems to have gone down in quality
Candado Beach– a lesser-known small-relaxing beach. We got married at the restaurant, and have only wonderful things to say about it! Would definitely recommend the restaurant for lunch, and cocktails on the beach!
Alhaurín de la Torre– the town in nothing to write home about, however the mountains that separate Alhaurín from Benalmadena have great hiking trails- my favorite so far is the Sendero Jabalcuzar, and the extension to get to Mirador de la Cañada del Lobo is next on my list! If you are craving sushi, be sure to check out Hanna Fubuki Sushi Foodtruck (yes it is a food truck parked in a gas station parking lot, but I promise it is delicious)!! Reservation is a must!
Torremolinos– not undiscovered but Playa de los Álamos, Costa Lago area in the off season is calm and the beach is clean. Eat at Chiringuito El Sardiná and be sure to order boquerones, calarmar al espeto, and sardinas al espeto. Favorite pizzeria in the entire world, Pizza Alla Pala, is nearby.
Cabopino – a long spacious beach with pristine water and sand dunes.
The beach in Estepona is nothing special however Sonora Beach Bar is definitely worth a visit.