Costa del Sol, Top Excursions in the Sierra

Combining a beach holiday with day trips in the southern Sierra is easy since many top attractions are found within an hour or so from the coast. Local companies such as Julia Travel run a number of top excursions on the Costa del Sol, with hotel pickup and optional lunch. Alternatively, visitors can drive or travel on local buses, which are comfortable, cheap and offer express services on some routes.

Drives are spectacular, past orchards and olive groves in the east, or hidden valleys and rugged hills in the west. Foxgloves and gorse splash colour at the roadside and there are fabulous views from Andalusian white villages sprinkled in the hills to the glistening Mediterranean, sometimes all the way to the Rock of Gibraltar and the African coast.

Andalusian White Villages, Mijas, Frigiliana

White villages are traditional in Andalusia, dating back to the times when houses were protected with anti-bacterial lime wash. Today the walls are still white, the only colour allowed in some villages. They glisten in the distance like virgin snow but their stepped alleyways and winding lanes are full of colour, draped in bougainvillaea, geraniums or roses. There are cool passages and archways, old fountains and cobbles laid out in artistic patterns. There are also some great properties, as you can see here on .

Favourite white villages include Mijas near Malaga, popular with artists, and in the east, Frigiliana, an idyllic Andalusian pueblo famous for quality craft.

Attractions in Ronda, Day Trip in the Southern Sierra

Nestling in the Sierra at 700 metres, the ancient city of Ronda is breathtaking, split in two by the spectacular gorge of the Guadalevinriver. Houses cling to the edge of the rocky platform while the 18th century bridge spans the chasm, stunning from every direction. The cleft boulevard leads to the most scenic vantage point, looking beyond the gorge to hills and mountains.

Among the top monuments are the imposing church of Santa Maria la Mayor, Mondragon Palace housing the Ronda Museum and the House of San Juan Bosco with its beautiful mosaics and hanging garden. There are Moorish Baths and ramparts, a bullring where top events are held and lots of fine restaurants near the town square.

Granada is roughly an hour from Malaga on the motorway, depending on traffic. For those who make the effort, it’s the highlight of any holiday on the Costa del Sol.

Most organised tours will allow time to explore the city with its leafy squares and fountains, its medieval hostel, sumptuous cathedral and Moroccan-style souk full of embroidered clothes, jewellery, ceramics and rugs.

The famous Alhambra sits high above it all on the hillside, vast, magnificent, heavily fortified, once protecting a whole city and palace within its walls. Courtyards, fountains, archways and stucco work as fine as lace, it’s a wonderful sight enhanced by surprising views through latticed windows. Lovely extensive gardens complete the picture with orange trees, roses and fragrant hedges of myrrh and box.

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