Tourism in Málaga province: breathtaking towns and beaches
The province of Málaga offers countless attractions to tourists who are unsure of what to see around its capital, along the Costa del Sol or in the mountains. It is not at all easy to choose between spending a day at a paradise beach, getting lost along the streets of a charming mountain town or marvelling at gifts of nature such as the Torcal de Antequera nature reserve, the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes gorge or the Sierra de las Nieves mountain range.
If you leave the capital, you will find quieter beaches than La Malagueta and some pretty villages (Churriana, Alhaurín de la Torre or Campanillas) which are part of the same region, but if you lift your head up to the rest of the province, the list of places well-worth a visit becomes overwhelming.
Which is why this guide to tourism in Málaga province cannot and does not intend to be exhaustive; it is, however, a careful and detailed selection of the charms that Málaga offers and it aims to both guide the tourist during their visit and encourage them to discover those corners that are often overlooked because of the practical matter of time and space.
Charming villages in the mountains of Málaga
Ronda and the white villages
Where to start listing the attractions in Ronda, the city of the Tajo gorge? There are many. There had to be to enamour illustrious travellers such as Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles. Any visit to Ronda must include a low-angle photograph of Puente Nuevo and a visit to the Mirador del Coño viewpoint—so called because “Coño!” [a slang exclamatory expression in Spanish] is said to be the first word visitors utter when they catch sight of the striking gorge. Moreover, Ronda has an exceptional wine-growing culture (it is possible to visit wineries and vineyards in Ronda) and an extraordinary bullfighting history (the traditional corrida goyesca [Goya bullfight] is held annually in its eighteenth-century bullring).
Ronda is one of the white towns of Málaga that stand out because of their peculiar architecture of whitewashed houses, balconies, windows dotted with colourful flowerpots and cobbled streets that invite you to wander around them aimlessly. Frigiliana, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful villages in the province with a well-preserved Moorish historic centre; Mijas with its famous donkey-taxis touring the town; Antequera, Gaucín and Casares are just some of the municipalities that should be on your ‘must-visit’ list.
The most beautiful villages along the coast of Málaga
Málaga can boast about having a 160-kilometre long coast and more than a dozen municipalities that are bathed by the warm waters of the Mediterranean. The Costa del Sol is one of the most popular destinations for sun and beach tourism in Spain.
Marbella stands out on the coast as a separate universe, synonymous with luxury, exclusivity and glamour. Enjoy the city by watching the yachts and sports cars zoom about in Puerto Banús, visiting haute couture boutiques and partying in its lively nightlife.
For those looking for a more low-key destination, Nerja, Estepona, Fuengirola, Torremolinos, Benalmádena and San Pedro de Alcántara are very attractive options, with some of the best beaches in Málaga and guaranteed entertainment during the high-season summer months.
Hiking trails near Málaga
Málaga is much more than just beaches. The province has many parks and nature reserves in its mountain ranges that have been equipped with hiking trails for all levels:
- The Great Málaga Path
Gran Senda de Málaga is also known as GR 249. This project invites visitors to walk the entire province on foot in 35 stages (a total of 739 km). The Great Path links together existing trails and crosses 57 municipalities, as well as a dozen protected natural sites. The stages are curiously classified into ‘body’, ‘mind’ and ‘emotions’, probably because along The Great Málaga Path there are opportunities for physical exercise and to practice different sports, cultivate the intellect, enjoy culture and connect both with nature and with oneself.
- El Caminito del Rey
This is an old service footbridge attached to the interior of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes gorge that was recovered and reopened to the public a few years ago. It offers a short walk (3 km), which nonetheless stretches out over two hours, mostly because the hiker will stop many times along the way to take pictures. Caminito has a tragic past: before being restored it was in poor condition and some people lost their lives when crossing it, but the only danger one might suffer these days is vertigo.
- The Torcal de Antequera
The Torcal de Antequera nature reserve is a stony landscape that is difficult to describe because there is nothing in the world like it. In fact, if it was not found in the province of Málaga it could well be located on another planet. The Torcal has a series of public trails that are safe and well signposted, with different distances and levels. In addition, the Torcal also has a Visitors’ Centre which explains how the wind and water moulded the unique formations that make up the landscape.
- La Sierra de las Nieves mountain range
Located in the centre of the province, east of the city of Ronda, the Sierra de las Nieves boasts amazing contrasts between its snowy landscapes during winter and the reddish ones that appear shortly after the thaw. Its natural park welcomes visitors along one of the many official paths.
Given the wealth of attractions in Málaga province, it is best to simply relax (any choice will be the right one) and enjoy your visit to the fullest, while planning, as soon as possible, your next one.