Dear travel lovers,
If you plan a week long getaway to Andalusia and decided to stay in Malaga, you should check out my recommendations and go see some amazing places only a few hours away from this sunny city. Malaga is also a great choice if you enjoy the mix between a big city life, unique and relaxing charm and a fresh sea breeze, but more about this lovely destination on Costa del Sol in my next story. This one is all about the surrounding wonders of Malaga – the treasure of the enigmatic Andalusia.
Once you reach Malaga, soak in the Spanish vibe at a nice terrace with a Sangria and some tapas and decide which place you’ll visit next. Malaga make a great starting point to explore the south of Spain with its lively jewels of the Costa del Sol and the Moorish wonders of Granada.
1. Marbella and Puerto Banus
If I were to describe Marbella in one word, I would say “glamorous”. After Seville, which is my favorite city in Spain, Marbella gave me the best memories! There’s a particular feeling when you walk along the cobbled streets of the Old Town (Casco Antiguo) and every detail you see will amaze you. I just loved those tiny and chic streets: white building, blue painted decorations, cute flowered balconies, lovely oranges, stylish boutiques and traditional restaurants perfect for a rest. It’s such a delight to discover all these lovely streets and in the end to reach the Plaza de los Naranjos (Orange Square) and the Cathedral. Marbella has that traditional Moorish glam that transforms every experience there in a sweet summer dream. On a different direction, Puerto Banus is an eccentric place, elegant and expensive. This luxurious enclave is the meeting point for all the party people or the yacht owners all over Europe. That kind of glam that steals your heart for good and for a minute you can feel like the rich and famous. Exclusive design shops, posh yachts, clear blue water and all-white-everything buildings make this destination an unforgettable one.
The city where past and modernity blend together, where Islamic, Jewish and Christians cultures mix so beautifully. Cordoba was a wonderful surprise. It may sound as a cliche, but the IT place in Cordoba is for sure the mesmerizing multi-arched Mezquita, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, created for the Caliphate of Cordoba. This great Islamic building is a symbol of the worldly, sophisticated culture that flourished here more than a millennium ago when Córdoba was capital of Islamic Spain and western Europe’s biggest, most cultured city. There are many things to see in Cordoba and the best way to soak in the great history and unique vibe of the city is to walk in peace the old town. Córdoba’s real charms unfold as you explore the stone-paved lanes of the medieval area around the Mezquita, wandering between colorful flower pots that decorate almost every wall, magic souvenir shops full of Arabic objects and golden stone buildings. You must see the main attractions before you go, even just for a moment: the Roman Bridge, the Alley of the Flowers and the Almodovar Gate.
The place that literally takes your breath away when you see it. The lush river alleys and the El Tajo gorge below create a spectacular view and amazing memories for all those lucky enough to visit this gorgeous place. You will be amazed once again of the magical mix between cultures: Moorish, Roman and Andalusian. Besides the well known white washed Andalusian houses, Ronda has some particular surprises for its visitors: the oldest bullfighting ring, the Arab baths (the best preserved in Spain)and the impressive Puente Nuevo. The bridge joins the old Moorish town and the newer, El Mercadillo parts of the city. It is, by far in a way, Ronda’s most famous landmark and probably the most Instagrammed attraction in the area. Ronda is a city of stunning views: from the dramatic balconies overlooking the fields and mountains, to the ancient cobbled streets, you’ll be continuously reaching for your camera with the intention to capture the perfect “postcard”.
Just one hour away from Malaga, Frigiliana is an excellent day trip getaway or the perfect stop if you are on the way to explore the Alhambra. One of the most picturesque villages in the South of Spain, Frigiliana is made entirely out of whitewashed buildings decorated with pastel doors, colorful flowers and blue ceramics. This cute village voted as the ‘prettiest village in Andalusia’ by the Spanish tourism authority, deserves a visit. Wandering the streets is such a joy…you will feel as if you traveled back in time, back to a land of Moorish Kingdoms. The white houses with red roofs make an incredible view and contrast with the deep blue sky above. If you decide to really explore that maze of cobbled streets, you will find hidden corners and various symbols with different origins (especially Arab and Jewish), all part of the remarkable essence of Frigiliana. Craft shops, bars with spectacular views and the sweet smell of lavender and jasmine make the walk…a one to remember. Going all the way to the top it may not be that easy but it’s definitely rewarding when you will see the wonderful view over the entire village with the Mediterranean Sea in the background. Although every corner has it’s charm, you should not miss the Old Fountain (Fuente Vieja) and the San Antonio church.
5. Setenil de las Bodegas
Part of the Andalusian charm are the Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) and after visiting some of them, I can see why. They may seem boring thinking they are all white, but in fact that simplicity makes them so unique and wonderful. Most of them are located up on the hills of the region, offering stunning views and impressive streets. An enchanting world of Moorish charm awaits visitors who travel off the beaten path to the picturesque Pueblos Blancos of Andalusia, especially to Setenil. This unique village grew out of a collection of cave dwellings, and many of the present-day dwellings were chopped from rocks. Entire rows of whitewashed buildings seem to be submerged under massive rocky overhangs. So different, but yet so similar to other Pueblos Blancos in the region. This small, quiet hilltop destination is also adorned with simple whitewashed houses influenced by the Berber architecture of North Africa, the Moors’ native land and offers a welcome escape to nature and a more relaxing pace than the other busy and touristic towns in Andalusia. Here, the only thing to do is take a scenic tour around the village and spend a few moments at the nice bars alongside the river.
Andalusia is a dream destination with so many attractions full of exciting history and amazing cultures that blended together and created one of the most enchanting places in Europe. I spent here 8 days and I can tell you that it wasn’t enough time to see all its wonders. If you really want to discover Andalusia, you should rent a car and go from town to town, because as anywhere in the world, the little towns and the cute traditional villages tell the real story of a region and its people. Here, the storytellers are the Pueblos Blancos and after exploring Ronda, Setenil and Frigiliana I hope to come back some day, but only to see other white villages and finish the travel puzzle if the magical Andalusia.
Arina in Wonderland