From the misty green inlets of the north-west to the dusty south, via the rolling plains of the centre, Spain is nothing if not incredibly varied in terrain and temperature. Which is precisely what…
If you enjoy getting out on the bike, Andalucia is the perfect holiday destination. With year-round sunshine and plenty of undulating coastal roads, challenging mountain climbs, city tours and family-friendly cycle paths, Andalucia has something for everyone of the two-wheeled inclination.
The region is a magnet for cyclists so you won’t be alone. There’s plenty of evidence of other cyclists online – on Strava.com, Mapmyride.com and Endomondo.com. And as well as giving you an idea of the best routes in your area, some have details of local cycling groups – perfect if you don’t fancy riding solo.
To whet your wheels, we’ve pulled together our favourite cycling routes in Andalucia. As well as a family route, there are some more challenging road biking rides – all showcasing this region at its finest. You will be handsomely rewarded for your efforts. And you’ll no doubt want to come back and do them again and again.
Via Verde de la Sierra
Distance – 35.6km
Elevation – 473m
‘Via Verdes’ are unused Spanish railways lines, which have been transformed into car-free routes for cycling, hiking and other leisure pursuits. Surrounded by breath-taking scenery and, for the most part, flat, they’re ideal for family or group rides with less confident cyclists. If you want to do this as a day trip with your family, Toma & Coe can organise it all for you.
The award-winning Via Verde de la Sierra in Cadiz is 35.6km of spectacular cycling. Running from the village of Olvera through to Puerto Serrano, it’s truly a taste of authentic Andalucia. A total of thirty tunnels provide cooling interludes as you pedal across bridges and viaducts through valleys, meadows and riverbanks. And with points of ecological interest along the way, there’s plenty to see too.
Approximately halfway through the route, you’ll find the visitor’s centre for the Peñón de Zaframagón nature reserve, which houses one of Europe’s largest resting colonies of Griffon Vultures. And further on, just past Coripe station, is the Chaparro de la Vega – a 700-yr old holm oak with branches that spread over 28m.
Pitstops: With eateries either in Olvera or Puerto Serrano, it’s advisable to bring food, water and snacks. Bike hire is available in Olvera by companies including Sesca. And these will provide a taxi back from Puerto Serrano in case you’re not quite up to the gentle uphill back to Olvera. You’ll need to order in advance though.
Table Mountain & The Montes de Malaga
Distance – 79.3km
Elevation – 1,524m
During the weekends, you’ll see numerous lycra-clad ciclistas climbing the A-7000 or A-7001 to reach the Montes de Malaga. This route goes further east, rewarding you with incredible views of the Almijaras, Sierra de Loja and Antequera as well as the Montes de Malaga. Heaven.
Starting in Rincon De La Victoria, warm up the legs for 20km along the N340 coastal road seafront before heading inland at Torre del Mar on the N340a.
On reaching Velez-Malaga, find the quieter A-725 and, just before Trapiche, turn left and cross the A-356 to reach the MA-3113. From here, you start a gentle ascent through the valley. Passing the quaint little pueblos of Triana, Benamargosa and Salto del Negro, you soon turn left onto the MA-3105. And from here, there’s a challenging climb to the Moorish village of Comares atop Table Mountain. Cycle up through the village walls and reward yourself with panoramic views from the Balcon de la Axarquia.
Getting back onto the MA-311 (where the MA-3105 ends), wind your way up the hill and drink in the views, before reaching a plateau where the Montes de Malaga come into sight. After a delightful swoosh on top of the world, descend into the valley, taking care to turn left before Olias and right at Totalan to come back to Rincon de La Victoria at the end of the MA-3202.
Pitstops: There are plenty of chiringuitos for a cuppa, fuel or end of ride copa in Rincon de La Victoria and Benajarafe. For home-cooked Spanish cuisine en-route, try the restaurants near the Balcon de la Axarquia in Comares, or the well-known Table Mountain restaurant in Los Ventorros just past Comares.
Exploring Moorish Pueblos on the Ruta del Mudejar
Distance – 73.1km
Elevation – 1,723m
Starting in Caleta de Velez, spin the legs along the N340 coastal road before pedalling inland through Velez-Malaga and Trapiche. Past these, you ascend gently through the valley before turning right onto the Ruta de Mudejar – a tourist route celebrating five Moorish mountain pueblos in this part of the Axarquia.
From here, there’s a steady climb to Canillas de Aceituno. Then an undulating winding road takes you through the mountains to Sedella, Salares, Canillas de Albaida and finally Competa. Then you descend into Torrox before making your way back to Caleta de Velez along the coastal road.
Along the way, you’re rewarded with incredible views – the Montes de Malaga and Antequera as you climb out of the valley. Once Canillas de Aceituno is in sight, the mighty Maroma comes into view. And as you descend towards Torrox, the eastern Sierra de Almijara crowd the skyline.
Pitstops: Stop for refreshment or something more substantial in the bustling villages of Canillas de Aceituno or Competa. And perhaps a celebratory cerveza and tapa on the beachfront promenade at Caleta de Velez.
Riding The Coastal Route to Cerro Gordo Natural Park
Distance – 63.5km
Elevation – 1,170km
The N340 coastal road east of Malaga has some of the finest cycling in Europe. Sandwiched between the expansive Mediterranean and the Almijara mountain range, the views are truly awesome. And with the added bonus of a sea breeze, riding these undulating roads is a dream.
The stretch between Caleta de Velez and La Herradura passes tourism hotspots El Morche, Torrox Costa and Nerja before reaching the picturesque Cerro Gordo Natural Park. Here, the road becomes quieter, framed by dramatic cliffs, secluded beaches and rocky outcrops.
The Cerro Gordo turn-off is signposted, just before you enter a tunnel. Take this right and do the short but exhilarating climb to the viewpoint. From here, you can see Torre del Mar and, on a clear day, the mountains of Malaga. To the other side, you’ll see the secluded horseshoe bay of La Herradura – if you’re lucky with the Sierra Nevada peaking over the top.
Pitstops: The town roads are lined with bustling cafes and restaurants and you’ll find chiringuitos in Torrox Costa and just before Nerja. There is a lovely Mirador restaurant on Cerro Gordo, but don’t count on it being open.
Climbing the Rio Verde to Meson Los Prados
Distance – 65.1km
Elevation – 1,555m
Don’t be fooled by the length of this ride. Cyclists come from all over to cycle this route, which is in part categorised as HC (hard as nails) by Strava. But it’s not just about the challenge. The views are truly spectacular. And when you ride it, you’re likely to see plenty of other cyclists adding it to their ride portfolio.
It’s a ‘there and back’ on the old ‘main’ road between Almuñecar and Granada. It’s easy to find (once you’ve survived ‘death by roundabout’ in Almuñecar). You just find the A4050 for Jete and Otivar. Then you follow it to the top.
As you climb, the views change from lush avocado groves carpeting the valley, to dramatic mountains and rocky outcrops, to a shaded forest on the plateau at the top.
NB: Adding to this route’s exhilaration quotient, the road is vertiginous and hairpins sharp in parts. There are sometimes fallen rocks near the top. So take care when descending.
Pitstops: There are plenty of good restaurants and eateries in Jete and Otivar. There is also the well-located Meson Los Prados restaurant – frequented by cyclists – at the top.
Malaga to Cadiz: The Ronda – Grazalema Loop
Distance – 69.3km
Elevation – 1,467m
If you’re staying along the Costa del Sol, a trip to Ronda will be high on your wishlist. This ride starts and ends there, giving you a chance to wander around the historic town and check out the views from its jaw-dropping gorge. It also crosses into Cadiz, to the pretty village of Grazalema, which nestles in the foothills of the Sierra de Pinar. In fact, if you are staying in Cadiz province, you could even start and end from there.
After leaving Ronda, the ride climbs steadily on the A-374 – a reasonably busy road with good-sized hard shoulder. Then, after 10km, take the left fork onto the A-372 and follow this to Grazalema. This beautiful undulating road has cork forests, the occasional mountain goat and incredible views across the valley.
After taking a look (and perhaps refuelling) in Grazalema, take a left and then descend the valley on the CA-9123. Shortly after, turn right on the A-2300* and make your way towards Montecorto. From here, you can get back onto the A-374 and make your way back to Ronda. Or you can bypass this for 6km on the more scenic MA-8404 before making your way back to the A-374 and climbing back to Ronda for a celebratory cerveza.
*Take a left here to make the ride a solid 100km, circling the delightful Zahara-El Gastor Reservoir Strava.com
Pitstops: There are lots of great places to dine or buy artisan delicacies in Ronda and Grazalema. Take the 100km option and you could fuel up while drinking in the dreamy views of the reservoir at El Mogote another place in Algodonales.
NB: If leaving from Ronda, be aware that the town adds 12km and a good 280m climb to the ride. So parking and starting on the outskirts near the A374 will give your legs a break.
Thanks to the abundance of cyclists, cars usually give you a wide berth with road signs on popular routes advising a healthy 1.5m clearance. But despite this, you should keep your wits about you. Gradients can be extreme – so take care when descending, particularly on hairpin bends. Also, it’s illegal to cycle more than two abreast and to run traffic lights. So follow the rules to avoid any hefty fines.
Before getting started, be aware that; although the sun shines (almost) daily, you’ll need to adapt your rides, clothes and gear according to the time of year.
When the sun is ‘hot n’ high’ in July and August, it’s best to go out on the bike earlier in the morning. Wear sun cream; carry plenty of water; and choose routes with lots of shade from forests and groves. Or cafes and restaurants…
It’s warm, sunny and perfect for cycling during April, May, June, September and October. Despite this, it’s still worth slapping on the sun cream and bringing plenty of water. In fact, it’s good to make sure there are water sources en-route too. Most towns and villages have fuentes (fountains), but not all of them. So fill your water bottle at every opportunity. And because you’re likely to sweat, bring electrolyte drinks or gels as well as snacks.
From November to March, the weather can be temperamental. Although it’s warm in the sun, the wind is chilly – particularly in the mountains. So make sure you bring lots of warm layers and a windproof mac. And check the weather forecast for rain. Because when it rains, it really does rain.
Do our cycling routes tempt you to try them? Our concierge can arrange guides, bike hire and support vehicles for your cycling holiday, contact us for more information.
Array (  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 64306 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-07-23 20:56:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-07-23 20:56:14 [post_content] => From the misty green inlets of the north-west to the dusty south, via the rolling plains of the centre, Spain is nothing if not incredibly varied in terrain and temperature. Which is precisely what makes the range of Spanish wines produced so diverse, lively and interesting. Here’s our 101 guide to some of the top Spanish wine regions to help you explore this fabulous country through one of its very finest assets: its grapes.
Spanish Red Wines
RiojaRioja is without a doubt, Spain’s best known red. Stretching away across three valleys – the Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental – to the south of the Cantabrian Mountains, it’s a relatively small area that nevertheless packs quite a punch when it comes to global wine production. Some numbers, then: it’s Spain’s oldest wine (with written records dating back to the 9th century); there are more than 600 wineries and nearly 15,000 grape growers spread across 65,000 hectares of vineyards. Made from a variety of grapes it comes in three age classifications: Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. All are full-bodied and generally best served with food. One thing to look out for is whether the Rioja was aged in American oak, French oak or a mixture of both barrels, with each having their distinct tastes. A Rioja winery you must visit: Bodegas López de Heredia - in the town of Haro, it's one of the older wineries in La Rioja. By appointment only. More information: Lopezdeheredia.com.
Ribera del DueroThe ‘other’ great Spanish wine beginning with R. Only the best Tempranillo grapes are used to make polished Ribera del Duero wines, and there are many in Spain (and outside) who prefer the, frequently, softer more delicate taste, than that of their cousins from Rioja. Wines from Ribera del Duero are usually 100% Tempranillo and are mostly aged in French oak; they have the same age classification as Rioja (Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva). A Ribera del Duero winery you must visit: Matarromera - in the town of Valbuena del Duero, a trip to this winery can also include a visit to their museum, the EMINA Wine Museum. More information: Matarromera.es.
PrioratPriorat is probably Spanish wine’s greatest secret. With a wine growing history dating back to the 12th century, this southern Catalonian region these days produces some of the finest and fullest bodied reds in Spain… of which most people outside of Spain have never even heard. The terrain here is tough (even by Spanish wine region standards), so the vines are forced to search for water in the soil, making yield low - and prices high. The most common grape varieties used are: Garnacha, Cariñena with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. A Priorat winery you must visit: Alvaro Palacios - the name that practically singlehandedly spearheaded Priorat's ascent to the summit of Spanish wines back in the 1980s is still one of the leading wineries in the region. More information: Aseuniv.com.
Spanish White Wines
Rias BaixasOn the border of Portugal in the north-west of Spain, the Rias Baixas region of Galicia is cool, green and crisp – not unlike its white wine. The crowning glory of this wine-growing region is Albariño, which is clean, with occasional floral notes, and is absolutely ideal paired with the sublime local seafood. A Rias Baixas winery you must visit: Far from the largest, it's the setting of this family business - in the grand, fortified country house of Finca La Moreira - that makes it one the more atmospheric wineries in Spain. More information: Marquesdevizhoja.com.
CavaFrom the northeast of Spain above Barcelona, Cava is Spain’s most famous sparkling wine. Labelled with brut (dry) or semi-seco (semi sweet), Cavas can be white or rosé, and are usually made from Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes. A Cava winery you must visit: Dating back to the Middle Ages, this Empordà winery certainly doesn't lack for provenance - and it's got the grand castellated headquarters to prove it. More information: Perelada.com.
SherrySherry is made from grapes grown within Cadiz's ‘Sherry Triangle’ between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Maria in Andalucia. It comes in sweet and dry varieties. Dry Sherries like Fino or Manzanilla are crisp and acidic, and make for the perfect accompaniment to fish and seafood; Oloroso is caramel-like and nutty and goes well with meat, while medium-dry Amontillado is perfectly paired with chicken or game birds. A Sherry bodega you must visit: Bodegas Tradición is not the oldest bodega in the Sherry Triangle by a long chalk (that honour goes to Domecq), but it is one of the most insistent on traditional techniques. More information: Bodegastradicion.es.
RiojaWhite Rioja is made with Viura; sometimes on its own, other times blending with Chardonnay or Garnacha Blanca amongst others. Most white Riojas are young but are still full-bodied to taste.
Malaga WineMalaga has a long and distinguished wine-making history, with wines having been made in the region since the Phoenicians were in southern Spain, before the Romans picked up the baton. British wine merchants were sending Malaga wines back to sweet-toothed Victorians in the 19th-century. These days, made from Moscatel or Pedro Ximenez grapes, vinos de Malaga are fortified and naturally sweet. Coming in both red and white, they’re at their best served with a ripe local goats’ cheese. A Malaga winery you must visit: Bodega F. Schatz - it's entirely in keeping with the international past of the Spanish wine industry that one of the best wineries in Malaga should have been founded by a German. More information: F-schatz.com.
RuedaThe most commonly drunk white wine in Spain can be just a little disappointing to a new world white wine drinker. The Rueda region is in Castilla y Leon and its wines are usually made with Verdejo grapes. It produces very aromatic wines, often with tropical fruit and fresh grass hints, that’s fresh with just a hint of bitterness.
Things to Look Out For with Spanish WineThere are several wine classifications in Spain, each holding specific criteria. The ones to look out for are Denominacion de Origen (DO), Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOCa, DOC or DOQ) and DO Pago (only for single winery estates). On the bottle you’ll see the words Joven, Crianza (aged at least 2 years and 12 months in oak barrels), Reserva (aged at least three years with at least 12 months in oak barrels), or Gran Reserva (aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels, and more than three years bottled before they’re sold). Like the sound of these wine regions in Spain and want to experience some of the very best wines they produce? Stay with The Luxury Villa Collection and you can order the finest Spanish wines direct to your villa, or arrange a tasting or tour through our concierge. [post_title] => A Brief Introduction to Spanish Wines [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => spanish-wine-regions-guide [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-07-24 05:40:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-07-24 05:40:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://theluxuryvillacollection.com/?p=64306 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 42015 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-04-11 15:08:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-11 15:08:18 [post_content] => Sun and sand: the two things for which Nerja is most famous. And many visitors to the area don't get beyond them. Which is a shame, really, as there's much more to the area than just a great flop and drop break. From wonderful walks to fabulous fiestas and, yes, some of the most beautiful beaches around, we've picked out just a few of the very best things to do in Nerja. Happy exploring.
1. Laze on the BeachThere's a pretty solid chance that if you're after tips for what to do in in the vicinity of Nerja, then a beach day is going to be fairly high on your checklist. Thankfully, there are no fewer than 12 beaches to choose from in and around Nerja. Three of our favourites in town are Playa de Calahonda, Playa de Burriana and Playa El Chorrillo.
2. catch the sunset from the Balcon de EuropaAfter a long, lazy afternoon on the beach, there's only one place to head: the Balcon de Europa. Grab an ice-cream, saunter down to the end of the promenade and watch the sun slowly melt into the Mediterranean. Altogether now... WOW.
3. Be amazed by the caves of NerjaFunnily enough, the sun doesn't even shine in Nerja's biggest attraction. But that doesn't make it any less spectacular. The Caves of Nerja is a 5km complex of caverns that includes the largest stalagtite in the world, some Bronze Age remains and, it's thought, mankind's oldest artwork - which dates back some 42,000 years. Remarkable. (Carretera de Bajada a Playa de Maro, s/n, 29787 Nerja, open 0930/1000-1530.)
4. Go Snorkelling from One Cove to AnotherJust a mile or two to the east of Nerja the sparkling coves of the Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo Natural park stretch away. Snorkeling, sea kayaking or paddle boarding (see below) trips set off from Playa Burriana or Playa Carabeo for you to enjoy the crystal-clear sea teeming with sea life.
5. explore the coast by paddle BoardThe beaches of Nerja itself are urban, which comes with the distinct plus side of there being plenty of bars and restaurants on hand to choose from. But running away to the east is a stunningly wild, cove-lined coast that's great for exploring via paddle board. Rental and guided tours are available from Playa Burriana and Playa de Maro.
6. get out to a nearby villageVenture from Nerja and the idyllic whitewashed mountain villages of the Axarquia are within easy reach. Competa, Maro and the lovely Frigiliana (pictured) are some of the most inviting.
7. Eat Fresh Fish Cooked on a BBQ on the BeachEspetos de sardinas - sardines skewered and cooked on a BBQ until they're deliciously tender - are a local delicacy. One of the best spots to try them in Nerja is at the far westernmost end of town in Chiringuito Mauri (Playo Playazo, 29780 Nerja). Best washed down with an icy beer or two, of course.
8. walk the rio chillarEven by southern Spanish standards Nerja is surrounded by some pretty top-notch walking. Soaring above the town are the jagged peaks of the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Mountains. For something just a little less adventurous, the most famous walk around Nerja is up the Rio Chillar. You follow a beautiful, ankle-cooling river as it babbles its way down from the hills, discovering narrow ravines, waterfalls and rock pools along the way.
9. Devour Baby squid at El PulguillaOK, so you don’t have to have baby squid - although we highly recommend you do - but you definitely should grab a quick tapas and a beer/wine in this stalwart of a restaurant in Nerja. Elegant fine dining it ain't, but it is a great way to experience a typical Malaga fish restaurant. (Calle Almte. Ferrándiz, 26, 29780 Nerja; 952 52 13 84)
10. View the AqueductThis 19th century aqueduct was built to supply the surrounding sugar cane factories with water. During the summer it's a sweaty 10-minute walk from the centre of Nerja, but (as you can see in the image above) it makes for a spectacular photo opportunity when you get there.
11. Pause for Thought in Ermita de las AngustiasBuilt in 1790 this church is the home of Nerja’s patron saint, Our Lady of Anguish (Plaza de la Ermita, 11, 29780 Nerja). It might not be the grandest of churches, but it is a lovely, cool little spot to catch your breath in for five minutes or so on a hot summer's afternoon.
12. Plan a Trip Around a FiestaNerja is in Andalucia. Which means, inevitably, it's a place that's serious about letting its hair down every once in a while. The five festivals that Nerja goes for in a big way are Easter, Carnival (February), San Isidro (May), Virgen del Carmen (July 16th) and the Epiphany (5th January). Nominally religious they may be, but trust us, they're also really just a good excuse to P-A-R-T-Y.
13. See Authentic FlamencoNearby Velez-Malaga has one of the most vibrant flamenco scenes in Malaga province, thanks to the efforts of local flamenco-cultural initiative, Flamenco Abierto (Flamencoabierto.com). So if you want to catch some real flamenco, as opposed to the tourist nonsense that's so often served up, the Peña Flamenca Niño de Vélez on a Friday evening is the place to head.
14. Eat at SollunBefore opening this lovely little restaurant in Nerja chef Juan Quintanilla helped put Skina in Marbella on the Michelin-starred map. As soon as you sit down, though, it's clear that Sollun is an even more personal project. If you choose to work from the short menu, the chef himself will come out of the kitchen and recommend what's particularly good that day. The tasting menu is a thing of beauty: it features a selection of dishes with a heavy local focus, each paired with a suitable wine. (Calle Pintada, 9, 29780 Nerja; 653 68 94 52) Like our pick of things to do in Nerja and looking for more recommendations on the Costa del Sol? Have a browse through a few of our favourite Marbella day trips. Alternatively, if you're after a beautiful country villa nearby, check out our Axarquia luxury villas collection, here. [post_title] => Things to Do in Nerja that You Just Can't Miss [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => things-to-do-in-nerja [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-01 08:13:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-01 08:13:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://theluxuryvillacollection.com/?p=42015 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) 1