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…
To really get to know Andalucia it’s often best to head away from the crowds and instead seek out the quiet solace of village life. This is the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing villa break here in Spain.
In “Los Pueblos Blancos” you can escape the daily grind, and take a step back in time to a place where gentle fountains animate quaint town squares, and the slow pace of life is often interrupted only by children kicking around a ball, or by the town’s old folk enjoying animated debates at their favourite bench.
When you choose to spend a villa holiday on the Costa del Sol you can find a surprising number of charming sleepy villages within easy reach, just waiting to be explored. Here is a quick run through of some of our favourite white villages in Andalucia:
Casares is fifteen kilometres inland of Estepona, to the west of Marbella, in the Mšlaga province of of Andalucía. It is perched on the side of a mountain close to the Sierra Crestellina national park, approximately a twenty five minute drive from Estepona.
It is a breathtaking village which has been described as ‘sugar cubes’ on the side of the mountain and looks particularly stunning when lit up at night with the blue/green street lights. The best view is from the approach into Casares so be sure to take the time to stop and take in the sights before you get there.
Casares has a spectacular 12th century Moorish castle, several churches and chapels, each one as beautiful as the previous one, a visitor centre, fountain and is close to the Baths of La Hedionda which are Roman baths and sulphur springs said to have been used to cure a skin infection of Julius Caesar! It is known as the ‘Hanging Village’ due to its precarious location on the Cliffside. There are many great restaurants and tapas bars and lots of village shops to explore, if you are lucky you will see some eagles soaring above the cliffs around Casares.
As well as the national festivals such as of Andalucía day on the 28th of February, the Easter festivities and the Three Kings parades on the evening of the 5th of January, Casares has its annual feria in the second half of July and a second feria in the first week of August so it’s a great time to visit around then.
Frigiliana is to the east of Mšlaga and only a ten minute drive from the coastal town of Nerja in the area of Andalucía known as the Axarquia.
Voted most beautiful village in of Andalucía for several years running, the village’s cobbled streets gently wind up through the beautifully maintained white houses of the old town, splashes of colour wherever you look from the balconies and doorsteps full of beautifully kept flowers. The houses are painted every year and it is traditionally the women of the village who carry out this work.
Frigiliana has a great infrastructure including many shops, bars and fabulous restaurants, several hotels and a working molasses factory right in the centre of town. The streets are hilly here and there are beautiful mosaic covered steps leading to the tiny narrow residential streets from the main road.
The very famous Frigiliana festival, Festival de las Tres Culturas, is celebrated at the end of August each year, drawing crowds of hundreds to watch the fabulous concerts and many other festivities. There are also other fiestas throughout the year including Saint Sebastian day in January, the patron saint of Frigiliana. The day of the cross is in May each year and the annual Frigiliana feria is in June.
North of Casares, also to the west of Marbella, in the Mšlaga province of of Andalucía, is the white village of Gaucin. It is approximately nineteen km from Casares and a thirty minute drive from the coast.
Gaucin is around 600 metres above sea level in the Sierra del Hacho and has great views over Gibraltar and Morocco. It is surrounded by cork forests and because of this the local shops sell many items made from cork to tourists. The surrounding mountains provide a fabulous backdrop to the pretty white village, with contrasting colour from the wild poppies, orchids, olive groves and almond blossom.
At the very top of the village is a medieval castle, Castillo del Aguila or Eagle’s castle, where you can see eagles over the mountains as the name suggests. It is a sleepy, laid back town with a few similarly laid back bars and restaurants serving the traditional fayre of the area. The narrow winding streets of Gaucin have always been an inspiration for artists and photographers and there is a large artistic community here.
Among the many festivals of Gaucin, of particular note are the release of two bulls on Easter Sunday which are left to run around the village and chased by the more adventurous or crazy villagers. The annual feria is in August, around the fourth, and involves three days of live music, eating, drinking and dancing.
Located north of the Costa del Sol in the Cordoba province of Andalucía is the beautiful town of Iznšjar. It is around one hour drive from Mšlaga and one hour from Granada.
Iznšjar has a unique location overlooking the Embalse de Iznšjar which is the largest lake in of Andalucía and has a lovely clean, sandy beach which is very popular in the summer months with whole families arriving in their cars, driving straight onto the beach, unpacking gazebos and tables and spending the day there swimming, sunbathing and eating. The village is nestled on a rocky outcrop with amazing views of the lake below. It is dominated by a majestic Moorish castle which is sadly in ruins but is lovely to walk to and the views from there are spectacular.
The village offers bars, restaurants and a lakeside hotel as well as a municipal museum. On the lake you can go fishing, learn to sail and you can rent out pedalos and kayaks from the campsite right on the beach. The lake is clean and safe to swim in and there are several beach bars to shelter from the sun in the hot afternoons.
The local festivals of Iznšjar include a fabulous carnival, with parades and dressing up, in February. The patron saint of Iznšjar, San Marco, has a special day on the 25th of April where the whole town heads off for picnics in the countryside. The feria is around the 7th of September every year and usually lasts for three days and includes a candlelight procession through the town.
Jimena de la Frontera is in the province of Cadiz in Andalucía, it is about a thirty minute drive west of Gaucin and directly north of La Linea and the border of Gibraltar.
The village is surrounded by the Alcornocales Natural Park and is overlooked by a Moorish castle which was built around 750 A.D. It has been occupied since prehistoric times and here you can see cave paintings, at the archaeological site of La Laja Alta, which are the only examples of maritime cave paintings from the Bronze Age in Spain.
Transport links make Jimena easily accessible from all directions and the road and rail network is much improved in recent years. There are several beautiful churches and other buildings to visit. Other activities in the area include bike riding, horse riding and hill walking due to the proximity of the beautiful Natural Park.
As well as the national festivals of Spain, Jimena has several of its own throughout the year. The Carnival with parades of floats is in February, the agricultural fair is in the second week of May every year. There is an annual music festival in the second week of July and the Jimena feria is generally in the first week of September.
Mijas pueblo (village) is a short twenty minute drive from Mšlaga airport in the Mšlaga province and is only fifteen minutes from the coast at La Cala de Mijas and Fuengirola.
Mijas is situated in the Sierra de Mijas mountains and is surrounded by beautiful pine forests. It has the best of both worlds with its white village charm, winding cobbled streets, breathtaking views and close proximity to the sea. If bullfighting is your thing, Mijas has its own bull ring which is still in use and is also used for horse displays. There is an auditorium which is used for concerts throughout the summer and there are also two museums to visit.
As well as being close to the coast, Mijas has its own fabulous infrastructure which includes shops and a wide and varied range of restaurants, all the usual supermarkets and other food shops and, perhaps best of all a chocolate factory!
Special festivals in Mijas include Mijas International day which is a multicultural festival giving people from all over the world the opportunity to tell others about their culture and lifestyle, it is usually held in the first week in May. San Juan is celebrated on the night of the 23rd of June and is the celebration of the longest night of the year with festivities including dancing and fireworks.
Ronda is in the Mšlaga province of Andalucía and is a one hour twenty minute drive from the airport at Mšlaga. It is situated north and inland of Marbella and Estepona.
The village of Ronda is third only to Seville and Granada in the most visited places in Andalucía. It is famous all over the world for being perched on the edge of the El Tajo gorge and offers fabulous views and countless photo opportunities. It is the modern birthplace of bullfighting and its bullring ‘Plaza de Torros’ is now a museum and attracts many thousands of visitors each year.
Ronda is accessible by road and rail, the drive to the village from the coast or from further inland is quite spectacular. There are two tourist offices here and a whole host of fabulous shops selling traditional, and not so traditional, Spanish crafts and other goods.
The ‘Fiesta de la Virgen de la Paz’ is the celebration of the patron Saint of Ronda and is held on the 24th of January every year. The feria is around the 20th of May and the main events of the year are held in the first week in September with the International Folklore Music and Dancing Festival and other festivities.
Viñuela is another white village in the Mšlaga province of Andalucía. It is inland of Velez Mšlaga, to the east of Mšlaga city, and is approximately fifty minutes from Mšlaga airport.
The stunning village of La Viñuela is set in the breathtaking landscape of the Axarquia and situated next to the man made reservoir of Lake Viñuela which provides the majority of drinking water for the local area. There are many luxury villas nestled in the hills with beautiful views over the lake and the lake itself boasts pretty beaches and non motorized water sports for all. There are picnic areas and barbecue areas all around the lake and the surrounding pine forests provide shade and a peaceful atmosphere for visitors.
La Viñuela was named after the local grape vines from which a delicious sweet wine is still produced today. The town is also famous for its local olive oil which is of particularly good quality. There are many arts and craft shops here including basket making and leather goods. There are also archeological sites in the village dating back to prehistoric, Roman and medieval times.
In May in La Viñuela there is a pilgrimage from the village to the hamlets of Los Gomez and Los Romanes for the Romeria which is a traditional gypsy festival. The annual feria is in mid July and there are three more ferias locally in early August, mid August and mid September.
Our readers would love to hear about your favourite white villages to visit from the Costa del Sol, just leave your comments below.
If you love the idea of exploring authentic Andalucia, then here are our top villa recommendations from our Andalusia Collection
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Array (  => 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 )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 37138 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-03-12 12:50:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-12 12:50:30 [post_content] => Marbella: the perfect spot for a lazy, sun-soaked break in southern Spain. But what is there to do should the pull of the pool begin to wear thin? From beautiful beaches and natural parks to dazzling white villages and grand, historic cities, there are plenty of great day trips from Marbella to keep you busy.
1. Caminito del ReyThis incredible gorge-clinging walk offers some light exercise, incredible views and is a great day out for the whole family. Tickets need to be bought beforehand - book here. Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 15 minutes
2. RondaHead inland to the north west of Marbella and you come to a beautiful town perched on a gorge. This is Ronda. See the oldest bull ring, Moorish baths, a lovely old palace or two and, if you have time, whip round a quick wine tour. Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 5 minutes
3. GibraltarCrossing the border from Spain to the UK at Gibraltar is certainly a novelty. This slice of Britain in Spain is interesting enough, but scratch a little deeper and there's a fascinating history to uncover, too. Don't miss the caves or the wild apes while you're on what locals fondly call 'The Rock'. Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 5 minutes
4. AntequeraKnown as the 'Town of Churches', Antequera has more places of worship than any other town in Andalucia. The fortress at the top of the town (pictured) and cathedral are the highlights, but don’t miss the ancient dolmens on the edge of town, either. Eat at Arte de Cozina (Artedecozina.com) and you'll have a thoroughly Andalucian day out. Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 10 minutes
5. Sierra de las Nieves Natural ParkWith a mix of jaw-dropping 2000-metre peaks and labyrinths of caves, this natural park near Ronda is truly spectacular. There are plenty of opportunities to go trekking, caving, 4x4 touring, mountaineering, mountain biking or horse riding. Nearby villages El Burgo, Istán, Monda, Parauta, Tolox and Yunquera are all worth a visit, too. Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 15 minutes
6. Los Alcornocales Natural ParkSpanning Cadiz and Malaga provinces, Los Alcornocales is very different to the Sierra de las Nieves. Famed for its cork oak trees and humid conditions, it’s actually the rainiest place in southern Spain and so has a large network of rivers and streams. Organise a hike through this park with lunch in one of the area's pretty, remote villages. Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 25 minutes
7. TangierYes, Africa is a realistic day out from Marbella! You can charter a boat and travel to Tangier in Morocco for a day. On top of the fantastic boat ride across the Mediterranean, it's wonderful for lunch and a spot of souk shopping. (Or see our trusted partner Toma & Coe's Tangier trip, here.) Distance from Marbella by car and boat: 3 hours
8. Rio GuadalminaIf you like a bit of adventure, walk the Guadalmina river and jump into rock pools, shower under waterfalls and hike through the gorgeous countryside. A guide can be arranged. Distance from Marbella by car: 25 minutes
9. CasaresThis picture-perfect whitewashed village makes for a lovely day out. Stroll about, take in the views and have a spot of traditional villagers’ lunch. A great contrast to the more sophisticated and cosmopolitan Marbella. Distance from Marbella by car: 40 minutes
10. Setenil de las bodegasA trip to Andalucia is as much about hanging out in small towns and villages as ticking off the big historic sights in cities. Setenil de las Bodegas has an incredible street where the houses are built into and under an overhanging rock face (pictured above). An utterly unique place. Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 20 minutes
nearby citiesFive of Andalucia's finest cities are within easy reach of Marbella. Each has their own allure...
11. MalagaMalaga is a city with A LOT going on. With plenty of great restaurants, historic sights and art galleries to pop in and out of, there's more than enough to keep you busy all day long. (For more information on Malaga, see our guide.) Distance from Marbella by car: 55 minutes
12. GranadaIf there's one thing you have to see above and beyond all others in Andalucia, it's the Alhambra Palace. A breathtakingly romantic 12th-century Moorish palace, it’s beautiful whether you're inside, outside or looking onto it from the pretty Albayzin area of town (pictured). Make sure you buy tickets before you go. (See our guide to Granada here.) Distance from Marbella by car: 2 hours
13. Jerez de la FronteraA great day trip from Marbella is Jerez de la Frontera. A relativity small city, it's perfect for strolling old streets lined with handsome palaces or lingering in lovely, historic squares. Don’t miss the Spanish Riding School (Realescuela.org) or one of the Sherry bodegas for a tour and a tasting. Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 50 minutes
14. CadizSouthern Spain's longest continually inhabited city, Cadiz has great beaches and a lively but laidback vibe. Visit the cathedral, eat in the market and see the city from above via the 'Camera Oscura' (Torretavira.com). Distance from Marbella by car: 2 hours
15. CordobaAs the Alhambra is to Granada, so the Mezquita is to Cordoba. A cathedral inside a mosque, it's a mesmerising building. There’s also a Roman Bridge, a beautiful 17th-century main square, the Plaza de la Corredera, and a network of narrow old streets to explore, too. Distance from Marbella by car: 2 hours 10 minutes So, that's our pick of the best day trips from Marbella. You can plan your day yourself or get in touch with us and we can organise it all for you. One way or the other, though - happy exploring! Alternatively, if you're looking for a beautiful villa in Marbella to rent, check out our selection. [post_title] => Perfect Day Trips from Marbella [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => marbella-day-trips [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-01 07:56:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-01 07:56:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://theluxuryvillacollection.com/?p=37138 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) 1