Five Cities in Southern Spain You Absolutely Must Visit

Each country has its beautiful cities, but in Spain they blend historic appeal, modern vivacity and a distinctly exotic quality like few others. Which can mean that when choosing which city in Spain to visit you’re often forced to cut favourites out of shortlists, such is the depth of the country’s appeal.

Thank goodness, then, for Andalucia. Spain’s southernmost region is packed with some of the country’s most fascinating cities – and here are just a few of our favourites.

Malaga

Malaga Cathedral

Once an earthy Mediterranean port city, Malaga now has it all: culture, history, architecture, shopping, dining, nightlife and sandy Mediterranean beaches. Indeed, this is a place where you can shop, dine, visit museums and lay on the beach all in the same day.

Geographically the city is dominated by the Gibralfaro hill on which stands the Alcazaba, a fortified Moorish palace from the 11th century. A little further up, on the crest of the hill, a 14th-century castle overlooks the city and its bay amidst spectacular panoramic views.

The foot of the Gibralfaro, where a Roman amphitheatre meets the city centre, forms the point at which past and present come together. Cross the street and you enter the old town, a wonderful maze of squares, streets and pedestrian shopping areas lined with elegant buildings. Crowning this area are the cathedral, built in Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles, and the Picasso Museum, home to the works of Malaga’s most famous son.

A little further along is the Carmen Thyssen Museum, along with the Centre Pompidou at the stylish Muelle Uno portside shopping and entertainment area, just two of many fascinating spots in what is fast becoming one of Europe’s cultural gems. Situated between the centre and the port is a stylish boulevard flanked on both sides by a tree-lined promenade. Here stately buildings alternate with the greenery of botanical gardens, an area that gradually gives way to beaches and the ‘La Malagueta’ suburb.

Granada

La Alhambra, Granada

Another jewel in the Andalucian crown is Granada. Settled within a broad, fertile floodplain known as the Vega, this ancient city is above all known for its association with Moorish Spain, of which the legendary Alhambra palace-fortress remains the most tangible legacy. Surrounded by fragrant gardens, the latter encompasses an entire hilltop complex.

Though most views in Granada are characterised by this hilltop sentinel framed by the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada rising up behind it, the Alhambra itself looks out over the Albaicín – a charming maze of streets, squares and houses that still retains much of its medieval feel. Here you find stylish Arab-style baths and spas, Moroccan-inspired tetería tearooms and also houses whose private gardens, courtyards and rooftop terraces recall the days when this was the last Moorish capital of Andalucia.

From the rich ambience of the Albaicín, the city of Granada spreads out into an elegant baroque historic centre full of grand churches, imposing public buildings and beautiful monuments. In many ways a typically lively and impressive southern Spanish city, Granada is also the official birthplace of the tapa. So, expect many an opportunity to enjoy this very social way of dining across the many tapas bars and small restaurants that dot one of Spain’s most visited historic centres.

Cordoba

La Mezquita Cordoba

Straddling a curve on the Guadalquivir River, Cordoba is the embodiment of Andalucia’s glorious past. The city owes its prominent role in Spanish history primarily to its strategic location at the entrance to Andalucia. Famous leaders as diverse as Julius Caesar, Abd al-Rahman III and Ferdinand and Isabella fought to control the city at one time or another, so it’s not surprising that Cordoba has been destroyed and rebuilt more times than any other in Andalucia.

Though founded in pre-Roman times, Cordoba is above all famous for its magnificent Grand Mosque, the monumental structure that has become the symbol of the city. Surrounded by the tightly packed houses of the medieval Judería, or Jewish quarter, the mosque is one of the many architectural wonders within this corner of southern Spain, to which can be added later baroque edifices such as the Reyes Alcazares palace and the 14th-century Torre de Calahorra, which stands guard over the ancient river.

Seville

Alcazar, Seville

Sevilla, as it’s known locally, is the bustling capital of Andalucia, a sprawling old city full of life and sights. The city, and in particular the old quarter on the east bank of the Guadalquivir river, contains some of the finest buildings and monuments anywhere in Spain. They are the legacy of the centuries during which the riches of Central and South America flowed into Spain through the city, which at the time was not only the country’s main port but also one of the richest cities in Europe.

When you visit Seville you’re in the very heart of Andalucía, for it’s here that quintessentially Andalucian traditions such as bullfighting, flamenco music and vivacious street life come together. Bordered by the Guadalquivir river and guarded by the mighty 13th-century Torre de Oro, one of Seville’s most famous monuments and now a maritime museum, El Arenal used to be the bustling port area of the town, a district of munitions stores, artillery headquarters and shipyards. Today the quarter is dominated by the dazzling white bullring, the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, where bullfights, or corridas, have been held for the past two centuries.

Just beyond here lies one of the largest historic centres in Europe, an area that encompasses not only elegant shopping promenades but also the more tightly woven streets of an older area. Here you find the Moorish-style baths and teahouses, the stunning cathedral and its famous Giralda tower, the Reales Alcazares palatial complex and a host of quaint tapas bars and restaurants that form the heart of a lively Andalucian social scene.

Though newer, a part of Seville not to be missed is the Parque María Luisa, an architectural wonderland designed for the Ibero American World Trade Exposition of 1929. Today its magnificently creative buildings house embassies, museums, military headquarters and cultural and educational institutions. The grand five-star Hotel Alfonso XIII and crescent-shaped Plaza de España are the most striking features, but in summer the terraces of the old exposition pavilions come alive with street performers and live dance music that goes on until the early morning.

Cadiz

Cadiz Rooftops

At Cadiz we’ve reached the Andalucian shore again – albeit on the Atlantic this time. Situated on a peninsula that juts out into the sea, and attached to the mainland by a narrow strip of land, Cadiz is surrounded by water on three sides. The port is in many ways different from other cities in southern Spain, its pastel-coloured houses flanking a yellow tiled cathedral that actually seems more at home in Cuba than in Spain.

The city’s position, dominating the entrance to the Mediterranean, has made it a place of great strategic importance since classical times. In fact, Cadiz is the oldest living city in Europe and a veritable archaeological treasure house. Its museums contain findings ranging from 2,500 year-old Phoenician sarcophagi to Roman statues and Moorish artefacts.

Favoured by its location, the city was long the port of call for ships returning with riches from the Spanish colonies in the Americas. Developing apace with the maritime commerce of Cadiz were the watchtowers that were built onto the flat roofs of merchants’ houses. Such was the competition among them that they employed teams of watchmen to look out for incoming ships. Numbers peaked at a little over 160 towers, 126 of which remain today. The most famous tower, the Torre de Tavira, became the official watchtower of the city in 1778, and today offers visitors a spectacular view of the entire city and its surroundings from its rooftop and its camera obscura.

From here, Cadiz is a sea of flat roofs strongly reminiscent of a North African city that seems to float in the deep blue water like a giant ship. It adds yet another dimension to the myriad sights and experiences offered up by Andalucian cities rich in history, culture, mystery and above all, life.

Inspired by our pick of the best cities to visit in southern Spain? Check out our guides to when to visit the region and what to see when you’re there.

Festive Things to Do in Malaga Over Christmas

Christmas Lights in Malaga

Malaga is a great city to visit all year round – and Christmas is absolutely no exception. Here are just a few things that the LVC team will be doing in the city over the festive period.

Ooh and Aah at the Christmas Lights

Every year at Christmastime (until 6th January), the whole of Calle Larios is turned into a cathedral of lights. Malaga Christmas lights are the best in Spain and, with a light display with music usually around 18.30hrs and at 21.00hrs, they make for a great evening experience.

Shop ’til You Drop

Malaga is a great place to do some Christmas shopping. The high street is almost taken over by Spanish brands throughout Europe so it’s good to visit Zara, Maximo Dutti, Bimba y Lola and Cortefiel on their home turf.

Malaga city centre is small enough to wander round on foot. The main shopping streets branch off Plaza de la Constitucion with most international brands represented. There are also Christmas markets held at different locations throughout December, the biggest being on Muelle Uno where you’ll find local produce, crafts and clothing stalls.

Book a Festive Theatre Night

Swan Lake

There’s nothing like a festive trip to the theatre to get you into the Christmas spirit. See Swan Lake at Teatro Cervantes on 13th December. (For more information and to book: Teatrocervantes.com.)

Take in the Views at El Corte Ingles

Every Christmas, the main department store, El Corte Ingles, always has a winter wonderland with ice skating, snow slides, carousels and fun festive activities to do with children. The store itself is decked out and great for a browse in the warm. If you fancy a bite to eat or a drink, head up to the top floor to the Gourmet Experience where there are gorgeous views of the twinkling lights of the city.

Experience an Authentic Zambombá

A Zambomba

The zambombá is a typical southern Spanish Christmas tradition. Direct translation of this word is actually a specific percussion instrument (see above) but a zambombá is also a sort of Andalucian equivalent to Christmas carols with flamenco at its roots. Traditionally anis is drunk, and mantecados or polvorones (soft, crumbly shortbread sweets) are passed around. Not to be missed during a break in Malaga over Christmas. (For more information and to book: Teatroechegaray.com.)

Visit a Nativity Scene

Malaga has more than its fair share of nativity scenes. The two we like best, though, are Malaga Cathedral’s – a huge nativity scene from 4th December to 8th January – and The Glass Museum (Museovidrioycristalmalaga.com) where they have a whole nativity scene made from porcelain figures, known as Lladro, running from 13th December to 8th January.

Pay a Visit to Father Christmas

Father Christmas

The big man himself, Father Christmas, is ready for visitors at Muelle Uno (near the Pompidou Centre) between 12 and 14.00hrs and 17 to 20.00hrs – on the 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, and strangely 26 to 30 December, and from 2 to 4 January. There’s also a snow machine and a Christmas market.

Try a Roscón de Reyes

The bakeries are full of Roscón de Reyes, a special cream cake in the shape of a crown, traditionally eaten at Christmastime. Look out for the surprise inside.

Spend an Afternoon on the Beach

Promenade in Malaga

Malaga has the best year-round climate of pretty much anywhere in Europe, and during December daytime temperatures can reach the late teens. With clear blue skies and sun on your face more or less guaranteed, the city beaches are great for running around with the kids, going for a walk or simply kicking back and chilling out.

Visit the Gibralfaro at Night

Perched high above the city looking out to sea, Malaga’s castle is an interesting place to visit any time. However, they offer evening tours, and at Christmas with the city all lit up it’s a beautiful spectacle.

Have a Warming Drink

Sweet Malaga Wine Bar

Visit the longest running bar in Malaga, Antigua Casa de Guardia, on the corner of Alameda Principal. Have a glass of sweet local wine – ideal as the nip of the evening sets in and a perfect foodie gift for friends back home.

Catch Some Verdiales

Pastorales

An annual competition of Verdiales, traditional folk dance and music, takes place on 28th December just outside Malaga. The costumes are colourful and the atmosphere is always upbeat. (Address: Recinto Ferial del Puerto de la Torre, Calle Pirita, 29190.)

Chuckle Your Way through ‘Day of the Innocents’

The 28th December is all about tricks and giggles in Spain. So play a joke on someone for the Spanish equivalent of April Fools’ Day.

Make a Date with the Three Kings

Three Kings Parade, Spain

On the night of the 5th January – at 17.30hrs, to be precise – there’s a huge parade around the historic centre of the city with music and dancers. The Reyes Magos or Three Kings (from whom children traditionally receive their Christmas presents) and their helpers throw tonnes of sweets into the crowds for children to collect.

Take a Tapas Tour

One of the best ways to see a city and learn more about its culture is through its food. Toma & Coe do a fantastic tapas tour (Tomaandcoe.com) that explores the best places to eat and drink over the course of a hugely fun night out.

Coming to Malaga this festive season and looking for a great place for a Christmas meal or to celebrate New Year’s Eve? Check out our pick of the best.

Six Epic Andalucian Cycling Routes

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

 Family Rides on the Via Verde

Distance – 35.6km

Elevation – 473m

Strava.com

‘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

 Table Mountain Comares

Distance – 79.3km

Elevation – 1,524m

Strava.com

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

 Road to Canillas de Aceituno

Distance – 73.1km

Elevation – 1,723m

Strava.com 

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

 La Herradura, Granada

Distance – 63.5km

Elevation – 1,170km

Strava.com

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

Cyclist in Spain

Distance – 65.1km

Elevation – 1,555m

Strava.com

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

Puente Nuevo in Ronda

Distance – 69.3km

Elevation – 1,467m

Strava.com

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.

Via Verde

Be Prepared..

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.

Best Restaurants for Christmas & New Year’s Eve on the Costa del Sol

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas this winter? No? Then you’re in the right place.

While Costa del Sol temperatures during winter may not reach the heady levels of summer, they’re certainly a whole lot more agreeable than the freezing conditions felt in the UK or anywhere else north of the Iberian peninsular at this time of year. You can typically expect delightful December highs of 24°C and unspeakable lows of 12°C. Not too shabby at all, in other words.

What’s more, from traditional and expertly prepared roast dinners to more exciting and innovative takes on the notion of ‘Christmas lunch’, many of the area’s finest restaurants go all out with their Christmas menus to ensure that the most important part of the festive season remains intact.

To help you make your decision about where to eat on the Costa del Sol over the festive period, here’s our roundup of a few of the best restaurants offering mouth-watering Christmas and New Year’s Eve menus.

Christmas Eve / Christmas Day

Lively Vibe & Great Food at Bibo Marbella

Hanging Plants at Bibo Marbella

Hanging Plants at Bibo Marbella

Bibo’s long been one of our favourite restaurants in Marbella. The interiors are stylish but relaxed, the vibe’s lively and fun, and the food’s superb – as you’d expect from Dani Garcia – without being challenging or overly ‘haute’.

This Christmas there are two lunch menus and three dinner menus from which to choose. These include suitably high-end takes on the humble croqueta along with creamy rice dishes, choice Iberian pork cuts, salmorejo, oxtail brioche, grilled hake on a bed of risotto and slow-cooked beef with wild mushrooms – to name but a few things that had us salivating.

To see the full 2017 Christmas menus at Bibo Marbella, go here.

Details: +34 951 60 70 11; reservas@grupodanigarcia.com; Grupodanigarcia.com.

Spectacular Seafood at Sea Grill – Marbella

sea grill outdoor dining

Outdoor Dining at Sea Grill

Just across the road – well the plaza, technically – from Bibo is Sea Grill. Their 2017 set Christmas Eve menu is a thing of beauty: given the name of the place it’s hardly a surprise that seafood features, with oysters and corvina making up two of the courses. But there’s also something for meat-lovers in the shape of a rather tempting sounding char-grilled wagyu beef dish. (You can see the full menu here.)

Perhaps even more temptingly, though, they’ve got a Christmas brunch menu (from 1pm on Christmas Day) on this year. So you can sit back on their outdoor decking with a glass of Champagne and enjoy a range of traditional festive dishes, from turkey to lobster through to delicious desserts, while you soak up a bit of December sunshine.

Details: tel: +34 952 82 09 00; email: restaurantes@puenteromano.com; Puenteromano.com.

Luxury Dining at Finca Cortesin – Casares

open kitchen finca cortesin

Open Kitchen at Finca Cortesin

If you’re looking to push the boat out this Christmas then look no further than Finca Cortesin. This hotel, complete with its own golf course, is regarded as one of the most luxurious in Spain and often hosts celebrities and royal family members. There are three separate restaurants: El Jardin de Lutz (Spanish/traditional), Kabuki Raw (Japanese) and Don Giovanni (Italian). Each is run by a top, distinguished chef and offers cuisine of the highest standard.

Details: tel: + 34 952 93 78 00; email: reservas@hotelcortesin.com; Fincacortesin.com.

Socialites’ Favourite at El Grill, Marbella Club – Marbella

el grill marbella club

Garden Views at El Grill, Marbella Club

For a very special treat you could take advantage of El Grill’s exquisite Christmas menu options at the incredibly chic Marbella Club. Diners can choose between the restaurant’s beautiful terrace or the tastefully decorated dining room where the grill takes centre stage. Juan Gálvez is El Grill’s award-winning chef, who ensures that all ingredients used are seasonal and locally sourced and that only the very best cuts make the grade.

Details: tel: +34 952 822 211; email: hotel@marbellaclub.com; Marbellaclub.com.

Marbella Club’s full 2017 Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus can be seen here.

Louche & Laidback at The Playwright – Elviria

the playright elviria

Bar at The Playright

Sleekly decorated and dimly lit, this popular bar and live music venue in Elviria looks, upon arrival, for all the world like a place to order a couple of dirty martinis and settle in for the night at one of the banquettes.

But it also does a very nice line in food, too – as their Christmas menu more than proves. There are quite a few dishes on offer this festive season that caught our fish-loving eye: Ceviche of tuna and seabass? Seafood chowder? Tempura of lemon sole? Salmon gravadlax rolls? Yep. That’ll do nicely.

Details: tel. +34 952 83 08 68; email: info@theplaywrightmarbella.com; Theplaywrightmarbella.com.

To see The Playwright’s full Christmas menu, go here.

New Year’s Eve

Party the Night Away at La Sala – Puerto Banus

Dining Space at La Sala

Dining Space at La Sala

La Sala in Puerto Banus brings you the ultimate buzzy dining experience on the Costa whatever the time of year. Their rear terrace is the ideal place from which to kick off festive proceedings in style, before moving on to one of their Christmas or New Year’s Eve menus featuring a range of international and Spanish classics. This year two different live music acts will be performing to ring in 2018.

You can see this year’s full Christmas and NYE menus here.

Details: tel: +34 952 81 41 45; email: reservations@lasalabanus.com; Lasalabanus.com.

Friendly & Relaxed at Sloanes Bistro – Elviria

A Festively Decorated Sloanes Bistro

A Festively Decorated Sloanes Bistro

As well as their set Christmas Eve/Day menus, Sloanes have a very inviting New Year’s Eve gala dinner planned for this year. The five-course menu features the rather indulgent likes of cod au gratin, veal and foie gras with canapes to start, accompanied by the dulcet tones of owner-cum-resident singer, Alex, and a glass of Cava to toast the new year.

You can see their full Christmas and New Year’s Eve menus for 2017 here.

Details: tel: +34 952 835 560; email: sloanesbistro@gmail.com; Sloanesbistro.com.

Dinner & Dancing at El Gran Gatsby – Puerto Banus

gran gatsby view

View of the Port from El Gran Gatsby

El Gran Gatsby is one of those places that’s set up to cater for a proper ‘nose to tail’ night out. You start with cocktails and views of the boats bobbing in the harbour, before moving onto dinner, and a food offering that’s really strong without being too fussy or fancy; then, afterwards you can sidle through to the terrace-lounge bar for well-mixed cocktails and decent DJ sets.

And never more is that the case than during the festive season. This year they’ve really got things sorted for New Year. You’re welcomed with a glass of Champagne on arrival, before being treated to a luxurious set menu of caviar, black cod, prawns, crayfish and Wagyu beef, all of which is paired with wines from their very fine list, followed by entry to the bar and a long night of partying. All in all, it’s all set to make for a very happy New Year.

To see here El Gran Gatsby’s full NYE menu, click here.

Details: tel: +34 951 77 87 97; email: reservations@elgrangatsby.com; Elgrangatsby.com.

To take the hassle out of making your festive restaurant reservations, our expert local concierge team will be happy to assist when you stay in one of our villas. Find out more about our concierge.

Private Chef & Christmas Menu 2017

Chef Curro at Villa El Chorrito

Chef Curro at Villa El Chorrito

Alternatively, if you just fancy a Christmas holed up in your luxury getaway, we would be thrilled to provide you and your family with a private chef. They will take care of the shopping, cooking and the clearing away, leaving you to enjoy family time together. Take a look at the excellent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and NYE menus that our chefs have created for this season, which can be downloaded here.

Can’t face another year of endless cooking and washing up for the whole family? Thinking of an indulgent Christmas 2017 in southern Spain instead? Have a look at a few of our available Christmas break villas.

Eight of the Best Ronda Restaurants & Tapas Bars

While Ronda may not a big town, it’s certainly a town that’s big on flavours. From fine dining to neighbourhood tapas bars, some of the finest eating and drinking in Andalucia can be found in amongst our pick of the best restaurants in Ronda.

Bardal

bardal dining room

Bardal was awarded its first Michelin star in November 2017. And it merely rubber-stamped what everyone in foodie circles already knew: that Ronda had become one of the best places to eat in southern Spain. Headed up by Benito Gomez, the Catalan chef behind long-time LVC favourite, Tragata, the award hardly came as a surprise, either: since it opened its doors back in July 2016 it’s been wowing the critics.

There are two tasting menus to choose from: a shorter and a longer one. Dishes featuring hearty components like veal head, venison and black pudding, and delicate takes on local stews and soups like gazpachuelo, combine creative flair and technical ability while still being married to Rondeña roots. Combined with pairings from a wine cellar of nearly 200 bottles, it’s a spectacular dining experience from start to finish.

Address: Calle José Aparicio 1, 29400 Ronda; Tel. 951 48 98 28; Restaurantebardal.com.

Restaurante Azahar

Terrace at Azahar Restaurant

One of the best fine dining options in town, Azahar is the Andalucian outpost of Eboca Restaurants, an extensive network of top-class eateries that stretches from Barcelona to Ibiza via the Dominican Republic. The restaurant of the Hotel Catalonia Reina Victoria, as you’d expect from such a serious set-up – and the fairly elevated price tag – the emphasis is on high-end ingredients beautifully put together into dishes that are as elegant as they are delicious.

Mouth-watering meat dishes include bull’s tail, kid slowly oven-cooked to crispy perfection and served with a cherry jus and vegetable tempura, and a suckling pig that can even (just about) vie with the jaw-dropping views as the most inviting part of the restaurant.

Address: Calle Jerez 25, Ronda 29400; Tel. 952 87 12 40; Restauranteazahar.com.

Restaurante Bodega San Francisco

Bodega San Francisco terrace

No matter what your gastronomic ambitions are, you can’t spend more than a few days in Andalucia and not set foot in a typical spit and sawdust joint. While there are undoubtedly rougher round the edges places to eat where you’d still expect an excellent bite to eat, Bodega San Francisco more than fulfils this brief.

All of the basic ingredients are in place, from the beams and polished terracotta floors to the legs of ham hanging above the lovely gleaming wooden bar. Fancy the food is not, but whether it’s green peppers ‘al padron’ (fried, salted and blistered to within an inch of their greasy lives) to fried fish, spicy prawns, or snails when they’re in season, it’s a quintessentially Andalucian experience.

In the evenings, the terrace area – out on a square dotted with noisy, bird-filled plane trees (pictured) – is one of the most inviting spots in town for a drink and a light bite.

Address: Plaza Ruedo Alameda 32, 29400 Ronda; Tel. 952 87 81 62; Bodegasanfrancisco.com.

Abades Ronda Restaurante

Abades Restaurant in Ronda

Another restaurant that falls firmly into the category marked ‘special’ is Abades Ronda. Standout dishes range from the sublime – think foie with local goat’s cheese and caramelised apple and delightfully delicate turbot on a bed of baby vegetables – to the frankly ridiculously delicious, a sirloin of Iberico pork that, in our opinion, would be worth trying to scale the gorge for.

And speaking of the gorge… it’s right there, like an extra dining companion, opening out on to views that stretch away across the sun-dappled fields and olive groves to the misty Serrania de Ronda in the distance. Mesmerising.

Address: Paseo Blas Infante, 1, 29400 Ronda; Tel. 952 87 13 67; Abadesronda.com.

Tragata

Interiors of Restaurante Tragata

Tragata’s been one of Ronda’s top restaurants since it opened what seems like yonks ago. It’s hardly surprising given that owner/chef Benito Gomez (the man behind recently Michelin-starred restaurant, Bardal – see above) cut his teeth in Ferran Adria’s La Alqueria at Hacienda Benazuza, as well as the kitchens of Jean Luc Figueras and Dani Garcia.

And the food? Asia meets Andalucia in a nutshell, with squid sandwiches, Russian salad and eggs ‘a la flamenca’, all making an appearance alongside the likes of prawn tempura, beef tataki and noodles and Thai-style seabass. Not only is it high quality fare, but it also makes for a nice change from the more traditional dishes you tend to find on your average southern Spanish menu.

Address: Calle Nueva 4, 29400 Ronda; Tel. 952 87 72 09; Tragata.com.

Entre Vinos

Entrevinos Restaurant in Ronda

First the downsides: Entre Vinos is on a rather humdrum residential street out to the far north of the old town. The positives more than outweigh its slightly uninspiring location, however: it’s an inviting little neighbourhood wine bar with a lively atmosphere and a cracking selection of local Ronda wines.

Elsewhere in the positives column, food-wise all the classics are here from jamon, morcilla, presa and garlicky mushrooms to some fine cheeses and pates. Our top tip, though, has to be the squid cooked in its own ink and served with noodles.

Address: Calle Pozo 2, 29400 Ronda; Tel. 658 58 29 76; Facebook page.

Restaurante Almocabar

Tucked away at the southernmost end of Ronda’s historic centre, this charming little neighbourhood tapas bar and restaurant is very much one for all seasons. On chilly winter nights, great hearty plates of oven-cooked lamb and partridge stew are served up in the cosy interior.

In the summer, by contrast, the terrace is a great spot for sitting out in the square over a cool gazpacho or one of their fine salads and admiring the swooping swallows against a backdrop of the Moorish Puerta de Almocabar gate.

Address: Plaza Ruedo Alameda, 5, 29400 Ronda; Tel. 952 87 59 77; Facebook page.

Taberna Tropicana

Tropicana Restaurant in Ronda

There’s much more to Tropicana than meets the eye. A modern looking tapas joint on the corner of a typically Spanish block of flats way off the tourist trail to the north of the town, as seriously good dish after dish comes out of the kitchen you soon realise that you’ve stumbled into one of the best tapas bars in Ronda.

What’s good? On a fairly extensive and varied menu, it’s the meat that really stands out. The crisped oxtail tapas is a great way to kick things off, while the house speciality gourmet burgers are vast towers of juicy meat. It’s the barbecued entrecote and T-bone steaks that claim the prize, though – they’re things of rare beauty, crisscrossed with marbling, lightly charred on the outside and succulent and tender within.

Oh, and they serve a very mean gin and tonic, too.

Address: Avenida Malaga & Calle Acinipo, s/n, 29400 Ronda; Tel. 952 87 89 85; Tabernatropicana.com.

Appetite whetted by our pick of the best Ronda restaurants? For more things to do in this stunning town, check out our guide to Ronda in a day.

Late Summer Sun Villas

Summer, sadly, is fast coming to an end. And whether it’s been a long, sun-kissed affair or something of a damp squib (yes, UK – we’re looking at you), one last blast of sun is almost certainly needed.

In our (not completely humble) opinion, Spain is hands down the best place for a holiday in September. Which is precisely why we’ve put this pick of late summer sun villas together – to help you stretch out in the September and October sun before the long, cold winter sets in.

Villa Malibu

Villa Malibu pool area

Number of bedrooms: 6

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £10,350

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £7,475

21/10/2017 to 28/10/2017 Half-term week: £7,475

Villa Malibu is a spacious designer villa in one of Marbella’s most privileged beachside suburbs, with a cinema room, kids’ playground, outdoor kitchen and whirlpool. Located 600m from the beach in Los Monteros to the east of Marbella, this 6 bedroom villa is perfect for families and sleeps 12 (with staff quarters on request). For more information, see here.

Villa Solise

Lap pool at Villa Solise, Marbella

Number of bedrooms: 4

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £4,950

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £4,950

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £4,950

Designed by its Norwegian owners and having been featured on TV and in various design magazines, Villa Solise, in Nagueles/Sierra Blanca near the Golden Mile, is a sleek contemporary villa with a very hip feel. Its 4 bedrooms sleep 8, although it can also accommodate 2 more people. Find out more about Villa Solise.

Villa El Chorrito

Beautiful pool and gardens in Marbella

Number of bedrooms: 5

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £7,250

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £5,400

21/10/2017 to 28/10/2017 Half-term week: £5,400

Villa El Chorrito is a luxury 5/6 bedroom Spanish ‘cortijo’ located in an exclusive private setting in Sotogrande. Built around a terracotta-floored orange tree-filled courtyard with stylish classical interiors, it’s a wonderful setting for a taste of real Spain. Its 5 bedrooms sleep 10-12 people, plus a staff apartment on request. More on Villa El Chorrito.

Hacienda de Madroñal 2

Andalucian Patio in Luxury Villa

Number of bedrooms: 7

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £9,400

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £4,350

21/10/2017 to 28/10/2017 Half-term week: £4,350

Hacienda Madroñal 2 is a fine luxury estate once owned by a Hollywood actress and a rock star, located in the beautiful El Madroñal. Located to the north of Puerto Banus with stunning views of the coast, it has 7 bedrooms sleeping 13 and is fully staffed. See more information on Hacienda Madroñal 2.

The Madroñal Collection, Villa 1

Luxury villa in Marbella with lagoon pool

Number of bedrooms: 7

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £12,289

Madroñal Collection Villa 1 is one of three spacious sister properties in a stunning multi-million pound setting. Located to the north of Puerto Banus and San Pedro, this villa has 7 bedrooms sleeping 14+ and is a staffed property. Find out more.

Madroñal Collection Villa 2

Views and lagoon pool in Marbella

Number of bedrooms: 7

Autumn availability:

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £13,121

Madroñal Collection Villa 2 is one of three spacious sister properties in the stunning multi-million pound Madroñal Collection located to the north of Puerto Banus. Villa 2 has 7 bedrooms sleeping 18, and comes complete with a heated indoor pool, Jacuzzi and sauna, as well as staff. Visit Madroñal Villa 2 page.

Madroñal Collection Villa 3

Madronal Villa 3 - Luxury Villa in Marbella

Number of bedrooms: 7

Autumn availability:

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £12,004

Madroñal Collection Villa 3 is one of three spacious sister properties in this stunning multi-million pound Madroñal Collection, located to the north of Puerto Banus. It comes complete with Hollywood cinema, sauna, Jacuzzi and nightclub. It has 6/7 bedrooms sleeping 16+ and is a staffed property. Find out more.

Villa Roma

Villa Roma - Luxury Villa in Los Flamingos

Number of bedrooms: 5

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £7,500

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £5,000

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £5,000

Villa Roma is a luxurious family villa with elegant interiors and home cinema. It is surrounded by a rolling green landscape close to a golf course and luxury hotel offering restaurant, spa and shop. Located in Los Flamingos to the west of Puerto Banus/San Pedro it sleeps 10 adults and 2 children. Book Villa Roma.

Los Flamingos Villa 1

Los-Flamingos-1

Number of bedrooms: 10

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £14,000

Los Flamingos Villa 1 is a spacious 10 bedroom villa with magnificent sea views and a luxurious contemporary finish. This modern villa overlooks the prestigious Los Flamingos resort, just west of Puerto Banus and San Pedro, and offers the ideal setting for small celebrations and family holidays with its 10 bedrooms sleeping 20+. For more information, click here.

Casita Bahia

Villa in Marbella pool area

Number of bedrooms: 4

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £3,250

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £2,500

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £2,500

Casita Bahia is a perfectly presented beachside pad just east of Marbella. Light and airy, it has free Wifi, a private whirlpool, and is both ideal for a small family or a cosy couples getaway. It comfortably sleeps 6 adults and 2 children. Book Casita Bahia now.

Villa DaVinci

Luxury villa in Marbella Da Vinci's grounds

Number of bedrooms: 6

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £7,000

Villa DaVinci is a classical luxury family villa with private pool, maid service and concierge, located in the heart of the Golden Mile near the Marbella Club and Puente Romano hotels. It has 6 bedrooms sleeping 12+ and can accommodate a staff bedroom on request. Reserve Villa DaVinci now.

Villa Monterey

Beautiful Marbella Villa for Rent

Number of bedrooms: 6

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £18,000

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £8,970

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £8,970

21/10/2017 to 28/10/2017 Half-term week: £8,970

Villa Monterey is a spectacular contemporary-style 6 bedroom villa, with light-filled interiors and expansive outdoor living space. Up to 14 people can enjoy the 3 lounges, 2 kitchens, a cinema-lounge, summer dining room, and heated pool. It’s located in La Cerquilla, Nueva Andalucia, near Puerto Banus. Book your family autumn sun break in this villa, here.

Villa Las Artes

Beach side Villa in Marbella with Pool

Number of bedrooms: 5

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £40,000 (this is a 20% discount during September for The Luxury Villa Collection guests)

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £34,000

Villa Las Artes is one of the most impeccable beachside villas in Spain, with a private indoor pool, home spa, gym, cinema, maid service and concierge, located right on the beach in Los Monteros. Its 5 bedrooms sleep 10, although there’s also a staff room on request. Click here for more information on Villa Las Artes.

Villa Vivaldi

Villa with Pool and Views in Marbella

Number of bedrooms: 8

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £23,500

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £18,000

Serenely removed from the hustle of Puerto Banus in exclusive La Zagaleta, this classical villa blends fine art, elegant style and refined luxuries with incomparable Mediterranean vistas. With 7 bedrooms in the main villa plus a guest apartment, it sleeps 15 in total. Book Villa Vivaldi here.

Villa Kynthia

Marbella Villa with Pool Area

Number of bedrooms: 6

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £6,900

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £6,900

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £6,900

Villa Kynthia is a spacious and welcoming luxury family villa with games room, full time housekeeper and infinity pool. Located in El Paraiso between San Pedro and Estepona, it boasts magnificent views towards the mountains, the Mediterranean sea, Gibraltar and the coast of North Africa. Perfect for families, this villa has 6 bedrooms, sleeps 14 and is staffed. Find out more.

Villa Cezanne

Infinity Pool at Villa Cezanne

Number of bedrooms: 4

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £8,000

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £7,000

An impeccable, brand new designer villa in the most stunning setting above Marbella, it’s been lovingly designed by the owners to capture the very best of the views with vast picture windows and no-expense-spared interiors. It’s ideal for families and comes complete with 4 bedrooms, 3 living rooms, a games room, Hammam and infinity pool. It comfortably sleeps 8 adults and 3 children. For more information on Villa Cezanne, see here.

Villa Blanco

Contemporary Villa with Pool

Number of bedrooms: 4

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £4,500

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £2,700

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £2,700

Villa Blanco is a cool contemporary family villa with a delightfully modern finish within easy walking distance of the beach, shops and restaurants. Located in Atalaya Isdabe near San Pedro de Alcantara, its 4 bedrooms sleep a total of 10 people. For more information on Villa Blanco, see our page.

Villa Anja

Villa Anja - Luxury Villa in Marbella

Number of bedrooms: 7

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £9,560

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £6,573

Villa Anja is a fresh and modern Scandinavian-styled family villa close to the beaches of East Marbella. With 7 bedrooms, a family games lounge and a complete indoor spa (heated pool, Jacuzzi, sauna), there’s ample space for 14 adults and 2 children. For more details see here.

Villa Amrita

Modern Infinity Pool at Villa Amrita in Marbella

Number of bedrooms: 7

Autumn availability:

02/09/2017 to 09/09/2017 price: £30,000

Villa Amrita is an opulent and spacious luxury villa with spectacular views across the whole of Marbella and out to Africa. This one-of-a-kind-property offers vast living spaces, an infinity pool, garden bar, plush cinema and a gentleman’s lounge. It sleeps 10 (excluding staff) with additional children’s beds on request. Book Villa Amrita now.

Villa Azure

Villa Azure - Luxury Villa in La Zagaleta

Number of bedrooms: 6

Autumn availability:

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £17,500

Villa Azure is a stylish contemporary 5/6 bedroom luxury villa to rent in La Zagaleta with private concierge, indoor spa, cinema and panoramic views above Marbella. Book this incredible villa here.

Villa Kalinda

Villa Kalinda - Luxury Villa in Las Chapas, Marbella

Number of bedrooms: 5

Autumn availability:

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £3,750

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £3,750

Villa Kalinda is an architectural gem with a blend of Andalusian style and Moroccan flair. A 5 bedroom fun-packed villa with ample space for a family of 10 located in upmarket Hacienda Las Chapas, you can enjoy sea views, a sauna and hot tub, games room and TV lounge. Book this stunning villa here.

Villa Picasso

Villa Picasso - Luxury Villa in West Marbella

Number of bedrooms: 5

Autumn availability:

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £4,000

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £4,000

From the Japanese garden to the infinity pool, magnificent sea views and countless chic, contemporary touches, this 5-bedroom designer villa has it all. Located in luxurious Los Flamingos, West Marbella, its 5 bedrooms sleep a maximum of 8 adults plus 2 older children. Secure your dates at Villa Picasso here.

The Retreat

The Retreat - Luxury Villa in Ronda

Number of bedrooms: 8

Autumn availability:

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £6,400

A stylish Spanish cortijo where even endless panoramas and scenic countryside cannot eclipse the  luxury amenities, character antiques and five-star service. Its 6 bedrooms – plus a casita – sleep a total of 16. Feel like escaping here? Book The Retreat.

Cortijo El Mirador

Cortijo El MIirador - Luxury Villa in Malaga

Number of bedrooms: 4

Autumn availability:

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £8,500

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £8,500

21/10/2017 to 28/10/2017 Half-term week: £8,500

Located in La Axarquia near Lake Vinuela, east of Malaga, Cortijo el Mirador is one of Malaga’s finest rural luxury villas with personal hotel service, including concierge and a Michelin-grade chef. Its 4 bedrooms sleep 8 with additional accommodation at El Mirador Lodge next door. See here for more details.

El Mirador Lodge

El Mirador Lodge - Luxury Villa in Malaga

Number of bedrooms: 3

Autumn availability:

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £6,200

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £6,200

21/10/2017 to 28/10/2017 Half-term week: £6,200

Featured in The Telegraph’s 10 Best European Villas for 2016, El Mirador Lodge is an old-world Spanish hunting lodge with a modern contemporary finish. Rented as a fully catered private hotel with chef and concierge, the 3 bedrooms sleep 6, plus extra accommodation in sister villa Cortijo Mirador. Click here for more information.

El Mirador Estate

El Mirador Estate - Luxury Villa in Malaga

Number of bedrooms: 7

Autumn availability:

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £14,700

21/10/2017 to 28/10/2017 half-term week: £14,700

El Mirador Estate is one of Malaga’s finest luxury retreats in a beautiful hilltop setting, with 7 bedrooms and personal hotel service, including a concierge and a Michelin-grade chef. Find out more here.

Villa Bali

Villa Bali - Luxury Villa in Marbella

Number of bedrooms: 10

Autumn availability:

21/10/2017 to 28/10/2017 price: £18,700

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £18,700

Villa Bali Marbella is a luxury 10 bedroom property for exclusive use as a personal boutique hotel, with breakfast service, private concierge and daily maid. Located in the Sierra Blanca area close to the Golden Mile, 10 bedrooms/suites sleep up to 20 adults plus 8 children. Book Villa Bali here.

Villa Marco

Villa Marco - Luxury Villa in Marbella

Number of bedrooms: 6

Autumn availability:

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £3,900

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £3,900

21/10/2017 to 28/10/2017 Half-term week: £3,900

Villa Marco is a classically designed family villa with an exotic touch and fabulous view, from the mountains to the sea and beyond. Located in Los Flamingos to the west of Puerto Banus and San Pedro, it has 6 bedrooms sleeping 10-12 with housekeeping and a games room. For more information click here.

Hacienda El Madroñal

Luxury Villa in San Pedro

Number of bedrooms: 10

Autumn availability:

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £6,000

21/10/2017 to 28/10/2017 Half-term week: £6,000

Hacienda El Madroñal is a spacious country property located in the exclusive and beautiful Madroñal Estate, surrounded by natural landscapes. Located in El Madroñal, 10 minutes north of Puerto Banus and San Pedro this gorgeous property has 10 bedrooms sleeping 20 and is fully staffed. Find out more.

Villa Artea

Villa Artea - Luxury Villa in Sotogrande

Number of bedrooms: 7

Autumn availability:

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £2,850

A 6/7 bedroom Ibiza-style home of high design and sophisticated style, Villa Artea in Sotogrande has enough space for a large family of 14 and can accommodate special events with up to 80 guests. For more information and availability, click here.

Villa Verdi

Villa Verdi - Luxury Villa in La Zagaleta

Number of bedrooms: 5

Autumn availability:

07/10/2017 to 14/10/2017 price: £12,850

14/10/2017 to 21/10/2017 price: £12,850

Villa Verdi is a pristine and modern family home within a spectacular natural setting in La Zagaleta, one of the most privileged private estates in Spain. This contemporary villa blends top of the range conveniences with incomparable design, and its 5 bedrooms sleep 10 plus 2 children. Book Villa Verdi.

Autumn Temperatures in Southern Spain

September and October are some of our favourite months in Spain as everything breathes a sigh of relief that the punishing heat of August is over. During autumn the September and October sun is bright and warm, making it comfortable for sightseeing, playing sport or sunbathing all day. It really is one of the best times to holiday in Spain with sea temperatures during autumn around 21°C – perfect to cool the blood slightly during an afternoon of lazing out in the sun.

September Sun

Temperatures during September in southern Spain average 22°C with clear blue skies. The start of the month often sees somewhere in the region of 29°C, and for the end of September 26°C is more the norm.

October Sun

When October hits the blanket blue skies are still present. October in southern Spain sees highs at midday of 22°C and lows of 14°C during the night.

If you like the idea of extending your summer or getting some autumn sun there are few better places than Malaga province in Spain. We hope this list of the luxury villas we have available for September and October helps you decide where you’d like to spend your autumn sunny break. If there’s anything you need to know, though, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The Ultimate Guide To Marbella Parties

Want to tick off all the best parties around the globe? Serious clubbers know to hit Las Vegas, Miami, Ibiza and the legendary club nights in Marbella. This glamorous town is the last word in sophisticated clubbing, an adult playground where party boats steam off into blazing sunshine, beautiful people drink cocktails on day beds and world-class artists pump music into the small hours.

Think miles of silky sand dotted with buzzing bars and beach clubs, where cocktail quaffing is actively encouraged, comperes dare you to spray as much Champagne as you drink, and raucous closing parties round off the clubbing season. There’s no party like a Marbella party – it’s just a matter of knowing where to go and when. Going out in Marbella is about relaxing and let your hair down, so we’ve done the hard work for you – read up, dress to impress and head out into the sunshine…

Champagne in ice bucket Marbella


Unmissable Club Nights and Parties

There’s so much to do, it can be hard to choose where to party in Marbella. Allow us to give you an overview of the huge events you’d be devastated to miss, from artist residencies to weekly ladies days via the biggest celebrity appearances.


Aqwa Mist

Aqwa Mist Marbella Nightclub Booths

One of the best clubs in Marbella, Aqwa Mist sits directly under La Sala bar. It’s open daily from 1am until dawn, with an unrivalled sound system and 30ft waterfall. Book ahead if you can – it has a large VIP area, complete with a private hot tub.

DON’T MISS:

  • Charlie Sloth – Friday 4th August 2017

Pirate radio DJ turned BBC Radio1Extra producer jets over from North London to spin grime, dancehall and R ‘n’ B.

  • Kid Ink – Friday 14th August

Brian Todd Collin AKA Kid Ink brings his unique brand of hip hop all the way from LA.

  • Craig David presents TS5 – Friday 25th August 2017

The beloved multi-platinum rapper has enjoyed the most talked about chart resurgence of the year. Hear his latest tunes and old school classics for one night only at Aqwa Mist.


Mirage

Mirage Nightclub Marbella

Complete with a Funktion One audio system, cutting edge laser show and floor to ceiling video screens, Marbella’s newest club goes all out on the tech decor – and the celeb bookings.

DON’T MISS:

  • Lil’ Wayne – Saturday 5th August 2017

The world-renowned rapper will no doubt perform hits like ‘Lollipop’ to the biggest crowd Mirage has ever seen.

  • Paris Hilton DJ set – Saturday 12th August

The reality star turned disc jockey brings her Gold Rush tour to Marbella – That’s hot!

  • Jason Derulo – Thursday 24th August

Following an immense Marbella show in 2015, the ‘Ridin Solo’ singer performs all his biggest hits.


Tibu

Nightclub Bar at Tibu in Puerto Banus

Tibu is sleek and upmarket, with a spacious open-air terrace if you need a breather. Start the week with Tropicana Mondays, Marbella’s biggest industry night, or head to Cirque Marbella on Wednesdays – prepare to get glitter bombed.

DON’T MISS:

  • Y Not Ladies Night – every Thursday

The only ladies night in Marbella offers a free cocktail on arrival, live music and nostalgic 90s garage. Don’t forget your heels.

  • Sintillate VIP Terrace Party – every Saturday

Celebrate the weekend with a VIP table – pop bottles from 11pm.


Pangea

Pangea Nightclub Marbella

Sintillate parties run from Thursday to Sunday night at Pangea, with amazing views of the harbour bursting with chic super yachts.

DON’T MISS:

  • OC Champagne Party Afterparty – Sunday 27th August 2017

Expect eye-popping entertainment and the most extravagant Champagne sprays.


Olivia Valere

Olivia Valere Cabaret Performer

Open every night of the week from 9pm to 7am, OV is housed in a Moorish castle, and the setting is nothing short of breath-taking. The newly attached pool club Nao promises to keep things wet ’n’ wild.

DON’T MISS:

  • Bob Sinclair – Sunday 6th August 2017

Put simply: We’re gonna rock this party, dance everybody!

DJ performing at Olivia Valere in Marbella


Boat Parties

Marbella boat parties are nothing short of wild. Turn up the tempo on dreamy summer days with beautiful people, flowing drinks, glittering waters and a gentle breeze, then party into the night back on dry land. The world’s best DJs provide the soundtrack to a day of debauchery, where you’ll find a fully stocked bar and an electric atmosphere. The best parties in Marbella happen on water, and they’re perfect for special occasions – we recommend planning one for a birthday, hen party and stag do you’ll never forget (but struggle to remember).

DON’T MISS:

  • Candypants – every Saturday until 9th September 2017

Simply the best boat parties Marbella has to offer, Candypants’ legendary booze cruises are unrivalled. Let the Candygirls host you for a daytime drinking session like no other, checking in at Babilonia at Puerto Banus from 1.30pm and coming in to shore at 4.30pm. Making waves in destinations across Europe and now Dubai, the home of Candypants will always be Marbella. Finishing up this early leaves you plenty of time to get polished for round two that evening – going out in Marbella doesn’t stop until you want it to.


Pool Parties

For the full experience, you can’t head home without hitting a Marbella pool party. Pack your glitziest swimsuit and highest wedges because this is your moment to get noticed (‘no carbs before Marbs’ suddenly makes a lot of sense – there’s a lot of skin on show). A sea of bronzed bodies and brunch platters, days start off pretty chilled as party-goers snooze off hangovers on squidgy beds in the sun. As the heat turns up, so does the bass – the weather forecast says Champagne showers – and when it rains, it pours.

nikki beach marbella aerial

Nikki Beach

Open every day from 10am, head straight here for the ultimate pool party Marbella style. Every Tuesday is Ladies Day, so get in touch to secure your free day bed.

DON’T MISS:

  •  H2Oh! – 19th August 2017

Think bright swimsuits in tropical prints – this is THE place to get that snap of you lounging in a flamingo pool float, drink in hand.

  • Anchors & Sailors – 23rd August 2017

Anchors away! Don your captain’s hat for an adventure on the high seas. 


Sisu Boutique Hotel

Sisu Boutique Hotel Pool Party Marbella

Sisu’s intimate, must-book pool parties start at 11.30am right through to sunset at 7.30pm. Events vary from Black Diamond to Laurent Perrier, and the music is soulful house with live accompaniment.

DON’T MISS:

  • Disturbing Marbella With Giggs – Saturday 5th August 2017

A live performance from London rapper Giggs, whose career hit new levels in 2017.

  • Disturbing Marbella With Tinie Tempah & DJ Charlesy – Saturday 19th August

Following hugely successful stints at Ushuaia Hotel and Disturbing Dubai at White Nightclub, Tinie’s coming to party – and he’s bringing friends.


The Secret Villa

As the name might suggest, this super exclusive party takes place in a secret location revealed when the time is right.

DON’T MISS:

  • Super Brunch & Secret Pool Party – every Saturday until 23rd September 2017

From 12-3pm enjoy an open bar and canapés, before DJs turn up the heat for a scorching party until sunset.


Ocean Club

Ocean Club Marbella DJ pool party

The most (in)famous party in Marbella for a reason, this is where Champagne parties were born – the original hub of poolside excess. Order a platter of sushi to line your stomach before cocktails, cocktails and more cocktails.

 DON’T MISS:

  • Tom Novu – Tube & Berger – 10th August 2017

Ocean Club Marbs celebrates its 10th anniversary the only way it knows how – you don’t want to miss this.

  • Bank Holiday Champagne Party – 27th August 2017

Get ready to get soaked.


Closing Parties

Read on for the hottest Marbella closing parties 2017 has to offer. Watch an incredible season come to climax at one of these outrageous celebrations, where dancers, flame throwers, acrobats and fireworks will compete for your attention – not to mention thumping beats and beautiful people throwing themselves into one last Marbella fiesta.

DON’T MISS:

Ocean Club

  • Black & Gold Closing Party – 30th September 2017

Closing parties in Marbella are a big deal, and Ocean Club’s firework display is seriously impressive. Don your slickest black outfit with accents of gold (or vice versa, if you really want to turn heads) and get ready to shine until sunset. As darkness falls, the venue goes from laid-back daytime hangout to a downright decadent evening joint.


Nikki Beach

Nikki Beach Marbella Red closing party

  • Red Party – Party 1st October 2017

One of the biggest closing parties Marbella can offer, expect glamorous guests as far as the eye can see (and a few famous faces, too) – all dressed strictly in red, of course.

To get yourself on the guestlist, book the best table and receive VIP treatment on arrival, contact our concierge

Need some retail therapy after all that partying? See our guide to the best shopping spots in Marbella.

The Definitive Gourmet Foodie’s Guide to Malaga

It wasn’t so long ago that eating out in Malaga consisted of little more than a plate of olives, a slice of Spanish tortilla and a skewer of grilled sardines. While a lot of bars did (and do) this very well, you would hardly describe it as gourmet or any different from the rest of Spain.

But roll in some major refurbs in the city centre and big-name arrivals on the art scene, and the Malaga foodie scene ups its game. And we’re talking several notches here – the city now competes with Barcelona and Madrid when it comes to gourmet experiences.

From the historic central market and traditional corner shops to high-end wineries and restaurants, Malaga offers fine local produce to try and buy. And of course, take home with you to savour long after your holiday (and tide you over until your next one). Read our definitive gourmet guide to Malaga to discover where to go to find your foodie heaven.

Everything under the Malaga sun

Atarazanas Market

Atarazanas Food Market in Malaga

Feast your senses (and that’s all five) with a visit to Atarazanas Market in the centre of Malaga. The dozens of stalls literally groan with local produce, harvested from the fertile valleys and hills in the province or caught the night before in the Mediterranean. Expect sensory overload as you wander through the aisles taking in one of the best foodie sights in southern Spain.

Food Market in Malaga - Atarazanas

Seasonal is key to the best foodie experiences and the choice at Atarazanas Market moves in time with nature’s calendar. Strawberries and asparagus come into their own in the spring, while the summer gives way to cherries and myriad varieties of tomatoes. Autumn welcomes a great selection of tropical fruit, grown in the Axarquía region of Malaga – custard apples, mangos and of course, grapes, that essential ingredient for Malaga wine. Winter’s just as colourful as it’s the season for Malaga carrots (don’t let the bright purple put you off for one second) and citrus fruits – in this case, just the colours you’d expect!

Year-round appearances include cold cuts and cheeses (try the Payayo goat’s cheese); olives galore – don’t miss the olives from Álora, fat, juicy bites laced with thyme, fennel and garlic, and the only olives in Spain with a guarantee of origin label; dried fruits and nuts to satisfy even the most discerning nibblers; plus several stalls selling Spanish store cupboard staples such as saffron for that Sunday paella and sugar cane honey for dribbling on slices of fried aubergine.

Fish Monger at Food Market in Malaga

Yes, our mouths are watering too but the good news is that you can try before you buy at many stalls. Some do a plate of local cheeses and cold cuts with a glass of Malaga wine. If you fancy trying the fish and seafood, head for one of the bars at the entrances for a tapa or ten.

Address: Calle Atarazanas. Open: Mon to Sat 9am to 3pm.

Gourmet shopping

Goats Cheese from Malaga

Despite the huge changes in Malaga, the city still has a traditional feel and has kept several of small specialist shops. A trip to one of these grocer’s shops not only opens the door to the best quality at often competitive prices, but takes you back to the days when your mother used to ask you to pop out to the corner shop.

La Mallorquina

Established in 1943, this gourmet gem is one of the best shops in Malaga for local produce. They stock a particularly good selection of wine (Spanish as well as Malaga), cheeses, condiments and jams. The in-house bakery next door is a new addition and handy for the bread to accompany your cheeseboard. Buy in store to take home or online La-mallorquina.es (in Spanish only) for home delivery.

Address: Plaza Feliz Saenz 1. Open: Mon to Fri 9.15am to 2.15pm and 5.15 to 8.45pm. Weekends 9.15am to 2.30pm.

Ultramarinos Juan de Dios Barba

It’s the window that catches your eye here. Nowhere else in Malaga displays large rolls of air-dried cod (an essential ingredient in many typical local dishes such as ensalada malagueña) and baskets of dried herrings with quite the same panache. They’re had years of practice too because this gourmet corner has been selling cod to locals since 1932. Make this your go-to shop for Malaga raisins and dried figs.

Address: Calle Martínez 10. Open: Monday to Friday 9.30am to 2.30pm and 5 to 9pm. Saturday 9.30am to 2pm.

Ultramarinos Zoilo

Tiny on size – blink and you could miss it – but big on taste, this foodie haven has been around since 1956. They sell all types of Malaga produce but specialise in jamón serrano and Iberian cold cuts. Wash them down with a bottle of Malaga wine – Zoido do a good line in wines from Ronda.

Address: Calle Granada 65. Open: Mon to Sat 9am to 2.30pm and 5pm to 9.30pm.

Gourmet Experience

Malaga's Gourmet Experience in El Corte Ingles

If you’re looking for gourmet shopping on a much bigger scale and fancy incorporating the rest of Spain to your foodie trip, head for the Gourmet Experience on the top floor of El Corte Inglés department store. The choice of Spanish food and wine plus a wide range of international fare on sale is second to none in Malaga. Quality with a capital Q does come at a premium price and you don’t get the local touch here, but your taste buds will be just as grateful.

Address: Avenida de Andalucía 4-6. Open: Mon to Sat 10am to midnight. Sunday noon to midnight.

Gourmet Tastes

While you can try before you buy at Atarazanas Market and local grocer’s shops, you won’t get more than a sliver of cheese or small slice of chorizo making it difficult to get a good overview or a real idea of what you like. Bring in a tasting, however, and we’re talking a whole new culinary experience. Here’s where to go:

El Almacén del Indiano

Based on a traditional grocer’s shop, this ‘Indian warehouse’ offers the perfect combination of tastings and the chance to try typical Spanish dishes. They specialise in jamón serrano – just watching them cut the ham makes the visit worthwhile – and organise tasting sessions for cold cuts, cheeses and wine. Book via their website Almacendelindiano.com or ask for a spontaneous tasting while you’re there.

Address: Calle Cisneros 7. Open: Mon to Fri 11am to 3pm and 6 to 9pm. Sat 11am to 4pm.

Los Patios de Beatas

Wine shop on Calle Beatas, Malaga

When it comes to wine, it doesn’t get better than at Los Patios de Beatas Catasenmalaga.com, whose wine list runs to over 500 entries. And counting. Owner Julián Sanjuán knows his bottles inside out and offers customised wine tastings. He also runs olive oil tastings and pairing sessions where the delicious house tapas perfectly complement the wine. And while you’re treating your taste buds, feast your eyes on the historic interior complete with 17th century wine vats and stunning stain-glass cupola.

Address: Calle Beatas 43. Open: Monday to Saturday 1pm to 4pm and 8pm to midnight. Sun 1pm to 4pm.

Maroleum

A newbie on the Malaga restaurant scene, Maroleum Facebook Page Maroleum takes olive oil culture to a whole new level. You can’t actually buy EVOO here, but you can taste it in every single dish on the menu. You also live and breathe olive oil in the decoration, video installations and wall displays – where else can you watch the olive harvest as you savour the liquid gold at breakfast, lunch and dinner? As well as concocting unique EVOO creations, chef Dani Peinado offers olive oil tasting experiences.

Address: Calle Pacífico 49. Open: Daily 8am to midnight.

Like food? Have you been to the vineyards in Ronda?

Seven Spanish Music Festivals that You Just Can’t Miss

Heady summers, long nights and time off from work allow us to indulge in all sorts of fun. No matter your age, life stage or persuasion there’s a music festival to suit everyone.

Souvenirs don’t always have to be physical things. Music is the soundtrack to our lives, so they say, and everyone takes home that special ‘holiday song’ as a lasting memory. Much easier to carry home than a straw donkey!

What better way to create a whole music memory album of your holiday, than by attending one of the upcoming festivals? There might be one close to your planned holiday destination, so browse our list of some of the hottest Spanish (and Gibraltar) music festivals for 2017.

Mad Cool Festival – Madrid

madrid festival

When? 6th – 8th July 2017

A newbie on the summer Spanish festival scene, Mad Cool Festival is only in its second year. It means business, though, with big indie acts like Green Day, Kings of Leon, and the Foo Fighters headlining as well as Neil Young, The Who, The Prodigy, Die Antwoord, Biffy Clyro, Jane’s Addiction, Editors and Two Door Cinema Club. This rock/pop festival in Madrid with four stages is going from strength to strength, promising to be one of the best urban music festivals in Spain.

More information: Madcoolfestival.es.

Bilbao BBK Live

bbk festival

When? 6th – 8th July 2017

When it comes to festivals there aren’t many in Europe that beat the location of Bilbao BBK Live – the Arriaz Mountains as a backdrop, views over Bilbao city, nearby beaches and stunning sunsets at the end of the day. It’s simply stunning. The music starts late so it’s ideal for visitors as you can sunbathe during the afternoon or even see some sights in the city. If this year’s line-up – featuring the likes of Muse, Mumford & Sons, alt-J or Disclosure, Depeche Mode, Die Antwoord and Fleet Foxes – doesn’t tempt you, then we’re not sure what will.

More information: Bilbaobbklive.com.

Festival Internacional de Benicassim – Castellon

benicassim festival

When? 13th – 16th July 2017

FIB to its friends, with four days of non-stop rock, alternative, indie and electronic music in a beach setting, Benicassim has become a permanent fixture on the Spain festival circuit. Running for 23 years, tickets are quickly sold out, so if you still want one you’ll have to start hunting.

The most successful music festivals now offer more than just music and FIB, being something of a veteran now, is no different. We want more from our festival experience, and FIB delivers – expect to see a short film festival, fashion shows, art exhibition, and a festival of dance and choreography, with educational arts courses provided by a local university, too. If you’re bored by all of that there’s even a water park just down the road for a cooling respite. Headliners this year are The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kasabian.

More information: Fiberfib.com.

Marbella Starlite

marbella festival

When? 13th July – 26th August 2017

This eagerly awaited annual event has celebrities, pop stars, and Marbella’s elite reaching for their Louboutins at the chance to see Anastacia, Juan Magán, Art Garfunkel, Elton John, and more over the course of an event that runs well over a month in total. In true Marbella style, the Starlite’s a glamorous affair – no dust or porter loos here. Instead it’s very much a case of see and be seen, with the chance to rub shoulders with the rich and famous at an important annual social event for the town.

More information: Starlitemarbella.com or contact our Concierge to book your tickets or VIP entrance

DGTL Barcelona

djing at a festival

When? 11th & 12th August 2017

If you like electronic music and house is on your playlists then DGTL is for you. The Spanish spin-off of the Dutch festival is celebrating all things in digital arts. World-class DJs provide the sound while visual arts play a huge part in the ambience, too. This is no one-dimensional concert: sculpture, futuristic design, boundary-pushing experimental visual arts and around 60 DJs all make for one of the best examples of clubbing in 2017. Big names like Jackmaster, B.Traits, Seth Troxler and Tale Of Us will all be stepping up to the decks to play to an artsy, hipster-heavy crowd.

More information: Bcn.dgtl.nl.

Arenal Sound – Arenal de Burriana

guitarist fiery background

When? 1st – 6th August 2017

The first beach-side Arenal Sound was in 2010, and with its location on the Costa del Azahar about 60km outside Valencia it’s proved very popular with a younger crowd, camping and hanging out on the beach. You’ll require energy for this one – it lasts for six days. Into its eighth year, and proving more and more popular with each passing year, it attracts fans of pop, indie, electronic, and rock with headliners of the calibre of Clean Bandit, Jake Bugg, Bastille and Martin Garrix.

More information: Arenalsound.com.

MTV Calling Gibraltar Music Festival – Victoria Stadium, Gibraltar

mtv gibraltar poster

When? 2nd & 3rd September 2017

It may not be the first time this festival has taken place, but it is the first year it’s been produced by MTV – a guarantee that the music-filled weekend will be a roaring success. Ok, so technically its not Spain, but its the best musical event by far that’s close enough to be enjoyed by anyone staying on the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz.

A stellar line-up is on the cards in the shadow of the Rock, with Craig David, Fatboy Slim, Jonas Blue, The Kaiser Chiefs, Tinie Tempah and The Vaccines all confirmed and various other acts still to be announced.

It’s the perfect family weekend with the added bonus of superb acts, food stalls, and of course, warm September sunshine. For more information and tickets, go to: Gibraltarcalling.com.

Like our pick of the best summer music festivals in Spain? For more after dark activities, check out our guides to the best Marbella nightlife and beach clubs.