The history of the Costa del Sol, shaped by its location and predominance of Malaga spans about 2,800 years. Visitors and residents living along the Mediterranean coastline benefit from a huge wealth of places to go and see within the area itself, but are also only within 1-3 hours from a number of other beautiful Spanish towns and cities that are renowned the world over. Here are 4 top locations that are within easy reach of the Costa del Sol and offer a plethora of cultural wonders.
Only 2 hours away by train or car, Granada radiates an old-world Spanish charm, filled with narrow winding streets, cobblestone squares and authentic tapas bars and churrerias. Granada is also home to The Bañuelo, an impressive authentic Arab bath that dates back to the 11th century and The Alhambra, the palace and fortress that was once the Calat Alhambra, meaning 'red or crimson castle', which was immaculately preserved in the 19th century and overlooks the ancient city.
The Alhambra was originally constructed as a small fortress as far back as 899, and is a stunning remnant of the Moorish culture that settled in Andalucía so many centuries ago. The central palace complex is the pinnacle of the Alhambra's design, characterised by glazed tiles, octagonal ceilings, symmetrical columns and intricate mosaic designs that demonstrate the complexity of Islamic geometric design. The grounds are a maze of fountains, pools and vast gardens adorned with local flora and lined with orange trees. It is one of Spain's most important landmarks and was also named an official UNESCO World Heritages Site in 1984.
Ronda is one of the most visited cities in Spain and is only a 45 minute drive away from the Costa del Sol. Surrounded by lush river valleys and sitting above a deep ravine, Ronda was first declared a city by Julius Caesar in the 4th century AD, and many of the treasured relics that hint at its incredibly rich history remain.
The views of the El Tajo gorge from The Puente Nuevo is one of its most famous landmarks, the bridge that joins the new town with the old Moorish town. Ronda is also home to some unique palaces open to the public, such as the Palacio de Mondragón and the Palacio del Rey Moro y La Mina which are stunning feats of Roman and Moorish architecture. The city has a number of Natural Parks and the famous Pueblos Blancos, with numerous walking, biking and horse-riding trails. Bird watching is also popular in the Serrania and the high cliffs of the Grazalema, where Griffon Vultures make their nests.
Andalucia's capital city Sevilla is famous the world over for its flamenco, tapas bars and cobblestone streets scented with the sweet scent of orange blossom. Sevilla has a breathtaking Old Town with a bustling atmosphere and several iconic monuments such as the Torre del Oro, a maritime museum close to the rio Guadalquivir and the Alcázar Palace. Just 200m east along the Calle Almirante Lobo is the fountain at Avenida de Roma and Avenida de la Constitución, a stones throw away from the Jardines Reales Alcazares, and Sevilla’s magnificent Cathedral and Royal Palace.
Once a largely forgotten fishing village, Nerja has grown into a popular tourist destination with traditional costal charm. Wedged in between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of the Sierras de Tejeda, Nerja offers some of the best beaches in the region, featuring long expanses of sandy stretches found on Burriana and El Playazo as well as a number of hidden coves. Experience the panoramic views of the coastline from the Balcón de Europa, hike up the highest coastal mountain in the area, 'El Cielo' standing at 1,508m tall, or take a sea-kayaking trip from Nerja's Burriana beach to neighbouring Maro.
Nerja is perhaps most famous for what El Sur called 'Cueva de las Maravillas', Cave of Wonders, shortly after their discovery in 1959. The Caves of Nerja are a series of naturally formed caves and caverns housed in the hills of Maro. Historically utilised by many different tribes including hunters, fishermen and harvesters from the Neolithic, Palaeolithic period and the Bronze Age, they were forgotten entirely until five local boys discovered them on a bat hunting expedition in 1959. The caves took up to two millions years to form and are considered to be the widest naturally formed columns in the world, at 32m high and 13x7m at its base. They have held the Guinness World Record title since 1989 and the site is as much steeped in natural wonder as it is in both geological and archaeological interest.