You know those trips were you have so much to say but no idea where to start? That’s this trip. I’ve just come back from 3 days in Spain, exploring the Costa del Sol as part of the #InCostadelSol blog and Instagram trip organised by the Spanish Tourist Board.
We spent time in Málaga, Ronda, Antequerra and Nerja, with an itinerary designed to showcase the region’s cultural and gastronomic offering. So cue lots of of amazing architecture, history, natural wonders…and ALL of the food. And wine. (My stomach as very happy on this trip).
I don’t think I ever been on a trip that’s been quite so surprising – I usually have a fair idea of what a destination has to offer before heading there but this time, preconceptions (Costa del Sol = ‘Brits Abroad’, right?) and not as much pre-trip research as usual meant I was a bit blind-sided by just how beautiful, interesting and vibrant the region is – it’s a little corner of Spain I’d have no problem going back to again and again.
So as I wade through pages and pages of notes and hundreds of photos and try to process how to share the stories of our trip with you, I thought I’d post a very quick outline of what we got up to, along with a teeny sample of all of the photos I took along the way.
Day one – arrival in Málaga and on to Ronda
I flew in on a different flight from the others and had an hour to kill in Malaga before meeting up with them. I wandered around the narrow streets of the city centre. They were full of shops and restaurants, all housed in unique buildings with gorgeous shutters and wrought iron balconies. I felt entirely safe wandering around on my own and had a pleasant time taking in the relaxed vibe of the area.
Only too soon it was time to catch up with the rest of the group. We said a quick hello and then immediately headed to our first stop – a food tour by the fantastic Spain Food Sherpas. We spent about three hours on the tour, first taking in the municipal market before heading to some local restaurants to try the best traditional and innovative tapas that the city has to offer.
After the food tour, it was on to Ronda, a beautiful town about 1h 45 mins from Málaga, famed for it’s stunning views and cut through with a gorge that divides the new and old parts of the town.
Day two – Winery visit and Antequerra
Friday morning saw us go from Ronda to a nearby organic winery, Bodegas Los Frutales where we had a tour of the facility and then wine tasting over the lunch. It was perfect lunch and wine-tasting weather – sunny, warm and with a light warm breeze and we were treated to great views down over the vineyards and across the valley back to Ronda, perched on the top of the hill.
After lunch, it was time for Antequera where we visited the famous Dolmens – prehistoric chambers that have just been awarded UNESCO world heritage status. They sit facing Antequera’s other famous landmark: Peña de los Enamorados, which is a mountain in the shape of a human face. Its name comes from a local legend that two lovers threw themselves off the mountain when being chased by their disapproving families.
We then had a walking tour through the town and a visit to the town museum before hiking to the top of the hill for (even more) amazing views.
Day three – Nerja and back to Málaga
On Saturday we left the mountains behind and hit the coast at Nerja for some typical Costa del Sol sea and sunshine. Sitting on the edge of the Mediterranean and flanked by protected areas on its other sides, Nerja has managed to avoid over-development and retain the characteristics of the typical traditional Andalucian town.
And it was in Nerja that we came across the most surprising thing of all – the Cuevas de Nerja. These ancient caves, discovered accidentally in the late 1950s were full of enormous formations of stalagmites and stalactites that have taken millennia to form. When someone tells you you’re off to visit a cave, you don’t really expect anything as truly epic as this:
Only 30% of the caves are accessible to the public and even that small part is so large they hold a underground concert in it every year. After every corner we turned, the caves would open more and more and the formations got larger and larger, culminating in the world’s largest freestanding stalagmite/stalactite column.
One last stop after Nerja – it was back to Málaga for a walk along the waterfront and through the old town in the evening, along with a visit to the modern art and the Picassos of the Centre Pompidou (the only branch outside of France).
So, as you can see, we packed quite a lot into our trip – definitely tiring but so much fun! And I’m really looking forward to sharing more about some of the places we visited in more detail so do check back soon. Or if you haven’t already, follow us on social media (links in the side bar) and sign up for our newsletter.
This trip was arranged by the Spanish Tourist Board as part of their #InCostadelSol campaign. As ever, all opinions are my own.