This trip begins at the eastern end of the Granada coast, known as the Costa Tropical. Between that point and the city of Malaga, the traveller gets to know the varied countryside of an always rugged coast. On his way he comes across tourist centres and almost deserted coves, towns and villages with an unmistakable Andalusian and Moorish profile as well as interesting sights. (Total length of the trip: 169km.)
The road along the first stretch of the coast at the foot of the la Contraviesa Sierra, which reaches into the Province of Granada, runs parallel to the shore and skirts the beaches and mountain spurs. Therefore it is sometimes slightly difficult to negotiate. La Rabita is a good point of departure: an ancient fishing village in the comforting shelter of a small fortress and surrounded by cultivated land. A little further on, after leaving behind a stretch of rocky coast, the traveller reaches La Mamola, another seaside village with a large beach, Castell de Ferro (21km from La Rabita) is another small place at the foot of a hill: there a watch-tower is a reminder of the threat of piracy, the same as in many other places along the coast. From that point onwards the traveller enters the most tourist-orientated sector on the Granada part of the Costa del Sol.
A 9km cliff separates Castell de Ferro from Calahonda, a small bay bounded by rock formations. Torrenueva (at a distance of 6km) is another summer resort close to a lovely beach. From there it is 7km to Motril, a town with a harbour, surrounded by an extensive plain where tropical crops are grown. A visit of the town should include the 16C Collegiate Church and the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Cabeza, which dates from the same period and was built on the ruins of the castle, which, according to tradition, gave shelter to the mother of Boabdil, the last king of the Granada Nasrids. The beaches of Pariente, El Puerto and Las Azucenas make up the coastline at Motril and have attracted a lot of tourism.
Salobreña lies only 7km away on the slopes of a hillock with an Arab castle at the top. The village has very steep whitewashed streets and must be included on a visit. The view from the old fortress reaches from the river valley of the Gudalfeo, covered with cane plantations, as far as Sierra Nevada. The old part of Salobreña is perfectly preserved and it is a good example of the Muslim villages in the ancient Kingdom of Granada. In a westerly direction the road passes through a rugged countryside of slopes covered with orchards.
The village of Almuñecar (17km) also lies in the shelter of a Muslim castle and it is very interesting, too. Its most outstanding features are probable the winding streets of the old part, the Phoenician and Roman remains, especially the eye-catching, well-preserved aqueduct, and the beaches of San Cristobal, El Altillo, Puerta del Mar, Velilla, El Tesorillo and others, which are ideal for the practice of water sports. Not very far away there are La Mona Point, an excellent observation platform overlooking the Mediterranean, and La Herradura, another very recommendable beach.
The road finally enters the Province of Malaga. Maro is reached first. It is an old area of fishermen’s dwellings and belongs to the neighbouring town of Nerja. This stretch of coast consists of coves and small pebble beaches. Shortly after leaving behind the town, on his right the traveller comes to a short turn off for the Caves of Nerja, a breathtaking natural stage of calcareous formations, where concerts are held. The prehistoric cave paintings from the Palaeolithic period are very interesting. Nerja (22km from Almuñecar) occupies a really privileged place. With a huge plain full of orchards in the background, the town seems to cling to a rocky projection, where an Arab castle used to stand in other times and which is known today as the Balcon de Europa (Balcony of Europe). The view from this observation platform includes the neighbouring beaches with the cluster of houses and their whitewashed façades in the background. Near the short avenue lined with palm-trees, there is El Salvador Church, built in the 17C and 18C, which is a good example of a long series of rural parish churches with an unmistakable Andalusian air. Las Angustias Hermitage is another good Baroque building.
A 6km regional road leads from Nerja to Frigiliana, an intimate, whitewashed village which preserves a rural atmosphere. The oldest part has a layout dating from Muslim times, while the parish church – also 17C/18C – preserves a coffered ceiling of Mudejar origin. Its wineries produce a much sought-after wine.
By now the traveller has reached the region of La Axarguia, one of the most attractive along the Costa del Sol. Inland it consists of valleys full of orchards with a scattering of small Moorish villages which are reached by following winding local roads. Two of these villages – Archez and Salores – still preserve the minaret turned bell tower of the former mosque.
8km from Nerja along the coastal road, there is a 4km turn off for Torrox, which is well worth a visit: the village lies on a steep slope and consists of a lovely sequence of whitewashed houses and roofs. La Encarnacion church and the Hermitage of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves preserve their remarkable Mudejar traces. Back on the coast, the watch-towers and small fortresses scattered along the coast will remind the traveller of the threat of pirate incursions.
After eight kilometres of beaches there is the run off for Algarrobo. On the way well-preserved Phoenician burial places can be visited in the township of Trayamar. Also worthy of a visit are Santa Ana church at the very top of the village and the Hermitage of San Sebastian i Algarrobo.
Torre del Mar is an extensive beach skirted by summer resort installations. From there Velez-Malaga, the capital of La Axarquia and one of the most interesting places in the province, lies 5km inland. El Arrabal de San Sebastian with a medieval castle at the top is the oldest part. The more recent area dating from the 16C and 17C has a long series of town palaces and aristocratic houses. The most outstanding sights in this ancient town, which played a decisive role in the conquest of the Kingdom of Granada, are San Juan church, the Convents of San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Jose de la Trinidad, the Mudejar Patio (inner court) of San Marcos Hospital and the palace used as the Town Hall today, apart from the Church of Santa Maria la Mayor. 28km from Velez a turn off the coastal road leads to the small village of Macharaviaya, where the funerary monuments of the powerful Galvez family are found in the crypt of the Baroque church. The beaches of Benajarafe and El Rincon de la Victoria are traditional summer resorts. There, at sunset the traveller may enjoy the spectacle of el Copo a variety of fishing in shallow water. Nearby there are Pedregalejo and El Palo, the beaches of Malaga, the capital of the province. They are very crowded in the summer and are skirted by small houses which used to belong to fishermen in other times.