The Andalusian province of Malaga is best known for its aptly named Costa del Sol, a sun-soaked stretch of sandy coastline punctuated by Marbella and the glamourous Puerto Banus Marina, as well a number of sleepier fishing villages and low-key retreats.
The city of Malaga, birthplace of Pablo Picasso, sits to the east of the Costa del Sol. While seen by most as the gateway to the westward beaches, this laid back place also offers some genuinely interesting historical attractions, such as the Roman Theatre and Moorish Alcazaba castle, and its coastal setting is striking.
Venture inland and you’ll find a rugged mountains sprinkled with charming ‘pueblos blancos’, or white towns. Most famous of these is the remarkably pretty clifftop town of Ronda and its gorge-spanning 18th-century stone bridge, or perhaps rustic Benahavís, a place known as ‘the dining room of the Costa del Sol’ because of its concentration of excellent restaurants.
Following winding roads north, it’s easy to find yourself in remote villages with their authentic charm untouched as well as a fascinating array of historic (and prehistoric) sites, stretching back to Bronze Age burial mounds to Roman ruins, Moorish citadels and medieval churches and baroque bell towers. You may even stumble across vast lakes home to flamingos or tiny spa towns favoured by the travelling Lord Byron.
When to go
These are year-round destinations, with spring and fall seeing sunny, warm weather. Summer months can get quite hot but there are cool breezes.