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For a quieter and more traditional view of Spain head to the eastern end of the Costa del Sol to La Axarquía and the coast stretching eastward from Malaga. La Axarquía provides a welcome retreat from the crowds that gather in the peak summer months and an unspoilt view of Spain with white-washed villages and lush, green and mountainous terrain. Here history and culture is all around to see and to be explored and the views unimaginable. From the moment you arrive you’ll really feel that you’re on holiday due to a much slower pace of life in this region.
Must do - Flamenco in Malaga
Experience the culture and originality of the region through the many festivals which bring this region to life from late Spring to late Summer. Every city, town and village will have at least one festival a year that is unique and the locals’ enthusiasm is infectious. There are gastronomic festivals such as the morcilla festival in Canillas de Aceituno, serving up tonnes of black pudding every April; and religious celebrations, epitomised by the solemn and colourful processions of the Semana Santa leading up to Easter, the memory of which will stay vivid in your mind for years to come. If it’s a party you want, Flamenco dance your way through the nine day Feria de Malaga in August, when every day is a street party in the old centre and the revelry runs through the night at the Malaga fair grounds.
Must see - Sierra Tejeda, Malaga
La Maroma is the name of the highest mountain peak in the Sierra Tejeda range, at the edge of the Malaga-Granada border. Many of the pueblos blancos of La Axarquía rest on the slopes of La Maroma with amazing views past the mountains to the sea, with endless hiking trails in between. The entire area is a massive mountain nature reserve that also includes the Sierra Almijara and Sierra Alhama ranges, home to numerous species of rare birds (you’re almost certain to see eagles), mountain goats and the Iberian Lynx. Gorges, waterfalls, pre-historic caves, remnants of Phoenician, Roman and Moorish civilizations – it is a hiker’s paradise without doubt. Many of the villages will offer detailed maps and possibly contact information for trail guides; for example,there is a tourist office in Canillas de Aceituno where you can find information, and from there it is only a seven hour trek to the very summit of La Maroma at almost 2100m. However, if you’re not quite up to all of this hiking but still want to see the terrain for yourself, you can hire a small plane from the nearby Axarquía – Leoni Benabu Airport to fly you past. Otherwise, for even more adventure, try paragliding through.
Where to eat - Gourmet dining in Malaga
With a regularly refreshing menu and an intimate dining area (consisting of just five tables) a visit to Restaurante Sollun in Nerja is recommended. Not only does the chef, Juan Quintanilla, serve up fine Spanish classics he was awarded Michelin recognition in 2012 for his efforts. Obviously booking is recommended but don’t be too disappointed if it’s busy as there is fine dining along the coast where restaurants serve up the freshest catches of the day.
Best beaches - Malaga beach
When it comes to brilliant beaches you don’t have to look far to find one in Spain, we recommend isolated beaches near Maro, which is just beyond Nerja.Playa Cantarrijan, in a cove right at the border between Malaga and Granada provinces, is a must see. There is also a more private section of beach accessible by paddling around a huge rock! The most secluded and hidden beaches will be most easily accessed on a small boat chartered from nearby Caleta de Velez or La Herradura.
Where to stay
We recommend staying at La Maroma. Set on a private hilltop in Andalucía, with grounds sloping away on three sides, La Maroma enjoys panoramic views to the sea over almond and olive groves and the estate's own private vineyard. The villa is well placed for exploring this region of Spain.
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