The coasts of the Costa del Sol have long since been the preserve of the sun-seeking tourist. The spectacularly sandy beaches that line the miles of coastline in the region have been popular with visitors since the 1960s, and the myriad of established hotels, restaurants and bars that make up the lively resorts stand as visible testament to the enduring popularity of the area. From the infamously lively resorts of Torremolinos and Benalmadena to the more upmarket stretches of sand at Marbella, thousands still flock to the shores, year after year, to get a taste of the Costa del Sol lifestyle and to enjoy relaxing in the warm Spanish sun.
However, in recent years, the area has witnessed a gradual change in direction, as visitors increasingly head inland, away from the shores, to explore some of the areas better concealed attractions. From romantic pueblos, scarcely touched by the 21st century, to secretive mountain towns, there is more to the area of the Costa del Sol than just its beaches and notorious nightlife, for those who dare to venture off the well trodden tourist path.
Drive just a few short miles inland and you will be rewarded by a landscape which is strikingly different to the skyline of hotels and golden sands of the coasts. Flat coastal terrain suddenly, dramatically, gives way to rugged, Andalucían terrain; a landscape where narrow roads incline through tremendous mountain passes and huge eagles and vultures soar overhead. The area is also home to one of the largest colonies of flamingos in Europe, at Laguna de Fuente de Piedra Natural Reserve and offers several other natural reserves and river valleys, such as Lagunas de Archidona and the Genil River, both of which seem a million miles away from the bustle and energy of the coastal resorts.
Pueblos and Ronda
Ronda is more often than not, a place that many have heard about, but few have discovered for themselves. Travel only an hour or so inland from the coast, via a spectacular winding road through the mountains, and you will find yourself in this impressive hidden town, a remarkable historic location, with ancient bullring, cobbled streets and staggering stone bridges spanning impossibly deep gorges. Likewise, the pueblos surrounding the Costa del Sol offer a captivating insight into the traditional side of the area; with tiny whitewashed houses, peaceful, narrow streets and some of the finest Spanish food to be found in tiny, romantic restaurants. Benalmadena pueblo is only twenty minutes drive from the coast, making it the most accessible, and the Pueblo Blanco near Ronda is famous for its quaint beauty and whitewashed houses.
Getting Better Acquainted with Costa del Sol’s Secret Side
Fortunately, it is now far easier to explore the mountainous terrain that makes up the inland area around the Costa del Sol. There are many car rental companies from which you can hire a vehicle to travel through the region, or alternatively, there are some excellent tour companies who will do the driving for you. For many, the undeniable charm of the area proves to hold such strong allure that they make the decision to emigrate permanently to the area, though for those who don’t wish to make that level of commitment, there is always the option of opting for a reputable timeshare scheme in the area, providing the option of making repeated returns to the area and explore the hidden sights more comprehensively. Alternatively, dare to book a break to the Costa del Sol out of season, when the hordes of tourists will have diminished considerably, allowing you an invaluable chance to experience the sights of the region uninterrupted.
Taking a Break from the Beaches
A considerable part of the Costa del Sol’s appeal is, of course, its beautiful beaches and the exuberant lifestyle that it can offer to its visitors. However, it is important to remember that there is a wealth of natural beauty and remarkable, historic locations, only a short distance from the shoreline, should you wish to explore it. So why not hire a car, take a break from the beach and start getting to grips with the more traditional side of the region?