Málaga province

Málaga province

Thirty kilometres north of Malaga is the 12km² Torcal de Antequera Natural Area, with one of the most dramatic and exceptional karstic landscapes in Europe. This surreal and lunar grey limestone plateau, dating from the Jurassic period, is riven by deep gullies and characterised by its fantastically weathered natural sculptures, like the Tornillo Natural Monument.

The Guadalhorce river has sliced through limestone to create a spectacular gorge 50km northwest of Malaga, the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, otherwise known as the Garganta del Chorro. Its 4km length has sheer walls towering up to 400m in places, while its width is only 10m wide at certain points.

Designated a natural park in 1999, this large and rugged mountainous region of 40,663ha stretches across the provincial border of Granada and Malaga. Its western part in Malaga province is known as the Axarquía and is famous for its attractive villages dating from Moorish times. It is also superb hiking country and its numerous steep mountainsides make it ideal for climbers.

The natural park Sierra de las Nieves (36.6771, -4.99606) is located in the hills behind Marbella and to the east of the Ronda-Marbella road as it winds up the mountain along hairpin bends. The park centres on Mount Torrecilla (1909m) and covers an area of 30km by 20km or 18,530 hectares. At present, the Sierra de las Nieves natural park is in the process of being declared a National Park.

It is easy to understand why Malaga City is capital of the Costa del Sol. Once considered the poor cousin of Andalusia’s capital city, Seville, it now competes successfully for attention, thanks to its profusion of quirky museums, delightful pedestrianised centre, innovative restaurants and stylish hotels, many featuring trendy rooftop terraces with bar, pool and stunning views.

La Axarquia area is still breathtakingly beautiful and has not been spoilt by the interest and influx of foreigners. The main attractions are the area's dramatic hill and mountain scenery, its unspoilt, white washed villages and the strong sweet wine that is made from sun dried grapes.

The Costa de Sol can be divided into two sections: East and West, with Malaga city at its centre. The eastern Costa del Sol is much shorter, stretching from the provincial capital as far as Nerja, where it meets the Costa Tropical of Granada province.

The Gran Senda de Malaga (Great Malaga path) is a long distance footpath that encircles the entire province of Malaga. It has been given the footpath number GR-249 and is divided into 35 stages averaging 18km nominally starting at Malaga City and more or less following the provincial boundary in an anti-clockwise direction. Each stage starts and finishes in a town or village.