The Coastal Route from Nerja to Sotogrande along the Costa del Sol offers the traveller one hundred and fifteen kilometers of coastline with all the attractions typical of the sea, as well as the added allure of the countryside and the neighboring nature parks.
If as our starting point we take the eastern most point at the border between the provinces of Granada and Málaga, we will find at kilometer 297 of the N-340 coastal highway the Maro-Cerro Gordo nature park, an impressive headland with its tower and huge cliffs covered with mastic trees above which flocks of sea gulls fly.
Nearby is Nerja with its attractive old village, its beaches between cliffs, the Balcony of Europe, a lookout high over the sea, and the famous cave also known as the Prehistoric Cathedral with almost two kilometers of floodlit caverns open to the public, boasting enormous vaults, haunting figures and Paleolithic cave paintings.
Continuing along the same road, we reach Torre del Mar (21 Km.), travelling through the coastal areas of the towns of La Axarquía, such as Tor rox and Algarrobo, where ruins of a Roman settlement may be visited at the mouth of the Torrox river and a wide variety of wines of the region from dry to sweet can be sampled.
Torre del Mar has experienced recent prosperity from tourist development and little is left to remind us of the fortified city where it once served as lookout for Vélez Málaga. Not too far away, we encounter the interesting Phoenician settlement of Toscanos and the Garden necropolis, at the mouth of the Vélez river.
Skirting along the coast, we come to Rincón de la Victoria, about 18 kilometers away. It is a typical tourist town close to the capital, with a lovely beach and warm water.
Málaga, at the mouth of the Guadalmedina and Guadalhorce rivers, lies in a depression and maintains a maritime vocation from ancient times, with its port, its Paseo Marítimo devoted to the immortal artist Picasso, and its well-known beaches called playas del Palo.
From Málaga, capital of the Costa del Sol, our journey brings us to a stretch of coastline which has experienced the greatest tourist growth in Spain during the last thirty years.
Twelve kilometers from the capital, Torremolinos is the leading force behind tourism in the area. Repopulated after its reconquest by the Catholic Monarchs in 1489, the origin of the tourist industry may be found with the English Castle, which in the 1920’s took in veterans from World War I. The castle keep and the fishermen’s district of La Carihuela, with restaurants specializing in “pescaíto frito” (mixed fried fish), are the main attractions.
As Torremolinos burgeoned in the 60’s, overcrowding caused the boom of other nearby spots along the coast, such as Benalmádena, six kilometers away, which has also experienced surprising growth on the coast, as well as Arroyo de la Miel, a little inland. The marina, hub of nightlife, Tor requebrada casino, which takes its name from the nearby watchtower, and Tívoli amusement park, patterned after the one in Copenhagen, offer a wide variety of sports and leisure activities, as well as entertainment.
Fuengirola is another example of a bustling town devoted to tourism of sun and sand. Of interest are the historical vestiges, such as Sohayl castle, the “termas” or hot springs, and Villa Romana, an interesting museum of painting on adjoining walls of buildings, and the mandatory trip to Mijas, a truly picturesque mountain village.
Marbella, some 50 kilometers from the capital, is undeniably the main international tourist attraction on the Costa del Sol. At the foot of Sierra Blanca and situated on a beautiful bay, the town has overcome a lull in its development and offers high quality facilities. The colorful old quarter, the attention given to its streets and beaches, the surprising variety and distinction of the housing developments have spawned the name of the golden triangle for the financial power generated
Very well-known is Puerto Banús, frequented by magnates from all over the world, as well as the beaches of San Pedro de Alcántara, today annexed by Marbella. A short distance inland, we find Istán, spring of the Costa del Sol and Ojén, an ecological paradise. Estepona, the Phoenician Astapa, was the center of important naval and land battles during the Middle Ages. Protected from winds by Sierra Bermeja, it has a typically Mediterranean village center, a notable marina, and a well-known nudist beach, Costa Natura, in Arroyo Vaquero.
Before arriving at Manilva, sentinel of the coast, past sprawling housing developments and enchanting beaches, we turn off at Casares at kilometer 146 of the N-340. Fourteen kilometers further along, we reach the mountain village where Blas Infante, father of Andalusianism, was born.
Here we also find ruins of an old fortress. Founded by order of Julius Caesar, it has been declared an historic-artistic complex which includes the Church of La Encarnación, tower of la Sal, and an archeological area.
Manilva, 94 kilometers from Málaga, rounds off this coastal route before arriving at Sotogrande where Costa de la Luz begins. Perched on a hill presiding over seven kilometers of beaches, it boasts a castle and Sabinillas beaches, around which a recreational complex including housing developments, golf courses, and a marina has been built.