The Costa del Sol in southern Spain is a very popular travel destination, which means that there is a very wide choice of holidays available. But how do you take advantage of these deals, and the 320 days of sunshine, while keeping away from the crowds?
One option is to travel east of Malaga instead of west. Immediately you’re in a slightly less popular area, and you can find quiet beaches like the one near Nerja. It’s called El Canuelo, and is at the foot of the Mario Cliffs, and it’s all part of a nature reserve. You won’t get picture-postcard sand here – it’s a bit grey, but the bonus is that the sea is amazingly clear and cleaner than you find in the busy resorts.
The quietness and secluded nature of the beaches also means they are frequented by nudists, so you might want to be careful where you look! On the other hand, the beautiful water quality makes these beaches perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.
There are a couple of beach bars which provide decent food and liquid refreshments, which is perfect after you have worked up an appetite with all that swimming and snorkeling.
You’ll find the beach about 13km (8 miles) east of Nerja. Parking is at the top of the cliff, where you can get a little bus to take you down to sea-level.
Keeping near Nerja, but away from the beaches, the village of Frigiliana is well worth a visit. It is a very beautiful whitewashed village, so it does have plenty of visitors, but you are away from the huge crowds that frequent the popular beach resorts. Narrow cobbled streets, colorful plants and flowers, combine with the blue sky, red roofs, and white walls to create a magical atmosphere.
Frigiliana is a popular place for artists and photographers, so it’s no surprise to find there are several studios and galleries in the area. It’s a lovely village to just wander around and take in the atmosphere and stunning views. You will also get some useful exercise, as these streets can be quite steep – those amazing views are due to the mountainside you’re standing on.
Take a rest in one of the many restaurants, and you’ll often be sitting in a roof garden, and getting an even better look at the scenery than you could from street level. Travelling from Nerja, Frigiliana is a very short distance to the north, and very easy to find, off the A7/E15 road.
Other places to consider are Mijas Pueblo and Benahavís. Mijas is a mountain village to the north of Fuengirola in the typical Andalusian style – whitewashed buildings with narrow cobbled streets. Benahavis is also a mountain village, but just a short distance from the coast, located just to the west of Marbella. Both villages are great places to relax in, with plenty of little shops to browse around, and cafes where you can just sit and enjoy the view with tasty local snacks.
So, for a quieter vacation on the Costa del Sol, you want to keep away from the well-known beach resorts. But you don’t have to travel far to avoid the main crowds. You also want to consider visiting in winter, when the weather is still very good, and there are even fewer visitors. A mountain village in winter with sea views of the Costa del Sol – now that would be a perfectly peaceful vacation spot.