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Art and culture holidays on the Costa del Sol

Art and culture holidays on the Costa del Sol

In the winter months, holidays to the Costa del Sol change from lying on the beach to being active, enjoying the bright sunny weather to play sports, be outdoors and experience another side of this beautiful place. Another thing we love to do in the autumn and winter is to experience the culture and art that we have on our doorstep and this is a great thing to incorporate into a winter break.

Enjoy art

Malaga is a hotspot for amazing art galleries including the Picasso Museum, the CAC, the Carmen Thyssen gallery and the Pompidou Centre. A day trip to Malaga is essential for any culture vulture and is particularly nice in the quieter winter period. Discover the 10 best galleries in Malaga

Marbella too has some really nice galleries to visit. One of the largest is the Ralli Museum, just off the beachfront in the Golden Mile, which has one of the best collections of Latin American Art in the world. Tucked away in Marbella Old Town in a beautiful old building is the “Engraving Museum” which houses a small but beautiful collection of engravings and graphic art including works by Picasso, Dalí and Miró. There are also some nice private galleries which you can visit and even pick up a piece to take home. Check out this list of the best Marbella art galleries  to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Estepona is another great place to visit for a bit of art and culture. There are 45 beautiful murals on buildings around town which you can explore with the Murals Walking Route. You will also find lots of beautiful sculptures and pieces of poetry scattered around the town and this is a lovely way to explore the town, while also enjoying art. The Kempinski Hotel Bahía has regular art exhibitions in the hotel, which are open to the public and free to view. Until the 10th of January, you can see 20 works by the musicians Brian Travers from UB40 and John Illsely from Dire Straits in their gallery, and iron sculptures by Nimrod Messeg in the lobby.

Experience the Spanish Culture

This is a great time of year to take in a flamenco show, listen to traditional music, or see a performance. During the Christmas period, there are many great performances from the town bands and choirs, as well as a chance to try Spanish Christmas delicacies. Depending where you’re staying, check out the Town Hall’s website, or pop into the local tourist office and find out about these performances, as they aren’t always easy to find online, but are very special.

Roads are quieter this time of year, so hire a car and explore the amazing culture nearby. Learn about the history and spirit of bullfighting in Ronda, flamenco in Seville and sherry making in Jerez, all an easy day trip away from Marbella.

For a taste of Christmas in Spain, look out for “turron” a kind of nougat which comes in all shapes, sizes and forms over Christmas, “polvorones” round almond based biscuits with an unusual powdery texture and the “roscon”, a round cake in the shape of a donut, with a sweet bread exterior, filled with cream and candied fruits.

If you want to take a cultural holiday to the Costa del Sol, please contact us for advice. If you have a particular focus to your holiday, or a few key destinations in mind, we can recommend perfectly located holiday rental properties for you. Staying in a holiday rental, gives you the flexibility to come and go when you please, cook, make a packed lunch, and generally feel at home and give you a comfortable base to explore from. We hope to welcome you here very soon.

Don’t miss Malaga province’s beautiful countryside

Malaga province beautiful countryside

Most people think only of beaches when they think about the Costa del Sol, but just inland from this stunning stretch of coastline is miles and miles of beautiful countryside. We recommend combining time in the country, with time on the beach and in the towns, for a well-rounded view of this wonderful area.

It is amazing how quickly the modern, cosmopolitan coastal areas turn into sleepy rural villages, national parks, and beautiful wilderness. We love the area’s typical white villages, which are easily accessible from the coast and even have some lovely holiday rentals in them.

Close to Marbella, are the pretty villages of Ojen, Istan and Benahavis. Istan has a stunning lake and beautiful countryside around it and is a very traditional Spanish village. Benahavis by contrast is very international, but beautifully preserved and really picturesque. It is famous for its restaurants and known as “The Frying Pan of Andalucia” due to the huge number in such a small place. Foodies should definitely make their way here to get a bit of village charm and a wonderful meal too.

Casares is probably the prettiest white village, seeming to defy gravity with its houses clinging to the hillside below the hilltop church. It is like time has stood still when you walk into the centre of the village, with its winding streets and leisurely pace of life. Yet Casares also offers some great restaurants and even a new zipline for adrenaline junkies, so it’s a great holiday destination. Check out our blog to find out why to visit Casares and ask us about our Casares holiday rental properties if this sounds like the destination for you.

Inland from Fuengirola is the beautiful village of Mijas. This is pretty as a picture and is a vibrant place to visit, with lots of little shops, cafes and even a tiny wine museum and excellent art gallery. All around the village is stunning countryside, with great walking routes from the top of the village out into nature. For the best of both worlds Mijas Costa is a great base for a holiday. This is in the coastal zone, within easy reach of Fuengirola and its many attractions and the area’s many beaches, yet still close to the natural beauty of the village and the surrounding countryside.

There’s more than just the white villages to visit if you want to come into contact with the great outdoors. Estepona is known as the garden of the Costa del Sol due to its many parks and green spaces, plus its amazing botanical gardens with a great orchid collection. A little inland is the natural park of the Sierra Bermeja, with excellent hiking and mountain biking trails.

Last but not least, is the stunning countryside around Malaga. There are the Malaga Lakes, El Chorro gorge and of course the famous Caminito del Rey trail, which are very much worth a visit. Within an hour of the capital city of the province you have the amazing El Torcal natural park, with its weird and wonderful rock formations and excellent bird spotting. There’s also the pretty town of Antequera, miles of countryside dotted with olive trees and incredible historical sites such as the Dolmens which date back to 2500 BC.

To explore this area you can’t rely on public transport, so you either need to hire a car or take a guided tour. We were pleased to see that a new tour company launched recently called Tour de Malaga, who are specifically focusing on rural Malaga and helping visitors to enjoy this stunning countryside. This is definitely an aspect of the area which isn’t being explored as much as it should!

If you like the idea of holidaying away from the hustle and bustle and would like a holiday rental property surrounded by beautiful countryside, we can help you find it. Contact us with your requirements and any areas you particularly like and we’d be happy to provide you with a list of peaceful getaways, which are still within easy reach of everything the coast has to offer.

Wine tourism on the Costa del Sol

Wine tourism on the Costa del Sol

Did you know that as well as the glorious sunshine and beaches, the Costa del Sol is a great place to discover wine? It may not be as well known as the more traditional wine producing areas of the world, but Andalucia is growing in reputation for producing great quality wines and increasingly opening up their bodegas and vineyards to visitors. Wine is excellent value for money here in Spain and there are many specialist wine shops and bars where you can try some of the best and most interesting wines in Spain.

If you want wine to play a role in your next Costa del Sol holiday, here are four things to do and places to go –

  1. Take a day trip to Ronda

Ronda has been making wines since the Roman times and has a wonderful climate and soil conditions. In recent years, it has been making a name for itself for producing some excellent wines and recently launched an official wine tourism route where you can visit bodegas, sample wines and find out how they are made. While you’re there, marvel at the gorge and enormous bridge and visit the home of modern bullfighting. Ronda is an easy day trip from Marbella.

  1. Visit Manilva and learn about their sweet wines

Manilva is in the western Costa del Sol and is famous for its sweet wines and white village surrounded by vines. There is a wine museum where you can learn about the making of the wines and do a tasting. This is where Nilva wine is being produced, a new breed of Manilva wine which is winning many awards at the moment and you can meet the maker and even visit the vineyards as part of a tour. Nearby Puerto de la Duquesa is a popular holiday spot, with great restaurants, bars and nightlife. We have a selection of Manilva holiday rentals, such as this two bedroom apartment in Sabinillas, ask our team for recommendations.

  1. Head to Mijas Pueblo

Mijas Pueblo is one of the Costa del Sol’s most charming villages, with winding streets, white washed houses and lots of lovely shops and restaurants. For wine buffs, a visit to the wine museum is a must. You can pop in and sample wines and learn about them from their well trained staff, or if you have a group of 8 or more you can book a special wine tasting course which is an excellent experience. If this sounds like a good base for your holiday, browse our Mijas holiday rentals.

  1. Try sherry and do a bodega tour in Jerez

A little further afield is the birthplace of sherry Jerez, approximately two hours drive from Marbella. It makes a good day trip, but if you want to sample the sherry it may be wise to stay overnight. There are massive bodegas such as Tio Pepe which you can visit, learn about the production and try the sherries. There are also more interesting places such as the Bodega Tradición which specialises in very old and rare sherries and has a wonderful collection of Spanish art.

Foodies and wine buffs are really spoilt for choice here on the Costa del Sol with many Michelin starred restaurants offering wonderful food with wine pairings and many great gourmet markets to visit. Enjoy your visit!

Exploring and Experiencing Spain’s Heritage for your next holiday

Exploring and Experiencing Spain’s Heritage

Spain is ranked number 2 in the world rankings for heritage in the Best Countries report and rankings for the distinctive way of life, the value put on their culture, history and national identity. Spain is fiercely proud of its traditions and even the younger generations are passionate about it, with flamenco music, fashion and ferias, being embraced as strongly by the kids and teens, as by their grandparents.

Spain also has a rich history and some stunning historical buildings and sites to visit. There are 45 World Heritage Sites in Spain, seven of which are here in Andalusia. The Costa del Sol offers a great combination of heritage, culture and internationalism, to make your holiday easy and stress free, as well as culturally rich.

As soon as you arrive in Spain, you start to relax and allow the spirit of “mañana” (tomorrow) enter into your veins. The Spaniards know how to enjoy themselves and eating, drinking and partying is central to their lifestyle, which makes it such a great place for a holiday!

You can experience the Spanish culture in all its madness and glory at the Malaga Feria from the 12th to the 19th of August, a wonderful display of flamenco music and fashion, great food and the Andalusian spirit of fun. This is the biggest and the best feria in the region, but there are many other ferias throughout the year, which give you a sense of the wonderful culture and heritage. Here are our top three Costa del Sol ferias

Another great way to experience the heritage and culture of Spain, is to base yourself in a holiday rental property on the Costa del Sol and go and visit some of the area’s seven World Heritage Sites. The Costa del Sol is just a few hours away from Cordoba’s historic centre, Granada’s Alhambra, Seville’s Cathedral and Alcazar, Antequera’s Dolmens site and many more and they are easy day trips if you have a car.

Marbella is a great cultural base, with its stunning and well-preserved old town with chapels and churches and the famous flamenco club Tablao Flamenco Ana Maria.

Estepona is also a good location to choose, as it has a more authentic Spanish feel, with less international influence than Marbella or Fuengirola. It has a ham festival from the 10th to the 15th of August which celebrates Spanish ham, and in July they celebrate Cultural Summer with a programme of dance performances in the streets as part of their annual feria. There is a bullfighting museum and 25 massive murals around the town and you can take a walking tour of these enormous art works to get to know the town and enjoy the art. There is also a wonderful theatre with lots of excellent music and dance performances, which is running weekly flamenco shows every Thursday until the end of the year.

There are towns and villages along the Costa del Sol to suit everyone, whether you want culture, sport, nightlife, or just want to lie on the beach. All the HolidayRentalontheWeb team have lived and worked here for many years and so we can advise you on the best place to go, to make it easy to enjoy your perfect holiday, in the perfect holiday home.

Five Amazing Things to do on your next Costa del Sol Holiday

We are spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do over the summer months, with hundreds of attractions for all ages and tastes all vying for your attention but here are our pick of five amazing activities that you are sure to love.

 

Meet the penguins at Selwo Marina – You may not think about penguins on the Costa del Sol, but an ideal way to cool down on a hot summer day and have an unforgettable experience is to go into the penguin enclosure at this great park. You will be able to feed these loveable creatures and learn all about them – perfect for animal lovers of all ages. Selwo Marina is located in Benalmadena, a great town with lots to offer for a fun summer holiday.

 

Pet a panther at Castellar Zoo – Castellar Zoo is a rescue centre for an amazing collection of wild animals and very different from other zoos, you can actually touch a lot of these wonderful creatures. Twice a day, they bring out the animals and you can touch them, feed them and even hold them. Highlights include a lion and panther cub, a huge snake, a lemur and a hawk. Buy a bag of food at the entrance and you can feed the creatures in their enclosures too. To be close to Castellar Zoo, we recommend holiday rental properties in Sotogrande.

 

Try out the new Jurassic River ride at the water park in Algeciras – Bahia Park in Algeciras is a big water park covering over 45,000m2 which has a wide range of attractions, slides and experiences for all ages. They have just opened a new ride, which is called the Jurassic River, they have the biggest Jacuzzi in Andalucia as well as a great kids’ area. This is a wet and wild way to spend a summer’s day.

 

See your favourite artist live at Starlite – There are some amazing concerts on the Costa del Sol this year and the centre of it is the 6 week long Starlite festival, with a whole host of amazing stars including Elton John, Anastacia and Andrea Bocelli all performing outside in a great venue very close to central Marbella

 

Dine at a Michelin Star Restaurant – The Costa del Sol is the perfect place to engage in a spot of gastro tourism, with lots of amazing places to dine and food festivals a plenty. No matter where you are staying, you are within easy reach of a restaurant with a Michelin star. There are four in Marbella, one in Fuengirola, one in Casares and one in Malaga. Just make sure you book well in advance, as demand is high, particularly in the summer months.

 

We have excellent holiday rental properties all along the Costa del Sol and can recommend the best location to allow you to have access to these and many more great holiday activities. Please get in touch and ask our experts for advice or download our Costa del Sol Holiday Guide.

Five Unforgettable Costa del Sol Experiences

The Costa del Sol is synonymous with sun, sea and beaches, but there are a huge range of things to experience here, from the wild to the wacky, from the adventurous to the tasty. Here are just a few surprising, exciting activities you can experience on the Costa del Sol that you may not expect.

moonhowlNight Time Wolf Safari – Each full moon you can visit the Lobo Park (or wolf park) in Antequera, inland from the Costa del Sol for a night time tour of wild wolf habitat. Enjoy a delicious meal and then head out into the night with torches to find the Alaskan wolves, Eurasian wolves and Iberian wolves and watch them in their native habitat at play and rest and hear them howl into the night. Find out more

Recommended Holiday rental near to Antequera – We’d recommend basing yourself in the lovely village of Coín overlooking the spectacular Guadalhorce valley to be within easy reach of Antequera, Malaga, Benalmadena and Fuengirola. We have a great 4 bedroom villa in rural Coin with stunning views, a private pool and extensive gardens with fruit and nut trees.

Learn about Spanish wines – There are several wine museums in Malaga, Mijas and Manilva to name a few, these are great opportunities to find out about the wine making process and the history of wine in Spain and also have very reasonably priced wine tastings. A great night out for wine lovers is a visit to D-wine in San Pedro which is a wine shop, restaurant and bar, with special tasting machines which allow you to sample over 30 wines by the glass. They arrange regular wine tasting events and the restaurant comes highly recommended. Find out more

mmlogoRelease your Inner Willy Wonka – Visit the world’s smallest chocolate factory Mayan Monkey in Mijas Pueblo and take part in chocolate making workshops. There are express workshops for 15 minutes, or hour long experiences where you will make 3 of your own chocolate bars, as well of course as tasting amazing chocolates from around the world. http://www.mayanmonkey.es/

Recommended Holiday Rental near to Mijas Pueblo – If you want to be close to the wine museum and chocolate factory in Mijas, then we can recommend this luxury 4 bed villa in La Cala Hills with private pool, stunning views and private gym. We have a number of quality holiday rentals in the Mijas area, so please browse the site or contact us for other recommendations.

Scale New Heights – Adventurers of all ages will love conquering 83 treetop challenges and zip lines at Aventura Amazonia in Elviria. This large adventure park features in six adventure circuits which are adapted to different ages and abilities. The most challenging area is the sports area, with 13 challenges at an average height of 9 meters above ground, including the famous Tarzan’s leap and a surfboard through the treetops. Your entrance ticket gets you three hours of adventure and excitement and you can go on as many circuits as you can handle.  Find out more

Recommended Holiday Rental near to Elviria – Very close to Amazonia, the many bars, restaurants and shops in Elviria and also the famous Nikki Beach is this great Duplex penthouse with sea views. It has three bedrooms, a large terrace and is located on a lovely development with communal gardens and four shared pools.

logoPet a Tiger in a Zoo with a difference – Castellar Zoo near to Sotogrande is an animal rescue centre, where you can get up close and personal with the most amazing animals. Zoo keepers bring out animals such as monkeys, lemurs, deer and even baby tigers to be fed, stroked and handled by members of the public – an amazing experience. Find out more

Recommended Holiday Rental near to Castellar – We’d recommend basing yourself around Sotogrande or Manilva to be within easy reach of both Castellar and its zoo, but also the lovely beaches and towns of the Western Costa del Sol. This lovely 2 bed apartment in Duquesa is stylish and modern, close to the port of Duquesa with its many bars and restaurants, and just ten minutes’ drive from Sotogrande. It has two bedrooms and bathrooms and a shared garden and pool.

These are just a few of the great activities the Costa del Sol has to offer and we can find you a great property near to your favourite attractions.

Discover Inland Costa del Sol

Discover Inland Costa del SolWhat do you think of when you picture the Costa del Sol? A modern, developed coastline with loads going on, beautiful beaches and international population? You’re right, and yet venture just 10 minutes’ drive away from the famous beaches and you’ll discover a very different world of rolling countryside, quaint white villages, hiking trails and a very relaxed, sleepy way of life.

Choosing an inland location for your Costa del Sol summer holiday can be a smart move, as you’re away from the crowds, and able to relax and unwind in peace and quiet, and yet, you’re just a short drive away from the action – when you want it!

Top Inland Costa del Sol Holiday Destinations

Best White Village
We recommend Casares to the west of the Costa del Sol, the most picturesque white village in the area. The white houses are perched high on a hillside surrounding an old fort and church, it’s breath-taking. As well as being beautiful, it has developed a reputation as a gastronomic hotspot, with lots of great restaurants to enjoy. It is brilliant for birdwatchers with many birds of prey in the area, plus golfers will be spoilt with several great courses in the area. Casares has a good selection of modern holiday apartments and town houses on the outskirts of the village, so you can enjoy comfort and great facilities yet also be close to the village itself. Check out this Casares 2 bedroom holiday apartment located on the Casares golf course, in a lovely complex with several pools and shared garden, plus a discount on green fees for the golf course.

Best Inland Luxury Urbanization
Pueblo Los Monteros, 6 minutes’ drive inland from Los Monteros on the beach, near to Marbella. This luxury urbanization has wonderful facilities such as communal pool with Jacuzzi and an infinity pool with stunning views, an indoor pool including sauna and steam room, gym and playroom for the kids. It is perfectly located to access Santa Clara and Marbella Golf and Country Club and offers a real retreat, within easy reach of the coast. We have a number of holiday rentals on this complex, including a stunning Marbella 3 bed duplex apartment including a large terrace for dining, sunbathing and relaxing, whilst taking in the beautiful views. Everything is stylishly decorated and finished to the highest of standards, for a really special holiday rental apartment in a peaceful, luxurious environment.

Best Inland Activities
Hiking, horse riding, quad biking and canyoning are all exciting activities which are organized around the Costa del Sol and are a great way to explore the inland areas and get away from it all. If that sounds a bit too strenuous, we recommend bird watching, golf or even wine tasting from one of the local wine producers in Ronda, Gaucin or Manilva.

Let us know your favourite places and things to do in inland Costa del Sol, by commenting on the post.

Discovering Malaga

discover-malagaNext time you’re on holiday on the Costa del Sol don’t miss out on the charms of Malaga – a really fantastic city right on the sea which really has so much to offer. There’s been a lot of investment in the city lately with a totally revamped marina area which is absolutely stunning and is the perfect place for a stroll, a drink, some dinner, shopping and fantastic people-watching.

There’s also a beautiful old town with a massive cathedral and an enormous pedestrianized shopping area where you can indulge in some retail therapy. Around this area are some brilliant bars, restaurants and cafes and it’s buzzing at lunch time (2pm for the Spanish) and late into the night.

There are a number of art galleries and museums, such as the relatively new Thyssen Museum, the fantastic Picasso Museum (Malaga is Picasso’s birthplace), a contemporary art gallery and even museums dedicated to cars, flamenco and bullfighting.

With so much to choose from, if you have limited time in the city it can be difficult to pick, but a local Malaga business has just made it easier with the launch of the Malaga City Card. This new card offers three different routes around the city, special rates for five museums, a tourist bus and a gastronomic experience for just 39.95€. Their website is available in four languages and you can buy online,  from  their office in Malaga or via travel agents. What an excellent way to discover Malaga!

Ski within just a few hours of the Costa del Sol

sierranevadaSierra Nevada is approximately 2.5 hours away from Marbella’s beautiful beaches by car, so it’s a perfect day trip as part of a winter getaway between December and April. There are classes on offer for adults and children and you can hire your skis and boots so you don’t have to transport them. For younger children there’s a crèche and other activities such as a fun toboggan ride and ice rink. There’s also a great après-ski scene if you wish to stay overnight, with some lovely restaurants, bars and spas to ease aching joints.

If you’re a beginner or intermediate skier you will be pleased by the combination of green, blue and red runs. If you are a very extreme skier, there’s not as much to keep you interested, but there are 7 black runs to get you going. Plus for snow boarders, or skiers wanting to show some serious tricks, there’s a snowboard park including jumps and even a half pipe.

It really is a great little resort and amazing that you can combine skiing with a beach holiday – on a clear day you can see the sea from the very top of the run! A good idea is to start with a few days relaxing on the beach, followed by a few days on the slopes, then the rest of your stay can be back to chilling with long lunches, strolls along the beach and sundowners to finish off the perfect winter break.

We have an excellent selection of Costa del Sol beachfront holiday accommodation where you can relax and use as your base for a few days on the slopes, but just remember the ski season ends towards the end of April, depending on snow conditions.

Hiking Holidays in Malaga Province

Malaga province is best known for the beaches of the Costa del Sol, but many people aren’aren’t aware of the huge stretches of unspoilt countryside just inland from the coast. Due to the beautiful scenery and great climate, these are growing increasingly popular with serious hikers and lovers of the countryside.

Malaga has more than 2,000 kilometers of public footpaths which will be extended by more than 600 kilometers in 2014 when the circular route known as “Gran Sienda de Malaga” will be launched next year.

There are a few walking hot spots in the area, such as the many marked trails behind Marbella at the Refugio de Juanar area which is on the road behind La Cañada shopping centre and surprisingly close to Marbella. This is where the tricky ascent to the top of the iconic mountain La Concha starts which takes around 6 hours and has some seriously precipitous sections where our Director Tony Sidebottom took a nasty fall and had to be airlifted off the mountain. There are less challenging walks available too which are marked and timed, but take maps as well as relying on the trails as they aren’t foolproof. There are also lovely marked routes around the white villages of Istan, Ojen and Casares which will give you a very different view of the Costa del Sol. The village of Mijas Pueblo, near Fuengirola, has free guided walks twice a week which are arranged by the council and lots of lovely signed walks around the area.

There are many books and websites which have information about walking in the area such as Marbella Trails and Walking in Andalucia and there are extracts from the book to be found on Andalucia.com to give a flavour . As always, take care on these walks, take water and food and appropriate clothing, as there are always risks associated with going off the beaten track. Take part in a tour or guided walk to ensure you are in safe hands, there are many companies offering these services such as SUR-walks.