Looking for a new kind of trip in Costa del Sol? Why not take a road trip? This 336-kilometre route through Malaga’s beautiful white villages promises seven days of incredible adventure by car. Throughout this journey, you’ll see everything: from Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park and Guadalhorce Valley to Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park and Sierra Bermeja Royals Natural Park.
Days 1 and 2: Malaga - Pizarra - Cuevas del Becerro - Ronda
Day 1 starts in Malaga! Spend the day exploring this beautiful capital. We’ll stay at the Parador de Málaga Gibralfaro hotel, which has one of the best and most beautiful panoramic views of the city. From there, we’ll visit the Roman Theatre of Malaga, Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle, and take a walk down the Alameda Principal and famous Calle Larios and eat delicious fried fish at the energetic Atarazanas Central Market. Then, we will spend the afternoon exploring Malaga Cathedral (known as “La Manquita,” for its unfinished tower) and stroll down the popular Muelle Uno. That night, we’ll end our busy day by finding a lively tapas bar in the historic centre of Malaga and toasting to the beautiful trip ahead.
The next morning, we will grab breakfast in Malaga and start our drive through the white inland villages. We’ll head towards Pizarra, about 30 kilometres from the capital, in Guadalhorce Valley. Here, we’ll see beautiful natural landscapes and important Spanish sites like the Palace of the Counts of Puerto Hermoso and the Church of San Pedro, which house impressive works of art from the 17th and 18th centuries.
If you have more time, you can stay an extra day to explore Álora and see the famous Caminito del Rey (it is extremely important that you book this visit way in advance, by the way). If your time is short, continue to Cuevas del Becerro. Despite being one of the smallest towns in the region, this Mozarabic—the entrance to the Ronda mountains—has everything visitors need and more. It’s a rural town with enough culture, nature, tradition and tasty cuisine to entertain you for days.
While there, visit the Church of San Antonio Abad, the famous Fuente del Nacimiento or an archaeological site from the Roman times, Las Casas de las Viñas. As our day ends, we will drive another 20 kilometres to Ronda, where we will spend the night.
Days 2 and 3: Ronda
Ronda is one of the most serene and most beautiful towns in Costa del Sol, and it’s a place known for its culture, artistry and a stunning natural landscape. While all the hotels here are wonderful, we recommend staying at one in particular: the Catalonia Reina Victoria, a spa hotel.
The town of Ronda sits on a rocky plateau that is divided by the Tagus River. Both sides represent two distinctly different parts of the town: the southern part is the Old Town, while the northern part is the more urban part of Ronda. While we’re here, we will visit important local sites like the New Bridge, the Old Bridge, Mondragón Palace (where the Ronda Museum is headquartered), the Palace of the Marquis of Salvatierra, Casa del Gigante (an interesting example of Arab civil architecture), the Convent of the Franciscan Mothers or the Convent of Santo Domingo.
Ronda is also packed with museums, so if you’re into that kind of thing, check out some of the top options—like the Bandolero Museum, the Lara Museum or the Real Maestranza de Caballería, a bullfighting museum. Don’t miss the restaurant scene, as Ronda is known for it. In fact, in the centre of the town, you will find a range of tapas bars and restaurants that celebrate the local cuisine.
Days 3 and 4: Ronda - Cortes de la Frontera - Istán
On Day 3, we’ll wake up and head to Cortes de la Frontera, home to the largest cork oak forest in all of Spain. Nestled in Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, this destination brings together the best of nature, history and culture. Whether you’re relaxing or doing something active, anyone who spends the day in Cortes de la Frontera can experience its rural tourism firsthand. For us, we will take a walk through Los Alcornocales Natural Park and, once the afternoon hits, head towards Istán.
Tucked in the middle of the Sierra de las Nieves, Istán is a destination known for its natural beauty. The Verde River runs right through the town, nicknamed the "Costa del Sol Spring" because of how important it is as a source of water. During the day, we’ll visit the Church of San Miguel (the patron saint of the town) in the town square, as well as Escalante Tower, the oldest building in the area. We’ll spend the night at the Hotel Rural Los Jarales and continue our journey tomorrow.
Days 5, 6 and 7: Istán - Coín - Mijas - Málaga
It’s Day 5! After breakfast, we’ll drive from Istán to Coín, which is a total distance of 46 kilometres. Located in the Guadalhorce Valley, Coín is known for its plentiful citrus and olive groves. Its Andalusian architecture is especially interesting—you can see it in residents’ stately homes, which are adorned with Andalusian-style gates and windows. We will also try to visit important monuments and churches in the municipality, like the Church of La Encarnación, the Church of San Andrés and the Church of San Juan.
From there, it’s just a 20-kilometre drive to Mijas, which has one of the best vistas of the mountains towering over the Mediterranean Sea. Hidden in the mountains, Mijas is made up of three main towns: Mijas Pueblo, Las Lagunas and Cala de Mijas. Mijas Pueblo is home to the most monuments and sites, like the Wall, Viewpoint and Gardens and the impressive Center for Contemporary Art, so we will spend most of our time there.
That night, we’ll stay in one of Mijas’ plentiful hotels, and return to Malaga the next morning. This is the end of our week in Costa del Sol! And what a beautiful week it was.
You might also be interested in a weekend road trip through the white villages of Costa del Sol. Luckily, we have an itinerary for that, too. Just click here.