Hidden Gems In Andalusia
At just a stone’s throw away from the African shores, Andalucia is where the Spanish and Moorish cultures meet and live in harmony. Cities full of character were born out of a fortunate mix of the Spanish lively spirit paired with Moorish creativity. There is no wonder that iconic symbols such as the fiery flamenco and the mouth-watering tapas are deeply rooted in Andalucia. You may have heard of iconic destinations such as Granada, Seville, and Malaga, but did you know it was home to these hidden gems as well?
Sentinel de las Bodegas
Welcome to Setenil de las Bodegas, a town in Andalusia that is quite literally living under a rock! I first came across this unusual pueblo online a few years back and knew I had to see it for myself one day. Due to its obvious curiosities, Setenil has become a tourist destination everyone must visit. The two main streets are called Cuevas del Sol and Cuevas de la Sombra, which translates to ‘Caves of the Sun’ and ‘Caves of the Shadow’. One street is in the sun and one is in the shadows due to the gigantic rock that splits the two streets apart. Cuevas del Sol is lined with restaurants and cafes with plenty of outdoor seating, I must admit I felt a little uneasy drinking my cafe con lech with the imposing rock face above my head but it’s definitely an experience I recommend doing! Setenil de las Bodegas is easily reachable by car from any white town in the province of Malaga and Cadiz.
Caminito del Rey
Located about a 40-minute drive from Malaga city is the Caminito del Rey (the king’s little walk). This almost 8-kilometre path was once considered one of the most dangerous in the world but Luckily for us, the entire route was carefully restored and in 2015 was re-opened to the public. This unique aerial path is suspended 100 metres up against the walls of the gorge and was originally used by workers at the hydroelectric power plants at Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls. The path snakes around the gorge and with sheer drops down to the Guadalhorce River it definitely isn’t for the faint-hearted! Even though this is possibly one of the most amazing walks I’ve ever done, I was surprised to find the trail relatively empty of people! The hike may be long but isn’t too challenging which makes it the perfect activity for people young and old and the jaw-dropping views alone will keep this trip lingering in your memories for a long time after. Note that you can only walk one way so will need transportation back to the start point, you can take a guided tour which I recommend who will drop you back off.
Ronda is easily one of my favourite places to visit yet it is still relatively undiscovered. The town is split between the 328ft deep El Tajo Gorge with its most striking feature, the Puente Nuevo (the new bridge), linking the old town to the new. The ‘new bridge’ was built in 1793 and is a thing of beauty. There is some wonderful walking to be enjoyed in this spectacular cleft in the landscape. From the old town, a dramatic path takes you right down to the bottom of El Tajo, to the foot of the mighty “New Bridge” that spans the canyon. On our4-night Andalusia experience, we explore both the old and the new part of the town before heading down to the surrounding vineyards to take part in the highlight of the trip: an open-air cooking class accompanied by a session of wine tasting!
El Torcal de Antequera
El Torcal is one of the most interesting tourist destinations in Andalusia. Located in the municipal terms of Antequera and Villanueva de la Concepción, the Torcal de Antequera is characterised by a beautifully preserved Karst landscape, known as a terrain that spent more than 200 million years submerged by the sea. Here you will find an abundance of marine fossils alongside some of the strangest rock formations out there. I stumbled upon this place by accident when driving through Andalusia and I was certainly not disappointed. The whole area has an out-worldly feel to it that is just waiting to be explored and I highly recommend a visit, just remember to pack some good walking boots.
Nestled high up on the mountainside is the stunning village of Mijas. The white-washed village offers spectacular views over the Costa del Sol and unlike other neighbouring pueblos blancos, it is still relatively undiscovered by tourists making it the perfect place to explore without the crowds. Wander through cobbled streets with houses lined with brightly painted flower pots filled with geraniums, relax at the many cafes dotted around or take a wine tour around the Museo del Vino, learn about the history and sample the delicious wines this region has to offer!
Iberian Lynx, Sierra de Andujar National park
A beauty spot that not many people know about, the Sierra de Andujar National park is one of two of Spain’s last refuges for the elusive and highly endangered lynx, whose population has around 80 adults that produce some 35 cubs a year. Aloof and normally very difficult to see, they are more prevalent during the winter mating season when we visit on our 4-night Iberian Lynx Experience. Aside from the lynx, look out for other native wildlife including the Spanish Imperial Eagle, Spanish Ibex, and Black Vulture. The lush forests, diverse flora and fauna, and rare species make this hidden gem an incredibly special place to visit and is thankfully protected by the numerous National Parks which make Andalucia one of the best-preserved regions in Spain. It’s not essential but is likely to enhance your experience so do bring binoculars if you or any of your friends have them! Alternatively, if you have one your camera zoom may help!
Like many people who come to Andalusia, I have completely fallen in love with the region and will come back to visit time and time again. If you are interested in experiencing Andalusia for yourself, check out our experiences here, and if you have any queries please don’t hesitate to get in contact at firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com.
Written by Lucy Kaufmann, Untravelled Paths