Places to see near this luxury Spanish villa: Marbella and Puerto Banús and more
There are is an endless list of places to see near this luxury Spanish villa including Marbella, Puerto Banús and Ronda. Read on to find out more.
Costa del Sol Places to See: Locally near Villa la Sopresa
Villa La Sorpresa is located in the heart of the Costa del Sol and so there are many places to see near this luxury Spanish villa starting with Marbella and Puerto Banús
Marbella itself is also a must. In particular the Marbella Old Town ‘casco histórico’ or ‘Casca Antiguo’ is a rabbit-warren of narrow, flower-filled streets. The famous Orange Tree Square ‘plaza de los naranjos’ is a popular square for meals and sports a 16th century town hall and the remains of an Arab castle and its city walls. Marbella has two municipal markets for fresh fish, meat, fruit and vegetables, cheeses, olives, flowers and much more. Excellent shopping, boutiques and great leather goods, belts, shoes and bags.
Puerto Banús marina is one of the Costa del Sol’s “places to be seen”. One can spend the day celebrity-watching and restaurant-hopping.
Costa del Sol Places to See: A Bit Further away from Villa La Sorpresa
Most people that fly into Málaga leave the airport, turn right or left along the coastline and ignore the city itself. That’s a shame because Málaga is a vibrant city that has been undergoing something of a renaissance in recent years. The New York Times included it in its 50 ‘must see’ cities in 2016. First settled by the Phoenicians nearly 3,000 years ago, the city has been occupied by Carthaginians, Romans and Arabs. Málaga is one of the oldest cities in the world.
Visit the Roman amphitheatre and the Arab fortifications of Gibralfaro. Stroll through the historic city centre, take in the Pompidou and its St. Petersburg Russian art collections. Visit the museum honouring Málaga’s most famous son, Pablo Picasso. Then bring yourself into the present day at Muelle Uno, the new waterfront mall by the port. After a busy day, finish off with an evening session at the Hammam Al Andalus. Click here for more information.
El Caminito del Rey:
Recently re-opened after years in disrepair, the Caminito del Rey is often called “the scariest pathway in the world”. This is a great day trip to take in the Ardales National Park including the Guadalhorce Lakes and El Chorro gorge where you can canoe, kayak and cycle. Stunning scenery and some good lakeside restaurants make this one of the Costa del Sol’s places to see. There is a limit of 1,100 daily visitors so book in advance here.
Leaving Villa La Sorpresa, turn right on the main road and take a 40 minute drive through the mountains to the fortress town of Ronda. Dramatically located on the Tajo gorge Ronda was originally settled by Celts about 3,000 years ago. The Phoenicians followed and by Roman times it was an important settlement. Julius Caesar granted it city status. Ronda’s bullring is the oldest in Spain and if you have seen the film ‘Carmen’ with Plácido Domingo you’ll recognise lots of Ronda’s landmarks.
There’s much to see in the town itself but there are two other Costa del Sol “places to see” that are nearby and worth seeing.
Acinipo is about 20 minutes from the centre of Ronda and it was an important Roman town for about 700 years. Click here for more information. You can visit the baths and amphitheatre.
For evidence of even earlier human habitation in the region, go to La Cueva del la Pileta near Benaoján, southwest of Ronda. Call in advance for guided tours of the cave art, some of which is thought to be 20,000 years old. Click here for more information
Places with UNESCO World Heritage sites in Andalucía: Day trips from Villa La Sorpresa
Spain has 47 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the third highest in the world. Andalucía has eight of these which is more than any other Spanish region. Their newest addition to the list is the the Medina Azahara near Córdoba which was acknowledged as a world heritage site in 2018.
Settled by the Romans and known as Hispalis, Seville is Andalucía’s largest city and Spain’s only river port. Columbus’s departure for the New World was from Seville as was Magellan’s journey, which led to the first circumnavigation of the world. Recaptured from the Arabs in 1248, Seville was already an important trading city but flourished as the Spanish empire grew. Seville became one of the world’s richest cities.
Three sites in Seville have World Heritage status:
- The Cathedral, the third largest in the world, which houses the tomb of Columbus.
- The Alcázar, the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.
- The Archive of the Indies, the repository housing the documents that record the Spanish Empire in the Americas and the Philippines. The building is one of Seville’s fine renaissance structures.
By car you should be in the city centre in less than two hours, either going via Ronda or down the coast past Algeciras, then via Jerez. It’s an easy day trip. Like most Spanish cities, the historic city centre of Seville is flat and compact and there’s no need for a car. So park in one of the cities paid parking garages and spend the day walking around. An alternative is to travel to Seville using the AVE high-speed train from Málaga.
Lots of people stay away from Seville in the heat of summer and although it is often over 40ºC in July and August, it’s a dry heat. Seville is a city that really knows how to live even when it’s at its hottest. Seville claims to be the birthplace of tapas, although Granada would disagree. Whoever is right, there’s nowhere better for a tapas crawl in the evening, going from bar to bar, sampling the best on offer.
Another of the Costa del Sol’s places to see is Granada. After the fall of Córdoba in 1236 there was only one seat of Arab rule for the last 250 years of Arab occupation and that was Granada. Eventually Arab rule in Spain ended completely in 1492. Some claim that the Alhambra is Spain’s most visited building. More than 2.3 million people go every year. It is best to plan ahead if you intend going: everything you need to know is on this multi-lingual site here.
Three sites in Granada have World Heritage status:
- The Alhambra
- The Generalife
- The Albayzin quarter
Via Málaga by car the journey is about two hours. The AVE high-speed rail from Málaga is also an option. The summer months are hot but not as extreme as Seville or Córdoba. However, it’s very different at other times of the year given its altitude of 750m or 2,500ft above sea level. Spring and autumn are chilly and winter is freezing, serious wrapping up is needed.
The ski resort of Pradollano is Europe’s most southerly and one of the highest, with pistes between 2,100 and 3,300m. The altitude helps insure one of the longest skiing seasons in southern Europe. The season usually opens by December 1st and doesn’t close until May. It’s a very Spanish resort, packed at weekends and on bank holidays so aim for a mid-week trip to avoid queues if you can.
There are 106 km of piste spread over 120 pistes. 400 – 500 cm of snow is the norm. Here’s a recent independent review of the resort plus the official site and an unofficial English version. When the snow has melted the mountain biking and motocross season takes over.
The first traces of human presence in Córdoba date back to the Neanderthals. The first recorded settlements were Carthaginian, after which the Romans conquered Córdoba in 206BC. Under the Arabs Córdoba was thought to be the most populous city in the world, with as many as 500,000 inhabitants before being re-conquered by Ferdinand III in 1236.
If you are staying at Villa La Sorpresa in early May then you can catch the flower festival in which the patios, the traditional inner courtyards of Córdoba, are opened to visitors. Residents of Córdoba compete with each other to produce the most beautiful displays and the patios literally drip with flowers. Click here for more information.
Centred around the Mosque/Cathedral, the historic city centre has World Heritage status.
The Medina Azahara, about 13kms to the west of Córdoba is often called the medieval Versailles. The Medina Azahara was constructed from 936AD and was assigned as the administrative centre and palace of the Arabs. However, this status was short-lived as the area was abandoned in 1010.
The other UNESCO sites in Andalucía:
Doñana National Park is one of the places protecting the Iberian lynx. The park lies on the Europe-Africa migration route for just about every bird species which lands to feed and rest. This makes Doñana a bird-watcher’s paradise. Here is a useful resource to help you plan a trip, guided tours are recommended.
Other recommended Costa del Sol “places to see” are the towns of Úbeda and Baeza in Jaén province. These provide fine examples of Arab and renaissance architecture and prehistoric cave paintings at various sites.