Writer’s retreat in Spain is already an adventure, and since Andalucia is a concentration of spectacular places to visit, what about adding a 7-day road trip? Needless to say, car rental starts at 3EURO per day.
Join Write Fresh for 9 days in Nerja, a small town in Spain’s Costa del Sol, famous for its promenade to the Balcon de Europa (Balcony of Europe) and dramatic seashore. Together we’ll work on the craft in the cozy patio. And then, with the sense of accomplishment, you set off on a 7-day white villages/ hiking journey!
Here’s the suggested schedule:
Day 1 – Malaga car pick up + Fuengirola, Ojen and Mijas (a white village)
Day 2 Ronda, Setenil de las Bodegas (another white village)
Day 3 El Churro (hike), Alora ( one more white village)
Day 4 El Torcal de Antequera (hike)
Day 5 Granada
Day 6 Granada, Monachil
Day 7 Castelle de Ferro. Return to Malaga
Here we go!
Day 1: Mijas, Fuengirola and Ojen
It’s only a short 20-minute drive from the airport or center of Malaga to Mijas. Mijas is a white village with a breathtaking view of the sea. A stroll through the cobbled streets to the lookout is the must-do here. The parking lot is on the very top of the hill.
Next stop is Ojen, a little white village in the mountains. It has two good free parking lots which is a problem in most coastal towns in Spain. (one is at the bottom of the town by the museum, and the other is higher up past the gas station on the street called “Calle Carretera”) A short walk from the parking lot, there is a town square and a bit further up are the Ojen caves. A long time ago people lived there. Now they are a sightseeing for tourists, and one cave is also a lookout. Besides the caves is a nice affordable café Restarante Castillo Solis with tapas and $13 dinners (dinner starts at 8.30pm sharp – Spanish timing).
In Fuengirola, you might find free parking and the vibe is more authentic than pretentious Marbella with its glamour, endless stagette parties, drunk but happy tourists and overpriced everything. Unless that is what you’re looking for in Spain. Any of these three towns are great for staying overnight. We stayed in Ojen and Fuengirola.
Day 2: Ronda, Setenil de las Bodegas
On your way to Ronda there are a few miradors – lookouts, so be prepared to take your time driving and you’ll make it perfect for the check-in (usually 3 pm). The parking situation isn’t ideal – you’ll have to look, but it’s not futile. The Ronda’s bridge is legendary and there are also a few places to visit, such as Plaza de Toros, Alameda Park, the long shopping street, the old town and bullfighting arena lookout. I recommend checking out the bridge from the valley side, it’s a short hike down from the old town (about an hour) to the lookout called Ronda Bridge viewpoint. There is plenty of accommodation in Ronda and it’s a good place to stay overnight because in the evening you would want to go north of Ronda to see a bizarre little village called Setenil de las Bodegas where houses are built into the cliffs. Some of them, and sometimes it’s hard to call them houses – they are so tiny, are under the rocks.
Day 3: El Churro (hike), Alora
Hit the road early to arrive for an adventure of a lifetime called Caminito del Rey, which isn’t the world’s most dangerous hike but certainly a very unique one. The path has gateways attached to a rock, so you walk on “suspicion bridges” along the wall made of rock. The walk should take at least an hour. The number of visitors is limited so you have to buy you ticket in advance (10Euros – very reasonable for what it is). We didn’t know the exact day of our arrival and didn’t book the tickets in advance. On the day we were there, only one ticket was available, so we opted not to go. There is also via ferrata route right next to Caminiti del Rey which was being fixed when we arrived and a couple of hiking trails nearby – in El Chorro.
Next town is Alora, a white village with a fortress. The streets in this town are quite steep, be ready for some cardio work up the hill. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants and fruit stores to grab a bite and spend siesta.
The town also looks great from the distance, and there are a couple of miradors. We drove past one to get to our hotel, in a charming villa with a beautiful garden and a swimming pool located beside the lemon trees orchids.
Day 4: El Torcal de Antequera (hike)/a few stops on the way to Granada
El Torcal is a unique mountain range that makes you feel like you landed on Mars. The hikes are short and there is a couple of lookouts, all together plan on spending about 2-3 hours.
From El Torcal it’s a 1.5-hour drive to Granada, but don’t get too quick. There are still many nice little villages on the way there where you can grab a bite. We stopped in Villanueva del Rosario. Not far from this village there is a little park with a river, a good spot to hide from the midday heat and have some oranges.
As for Granada, it’s best to stay in the outskirts of the city or in the small towns around because in the city center it’s impossible to park a car. Usually, there are buses conveniently running to the city (better research that before you book your accommodation) Once you arrive, take a bus to the city center and walk around the old buildings and you might get lucky to see a free choir concert in the church. We got lucky because it was a Friday.
Day 5: Granada
Get up early to enjoy a walk around Granada without that many tourists. The suggested route is: from the University of Granada take a stroll to Mirador de San Cristobal, then through the narrow cobblestone streets to Church de San Gil.
Go to Alhambra free access areas. It’s not the same as going inside but to go to the gardens or Nasrid Palace you have to book a ticket at least 2-3 months in advance in high season. Take a walk to the city center from Alhambra – about 20-minute walk.
Day 6: Around Granada
Drive to Sierra Nevada ski resort or go on one of the Monachil hikes. We wanted to take Cahorros trail (8km, 2.30min, medium difficulty but it was closed when we stopped there: May 20th, 2019). We still walked for 2-3 minutes just to get a taste, and it was amazingly beautiful.
(either stay in Granada or in any town towards the coast)
Day 7 Castell de Ferro, back to Malaga
On your way back to Malaga stop by Castell de Ferro, a little coastal town. I fell in love with this fishing town because it’s just so authentic. Buy some fruit in the grocery store, or a loaf of fig bread – local specialty, or have a coffee and tostada in one of the cafes and take a stroll along the shore.
There are no tourists to interrupt because you can only access this place by bus or car, and there aren’t many hotels either. Although, there are plenty of cats. Near to Castel de Ferro, there is one of the most beautiful beaches of Costa del Sol, called Rijana – a perfect spot to reflect on how much Andalucian land has changed you so far and start dreaming of your next literary endeavor.
Fancy going with us? Our next adventure in Spain will be in November 2020.
In June 2020 we offer a mysterious one in Belarus: a writing retreat in Kaptaruni.