It’s not hard to see why so many choose to holiday in Malaga and its surrounding areas. Not only is there myriad things to see and do but with a car rental from Malaga, you can easily drive to so many surrounding locations in the Costa del Sol and the wider Andalucía region. In fact, spending time to enjoy some beautiful scenic drives around Malaga is a wonderful way to enjoy your visit, allowing you to see much of what this fantastic part of Spain has to offer. From incredible coastlines to traditional Spanish towns, the view from your window won’t disappoint! With this in mind, we have put together this guide, letting you know about just some of the incredible scenic drives available near Malaga. There’s no better way to explore Andalucía than this!
Before we delve into some of the wonderful drives available, we thought we would bring you the advice of Inma from the travel blog A World to Travel, who has enjoyed a road trip to Andalucía, bringing back many fond memories. Inma teased a few incredible scenic drives to try when speaking to us:
“There are so many! The decision should all come down to how much time there is to enjoy it. From a short 10 minute drive to Gibralfaro viewpoint that will give you fantastic views over the city of Malaga to a half day trip to Ronda, named the most romantic town in Spain by Hemingway and 1h 30′ away from Malaga, or a full day trip to Tarifa, Seville or Granada; the options are endless.”
Inma also described what she most enjoyed about the scenery available when driving near Malaga: “That once you step out of the main cities and highway, there are countless villages and picturesque spots worth stopping by for a quick visit.”
Malaga to Ronda
Malaga to Ronda: 1 hr 33 minutes
As highlighted by Inma above, the route from Malaga to Ronda is a wonderful scenic drive and should certainly be enjoyed by those visiting the region. Taking approximately 1 hr 30 mins from Malaga, the drive inland to this spectacular mountaintop city is a true joy, offering so many highlights along the way. Situated rather dramatically above a deep gorge – which separates the 15th-century new town from the rather ancient Moorish old town, there are some wonderful views to be had, providing a brilliant final leg of your drive. Another landmark you won’t want to miss in Ronda is its iconic 18th-century bullring. Along the route to Ronda, you will experience rustic countryside tracks, a collection of picturesque white villages, and a plethora of rugged landscape.
For Molly of the Spanish travel blog Piccavey, the route from Malaga to Ronda is the first that she thinks of when it comes to scenic routes. Speaking to us, Molly said: “The first thing that springs to mind is Ronda. Driving up from the coast to Ronda is scenic and it’s a lovely place to spend the day.”
Molly visited Ronda very recently, saying: “Often a place for daytrippers from the Malaga coast. I think that a day trip doesn’t quite cut it. There is much more to see in this stunning Andalusian town than you first may think.” More of Molly’s thoughts about Ronda can be read here.
Costa Tropical route
Malaga to Motril: 1 hr 13 minutes
Located between Malaga and Motril, with a distance of around 55 km, the area known as Costa Tropical is a true delight and makes for a wonderful scenic drive when utilising Malaga as a home base. Attaining its name from the proliferation of tropical crops such as avocados and sugar cane, the Costa Tropical route won’t fail to please. Along this route, you will find yourselves passing through numerous attractive and interesting locations, such as the towns of Motril, Salobreña, Almuñecar, Torrox, and Rincon de la Victoria. The Romans, Phoenicians, Moors, and Carthaginians have all had history in this area, providing some wonderfully well-preserved traces of their time in the region for visitors to enjoy. On top of this, the route also offers sights of beautiful beaches and coves when exploring the coastal areas.
Joanna, from the travel blog The World in My Pocket, thinks rather highly of the Costa Tropical and she was able to speak to us about what she feels makes the scenery here so wonderful to see when enjoying a relaxing drive: “Costa Tropical is set between the Arboran Sea and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Driving on the main motorway coming from Malaga and going towards Almeria, the scenery is fantastic, with the sea on one side of the road and the snowy mountain tops on the other. The Sierra Nevada Mountains have the highest peak in Spain, at 3,479 meters, and the third in Europe. The highway also crosses many tunnels and hundreds of meters high bridges.”
We also asked Joanna to share her favourite things to see in the area when visiting: “Costa Tropical is not that touristy, which means that you can experience the authentic Spanish lifestyle here. The beaches stretch for miles and offer tranquillity and true relaxation, without having all-inclusive resorts attached to them. The coast is full of hidden coves and beaches, only accessible through hiking over the cliffs. Because the sea is crystal clear, snorkelling and kayaking are two of the popular water activities that people can enjoy here.
“Costa Tropical offers a unique experience because of how close the mountains are. You can start your morning with skiing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and spend the afternoon sunbathing on the beach. The distance between the coast and the ski resort can be driven in only 40 minutes!
The historical towns of Salobrena and Almunecar shouldn’t be skipped when visiting Costa Tropical. Here one can enjoy delicious fish and seafood dishes made fresh with the catch of the day.”
Sun and wine route
Malaga to Axarquia: 46 minutes
Spanning 55 km, the route known as the sun and wine route, provides a truly memorable scenic drive to enjoy, allowing visitors to experience the best of both the region’s interior and coastal areas. Situated in the eastern area of Axarquia – itself located East of Malaga – the sun and wine route spans the popular tourist resorts of Torrox, Frigiliana, and Nerja. There are some lovely traditional inland villages to be found in the foothills of the Sierra Almijara mountains, many of which have retained their original Moorish features – perfect for history and architecture buffs! With a name such as ‘the sun and wine route’, you also won’t be surprised to learn that vineyards and grapes are found to be plentiful. Before heading back to Malaga, you can finish up at Nerja with its amazing prehistoric cave paintings, and also watchtowers from the 16th-century to see along the way.
Paul from A Luxury Travel Blog has described the route and paints a wonderful picture of what to expect: “Axarquia is in many ways the antithesis of what the Costa del Sol has come to be associated with, having preserved its natural beauty and historic culture, having avoided the overcrowding of inbound tourists, and having maintained an agricultural way of life dating back millennia. It is for these reasons that the mountainous coastal region in the easternmost tip of Malaga Province has recently been labelled the ‘Tuscany of the south’.”
Malaga to Fuengirola route
Malaga to Fuengirola: 38 minutes
When spending time in Malaga, you certainly shouldn’t forget to head west along the coast as there are some incredible scenes to enjoy. This sublime and relaxing drive explores the various coastal roads, taking you from Malaga to Fuengirola, with some must-visit locations along the way. Some of the lovely stops that you can look forward to include the fishing village of Torremolinos (make sure to check out the neomudéjar palace Casa de los Navajas), the spectacular whitewashed town of Benalmadena, and finishing at the historic town of Fuengirola, with its thermal baths, Roman villas, and the Arab Castle of Sohail. Of course, there will be excellent views of the Costa del Sol coastline on this short and sunny route, with plenty of beaches to stop at along the way for ice cream or dip in the ocean!
Scenic drives and routes to enjoy around Malaga
- Malaga to Ronda
- Costa Tropical route
- Sun and wine route
- Malaga to Fuengirola route
- Malaga to Gibralfaro viewpoint
- Malaga to Tarifa, Seville or Granada
Molly from Piccavey also provides an honourable mention that certainly deserves a shout out when it comes to scenic drives around Malaga: “Antequera is also one of my favourites. With its ancient dolmens to explore, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the moon-like landscapes of the Torcal area, the grand fortress, and endless churches of the town. Antequera is the heart of Andalucia and also a good location to sample local food.”
We think you will agree, there are some truly tremendous routes available and we hope you will enjoy one or two of these scenic drives during your next visit to Malaga!
Don’t forget to take a look at the other guides we have created on our blog for the ultimate Malaga experience.