A donkey in a sombrero? It must be the Costa del Sol

There's something for everyone on Spain's "Sunshine Coast" beyond Moorish Malaga.

There's something for everyone on Spain's "Sunshine Coast" beyond Moorish Malaga.

Nerja

As quintessential costa resorts go, this is one of the best. Perched high on a cliff, Nerja overlooks a succession of superb sandy beaches. For the best views, stroll along the Balcon de Europa, a tree-lined promenade, built on a craggy outcrop of rock. Don't miss the famous Cuevas de Nerja, home to the biggest stalactites in the world and some pretty impressive prehistoric wall paintings.

By car: take the N-340 east and follow signs; journey time approx 40 mins. By bus: frequent service from the main bus station; journey time approx 50 mins.

Frigiliana

This pretty hillside village clings to the lower slopes of the mighty Monte Coscoja. Expect a labyrinth of narrow lanes, with whitewashed houses festooned with geraniums and hanging baskets. Keep your eyes peeled for the lovely 16th-century church and ruined Moorish castle.

By car: take the N-340 east to Nerja and follow signs; journey time approx 55 mins. By bus: frequent service from the main bus station; journey time approx one hour.

Antequera

The magnificent dolmen caves (megalithic burial chambers) at Antequera are the finest in Europe. The Cueva de Menga is the oldest and dates back to 2500BC. The town also has many Moorish monuments, such as the Castillo de Santa Maria. A stroll in the castle gardens provides welcome shade and affords views over the surrounding countryside.

By car: take the N-331 north and follow signs; journey time approx one hour. By bus: frequent service from the main bus station; journey time approx one hour plus.

Mijas

Despite the tourist trappings of sombreros and donkey rides, Mijas retains a certain Andalusian charm. Enjoy the great vistas along the coast from the mirador by the Shrine of the Virgin of the Rock, then, after the tour buses have gone, dine out in one of the fine restaurants around the main square.

By car: take the N-340 west and follow signs; journey time approx 30 mins. By bus: frequent service from the main bus station; journey time approx 40 mins.

Marbella and Puerto Banus

The jet set which landed here in the Sixties put glitzy Marbella and even swankier Puerto Banus on the fashionable map. Marbella's old town contains some fine historic buildings, but the main reason for coming here is to watch the beautiful people. Puerto Banus's celebrated nightlife is largely centred on the ritzy marina.

By car: take the N-340 west; journey time approx one hour. By bus: frequent service from the main bus station; journey time approx one hour plus.

El Torcal Natural Park

This unique beauty spot is famous for its wind-chiselled limestone rock formations, which loom large on the horizon. Twitchers have a chance to see the likes of blue rock thrushes, black wheatears and booted eagles. Several circular walks are clearly marked; on a fine day, the coast of Africa is visible from the red route viewpoint. Best time to visit is late afternoon, when the sun throws long shadows across the strange rock shapes.

By car: take the C3310 and follow signs; journey time approx one hour.

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