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A GUIDE TO THE COSTA TROPICAL Explore the unspoilt Coast of Granada

PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO
IN GRANADA AND EAST OF MÁLAGA

If you would like to do some exploring or learn more about the Costa Tropical of Granada and its surroundings, Cumbre Villas will give you some insights about these Andalusian towns, nearby places and things to do on this Southern Spanish coast.

Costa Tropical

Location of villas for sale and rent in Andalusia

The Costa Tropical is located in the colourful and warm south of Spain, in the region of Andalucía and more specifically in the province of Granada. Apart from the Alhambra Palace and the Sierra Nevada mountains, the province of Granada is famous because here you receive free tapas with any drink. This is a great way to sample the delicious local food.

Salobreña, Almuñécar and La Herradura are part of the still relatively virgin Costa Tropical. The appeal of the Costa Tropical in general is that they haven’t been spoiled by overdevelopment and mass tourism. The Spanish character has been preserved here. This Spanish coast doesn’t have the international reputation of some of its coastal neighbours on the Costa del Sol, such as Marbella or even Nerja, but it’s an ideal holiday destination for the discerning tourist and for people looking for a (second) home in Spain. These beautiful villages are less crowded, less urbanised, and much cheaper in comparison to the Costa del Sol, but they offer the same pleasant micro-climate and even nicer beaches thanks to its rugged coastline.

The climate is considered subtropical, hence the name “Costa Tropical”, with an average annual temperature between 18º (in winter) and 28º (in summer) and more than 325 days a year of sun. Thanks to the Sierra Nevada, the Costa Tropical is protected from the Northern wind in winter, while in summer the cool sea breeze softens the high temperatures typical for southern Spain. Given these climatic conditions, it is not surprising that even exotic tropical fruits are grown here, which are unique throughout Europe, such as cherimoya, mango, and avocado.

The Costa Tropical is one of the less developed and less known destinations amongst all Spanish costas. It offers 75 kilometres of coastline and stretches from the natural Park Cerro Gordo on the west to La Rábita on the east. It has 17 municipalities in total, some of them are inland, located in a surprising enclave between tropical valleys and mountains, like Jete, Molvízar and Ítrabo. Others are located along the coastline, like Motril, Salobreña, Almuñécar and La Herradura, which are the four most important towns of the Coast of Granada.

The Coast of Granada has been a strategic point between Europe and Africa throughout history. There are many ruins and ancient heritage from the times of the Phoenicians, Romans and Moors, which are definitely worth a visit. At the same time, there are also many beaches and tranquil coves with crystal clear waters to discover. If you want a relaxing vacation, good beaches, blue skies, sun, a wealth of leisure activities and a taste of the real Spain then you’ve come to the right place. 

Enjoy the Costa Tropical its peaceful surroundings and the pretty countryside of Valle de Lecrín, Valle de Río Verde, Los Guájares and Las Alpujarras – to name just a few –, while being close to the cities of Granada, Málaga and Almería, and at the same time a stone's throw away from the mountain range of Sierra Nevada. The Sierra Nevada offers great hikes and horseback riding in the summer and good skiing in winter. As it is close to the coast, you can ski in the morning and relax on the beach in the afternoon. This is one of the things that makes the Costa Tropical of Granada so special. From skiing to golf, (paddle) tennis, football, mountain biking and fishing, along with air sports like paragliding, and water sports like stand-up paddle, windsurf and kitesurf, they are all within easy reach of the Costa Tropical de Granada.

Provincia de Granada

Granada

Granada is a beautiful university city with a slightly bohemian atmosphere. Granada is well worth exploring as there is much more to see than just the Alhambra Palace. In the main street, Calle de los Reyes Catolicos, you will find many boutiques, tapas bars, and even an Arab bath that you can actually use. If you’d like to do some shopping, there are many small side streets with great stores that are off of Calle Reyes Catolicos. If you want a taste of Morocco, you’ll need to explore the streets Calderería Nueva and Calderería Vieja that are just behind Plaza Nueva. Here you will find tearooms, cafes offering Arab pastries and water pipes, craft stalls and shops selling fragrant spices and shops selling falafel. There is also a bull ring, which is a good 10-minute walk away from the city centre. Driving isn’t recommended as many of the streets are closed to normal traffic. 

The Alhambra Palace

The Alhambra rises up like an imposing castle with reddish tones in its ramparts that prevent the outside world from seeing the delicate beauty they enclose. Originally designed as a military area, the Alhambra became the residence of royalty and of the court of Granada in the middle of the thirteenth century, after the establishment of the Nasrid kingdom. 

Throughout the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the fortress became a citadel with high ramparts and defensive towers, which house two main areas: the military area, or Alcazaba, the barracks of the royal guard, and the medina or court city, the location of the famous Nasrid Palaces and the remains of the houses of noblemen and plebeians who lived there. The Charles V Palace is also in the medina. The complex of monuments also has an independent palace opposite the Alhambra, surrounded by orchards and gardens, which was where the Granadine kings relaxed: the Generalife.

Albaicín (Albayzin)

Another must see area in Granada is the old Arabic quarter known as the Albaicín. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1993. The Albaicín is located on the hill opposite the Alhambra. It is characterised by narrow cobblestone streets that are flanked by high white walls topped with cascading flowers. The walls conceal carmens, a type of house unique to the Albaicín, which comprise several buildings on different levels set around a courtyard filled with fruit, vegetables and flowers. There are many squares with terraces and places to laze about and have a bite to eat. The Albaicín is a painter’s paradise and almost at every turn of the head there is an attractive view, almost always involving glimpses of the Alhambra. 

Be prepared to get a bit lost here as you roam. The street pattern is unmistakably Arabic, with tiny alleys zigzagging up the hill, linked by steep flights of steps. Many streets are L-shaped, ending in closed gates which allow no more than a glimpse of voluptuous gardens. Intoxicating perfumes and sounds waft over the walls, tinkling water and a plangent flamenco wail. You may encounter the Palacio Dar-Al-Horra, a mini-Alhambra dating back to the 15th century, which is now an information centre, and the Mosque of Granada. This is the first Muslim structure to be built since all the mosques in the Albaicín were turned into churches 500 years ago. 

Sacromonte

Slightly above the Albayzin, lies the area of the Sacromonte. There are caves here that are built into the sides of the mountain. Through the centuries, the gypsies lived in these caves. Many of them have been opened to the public and converted into restaurants and locals for flamenco performances. They are decorated with ceramics and traditional copper ware.

Provincia de Málaga

Málaga

Málaga is the second largest city of Andalusia and the fifth largest city of Spain. Málaga is one of the oldest cities of Europe, founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC. Since the tourist boom of the 1960s and 1970s it is both a notable cultural as an economic centre on the Mediterranean coast. The centre of Málaga can be reached in less than 1 hour from the Costa Tropical.

The old part of Málaga around the cathedral is very charming and a nice place to explore. Calle Larios, which is famous for its shopping, is surrounded by attractive small streets and plazas, as well as the magnificent cathedral. The Picasso Museum is also in this area. One of the highlights of the city is the Alcazaba Málaga. This Moorish fortress, which dates back to 1057, was recently restored and now includes an impressive archaeological museum, filled with Phoenician and Arab treasures. It is perched on the hillside above the city, affording visitors a glimpse of the distant North African coast. The structure, inspired by the Alhambra in Granada, houses three magnificent palaces and is surrounded by beautiful gardens and ornate fountains.

In the centre of the city, just behind the cathedral and the historic quarter, is the beautiful Alameda Gardens and the Paseo del Parque. This gorgeous avenue is lined with gardens featuring gigantic palms, fragrant jasmine and exotic vegetation, as well as hidden statues, fountains and resting places. The park runs alongside the port of Málaga and its commercial area “Muelle Uno”, a fantastic leisure and cultural space that opened in 2011, offering lots of nice restaurants and shops, but also cultural events and concerts. One of the greatest attractions is the Centre Pompidou Málaga, with an extensive modern art collection.

Just outside the city on the way to Antequera, there are the picturesque grounds of Jardines de la Concepcion feature breath-taking greenery, ranging from lush, tropical vegetation to desert-like landscapes. There is a mansion and a botanical museum here.

Comida Malagueña

As well as being a cultural centre, Málaga is also a great place to eat out. The Malagueños love their food and the bars and restaurants here are where the real social life takes place. Tapas, small portions of many different dishes, is an Andalusian tradition and a wonderfully inexpensive way to try a variety of local food. The best-known local fare in Málaga is “pescaito frito”, an assortment of fried fish, including small sardines and red mullet, best washed down with a glass of ice-cold vino at one of the many old-fashioned bodegas in town.