The Axarquia region
The Axarquia is a traditional, tranquil and rural region in the south of Andalusia. Just a short drive inland from the popular beaches. This beautiful area with her unspoilt whitewashed villages, green valleys, mountainous areas and pine forests is bordered to the west by the Montes de Malaga. The area spreads northwards a far as Antequera, The Sierra Tejeda mountains and eastwards unto the province Granada with her scenic Costa Tropical. Because of the region’s sub-tropical climate you’ll find there, besides the grapes and olives, as well the more tropical fruits such as mango and kiwi’s. Nearly all the whitewashed villages have a Moorish history, with steep, narrow, windy streets and terraces on the hillsides, planted with olive, grape and almonds.
The Axarquia has plenty of culture for anyone looking for a more interesting type of holiday. Evidence of a rich history influenced heavily by the Moorish occupation from 711 to 1492 is dotted around the region from the white villages with their typically confusing mazy winding streets to the fortresses and coastal watchtowers. Following the Moors the Catholic Kings gave rise to a variety of picturesque churches. The deeply religious culture still predominates today and is celebrated in glorious style at the various town ferias. To make sure that you don't miss one of the opportunities to experience one of these ferias click here for our Festivals page!
Villages & Routes
In the south-west of Axarquia you’ll find some very attractive villages with moorish ambience and remains. Such as Comares, a very traditional village on top of a hill with stunning views, Cutar and El Borge. All located on the scenic “Route of the raisin”. Here they use the grapes to make sundried raisins and quality muscatel wine! In the surroundings of these villages there are wonderful valleys with lemon and orange groves, avocado, chirimoya and banana. Historically, the owners of the vineyards have separated part of their crops to make the raisins. The grapes are laid on paseros (raisin dryers) next to the farm houses. Paseros built in the form of rectangular white sloping platforms can be seen throughout Axarquia. They say that only in Axarquia could real raisins be produced: 'raisins require those beautiful skies to dry by the burning sun. The muscatel raisin met an important competitor in raisins grown in Corinth, Greece. However, they are smaller, pitless and darker than the sweet Axarquean raisin. Some other places of interest with Moorish and Mudejar remains are located in the center of the Axarquia on the so called ”Mudejar Route”. A wonderful trip with spectacular views. The villages such as Daimalos, Archez, Salares and Sedella are located on the foothills of the Tejeda and Almijara Sierras. The “Sun and wine route” leads you to the villages in the eastern area like Algarrobo,Torrox and Sayalonga with her famous Nisperos fruit. Cómpeta with her muscatel grape and wine museum. Canillas de Albaida and Frigiliana, an extremely pretty village which has received several awards for beauty and conservation. And ofcourse Nerja, a very attractive white town on the coast. Despite of the growing numbers of tourists still very charming. Known by the popular spot in the town: Balcón the Europa” and the breathtaking beautiful caves near the village Maro. Some of the best in Europe!
The Axarquia offers you a range of alternative routes throughout the region beside the ones we mentioned above, such as:
The Sun and Avocado Route, passing through the towns of Macharaviaya, Rincón de la Victoria, Iznate, Vélez Malaga, Benamocarra, and Benamargosa.
The Oil and Mountain Route, which takes in the towns of Colmenar, Riogordo, Alfarnatejo, Alfarnate, Periana, Vinuela and Alcaucin.
By choosing for one these routes you’ll experience a great way to discover authentic Axarquia.
The Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama form a mountainous border between the province Malaga and Granada. The foothills go right down to the sea, forming cliffs and small coves around Maro and Cerro Gordo. Here homes the Natural Park of the Axarquia with its rugged wilderness and pine forests, large, pronounced slopes alternating with rows of summits which run parallel to the coast, marking out valleys and deep ravines. The varying altitudes and soil types encourage a diversity of vegetation and wildlife, dominated by wild mountain goats and eagles. One of the most beautiful places is the Sierra del Alcázar nature park above the village Alcaucín. There are small waterfalls of crystal clear water, small streams, pine forests where you can get lost in the dense woods of the Sierra Almijara. Nature left her stamp on the villages of Cómpeta, Canillas de Albaida, Sedella, Salares and Canilla de Aceituno. The ravines are beautiful at Torrox on the way to Frigiliana, all around these villages the views are magnificent. At the source of the Sayalonga river, the Mediterranean thicket makes the mountains extremely beautiful in the area of La Casa de la Mina. There are springs at Sedella, Alcaucín and Las Majadas ; there is the Fajara cave and the natural recreation site Rahige, beauty spot at Canillas de Aceituno. Nowadays this region has become a favourite place to get away from it all to find peace and tranquillity. Lake Viñuela, a man-made water reservoir has become a determinate part of the local landscape. It looks like a mirror at nightfall, it is like the earth has opened towards the Boquete de Zafarraya, an enormous U-shaped gap in the mountains through which a road links the province Malaga and Granada. The first village you’ll encounter is Zafarraya, a pretty village at he foot of the north side of the Sierra Tejeda, surrounded by green pastures, vineyards and pine forests climbing the mountains. The Sierras form a mountain reserve, that due to its pine forests and rugged wilderness provides wonderful walking opportunities. From all of the villages on the slopes of this mountainous area you can make excellent walks, for beginners as for the more advanced ones, independent or guided! If the higher peaks like the Maroma (2080m and snow-capped in the winter) are too much on a hot day, there are many easier hikes in the foothills and the valleys! And when the Maroma is snow-capped in the winter, far below you’ll be able to still swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
Paraje Natural Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo
Where the Sierra de Almijara plunges into the sea, erosion has created a spectacular coastline of cliffs, coves and small beaches over an area of 1,814 hectares, on the border between Granada and Malaga. To be precise between the village of Maro in the province Malaga and La Herradura in the province of Granada. The vegetation consists of Mediterranean scrub: a diversity of plants that survive long, hot dry periods following mild, wet winters. Some are even medicinal herbs. Like gorse, rosemary and the sea lavender, which is a plant that becomes increasingly rare. There are holm and kermes oaks, the carob, the evergreen lentisks, junipers, the palmetto and different kind of pine trees. Fields of a submarine plant known as posidonia are also common along the coastal strip. Members of the seagull family, as well as roving species of birds of prey, peregrine falcons, goshawks and sparrow hawks are homed there. Like many other different animals, including marters, foxes and badgers, important reptile colonies such as the chameleon and the mountain goat. This area is also immense popular amongst the divers. There is a great number of beautiful dive sites, the underwater area with its flora and fauna and various caves is fabulous!
Sustainable or "Green" Tourism
The Axarquia was until a few years ago one of Andalusia’s forgotten areas. But now rural and Green Tourism has put her more and more in the picture. Still less developed than the west part of the province Malaga with an unspoilt countryside and mountain scenery, which is a favourite spot for hikers and everybody who loves nature and the authentic life! As well it seems to be an inspiring environment for photographers and painters. The coastline consists of nice large and not yet overcrowded beaches and various little bays, paradise for divers and snorkelers at the very east part. The Axarquia is very conscious of the importance of developing tourism in a sustainable way. As a tourist we can help, by choosing carefully our movements and activities to minimise our ecological footprint as much as possible in order to maintain the environmental quality in the area.