Malaga is a great city to choose as your base on a visit to this part of Spain, as it is perfectly placed to easily reach all of the best bits of Andalucia. The transport in and out of Malaga is fantastic, from the airport, to the central train station Maria Zabrano, or just through the car shares that are a regular occurrence between locals. From the caves of Nerja, which are less than one hour away, to the architecture in Cordoba, you are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to day trips out of this fantastic city.
Around an hour’s drive away from Malaga, the caves of Nerja are dramatic, beautiful and steeped in history. Stalactites preside over natural caverns and the largest one, which is shaped like an amphitheatre, houses galleries, artefacts, concerts and even a festival in July. There are regular and cheap buses that go from Malaga bus station, but the train is by far the easiest and most picturesque option.
Visit the Spanish municipality of Tarifa for the beach. The surfing is brilliant, there are spots for whale watching and of course, 10km (6mi) of sand with its aquamarine, glassy paradise. With your back to the sea you have a view of the mountains and the magnificent El Estrecho Natural Park. If you’re not driving, a regular bus from Malaga to Algeciras will drop you off at Tarifa.
The Caminito del Rey trail has been around for as long as Spain has attracted adrenaline junkies. The walk’s wooden walkways, placed against the sides of the mountains with a sheer drop into the sea, will have your heart racing, particularly as you will be 100m (328ft) up the cliff face. From Malaga you can catch the train to Seville, or it’s a 50-minute drive through the towns of Cártama, Pizarra, Carratraca and Ardales.
If you like mesmerising architecture, head to Cordoba. Aside from the arched Roman bridge, there is the internationally famous Mezquita Mosque and the Alcazar (palace) de los Reyes Cristianos. If you still have time to spare, take a dip at the hamam and take a winding walk through the historic and picturesque Jewish Quarter. The train is a slightly more expensive travel option, but cuts your travel time in half, and the views make the journey fly by.
A dynamic town on the Costa del Sol, Frigiliana, is a province of Malaga. One of the famed Pueblos Blancos, the white-washed towns in the south of Spain, this town sits high on a mountain ridge, giving visitors a sweeping vista of the Mediterranean Sea. Frigiliana is an hour’s bus ride along the coast for around €30.
El Chorro, Malaga’s lake district, lies in the wake of the 200-m (656-ft) high Guadalhorce river gorge, known as the Garganta del Chorro. El Chorro boasts three man-made lakes created by the dam at the top of the gorge. A tranquil place for fishing or just watching the eagles, there is one train a day from Malaga from €6.