Stunning Natural Attractions and Settings Near Marbella

Landscape of Sierra de Grazalema natural park, Cadiz province, Andalusia, Spain

September is always one of the favourite months for people who have already made their home in Marbella, or visit regularly throughout the year. The peak-season tourists have left, the thermometer has dropped to more pleasant daily temperatures, and it’s a great time to head inland to visit one of the Costa del Sol’s many picturesque natural havens.

In short, after the summer heat and crowds, where better to chill out than beside a waterfall, or in a botanical garden or at a World Heritage Site?

Here we take you on a tour of some of our favourite places, some a convenient drive from Marbella and elsewhere on the Costa and Sol – including areas where Promas Estates has a superb portfolio of country-style properties (Ojén and Istán) – and others slightly further afield in magical corners of the Andalucian region.

Tranquil Nature Reserves

Extending over more than 90,000 hectares through the Costa del Sol hinterland, the UNESCO-designated Sierra de las Nieves biosphere reserve comprises limestone and peridotite mountains in the eastern sector of the Ronda hills, with steep slopes, deep valleys and numerous gullies, ravines and precipices – perfect for nature-lovers and hikers.

The reserve has a rich abundance of flora and fauna and its caves and sinkholes include the GESM, which is the third deepest in the world (freefall of 1,100 metres).

Another biosphere reserve, straddling both Málaga and Cáidz provinces, is the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. Rising from the Atlantic Ocean and dotted with classic white villages, it is one of the most rugged mountain ranges in Andalucía. It is also home to the Hundidero-Gato cave system, with almost eight kilometres of galleries.

Cool Waterfalls and Ponds

If summer is the best season for lounging at one of Marbella’s chic beach clubs, now is the ideal time to get away from the coastal bustle and reset your mind and body in a refreshing inland water oasis.

One of the best-known watering holes in Málaga province is Barranco Blanco, just off the road between Alhaurín el Grande and Coín. In addition to various swimming ponds, it is also home to otters and a species of barbel (goatfish) in danger of extinction – hence its designation as a “Site of Community Interest”.

Two other popular “charcos” (large ponds) are Charco del Canalón in Istán on the outskirts of Marbella and Charco Frío, located in Benaoján municipality and with waters that remain ice-cold most of the year.

Also located in Grazalema Natural Park is Cueva del Gato, which has been described as one of Spain’s “most Instagrammable natural pools”.

For a memorable waterfall panorama, head to the crossroads between Ardales and Casarabonela where, in the area around Arroyo Blanquillo, crystalline waters from the Turón river cascade into a picturesque pond.

Verdant Botanical Gardens

One of the great attractions of botanical gardens is that they can be visited throughout the year, and the Costa del Sol is fortunate to have several that double as tranquil havens for a meditative al fresco visit and “green lungs” for nearby urban areas.

The Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción on the outskirts of Málaga city is acclaimed as the best-preserved sub-tropical landscape garden in Europe. Visitors can admire more than 50,000 plants throughout the year and, during the main holiday season, spectacular evening light shows.

Marbella’s Parque La Alameda is located in the heart of the city, linking the modern promenade with the historic old town and – with its grand ceramic fountain and inviting benches – offering a luxuriant space to relax and quietly reflect on the joys of living in this part of the world.

Three of the Coast’s other major resort towns also have their own lush garden refuges: Parque de La Paloma en Benalmádena, La Batería in Torremolinos and Parque Botánico de La Muralla in Mijas Pueblo.

Enchanting Caves

A series of caverns at the eastern end of the Costa del Sol, the Nerja Caves have become one of Spain’s most iconic tourist attractions. Visitors can view cave paintings believed to be Neanderthal and dating back 42,000 years, and at certain times of the year concerts are held in one of the chambers that forms a natural amphitheatre.

Not far along the highway towards Málága city, on the Mediterranean coast in Rincón de la Victoria, is the Cueva del Tesoro, a “cave of treasure” that holds secrets from both the Roman and Moorish eras.

Protected Natural Monuments

Málaga province has over a dozen “natural monuments” that have been granted official protection status by the Junta de Andalucía (regional government).

The most famous is the Tajo de Ronda gorge, 500 metres long, 100 metres deep and 50 metres wide and dividing the famous mountain town via a breathtaking bridge vantage point – although not exactly a favourite with vertigo sufferers!

Heading further inland towards Antequera is El Tornillo del Torcal, a karst rock formation that has been shaped by erosion for over 150 million years, is shaped like a screw (which gives it its name, “Tornillo”) and features labyrinthine passages and caves.

And finally, back in Marbella, is the Torre Ladrones defence fortification tower, declared an “Asset of Cultural Interest”, and the surrounding Artola dunes in the Cabopino area.

World Heritage Sites

Located in the northern part of Málaga province, the Dólmenes de Antequera comprises three megalithic and two natural monuments that were formed during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages and are considered to be among the most significant examples of European megalithism.

Other prominent World Heritage Sites in Andalucía are the historic centre of Córdoba, highlighted by its Great Mosque; Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín in Granada, majestic remnants of the venerable Moorish civilisation; and Doñana National Park, a mosaic of ecosystems of exceptional biodiversity.

If, after discovering one of these invigorating settings as a visitor to the Costa del Sol, you would like to make a more permanent move, contact our team at Promas Estates and we’ll be happy to chat – in between your dip in the crystal-clear waters of an inland pond or your intrepid exploration of a local cave.