Do you know the Axarquia region? Possibly one of the lesser known areas of the province of Malaga, it has some of the best beaches in the area, picturesque white villages and some of the best gastronomic products in Andalusia.
Travelers who want to explore the most charming villages of Axarquía will find in this post some of their most relevant characteristics, tips, and curiosities to be able to tour this region with an automatic rental car from Malaga airport and be amazed by its corners.
The most picturesque villages of Axarquía
With their flower-filled streets, surroundings, and natural routes, the villages of Axarquía have a special charm that will surprise visitors and leave a lasting memory.
If there is a quintessential village in Axarquía, it’s Nerja. This charming white village boasts some of the most beautiful beaches on the Costa del Sol as well as a gastronomy where tapas bars prevail, offering the most characteristic bites of the area.
Travelers can explore the city along the coast and reach its iconic Balcón de Europa, with incredible panoramic views of the sea. In the area, they will find various parking lots in Nerja where they can safely leave their car.
Another attractive feature is its picturesque historic center, full of bars and shops, as well as its natural caves that will amaze visitors with their natural formations, including one of the most developed caves in Andalusia.
For fans of the Spanish TV series ‘Verano Azul’, this is the town where it was filmed, and they can find a replica of Chanquete’s boat and take pictures next to it.
Leaving the coast towards the mountains, a few minutes away, travelers can find the village of Frigiliana, characterized by its steep cobbled streets and its white houses adorned with colorful flowers, a picture worth photographing.
There are varied restaurants in Frigiliana, offering a wide range of options, from traditional cuisine to fusion dishes, as well as a variety of tapas. What stands out the most are the views of the sea and the mountains from any of its terraces.
For beach lovers, Torrox combines the charm of the Costa del Sol with a beautiful historic center where the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación and its white Andalusian streets stand out.
This village located at the foot of the Sierra de Almijara has one of the best climates in Europe, with an average annual temperature of 18 degrees and over 300 days of sunshine, making it one of the most sought-after destinations internationally.
Rincón de la Victoria
Continuing along the coast, Rincón de la Victoria boasts 9km of beaches. Originally a fishing village, it has grown as a tourist destination in recent years due to its beaches, monuments, and pleasant climate.
Among its tourist attractions are the caves of El Tesoro and La Victoria, and the Casa Fuerte de Bezmiliana, built in 1766 to protect against pirates that roamed the coasts of the area. Today, it is used as an exhibition hall.
One of the villages with the richest historical legacy is Vélez-Málaga, constituted by Phoenician, Roman, and Muslim roots. Its urban center is dispersed, including localities such as Algarrobo, Benamocarra, Iznate, or Torre del Mar.
This city, considered the heart of Axarquía, inspired Cervantes, and it is mentioned in his book ‘Don Quixote’. It is also the birthplace of illustrious figures such as the thinker María Zambrano.
Visitors can enjoy its Alcazaba, built during the time of the Caliphate of Córdoba, as well as the Museum of the City of Vélez-Málaga, where Phoenician remains and other archaeological pieces are preserved.
If you’re looking for something surprising, don’t miss the colorful Buddhist stupa of Kalachakra, a monument that reflects the body, soul, and mind of Buddha, located in the hamlet of Trapiche.
Within the municipal term of Vélez, you’ll find Algarrobo, a village that, like Mijas, is scattered throughout the Axarquía region, with three population centers: Algarrobo Pueblo, Algarrobo-Costa, and Mezquitilla.
Thus, this town combines the charm of the coastal area, which is experiencing tourist growth, with that of the interior, with cobbled streets that bear witness to the Arab legacy in the region. Algarrobo is ideal for those seeking tranquility and nature without giving up sun and beach tourism.
If you visit Algarrobo, you must try its tortas de aceite, also known as tortas de algarrobo, which are the most typical sweet treat in the area. They are made with olive oil, almonds, brandy, and sugar, representing one of the gastronomic legacies of Arab culture.
For nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts, Riogordo is one of the most visited options in Axarquía, included in the Olive Oil and Mountains Route, which also includes Alcaucín, Alfarnate, or Viñuela.
This town also has a remarkable historical legacy, evident in the Aute Castle, of Phoenician origin, or in its 18th and 19th-century ancestral homes. But what truly characterizes this town are its small niches, spaces on the facades of houses dedicated to honoring the figures of saints and virgins.
When visiting Riogordo, you must try the snails in broth, which are one of its most popular dishes, featuring prominently in its May Fair or ‘Veladilla’.
Another beautiful village in the interior of Axarquía is Comares, one of the white villages of Malaga known as the “Balcony of Axarquía” due to its privileged location atop an impressive mountain range, making it appear suspended in the air.
This town features architecture with Arab influences and narrow streets inherited from this culture. Its main monuments include the Castle of Comares, of which only the remains of its walls remain, the Aljibe de Mazmullar, or the Church of the Encarnación, in Mudéjar style.
One of the most beautiful villages in Axarquía is Cómpeta, famous for its white streets filled with flowers and its landscape nestled in the Natural Park of the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara, and Alhama, which has earned it the name of ‘Cornice of the Costa del Sol’.
Its most emblematic monument is the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, known as the ‘Cathedral of Axarquía’. However, visitors must not miss the Paseo de las Tradiciones, where the popular customs of Cómpeta are represented in tile mosaics.
Cómpeta’s wine, especially the Moscatel variety in dry and semi-sweet versions, is well-known. You must not leave without tasting their wines!
In the interior of Axarquía, between Algarrobo and Árchez, this white village surprises its visitors with its narrow cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, adorned with colorful flower pots. In its historic center, you can discover the 16th-century church and its main square, surrounded by charming bars and restaurants.
Although Sayalonga offers many charming corners, it also stands out for its natural and scenic heritage, ideal for those who want to enjoy a hiking route surrounded by almond and olive trees.
Not far from the capital, on the edge of the Montes de Málaga Natural Park, Colmenar is a small village surrounded by rocky mountains, known for its bee honey. Its streets feature ancestral homes with niches on the facades and picturesque Andalusian patios.
Among its monuments are the Hermitage of the Sanctuary, also known as the Convent of the Most Holy Virgin of Candelaria, built in the 17th century, the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, with its majestic tower, and the Chapel of San José.
If you visit Colmenar, don’t miss the Honey Museum, where you can learn about this product and enjoy thematic rooms, a workshop classroom, and a shop.
Alcaucín is located on the border between Granada and Málaga, next to the Natural Park of the Sierras de Almijara, Tejeda, and Alhama. This small village is characterized by its rural charm, and its main attractions are its square and the Fuente de los Cinco Caños.
This municipality in Axarquía has witnessed the passage of different cultures throughout history, as evidenced by the ruins of the Zalía Castle and the archaeological sites that showcase the region’s rich history.
The best time to visit Alcaucín is in autumn, coinciding with its popular Chestnut Festival, where the locals distribute over 300 kilos of chestnuts, sweet potatoes, and double cinnamon-flavored mantecados in the town square.
Canillas de Aceituno
This charming village combines natural beauty with history and culture. Founded during the Muslim domination, it preserves Arab streets and architecture, being part of the Mudéjar Route and housing Arab and medieval cisterns.
One of its main tourist attractions is the viewpoint located on the remains of its castle, a former Christian fortress of Canillas de Aceituno, with preserved fragments of the walls. The House of the Tithes and the Esgrafiada House, showcasing characteristic Mudéjar architecture, are also noteworthy.
Hiking enthusiasts can find trekking and spelunking routes in the surrounding areas, including the Almanchares River Gorge and the Fájara Cave.
Sedella, located between the Tejeda and Almijara mountain ranges in Axarquía, retains its Arab charm with white houses and picturesque streets. As part of the Mudéjar Route, this village offers a journey to the region’s Muslim past.
Among its most notable places are the Roman bridge that crosses the town and the old fortress mansion of the Lord of Sedella, known as the Casa Torreón, which constitutes one of the architectural gems of the village.
Gastronomically, visitors must not leave without trying the chivo al ajillo (garlic goat), the potaje de hinojos (fennel stew), choto al vino (kid goat in wine), or the roscos tontos, which are some of the most typical sweets with an Arab tradition.
Periana, a village in the highlands of Axarquía, offers the best natural amphitheater in Europe and impressive landscapes. Its unique architecture and rooted traditions complete its charm.
The village has some emblematic places to visit, such as the old municipal laundry, its 18th-century manor houses, and the Mondrón Olive Oil Museum. Additionally, from the Plaza de la Lomilleja, visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the Guaro River and La Viñuela reservoir.
Known as the Merinita Jewel of the 12th century, this village in Axarquía is a town of Arab origin located at the foot of the Tejeda and Almijara mountain ranges. Árchez is also part of the Mudéjar Route and is famous for its wine.
The minaret of the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación dates back to the 14th century and is a well-preserved element of the ancient mosque, earning the status of National Monument in 1979.
Map of Axarquía
In the following map, travelers can locate some of the most emblematic villages of Axarquía in Málaga to plan their trip through this region. They will also find other interesting municipalities not included in this list, such as Canillas de Albaida, Alfarnate, Cútar, or Macharaviaya.