Embark on a scenic drive through the charming inland towns of Andalusia. Starting in Marbella at around 10 am, follow the road to Ojén. The route takes you through a stark landscape and a small gorge before reaching Monda, some 19 km (11 ¾ miles) from Marbella.
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Explore the picturesque villages and historic landmarks as you drive through the stunning countryside. Take in the breathtaking views and experience the unique culture and traditions of Andalusia. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, this car route from Marbella to Monda is sure to be a memorable adventure.
The village is overlooked by a castle-like structure on a hill. This is a luxury hotel, with 23-rooms, called Castillo de Monda. It was built by two Englishmen, and the St. George Cross occasionally flies over the ramparts. The building incorporates the remains of the original Moorish fortress, including an 8th-century tower.
You can read more in our guide about Monda.
10 km (6 ¼ miles) on you will find Coín, described by one Moorish writer as ‘a beautiful place with lots of springs, trees and fruit.’ The terracing and irrigation of the fertile surrounding area are legacies of the Moors. The locals socialise on the tree-lined avenue. Park nearby if you want a quick wander. The maze of narrow streets follows the old Moorish layout, new and old buildings are juxtaposed, and the churches Santa María (which was once a mosque) and San Juan Bautista are of Mudejar-Renaissance style.
Leave Coín on the A-355 to Cartama (take the Málaga road), passing through varied countryside. Across the Río de Guadalhorce, turn left on the MA-402 and head up the fertile valley where citrus and avocados grow.
Near workaday Pizarra, in a converted farmhouse adjacent to an excellent restaurant, is the Pizarra Museum. Also known as the Museo Hollander, it has archaeological remains, Spanish antiques and various curiosities accumulated by the American painter Gino Hollander, who lived in these parts some 60 years ago.
- Summer: Tues-Sun 10 am-3pm, 4-8pm.
- Winter: Tues-Sun 10am-2pm, 4-6:30pm.
As you leave Pizarra, the outline of Alora’s castle appears above the white houses that drop down the hill on either side. Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Moors and Christians all played a role in the castle’s history. Although Alora’s many new buildings are evidence of the town’s increased agriculture-based prosperity, it retains much of its old character. It took the entire 17th century to finish the construction of its enormous church, which is the second-largest in Malaga province.
From Alora head west towards Ardales, taking a scenic drive through the rugged Sierra de Alcaparain and Sierra de Aguas. Turn right for Carratraca, which was developed in the 19th century on the site of a cortijo (country estate) of foul-smelling waters to become a spa for the rich and famous. Some 600 litres (132 gallons) per minute of sulphurous waters recommended to ease respiratory and skin complaints gush from the ground at around 4 in the afternoon. Byron and Alexander Dumas made an arduous journey over mountains to test cures and stayed at Hotel el Principe.
Continue through a landscape of almond and olive trees until Ardales presents its striking aspect against hills on your left. Above white houses proudly stand ochre outlines of its castle and mudejar tower of its church. Though Romans built first bridge across river below Ardales’s roots go back much further – prehistoric paintings were discovered in local caves in 1821.
To protect cave’s fragile environment visits are limited. Bear right at junction after town and very soon you are in Málaga’s Lake District. Three reservoirs fed by Guadalhorce and other rivers supply much of province’s water.
Parque de Ardales
Continue through pine trees into Parque de Ardales, a recreation park. Restaurant El Mirador, above small tunnel is unpretentious place for lunch with good view of reservoir.
In conclusion, driving from Marbella to Monda offers scenic views through stark landscapes and small gorges. The varied countryside includes the rugged Sierra de Alcaparain and Sierra de Aguas, as well as almond and olive trees. The route continues through pine trees into the Parque de Ardales recreation park, which offers a good view of reservoirs fed by the Guadalhorce and other rivers that supply much of the province’s water.
Driving your own vehicle will provide you with unlimited possiblities, like the driving route we provide you here. Remember to check prices above and book online well ahead of time.