Axarquia: a concentrate of Andalusia in a magnificent microclimate

Discover and visit Axarquia through its magnificent villages (Nerja, Frigiliana, Comares…)

In this article you will find the essential information to discover Axarquia:

  • A few words about Axarquia
  • Axarquia on the map of Andalucia
  • The microclimate of Axarquia
  • Discovering the villages of Axarquia through 5 routes
    • The route of the white Almohad villages
    • The Ruta de la Pasa (the Raisin Route)
    • The Avocado and Sun Route
    • The Olive Oil and Mountain Route
    • The Sun and Wine Route
  • What to do in Axarquia?
  • Axarquia as a starting point for excursions in Andalucia

A few words about Axarquia

Axarquia is a county in the province of Malaga. To put it in perspective, it is the 45 km of coastline between Málaga and Nerja. It is the eastern part of the Costa del Sol.

Its name comes from the Middle Ages, from the Al-Andalus period: Ash-sharquía (الشرقية) which means “the eastern” (east of Malaga).

The best known municipalities are Nerja, Frigiliana, Torrox, Velez-Malaga and Rincon de la Victoria. However, this region offers many other treasures.

It is a concentrate of Andalucia, right next to Malaga.

It is a region of only 1025km². That is, it is only twice the size of the island of Ibiza or the isle of Man.

Axarquia on the map of Andalucia

The microclimate of Axarquia

Axarquia enjoys a subtropical climate and therefore pleasant temperatures all year round. In fact, the emblematic animal of Axarquia is the chameleon, which can sometimes be seen on the road as well as when hiking. It can be seen on the coast, in olive groves or in the mountains, such as in the Sierra de Almijara, Tejeda and Alhama.

Discover the villages of Axarquia through 5 routes

These are the routes in Axarquia that will show you its beauty and richness as you travel through its 31 municipalities. Through the routes presented below, you will discover the incredible diversity of the landscapes of this small region.

La Axarquia has an incredible heritage in its history, traditions, cultures and white villages.

Each of these routes is an invitation to travel, with a different theme.

Important: if you are on holiday in Nerja, Torrox, Torre del Mar, you will find for each of these routes a link to an excellent local guide. He will be happy to pick you up at your holiday destination to discover each of these routes. You should allow a day for each of these routes.

The route of the white Almohad villages

This is a journey through time through authentic white villages.

It is a dive into the Al-Andalus period and in particular the Almohad period (XIII and XIV century). You will find typical elements with the use of red brick, glazed ceramics and plaster as exterior cladding and ornamentation. The street pattern of these white villages is typical of this period.

All the villages are located at the foot of the Sierra de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama.

Here are some pictures of the villages you will pass through on this route:

You can click on each village name to see more pictures.

Archez and its famous Alminar declared a national monument in 1979

Canillas de Aceituno with the famous “Casa de la Reina Mora

Salares a small village where time has stood still

visiter salares : le village avec le minaret, en Axarquia

Sedella and the Casa Torreon

maison tourelle à Sedella en Axarquia
casa torreon style mudéjar

Canillas de Albaida with the magnificent church, which was once a mosque

Canillas de Albaida plaza centro en Axarquia
Plaza en Canillas de Albaida

Arenas and the hamlet of Daimalos

In Daimalos (which is in the municipality of Arenas) you can see one of the oldest minarets in Spain. It dates from the Merini period (12th century). It therefore predates the Almohad period.

daimalos pedania
Daimalos con su Alminar de epoca Merini

If you wish to discover these villages with a local guide, see the link: The Almohad route and the white villages.

On this route, which is about 40km long, you will notice that there are many references to the term “Mudéjar”.

Mudéjar is a word that also comes from the Arabic language: “mudayya” which identified all the Spanish-Muslims after the reconquest. The Mudéjars could, after having made allegiance to the kingdom of Castile, keep their religion, their language and their legal organisation. They were mainly employed as peasants and craftsmen in the masonry and textile industries. In the villages their neighbourhoods were called morerias or aljamas.

Another term will be used later when conversion to Catholicism becomes compulsory. Mudejars would have the choice of fleeing the country or becoming Moriscos (Mudejars converted to Catholicism).

The Ruta de la Pasa (the Raisin Route)

ruta de la pasa axarquia raisin muscat tour

This route is an exceptional way to discover a unique vine culture on the mountainside. It also allows you to discover the production of raisins, which are said to be the best in the world.

On the “ruta de la Pasa”, you will discover this incredible way of making raisins. The process is unique and totally natural! It is one of the most ancestral methods in Europe and has been recognised by the UN in 2018 as a SIPAM (Ingenious System of World Agricultural Heritage).

This route is about 60km long and passes through 6 villages in Axarquia. The best period is from the end of August, at the beginning of the harvest, until October.

pasa y paseros en el borge en Axarquia

During this period, there are ferias not to be missed in these villages. They often celebrate either wine, the vine or the winemakers.

Here are some photos of the villages you will pass through on this route:

Almachar which is also the capital of the famous “ajoblanco”.

almachar pueblo ruta de la pasa

In September, a famous festival takes place in the village: the Fiesta del Ajoblanco. Ajoblanco is a speciality, a cold drink made from almonds and garlic!

Totalan a very small and authentic village


Comares, the village known as the “balcony of Axarquia


Cutar, a small village that has preserved a precious Arab fountain

Cutar fuente arabe
Cutar fuente arabe

El Borge, the village that was home to one of the greatest bandoleros of Andalucia

El Borge calle

Every year, in September, a typical festival takes place in the village: el dia de la Pasa. Not to be missed!

Moclinejo, a white village to discover and wines to taste!

Moclinejo calle en Axarquia

Moclinejo celebrates the winegrowers every year in September during La feria de los Vinedos.

This route is an opportunity to taste (in moderation) moscatel wines, mistela (very sweet wines made from sultanas!). Do not forget to taste and bring back a packet of these famous raisins.

el borge y la pasa en Axarquia

If you wish to discover these villages with a local guide, see the link: La Ruta de la Pasa (Raisin route).

The avocado and sun route

This route is mainly located in the valley of the river Velez. It allows you to discover the richness and agricultural diversity of Axarquia.

The road is about 75 kilometres long and passes through 6 municipalities.

The road starts in Rincon de la Victoria (just outside Malaga) and takes you into the valley and the surrounding mountains to discover these crops.

Why is it called the avocado and sun route?

The sun is very present on the Costa del Sol. On average, there are 300 days of sunshine per year. In addition, there is a subtropical microclimate in Axarquia. This climate allows the cultivation of tropical fruits such as the avocado.

However, it should be noted that the cultivation of tropical fruits on this route has greatly diversified. Today, we can walk along fields of avocados as well as mangoes, litchi, chirimoya (annona). You can find at least 30 tropical fruits in the plain of Velez Malaga.

VHere are some photos of the sites you will pass through on this route:

Rincon de la Victoria, 10 minutes from Malaga

Rincon de la Victoria playa en Axarquia
la playa

Macharaviaya, once known as “Little Madrid

Macharaviaya fabrica naipes
antigua fabrica de naipes

Velez Malaga and its 3000 years of history

It is the capital of Axarquia and is now considered the European capital of tropical fruit.

velez malaga entrada muralla arabe
entrada muralla arabe

Between Benamargosa and Velez-Malaga, if you have some time, you should visit the area around the village of Triana.

Benamargosa, a village known in the 20th century as “Little Gribraltar

It is undoubtedly around this village that you will find the greatest diversity of tropical fruits.

benamargosa del pueblo
Entrada del pueblo de Benamargosa desde Triana

This route also passes through the small white villages of Iznate and Benamocarra.

If you wish to discover tropical fruits and their cultivation with a local guide, see the link: la ruta de los tropicales.

The Olive Oil and Mountains Route – Ruta del Aceite y de los Montes

This 50km long route goes through several mountain villages in Axarquia and presents the main villages producing this liquid gold: olive oil.

This is one of the most beautiful rural tourism routes. The best period is from December to March during the olive harvest. The main variety of olives that is grown is the Verdial de Velez.

Riogordo and its beautiful landscapes

Tajo Gomer en riogordo en Axarquia
Tajo de Gomer

Do not miss the Molienda de Riogordo in February (oil production in an old mill).

Colmenar, known as the Pantry of Malaga

Colmenar y sus vistas en Axarquia
Colmenar y sus vistas

Alfarnate, the highest village in Axarquia, at 900 metres above sea level


Alfarnatejo and its beautiful landscapes

Alfarnatejo paisajes 2
paisaje de Alfarnatejo

This village, like its neighbour Alfarnate, is known as the Pyrenees of the Costa del Sol.

Periana, which has made its reputation with its olive oil,


Do not miss the feria del aceite (oil festival) in April.

Alcaucín and the ruins of the castle of Zalia

Castillo de Zalia y Alcaucin
Castillo de Zalia y Alcaucin

In this village you will discover fabulous landscapes and the ruins of one of the oldest castles in the world.

La Viñuela and its “pantano

It is the only village on the plain with a lake that is the water reserve of the region. From La Vinuela you can enjoy many beautiful views of the Maroma (Pico de Tejeda). This 2068 metre high mountain is the highest in the whole province of Malaga.

la Vinuela embalse
Vista sobre La Vinuela

If you wish to discover the cultivation of olives and the production of olive oil with a local guide, see the link: the route of olive oil and mountains.

The Sun and Wine Route

This route between the sea and the mountains passes through 6 villages. You will discover some of the most beautiful beaches of the Costa del Sol and some of the most beautiful white villages.

Here are some pictures of the villages we pass through:

Algarrobo, a typical white Andalusian village to discover.

Algarrobo que voir : vue sur le village

Sayalonga and its very curious and unique “round” cemetery in Spain

Sayalonga cementerio
cementerio redondo de Sayalonga

Competa, one of the most beautiful and authentic white villages in the province

This village, known as the cornice of Axarquia, produces one of the best wines in Axarquia. You must try the Jarel, a sweet white wine to be drunk chilled, made from the Muscatel grape.

competa village de l'Andalousie authentique

If you are visiting this village in August, you should not miss the “Noche del Vino” (The Wine Night festival).

Torrox, nicknamed “Mejor clima de Europa

This village has the reputation of having the best climate in Europe. The walk through the authentic streets of the pueblo is a treat for wine lovers!

Torrox pueblo y mar
Vista Torrox pueblo y el mar

Nerja, the pearl of the Costa del Sol

Nerja offers some of the most beautiful beaches on the Costa del Sol and in Andalucia

This is Calahonda beach in the centre of Nerja:

Frigiliana, recognized as one of the most beautiful in Andalucia and Spain.

frigiliana pueblo mas bonito en Axarquia

If you are visiting in August, don’t miss the Festival of the 3 Cultures in Frigiliana. In this village you can also discover the only place in continental Europe where sugar cane honey is still made!

If you wish to discover the traditions around the Moscatel wine and also to do a tasting, see the link: the Sun and Wine Route.

Activities in Axarquia, around Nerja and Torre del Mar

Axarquia is well known for hiking. However, it is possible to find many beautiful activities:

  • horse riding, on the beach or in the mountains
  • diving in Nerja and Torrox
  • guided tours (villages of Axarquia, Cordoba, Alhambra,…)
  • via ferrata (Caminito del Rey,…)
  • hiking (rio Chillar, El Saltillo with the hanging bridge,…)
  • canyoning (in the rio Verde,…)
  • astrotourism
  • snorkeling
  • visit of caves

In the following link you will find all the best activities to do during your holidays

Axarquia as a starting point for excursions in Andalucia

It is also an ideal holiday destination, as it also makes it easy to visit the rest of Andalucia.

Some examples:

Visit Málaga, right next door.

Visit Granada at only 1 hour away.

Visit Cordoba – and Almeria – at 2 hours away.

Seville is 2.5 hours away.

Cadiz is less than 3 hours away.

In this link find a very good car rental agency in Malaga airport

Here is the link to receive our newsletter from the blog

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