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Dorota on Brighton Beach

Spain Holidays 2011: Andalucía’s Best Kept Secret

Many tourists heading into Malaga’s newly refurbished airport will head south-westerly along the Autovia del Mediterraneo, towards the Costa Del Sol and the popular Spanish holiday hotspots of Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Marbella. Each of these attractions has plenty going for it and they all remain hugely popular with British tourists; but heading eastwards from Malaga can provide tourists with just as much enjoyment as heading to the more renowned resorts in the west.

The development of the Autovia del Mediterraneo has opened up this side of the Costa region far more to tourists. Following the road, which is yet to be fully completed, to its current terminus sees you travel around 75 kilometres to just past Almunecar and the small town of Salobrena.

Salobrena lies just east of the Alpujarras region, an area made popular in Chris Stewart’s book Driving Over Lemons, and the town itself is a beautiful, picturesque seaside idyll, which is authentically Spanish and watched over by the impressive remains of a Moorish castle that sits atop a rocky outcrop looking over the town. The fact that Salobrena seems to defy logic and cling onto the side of this rocky outcrop into the azure Mediterranean Sea makes it even more charming.

Certainly, those seeking some of the gaudy, nightclub-driven, alcohol-induced tomfoolery that is a populist (though often unrepresentative) view of southern Spain will be disappointed. Salobrena is a charming town, from its narrow streets with whitewashed houses, olive groves and wonderful beachfront, which comes alive of an evening as the locals mingle with visitors to dine, catch fish or just enjoy a walk and chat with friends along the expansive promenade.

It is worth noting that Salobrena is a Spanish town in that it is a resort that attracts a higher proportion of Spanish visitors than it does those from other countries. Many feel it is one of the best kept secrets in the Andalucía region; big enough to have everything you need for a great holiday, yet small enough to fly under the radar of large-scale corporate investment.

The result is a truly charming town, its winding streets containing a large number of small shops, bars and restaurants, a wonderful public park and square (with free Wi-Fi) where locals gather of an evening and children play. Down to the outstanding pebbled beach, which is a hugely popular attraction both during the day, for sun lovers, and of an evening when the locals and holidaymakers head along the waterfront to drink, dine and socialise.

Salobrena’s unique geographic position also gives it the best of both worlds in the winter. The microclimate afforded by its position squashed between the mountains to the north and the warm Mediterranean Sea and African continent to the south often keeps the area warmer than many parts of southern Spain. Temperatures of 20 degrees C or more during winter months are frequent, yet a short drive into the Sierra Nevada Mountains affords lucky residents or visitors the chance to ski among some of the most spectacular and striking scenery available anywhere in Europe.

For an unspoilt glimpse of Spanish life, Salobrena is an outstanding place to visit. This family friendly, charming and unspoilt village is the perfect choice for a year-round holiday destination.