Sunday 25 September 2016

4 to try: Day trips from the Costa Del Sol

Spanish special

Tom Sweeney

Published 21/02/2016 | 02:30

Puente Nuevo in Ronda
Puente Nuevo in Ronda
Gibraltar
Alhambra Palace in Granada

If you can drag yourself away from the beach and the Irish bars of Spain's original sunshine strip, these four day-trip destinations will delight.

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1. Ronda

Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway were regular visitors to the Roman city of Ronda and have streets named after them (Welles' ashes reside at the bottom of a well on the late bullfighter Antonio Ordoñez's estate). The bullfighting museum isn't to everyone's taste, but the oxtail in Restaurante Pedro Romero is amazing. Top sight on one of the best Costa del Sol day trips is the spectacular Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) spanning the 200-metre-deep El Tajo gorge. Completed in 1793, it is one of Spain's most photographed structures.

Drive time: Two hours max (each way).

2. Seville

Street thermometers in August often show 45°C in Spain's hottest city, which is why restaurant terraces are cooled by a constant aerosol mist of orange-scented water. The hotbed of flamenco, Seville is home to the Torre del Oro (Golden Tower), reputedly the depository for the riches brought back from the New World. Top attractions are the ­cathedral, where Columbus is interred, and its 12th-­century Moorish tower, La Giralda; the Parque Maria Luisa; and the splendid 11th-­century Alcazar complex of palaces, patios and gardens.

Drive time: Three hours max (each way).

3. Gibraltar

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Bring your passport for a trip to The Rock, which you enter and leave by walking (quickly) across the airport runway. The colony of Barbary apes up on the heights, from where you can see Morocco, are the main attraction - but be wary as they are brazen pickpockets. Gibraltar is full of British pubs selling pints of bitter, pork pies and bangers and mash - just like Marbella. Still, it's worth a visit for the duty-free shopping.

Drive time: Two hours max (each way).

4. Granada

The Moorish masterpiece that is ­Granada's 14th-century Alhambra Palace makes ­Barcelona's Sagrada Familia look like ­something you'd find in a skip. Set against a backdrop of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains, this fortress-palace is beautiful beyond words. Inside, you'll get giddy gazing at the outrageously exquisite ­craftsmanship of long-dead sculptors, wood carvers, calligraphers and other artisans. Granada is also renowned for its generosity - every time you order a drink in a bar in town, a delicious free tapa comes with it. So, Moorish and more-ish.

Drive time: 2.5 hours max (each way).

PS. Just the ticket

Most hotel receptions and on-site tour reps sell tickets for Costa del Sol day trips on luxury air-conditioned coaches. Journey times depend on the pick-up points.

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