Andalucía’s Natural Tourism

One of the most joyful aspects of visiting or living in Andalucia is the beauty of the natural landscape, ranging from rugged snow-capped mountains to its coveted coastline, swathes of natural forests and sandy desert dunes, you cannot fail to be moved. You may not realise just how much there is to enjoy, protected Natural Parks cover over 30 per cent of the land in Andalucia, ensuring unspoilt natural habitats, clean air and the preservation of wildlife and of course spectacular views. Andalucia also boasts two National Parks within the region, Doñana and Sierra Nevada, which are afforded the highest level of protection in order to safeguard the wildlife, plants and unspoilt terrain.

To provide a further level of protection UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) has designated eight areas in Andalucia as ‘biospheres’, based on their important ecosystems, flora, fauna and natural resources. UNESCO biospheres are protected by conservation orders that guarantee only sustainable development, which is why homes in these areas, like Siesta’s ‘The Oakhill’ and ‘Oakhill Heights’ are highly coveted, as the landscapes, fresh air and views are guaranteed with a protected biosphere reserve.

Here are four of Andalucia’s must-see biosphere reserves:

Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada is situated close to Granada and was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1986. This National Park is arguably the most well-known and is famed for its high mountain range, the second highest mountain in Europe behind the Alps, making Andalucia one of the few destinations where you can be sunbathing on beach in the morning and within a couple of hours drive, be skiing down the slopes. The park also covers an enormous expanse of rivers, gorges, lakes, lagoons, forests and stunning natural flora. It is popular not only with skiers but also hikers, cyclists and campers.

Parque Nacional de Doñana

Bird watchers will already know about this beautiful National Park, as it is one of the most important wetlands in Europe, and home to an incredible variety of birds. Many species migrate to the park from all over Europe and as far as Africa, including geese and flamingos and it is also home to the largest colony of Spanish Eagles in the world. The park covers an incredible 1,300km² and spans three provinces, Cadiz, Huelva and Seville. It is only possible to visit the park by taking an organised trip via the El Acebuche Visitors Centre with an official guide, cars are prohibited and access is strictly limited.

Sierra de las Nieves

Nestled in the foothills of the mountains behind Marbella, Sierra de las Nieves covers an area spanning 18,530 hectares, which is mainly agricultural land, abundant with incredible forests of fir, chestnuts and olives. It is also the natural habitat of mountain goats, amongst other indigenous wildlife. The area was designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1995. Visitors are drawn to the park to soak up the wild landscapes dense with wild flora and fauna, and the terrain is fantastic for horse riding, trekking and climbing.

Sierra de Grazalema

This natural park is blessed with over 1,300 varieties of indigenous Mediterranean plants, many unique to this specific park. The abundance of natural flora, including rare Spanish fir forests, is a result of the area’s incredible amount of rain fall each year, in fact this corner of Cadiz has been dubbed the ‘wettest place in Spain’. Of the park’s 51,695 hectares, 3,000 are designated as the Reserve Area, as this sector includes the most delicate ecosystems, ancient forests and Eagle colonies, and therefore access is restricted. If you would like to visit the restricted zone, this can be arranged via the visitors centre in Cortes de la Frontera.

If you are planning on visiting Marbella to soak up the atmosphere and explore the exquisite biosphere reserves, why not stay in the heart of golf valley at the Aloha Hill Club boutique resort, where the luxury accommodation nestles amongst tropical gardens and is surrounded by stunning countryside. The 5-star facilities include a Spa, swimming pool, restaurant, bodega and the on-site concierge service is on-hand to help 24 hours a day.

Why you must visit the Museo Picasso Malaga

When landing at Malaga airport, quite often visitors jump straight into a taxi, turn right and head west, without a second thought about the city of Malaga and what attractions it could have to offer. As the birth place of the world-famous artist Pablo Picasso, one must-see attraction is the Museo Picasso Malaga. 

Set in the Palacio de Buenavista, in the city’s historic centre close to the cathedral, Alcazaba and Roman Theatre, this wonderful museum is run by the Fundación Museo Picasso Málaga with the sole purpose of ensuring that this important artist’s work is conserved and accessible for all to view and study. 

The permanent collection is presented chronologically, showing the progress of the artist’s work, from learning to paint, to sculpture, cubism, reimagining the great masters and drawing like a child. The latest additions in the Restaurant, The Three Graces and Head of a Bull. 

Yet, the museum offers much more than Picasso’s work, throughout the year there are other exhibitions such as Geneologies of Art (history of art as visual art). A display that brings together 250 authors and artists who provide iconic images and words to represent the history of art.

Towards the end of 2020, Reflection of an Era by Meret Oppenheim (October to February 2021), will provide the first retrospective of this major European artist in 30 years. The display will feature over 120 ceramics, sculptures, drawings, furniture, jewellery and fashion designs. The story starts with her early years in Switzerland where Carl Gustav Jung encouraged her to paint her dreams, through Paris where she developed her original style before distancing herself from the surrealists and returning to Switzerland. 

In 2021, Metamorphosis by Miguel Barceló (March to June 2021), taking its name from Kafka’s novel, will present 100 pieces of work including paintings, ceramics and bronzes, representing the theme of transformation through laceration and fragmentation. 

The museum reopened mid-May 2020, after a brief sojourn due to the Covid-19 lockdown, so it is possible to plan your visit and buy tickets online

Picasso Museum Málaga
Palacio de Buenavista, Calle San Agustín 8, 
29015 Málaga
Opening hours: Every day 10.00 – 19.00

How to get a taste of Marbella in two days

With news channels full of the Spanish Government’s efforts to ensure the beaches and hotels are open in time for the summer season, it is easy to forget that Marbella (and the Costa del Sol) has so much more to offer than sun, sand and sea.  It is not by accident that Marbella, consistently holds the top spot as one of the world’s most popular destinations.  

So, if you were planning to take a whistle stop tour, what should you do to get a taste of Marbella’s many different facets?  Undoubtedly there is a plethora of stunning beaches blessed with fine golden sand and the clear blue Mediterranean Sea, but there are also Michelin starred restaurants, for example homegrown culinary star Dani Garcia boasts 3 Michelin stars, and of course there are multiple historic sites which pay testament to the area’s Moorish history, the most famous of which is Marbella’s Old Town. 

If you want to make a big splash on your first night you could head to Puerto Banús, the glitzy marina awash with super yachts and lined with designer stores, restaurants and bars.  Take it slow with a spot of people watching or get into the party spirit when the sun goes down. 

If you fancy seeing a little more of a traditional bustling Spanish village you could head to San Pedro de Alcántara, a bustling busy town just a few minutes’ drive to the west of Puerto Banús, where you’ll find shaded plazas and narrow streets packed with Mom and Pop independent stores and eateries. The main pedestrianised boulevard is lined with inviting cafes, where a cold drink can be enjoyed as you watch the world go by.  Alternatively head to one of the many unpretentious chiringuitos like El Abrevadero on the paseo for some tasty tapas or mouth-watering paella. 

Take a trip slightly inland to discover the impossibly cute whitewashed village of Benahavis for a huge helping of Moorish flavour and a feeling that time has somehow stood still. You will be wowed by vistas and the sheer number of charming restaurants. Take care, favourites like Los Abanicos get full very quickly, which is not surprising when you consider the generous portions and friendly staff. 

Why not round off your whirlwind visit with a relaxing visit to Marbella’s old town. The fortified Moorish surrounding the town is clearly visible, providing an insight into the fascinating history. When in the Old Town, everyone should enjoy a leisurely breakfast or lunch in one of the many restaurants, cafes and bars in the Plaza de los Naranjos, and while away the time under the dappled shade of the orange trees. 

Once you have visited Marbella, the only question is when will you return and what will you see next? 

Los Abinicos
Calle Malaga, 15, Benahavis
952 85 50 22

Chiringito EL Abrevadero
1 Av. Del Mar Mediterraneo

BiBo Dani Garcia
Hotel Puento Romano
Av Bulevar Principe Alfonso de Hohenlohe

Benahavis based artist David Marshall has sculpture accepted for prestigious US exhibition

Scottish born sculptor David Marshall has joined forces with US artist Jennifer Baker to create ‘Man and Nature’, a stunning aluminium and glass sculpture of a climber. The piece was finished in summer 2019 and was recently accepted into the prestigious ‘Yosemite Resistance 35’ art show. 

Scottish-born Marshall, primarily works with metals from his workshops in Benahavis and Benaojan near Ronda, working with a network of local artisans and foundries to provide bespoke pieces, including interior design, signs, staircases, trophies and much more for his global corporate and private clients. 

His unique Daliesque cast iron sculptures are exhibited in galleries throughout the EU and more recently in the USA where he has opened a studio in Colorado.  David’s work is also available to view in the David Marshall gallery in Benahavis. 

David has explained that the sensory beauty of primitive natural materials and their transformation is his reason for existing and they provide a fascinating artistic challenge.

Visit his website for examples of his work

Galeria David Marshall
Calle Estepona,
29679 Benahavís, Málaga
952 85 51 92

10 million euro campaign to ensure Marbella’s beaches will be ready to welcome tourists for summer 2020

In a recent meeting (14th May 2020) between the Mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, of the Andalusian Government and Malaga’s regional Executive, it was stressed that visitors will be guaranteed safe beaches. 

An investment of 10 million euros has been earmarked to fund continuing efforts in hygiene, coronavirus prevention and infrastructure to ensure that anything relating to Covid-19 is well and truly under control, and to guarantee that the Costa del Sol is a safe destination for all visitors. In addition to intensive cleaning regimes, sign posts, capacity control and social spacing will be implemented. There will also be three different classifications, from ‘open to all’, ‘limited access’ and ‘closed’ to help visitors get maximum enjoyment and to ensure safety. 

The Andalusian Government’s commitment and investment will ensure that the beaches of this beautiful province will retain their world class reputation and will provide a benchmark for safe tourism.