This large and attractive market town sits high up in the mountains tucked away behind the tourist traps of the Costa del Sol. Fortunately it has escaped the mass-tourism of nearby Torre del Mar and Fuengirola; for that reason it is a peaceful and friendly town with lots to see and do.
The must see places are the 13th century tower of La Fortaleza - the most prominent remnant of Vélez Málaga's Moorish past which dominates a hill overlooking the town. On a clear day you can see right down the Mediterranean coast towards Málaga in the west and Almería in the east. There are also the numerous churches to see - such as the 15th century Santa María la Mayor church, the church of Señora de la Encarnación and finally San Juan la Baptista.
Don't miss the 16th century Palacio del Marques de Beniel, the Moorish-built walls of the old Arab quarter and the town's two convents - Convento de Jesús and Convento de las Carmelitas with it's eighteenth century paintings.
Vélez Málaga is only 30km east of Málaga itself so it makes for an excellent day trip from there. There is also a tram link running between Torre del Mar (just 4km away) and Vélez. Almost all of the buses which take the slower mountain road between Málaga and Granada rather than the quicker N340 and N232 stop at Vélez Málaga. The journey time from Málaga is approx 40 mins.
Spain is a one-hour ferry ride away from Africa. We were a little worried about our safety, but we thought that maybe we could take the ferry across, walk briefly on African soil, and take the next ferry back to Spain. We talked it over and decided to go for it.
We drove the rental car from Malaga to Algeciras and parked it in an all-day lot (for 19 euros). There are two ferries. One takes an hour to cross, and the other takes two and a half hours. We boarded the faster ferry (two adults for 102.30 euros) and waited for the departure. The ferry sat for an hour before finally leaving. As it turned out, that was the best thing that could have happened to us. While we were waiting to leave, we started talking to a man named Habibi and his wife and eight-year-old daughter, they were on vacation from their home in Birmingham, England, to visit his family, who still live in Tangier, Morocco. We asked Habibi for a private guide, two hours later, when we arrived in Tangier, we helped carry their luggage to the parking area where they were met by Habibi’s brother.
To our surprise, Habibi sent his wife and daughter with his brother and told us he wanted to join us to see Tangier. Using his cell phone, he reached one of his old friends Benny, a licensed guide who picked us up with his air conditioned car.
They drove us all around the city highlights and up into the hills to see the mayor’s home and the king’s palace. He talked a man with camels into letting us ride on them. Then we returned to the city where he led us through the oldest part, the Kasbah, Medina and Berber Souks. We visited a famous hotel where American and English actors stayed while filming in the area. He spent the entire day and most of the evening showing us the city he grew up in and obviously is still in love with.
We had such a great time that our new friend had to remind us that the last ferry back to Spain leaves at 11pm. He and his Guide/drove us back to the ferry building, made sure we got our passports stamped, walked us to the boat and made sure we were safely aboard before they left to join their families.
The last ferry back was a slow one and took two and a half hours to make the crossing. We drove the rental car back to our resort. Thanks to Habibi, we had a wonderful time visit.
Salobreña is the weekend getaway for the people of Granada, but despite this, its sandy beach is quiet. The locals are very friendly, and the town itself is pretty, with a castle and a less commercialised atmosphere than nearby Malaga and Nerja.
Regular buses from Granada, which is 80km (50 minutes) away.
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