After our first ever remote work week in Málaga, we spent 9 days exploring almost the entire region of Andalusia and part of Múrcia, that line the Southern Spanish coast. The regions surprised us in many ways: the people were friendly and helpful, the nature was surprisingly diverse and rough, the food was delicious and the weather was lovely. In those 9 days we came along quite a few unusual cool places, hidden gems if you will. We’ve gathered these surprising locations in this blog.
Hidden gem Andalusia 1: Fábrica de maro, Nerja
Just after finishing our first ever remote work week in Málaga, we rented a car and drove about 45 minutes to the city of Nerja. There, the road passed by an old abandoned factory, which we decided to go and take a look at. We had to cross quite the ravine on foot to get there, but what an amazing place! We’re used to these kinds of abandoned places being fenced off and off-limits, but you can just roam freely to and through the whole plot. With the sunset nearing, perfect light created a magical and spooky experience when we were there. Also, when driving or walking to the factory, you can catch a glimpse of the impressive remains of the old aqueduct that carried water to the factory when it was in business.
The factory is located here. Access is possible either via some unpaved roads branching off of the N-340 (which we didn’t try) or by parking here and taking a short hike through the ravine (Maps.ME app shows the path you can take). Both routes probably get difficult when muddy, but luckily you’re much more likely to find dry & sunny weather.
Hidden gem Andalusia 2: Mirador de Poqueira, Sierra Nevada
Up in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada National Park, we came across this awesome lookout with views over the entire valley. But the views come with a perfect photo spot in the form of an overhanging rock, making it look even more grand and impressive. Definitely worth the short and easy detour if you’re in the area visiting Pampaneira and the surrounding towns.
The viewpoint is located along the A4132 not far from the village of Pampaneira, right here. You can park right by it.
Hidden gem Andalusia 3: Cementerio de San Miguel, Málaga
Working from Málaga for a week, we got up early every day in order to make the most of our day afterwards. We’d read about the San Miguel Cemetery before coming to Málaga, so decided to walk out there after one of our working days. This got us there exactly during Golden Hour! After leaving the busy city centre behind and making our way through neighborhoods busy with locals, we reached the Cementerio de San Miguel’s impressive entrance gate and its rows of graves lined with orange trees. The light of the low sun created the perfect atmosphere by drawing long shadows across the graves and lining the ominous dark clouds in the sky.
The cemetery holds graves that date back well into the 1800s, clearly belonging to some of the wealthier people of Málaga. Mausolea of all sorts and sizes make this a remarkable, spooky and mostly beautiful place to visit. You surely won’t find many tourists here, though you are likely to see plenty of stray cats keeping an eye on you.
The San Miguel Cemetery is located here, at about a 20 minute walk from Malaga’s city centre. It’s open to visit 365 days a year between 10AM-2PM and 4PM-6PM.
Hidden gem Andalusia 4: Restaurant Alquimia, Órgiva
After a long day with over 4 hours of driving and a visit to the city of Granada, we settled in the mountain town of Órgiva for two nights. Without any ambitions to spend time and effort shopping for groceries and cooking, we sought out a local restaurant. Our pick for the day was Alquimia; some promising reviews led us there believing we’d find good food.
We found Alquimia somewhat hidden away in a side street not far from our apartment. Despite never having visited Morocco, we agreed that this place felt like we had walked straight into a Moroccan city; we were greeted by colorful lanterns on the walls, arches decorated in a typical Arabic style, and relaxing techno music with a Middle Eastern touch. An older, laid back, North African looking man welcomed us with a choice of any table we’d like.
The food was delicious and the atmosphere extremely relaxed. We noticed a few hippies around in the place, which the owner seemed to resemble. Why? Perhaps because he was unusually calm, or because he actively enjoyed the music… We noticed the hippy vibes around the entire town of Órgiva, on the side of the road and in the supermarket. Some Googling led us to find out that there is a hippy commune somewhere in the woods not far from Órgiva!
Overall, we had a lovely dinner in a special restaurant with a good vibe! And our bill came to a grand total of €20, three drinks and tip included!
Alquimia is located here and open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.
Hidden gem Andalusia 5: Jardines de Puerta Oscura, Málaga
As touristy as Málaga can sometimes get, finding quiet green areas right near the highlights was a real treat! The ‘Gardens of the Dark Gate’, as they are mysteriously called, are sandwiched between the famous Gibralfaro castle and the bustling sea boulevard of Muelle Uno. Yet you’ll find it is not the route of choice for people between the two, giving it a secret and natural vibe strengthened by the incredibly present smell of oranges.
The park is located behind the row of impressive buildings lining the Paseo del Parque boulevard. You can find it here.
Hidden gem Andalusia 6: Columpio Mirador Ruta del Pescao
This rather strangely located viewpoint that includes a very Instagrammable set of swings, obviously deserves a place on our list of hidden gems. Rather than the Instagram Swings you might find in touristy places across Southeast Asia, this one was plopped down in the middle of an olive tree grove without any path or sign leading to it. The views however are probably even more amazing than those of its well known counterparts across the world, with a view over the entire valley and the sea as a background.
The viewpoint & swing are located here. Access is quite strange. You’re best off parking here and following the paths visible on Google Maps Satellite Imagery. Beware of the scary barking dogs at the only building you’ll pass, luckily they were all tied down when we were there.
Hidden gem Andalusia 7: El Último Mono Coffee & Juice, Málaga
Just a short walk through a narrow alleyway off of the busy Calle Nueva shopping street, you’ll find El Último Mono tucked away in a corner. The place serves a delicious cup of coffee and was for us the perfect place to take our laptops out and work for a few hours. We were welcomed by a kind waiter who was more than willing to patiently let us try our orders in broken Spanish.
El Último Mono can be found at the Calle Duende 6, just off of the busy shopping street Calle Nueva. It’s open daily from 9AM-8PM except Sundays.
Hidden gem Murcia 1: Mirador del Embalse de Algeciras
On a day of moving into a different region, we sought out this strangely located viewpoint for our lunch. As you’ll read in the practical info, the route there was quite the search, but probably because of this, there was absolutely no-one else there. The lookout mixes bright blue water with a unique undulating backdrop.
The viewpoint is located here. Driving there on paved roads is only possible from the valley, and the route is quite strange. It involves a highway service road, driving across what looks like an access road for a large logistics company and navigating left and right between closed roads. But there is a legal and paved route there; navigate using Google Maps and it will guide you there without any trouble. Just a heads up: if you want to combine your visit to this viewpoint with visiting the Mirador de la Muela (number 3 in Múrcia on our list) and are taking a car, you’ll have to drive all the way around via Alhama de Murcia. The route Google Maps gave us ran into a fenced off and unpaved road between the two viewpoints.
Hidden gem Murcia 2: Mina Aqueronte, former iron mine
If you ask us, mysterious abandoned buildings are always worth looking for when visiting a new region. We found this mine on Google Maps, and were immediately fascinated by its 4 reviews and very limited information that was available. As it turns out, the Mina Aqueronte is a former iron mine which was in and out of use until the 1960s before finally being abandoned for good. Over the 60 years that have since passed, it seems as though no-one has shown any interest in the mine. It was left to decay, roofs of the buildings have collapsed and some of the former poles that guided carts of goods down the hill have ended up on their sides.
Walking up to the mine was a truly surreal experience. A dozen ruins of the mine’s buildings are scattered over the area, with heaps of the dug out soil all around. You can walk straight into some of the mineshafts (be careful!) and see more of the corridors used to transport goods and people in and out of the mines.
Though slightly scary at times, we can only strongly recommend a visit to the Mina Aqueronte!
Be careful when visiting this mine! The remains of the mine include mine shafts and holes that are not fenced off, so tread carefully. The Mina Aqueronte is located here and can be reached on foot by parking at the crossroads of the E-23 and RM-E23 roads, here. The hike to the mine is not difficult and takes about 20 minutes each way. Google Maps sattelite images show a clear path that you can follow up to the mine.
Hidden gem Murcia 3: Mirador de la Muela
Slightly more well known than the mirador over the reservoir that you’ll have just read about, the Mirador de la Muela offers different, but equally impressive views, this time over the entire valley that includes the town of Alhama de Murcia. A relatively short hike brought us to the viewpoint, in the constant amazing smell of the herbal plants that line the pathway.
We had so much fun exploring the South of Spain and finding these hidden gems! Hopefully you’ll get to visit some of them. If there are more places that we should have seen, let us know!
Kirsten & Thomas