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ROAD TRIPS WITH AVIS: ANDALUCIA
Adventures in Andalucia
See the best of Southern Spain in an Avis hire car
If you're looking for excitement, discover Andalucia. Whether it's ballooning over the mountains, plunging downhill on a bike, wreck diving or driving around the twisting hill roads to a sleepy white village, you'll find a different adventure at every turn.
Test drive this two-day road trip for the best of the Andalucia Pick up your rental car from our Avis Malaga Airport car hire location and drive west on the A-357 road into the hills around Alora for some two-wheeled thrills, then follow the mountain road west to the hillside haven and culinary hotspot of Ronda. It's a short drive the next morning to Arcos de la Frontera, where you can take to the sky for unrivalled views of the town.
Head south-east to explore the Rock of Gibraltar – inside and outside – then north-east along the coast for a safari adventure in Estepona. Drop off your Avis hire car back at Malaga airport or check Avis' network of car hire Spain locations, if you travel home from a different airport.
High points en route
Ardales National Park, Alora – Downhill all the way This sunny town on the edge of the rugged Ardales National Park is the ideal base for a mountain biking expedition. The pine-forested valleys are a year-round biker's heaven, with everything from gentle cross-country trails to blood-pumping downhill tracks. Don't miss the magnificent Garganta del Chorro – a 400-metre high gorge formed when the Guadalhorce river cut through a limestone mountain.
Ronda – Take the bull by the horns Less than a mile north of the towering citadel of Ronda, spiritual home of Spanish bullfighting, is your mountain retreat – Hotel El Juncal. This 17th-century finca (farm) has been styled into a comfy contemporary hotel. Mosey down to the two-Michelin-starred Tragabuches restaurant, where you can enjoy grilled suckling pig and white chocolate soup with mango and red wine granita (sorbet). Walk off this feast while drinking in the dizzying heights of the Puente Nuevo. It's a tortuous drive up some hair-raisingly windy roads, but the views are simply magnificent.
Arcos de la Frontera – Up, up and away Motor through mountainous terrain to this pueblo blanco (white town), dramatically perched on top of a limestone cliff. For truly unforgettable views of the town, the castle and the Guadalete river below, book an early morning balloon flight. Back on terra firma, check out the excellent-value tapas in the cave-like Mesón El Patio bar.
Gibraltar – Monkey business Under an hour's drive west of Marbella, and just a short cable car ride up from the Grand Parade, the dense scrub of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve is home to rare birds and Gibraltar's most famous residents, the Barbary Apes – Europe's only wild primates. Below, St Michael's Cave is the largest of over 100 caves running through the Rock, boasting striking rock formations and a stunning underground lake.
Selwo Adventure Park, Estepona – Out of Africa For the ultimate African-style adventure, drive to Estepona and take a jeep safari through Selwo Aventura. Over 2000 animals – including lions, elephants and monkeys – roam in relative freedom on this rugged 100-hectare reserve. Don't miss the walk-through aviary – the largest in Europe – where 1000 birds live in a vast enclosed valley.
Free time on your hands? Take your pick from the following gems
1. Tarifa – High as a kite The prevailing winds rushing around the headland of Europe's southernmost point make Tarifa's pristine beaches a Mecca for kite-surfers. The kite schools in this hip town cater for all abilities, and whether you've just got up for the first time, or pulled off a trick you've been trying to master for months, the buzzing chiringuitos – beach bars – are the place to brag about it over an ice-cold cerveza.
2. Puerto Banus – I'll bet that you look good ... Spain's answer to St Tropez on the outskirts of Marbella is a magnet for A-list celebrities and royalty in super-luxury cars, and boasts a notoriously extravagant nightlife. One of the hippest nightspots, overlooking the harbour, is SkyLounge where you can enjoy al fresco dancing and views over the famous marina.
3. San Roque – A different sort of driving From the moment you walk onto the first tee at Valderrama, you realise why the Spanish answer to Augusta is regarded as one of Europe's most challenging golf courses. The third shot at the treacherous 17th, Los Gabiones – over the water to the sloping, bunker-cradled green – is infamously tricky, and has even given the pros a few problems.
4. Estepona – Sunken treasure Just off the shore of Estepona, sunken 18th-century French galleon El Barco Antiguo is one of the most spectacular dive sites on the Costa Del Sol. Very well preserved – even the masts still lay where they fell – the wreck is only six metres below the surface. You can see the whole length of the vessel on a clear day, decorated with a colourful array of marine plants and surrounded by schools of triggerfish.
5. Gaucín – In the saddle Take a horseback trip through the woods surrounding this classic Andalucian hilltop village for serene views across the strait to the Rif mountains in North Africa. For a change in tempo, head back to town and seek out La Taberna – just follow the sound of the foot-stamping flamenco. Make like the locals and get there after midnight, when the real fun starts.