What To Do in Álora, Málaga
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Álora isn't your typical whitewashed village in Andalucía, and its small size doesn't take away from its deep rooted history or its unique points of interest. So, if you're wondering what to do in Álora during a day trip from Málaga, or are debating whether or not a trip to Álora is worth adding to your southern Spain itinerary, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that there are a lot of things to do in Álora. In my opinion, Álora is one of the more unique places in the province of Málaga that you can visit, and it sits only a few miles drive from the Caminito del Rey hike too, which is one of the most popular attractions in all of Andalucía.
The history of Álora dates back to prehistoric times, but it was the Phoenicians, and later the Romans, who really began to develop the village and build its foundations. By the 9th century Álora had become a stronghold for the rebellious leader Umar ibn Hafsun, who was against the rule of the Emirate of Córdoba, and it wasn't until the late 15th century that the Christians were able to gain control of the village. Álora is surrounded by hills on three sides, with the Guadalhorce River running past it, which is why the area is also very popular for growing fruits and vegetables, as well as for people wanting to go hiking. Álora is definitely a major hidden gem near Málaga to visit, so if you're thinking of stopping here during your trip to southern Spain, here are my recommendations on what to do in Álora:
1. Plaza Baja de la Despedía
Plaza Baja de la Despedía was the first attraction in Álora that we came across as we were walking into the centre from the parking lot. This is where a lot of the main points of interest are located, so I would make this plaza your starting point. The plaza is where the village holds its Holy Week celebrations, and its considered to be the lowest part of the village, which is where it gets its name from. There are some parking spaces here but I wouldn't recommend driving through the village's narrow streets at all. There's actually a very large free parking lot a 10 minute walk from the plaza which also has very fancy outdoor toilets for the public to use.
2. Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación
Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación is located in the main plaza, and is one of the largest baroque style churches in all of Málaga. Building began on this church in 1500, on the site of the castle's mosque, but it wasn't completed until 1699. Hopefully when you plan your trip to Álora the church doors will be open, because it has a beautiful interior which I was encouraged to go and take a look at by the locals sitting outside.
3. Museo Municipal Rafael Lería
Located directly next to the entrance of the church is the Museo Municipal Rafael Lería. This museum is where you can learn more about the history and culture of Álora as well as its artistic heritage. The building that it sits in dates back to the 16th century, and may have been part of the chapel of a hospital that was built by the Catholic monarchs. It's open most days, but only for a few hours so I would suggest checking its opening times if you're really keen on visiting it, and it costs just €1.50 to enter.
4. Mirador de Cervantes
Due to its location, Álora certainly isn't short on fantastic viewpoints. One of the main viewpoints is Mirador de Cervantes, which you can find on the near side of the main plaza as you make your way up towards the castle. There's a fountain in the centre of it (which wasn't on when we visited) and it's well shaded too, making it a nice spot to sit to get out of the sun. The weather in Álora can get quite hot during the summer months, and the walk up to the castle is a bit steep, so you'll be thankful for this little seating area. The viewpoint is named after the famous Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, who you may know as the author of Don Quixote, and you'll find a ceramic tiled image of one of the scenes from the novel on the wall.
5. Explore the streets of Álora
Many of the streets in Álora are purely residential ones, but a lot of them are beautifully decorated and are worth walking down. One of my favourite streets in Álora is Calle Ancha, which you'll come across if you're making your way to the Arabic castle. The street was lined with colourful flowers and some of the whitewashed houses have beautiful tile work on the outside of them. When I was planning what to do in Álora during my day trip from Málaga, I hadn't considered walking around some of its streets but I'm glad I took the time to!
6. Castillo Árabe
Castles in the province of Málaga are not hard to come by, but so far one of the most impressive and unique ones that I've come across is Castillo Árabe in Álora. It sits at the top of a hill overlooking the whitewashed village, and is Phoenician in origin. Much of the castle dates back to the 5th century when the Arabs began to rebuild on its Roman fortifications following its destruction by the Visigoths. As you walk through the castle grounds, you'll also notice it looks a bit like a cemetery, and that's because it was used as one for over 200 years until it was declared a National Historic Monument. Only two towers of the castle remain, as well as a gorgeous Arab archway, but there is more restoration work taking place in an attempt to restore this impressive historical landmark to its former glory. The castle is completely free to enter and doesn't close until 7pm, so you'll have plenty of time to visit it.
7. Take in the views from the castle
After passing through the Arab archway of the castle, you'll come out into a large square courtyard which provides you with views in every direction of the village as well as the surrounding landscape. This is also where one of the restored towers is located, and you can climb up the iron steps and go inside of it for an even higher view of the area. We even spotted some wild horses roaming around in the fields and a few protected birds too. Since Álora isn't touristy, you may get lucky like we did and have the whole castle to yourself.
8. Ermita del Calvario
While I was figuring out what to do in Álora, I came across a couple of attractions that were a little bit outside of the village's centre, but looked interesting enough to add to my list of places to visit in Álora. Ermita del Calvario was one of those spots. It was built quite recently, at the end of the 20th century, as a replacement for the former temple that sat there which was hit by lightning. There is a spectacular viewpoint next to it which offers a lovely view of the valley below too. You'll definitely need a car to get here, but the streets are not overly narrow to drive through in this part of the village, so you shouldn't have any problems getting to it.
9. Santuario Nuestra Señora de las Flores
There are a lot of beautiful places near Málaga to explore, as well as numerous white villages in Andalucía to drive to. One of the most surprising things I came across during my day trip to Álora was the beautiful Santuario Nuestra Señora de las Flores (Our Lady of Flowers Sanctuary) - a 16th century convent that was later expanded in the 18th century. I actually made a wrong turn and was looking for somewhere to turn around when I came across this convent. The views from here are incredible as well, and it seemed to be a popular place for locals to meet and have a chat. It's located less than 10 minutes from the village's centre, but it's a very uphill drive so I would suggest taking the car - unless you want to get some more exercise in!
I would consider Álora to be a secret spot in Málaga to visit, which is often bypassed by people heading to El Chorro and the Caminito del Rey hike. It's probably one of the best villages near Málaga to visit, and well worth spending a least a few hours at. There are plenty of places you can visit during a road trip in southern Spain, but if you happen to be in this area, Álora really should be added to your list - especially if you love castles. And now you know exactly what to do in Álora too!
Have you ever driven around the area surrounding Caminito del Rey? If you have, I'd love to hear which places you stopped at and if you have any recommendations on which villages I should visit. You can also get in touch with me via Instagram and follow my adventures there too!
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