This region, known as Axarquia, is slightly set back from the coast and consists of rolling hills and a few lakes with "white" villages dotted around, most with 500-4,000 inhabitants. While fine beaches and a variety of tourist attractions are within easy reach at the coast, Axarquia is a relatively tranquil area where it is easy to relax and/or explore at a slow pace. Thanks to the excellent road network, it is also possible to explore some of the major attractions in southern Andalucia in a series of day trips.
The weather is fabulous, with over 320 sunny days each year.
We visited several villages in the region before settling on Comares. For us it was an easy choice. At 720 metres above sea level, the spectacular hilltop setting of the village can be seen from miles around and provides amazing views in all directions. Snow-capped peaks are clearly visible during the winter and it is possible to see across the Mediterranean to Morocco on a clear day. The streets are peaceful as cars are required to park outside the village (although there is parking an easy one minute walk from the house). Traffic past the house is limited to pedestrians, a weekly van selling fresh fish and the occasional donkey. The relatively lively village square is only a minute away from the house, but far enough away that sound does not carry. The houses and streets are well maintained and the village has a very pleasant atmosphere. There are no souvenir shops (yet!).
There is a marvellous small hotel converted from an olive mill in the village square with a good restaurant and more great views, there are other good restaurants within walking distance or a short drive, and there are a variety of bars serving tapas as well as good coffee. There is also a pub. We will provide you with our recommendations for restaurants, including some excellent seafood places on the coast that are rarely visited by foreigners.
A variety of interesting walks can be made through the winding streets of the village, including one to the remains of a Moorish fort, once a Roman military outpost, and a beautifully-maintained and fascinating cemetery.
The many small farms around the town cultivate olives, almonds and grapes. When wandering around the steep and narrow streets you may find yourself invited into local residents' homes to sample local wine, almonds, raisins, olives, honey and cheese.
A walk of about one hour on a simple track around the entire perimeter of the village reveals the countryside around and a pastoral landscape that changes colour with the seasons. There are a number of marked footpaths for longer walks, with color-coded signs and explanatory maps set up in the village. Driving up to half an hour brings you to a range of additional walks, and we provide detailed information on these.
A quality gift shop selling local and Moroccan handicrafts that also acts as a tourist information office is near the house. There are two banks, at least one of which has English-speaking staff, and two cash machines in the village square.
While several British families have villas within a few kilometres, there are only a handful of foreign residents in the village. Not many people in the village can converse in English, although foreigners are always made to feel very welcome. There are fiestas in the village during May, July and August. These are great fun for both adults and children if you happen to be there on the right day. We'll provide you with dates and details of these.
Medieval arches and footprint paving tiles provide a guide to the main streets. Throughout the village, there are colourful ceramic plaques depicting Comares´ important place in history, which can be traced back to the third century BC. The Moors built the fort in Comares that was one of the three principle forts in the Axarquía. Two of the towers that reinforced the wall are still here. Strategically important in the defence of the crumbling Moorish territories, Comares was finally conquered by the Catholic Kings from the north in 1487. The village remains typically Moorish in its layout and design with narrow cobbled streets, interspersed with arches, flanked with simple whitewashed houses. The Parish Church is 16th century with a beautiful coffered/stucco/moulded ceiling.
A good quality pool in Comares is open during the summer, while there is a larger and very attractive community pool set in gardens in the village of Benamargosa about 10 minutes drive away. Excellent swimming beaches at the pleasant coastal town of Torre del Mar are 30 minutes away by car.
A car is necessary and easy to rent at Malaga Airport. There are many car hire firms and we can recommend our favorites on request. Driving in this part of Spain is not hard, the roads are generally in excellent condition and places are clearly signposted. In the house we provide a range of books, maps and suggestions for both driving and walking tours.
The fascinating city of Granada and its magnificant Alhambra are two hours away by car, either by motorway or an attractive, alternative route on smaller roads. Seville, another key attraction, is 2.5 hours away. The city centre of Malaga is an underrated attraction and well worth a visit, especially the new Picasso museum (reservations recommended and essential in summer). Malaga, Seville and Granada each have the sophisticated shops associated with major cities. Smaller towns well worth a visit include Antequerra, Nerja, Almunecar and Marbella. Many of the nearby villages are also worth going to.
There is an aquarium and (separately) an aquatic park with dolphins in Estepona, as well as a sanctuary for endangered Andalucian Giant Donkeys.
A friend of ours in the next village manages the house and offers horse riding.
The nearest golf course is about 30 minutes away by car.
The 200-year old house has recently been completely modernized. There two large double bedrooms each with an en suite bathroom. One of the bedrooms has a further twin bedroon connected to it which is suitable for two children (or more sleeping on air mattresses). There is a living room, separate dining room and a unique but practical kitchen that is between the ground and first floors and forms the centre of the house.
The overall impression of the house interior is light and open, with its high ceilings, white walls and traditional square windows. The floors are tiled and the house has been finished with some attractive and artistic touches using traditional, decorative tiling and wrought iron railings. The design of the house makes it a cool refuge from the midday sun in July and August.
There are two separate roof terraces with fabulous views over the rooftops of the village up to mountains in the northeast and out across the Mediterranean to Morocco in the south. There are tables, chairs and a barbeque on one of the terraces. In the warm summer months this is a great place for breakfast and dinner, while in cooler periods it works well for lunch.
There is a small supermarket in an attractive square 200 metres from the house that carries fresh bread, meat, milk, fruit and vegetables, as well as a wide range of other goods.
The Eroski supermarket at the modern 'El Ingenio' shopping center in Velez-Malaga is a 30 minute drive away. This really does have everything, including a cinema/movie theatre that has some films in English. Opposite the shopping centre is a water park.
We provide our guests with detailed written information on the house, the village and the surrounding area, with many suggestions on how you can enjoy your stay. There are guide books and maps at the house that you may find useful.
The house is not suited to very young children as some of the stairs are steep and narrow while the roof terraces are not child-proof. The village itself has many steep-sloping streets and people with restricted mobility may find this a challenge.
Beautifully restored traditional house in lovely hilltop village in attractive countryside. Roof terraces with spectacular mountain and sea views