Benahavís is one of the towns that makes people swoon when they just hear its name. To many it is the most picturesque town in Andalucía, which is saying a lot for a region which is famous for its immaculate and white-washed villages festooned with colourful hanging plants. So what makes Benahavís so special? Here are Sonneil´s top 10 things to love about Benahavís.
1. The streets
Benahavís is one of those endlessly charming villages that just invites you to ramble its close winding streets and small squares with their bell towers and water pumps, all set off by brilliant white walls and exuberant flower displays.
2. The food
Benahavís is a gourmand’s paradise. Over the years this pocket sized village has attracted a disproportionate share of Andalucía´s top restaurants. There´s La Sarten, Benahavís´s oldest restaurant with its roof-top terrace and renowned meat dishes, or La Escalera de Manolo with its homely décor and friendly staff, and a dozen others besides. Indeed so much of Benahavís´ outdoor space is taken up with restaurants tables that it has become known as the dining room of Andalucía.
Just like with restaurants, there is no shortage golf courses surrounding Benahavís. There are currently around 12 courses and more are always being built, so many in such a small area that Benahavís has acquired the moniker the “golf valley”.
4. Proximity to the coast
Benahavís is a typical hill-top village that boasts the extra advantage of being only 7 kilometres from the coast. This means that there´s only a short drive between the village and the 100 kilometres of golden Costa del Sol beaches. In fact Benahavís boasts of many sea views and they say that on a very clear day you can even see the mountain ranges of Morocco in the distance.
5. Proximity to Marbella
About 30 minutes’ drive from Benahavís is Marbella, home to the rich and famous. If you have the money there are more private yachts for rent here than just about anywhere else in Spain and certainly more upmarket designer goods stores to flash your cash. For everyone else, it makes for the perfect day trip where you can stock up on goods, hit the beach, and do some star spotting.
6. Proximity to Estepona
Just 30 minutes in the other direction from Marbella, from Benahavís you will reach Estepona. Again this presents a great opportunity to avail of the shops and services that you would expect from a city but may be missing in Benahavís due to its small size. Like Marbella, Estepona is also blessed with beaches, bars, restaurants and nightclubs, and they are likely to be a bit easier on the wallet than those in Marbella. We have already talked about this lovely coastal town in our previous post about Estepona.
An hour’s drive to the north of Benahavís lies Ronda, a unique city in that it is built on the edge of a canyon that falls 100 metres below into a ravine. The Ponte Viejo bridge which crosses part of the canyon is the best place to take in the dizzying views.
8. The mountain terrain
For all its proximity to the coast, Benahavís is at its heart a mountain village. Not far to the north are two giant nature parks encompassing some of Spain’s most spectacular mountain scenery, Sierra de las Nieves and Sierra de Grazalema. These, along with the Sierra Blanca to the east offer a host of activities from mountain biking to rare bird watching.
9. The history
Nowadays Benahavís is the quintessential sleepy Andalucian village but don’t be deceived – its history is as a vibrant and colourful as the town itself. Founded by the Arab invaders in 9th century its location made it of vital strategic importance in the ensuing wars between Christian and Arab armies. Montemayor Castle and Cortes Fortress are steeped in stories that tell of a time when Benahavís was a violent flashpoint in a war between civilisations.
You may not see lions and water buffalo but a great way of taking in the countryside surrounding Benahavís is by safari, or off road jeep ride. There are a number of different routes available with names like the Shepherd’s Trail and the Smugglers Route highlighting the adventurous and rugged side of the area.
Have you been to Benahavís already? What’s that you loved the most?