La Axarquía – Leoni Benabú airport at El Trapiche


Everyone knows about Málaga’s international airport, but how many of you have ever heard of La Axarquía-Leoni Benabú Airport (World Airport Code: LEAX)?

Within the heart of the Axarquía region, there is a private airfield near to the hamlet of El Trapiche, a district on the western edge of Vélez-Málaga, which is home to the Royal Aero Club of Málaga.

I’d thought about paying a visit for a while, but when we rocked up at the airport to find out more information, we couldn’t have hoped for a better reception from one of the instructors, Ignacio Gil, who really went out of his way to show us around.

Control Tower at El Trapiche airport

Ignacio, who speaks very good English, told us that the airport’s runway is 1100 metres long and used by light aircraft only. He proudly invited us to jump into his car and took us across to see some of the 81 hangars on site, housing 75 aircraft.  There is also a maintenance facility, clubhouse and flying school.

We were able to see small aircraft taking off and landing.

Pleasure flights (or aerial baptism as it says on the leaflet!) can be arranged for €120 for 30 minutes or €195 for one hour. Why not give one a try? Make sure to say that Marianne from East of Málaga blog sent you!

Can you see the aircraft about to land (on the far right of the photo), just below the village of Comares?

Can you see the aircraft about to land (on the far right of the photo), just below the village of Comares?

Where to find La Axarquía-Leoni Benabú Airport:

About a thirty minute drive east of the city of Málaga, along the A7-E15 Autovía del Mediterraneo to km 272,  take the exit signposted A 356 towards Vélez-Málaga, La Viñuela, Colmenar and Zafarraya.  Stay on the A356, by-passing the town of Vélez-Málaga and, after about 7 kilometres, turn left at the junction signed towards El Trapiche and Triana.  Approximately one kilometre further, there is a small sign on the left pointing to the airport.

Only a few hundred metres along this little road, you will find the Royal Aero Club of Malaga.


Tel: +34 95250 7377
Instructor: Ignacio Gil – mobile telephone: +34 695260656


You might also be interested to visit:

The Buddhist Stupa of the eastern Costa del Sol



Looking along the coast, east of Málaga.

Looking along the coast, east of Málaga.

I receive a lot of messages from East of Málaga readers, either on the blog or over at my Facebook page.  It seems that many folks think I know pretty much everything there is to know about Spain!!  It’s absolutely not true, of course, but I have lived here in the Axarquía region, to the east of Málaga city for almost ten years, so I guess I do know a few things.

Anyway, one of the most common questions I get asked is about the Cost of Living in Spain, and in particular in Málaga province – and this is a subject I have written several articles about.

However, another frequently asked question is about where is the best place to rent or buy a house.  This week I received the following message:

“We’re all booked for 10 day holiday to Cómpeta in October, viewing properties in Malaga, Torre del Mar and Cómpeta. So this week I’m searching the internet and organising viewings. My problem is we can’t decide where to buy – countryside, city or seaside! I was hoping for some guidance.”

It’s a valid question – so let’s see what I can do to help.

View across to the coast, east of Málaga, in autumnAs you might imagine, life can be very different, depending on your choice of location. Worth bearing in mind from the start is that almost all of the Axarquía region, and Andalucía in general, is mountainous with beautiful valleys running down from the inland sierras to the coastal fringe, giving plenty of opportunity to choose the landscape that best suits your needs.

Even though it’s an over-simplification, but let´s say, for the sake of argument that there are three main choices of area – the coastal zone (la costa), the inland villages (los pueblos) and the open countryside (known locally as “el campo”). Each has its devotees and all offer advantages.

In this series of articles entitled “Coast, Villages or Countryside” I will explore each in turn, to give you a flavour of what you can realistically expect in the various landscapes. Who knows, I might even get around to writing about what it’s like to live in the city of Málaga, too!

The Coast

View across La Herradura Bay

First, let’s look at what is perhaps the most obvious choice for many, and particularly for first-time visitors, the coast.   It would probably be more accurate to describe it as the coastal fringe, as many of the hills plunge right down to the sea with wider, flatter areas in between, where valleys run down to the coast.

In times gone by, most coastal villages and towns were fishing communities, given that the Mediterranean Sea provides a plentiful and varied supply of fish and sea food.  Fortunately this tradition continues today, with a substantial fishing fleet at the port of Málaga as well as in nearby Caleta de Vélez, situated between Torre del Mar and Nerja.

Fishing boats in Caleta harbour

As a result, all of the coastal areas have a large number of chiringuitos, which are beachside restaurants, often constructed right on the beach. Chiringuitos always offer a great range of fish and seafood on their menus, which would typically include fried pieces of cod (bacalao) in a lovely light batter, Dorada (gilt-head bream) cooked to perfection over a wood fire, as well as the local Málaga speciality of sardines (espetos de sardines).  Don´t be put off by those dreadful tinned sardines they sell in Britain – these are the real deal –  skewered on bamboo spikes and cooked next to a blazing wood fire. You might also like to try Rosada a la plancha, which is a succulent grilled fish, often flavoured with garlic.  Absolutely delicious and one of my favourites!

Making paella at Ayo´s restaurant, Nerja

Chiringuitos are also the place to try out the world-famous paella. Everyone knows of this flavoursome Spanish dish which, even though it originated in Valencia, is cooked to perfection all along the coast of the Axarquía.  Even though most people will have heard of paella, dishes do vary from one place to another, some leaning towards chicken or pork as the base meat, but mostly on the coast you can expect plenty of fish, large prawns (gambas) and shellfish.  I’ve never had one I didn’t like!

There are bars and cafés on nearly every corner in towns and villages, in fact all along the eastern Costa del Sol you will never be far from a bar. Fortunately, bars and cafés as well as tapas bars and chiringuitos, are largely interchangeable. It´s unusual to find people going into a bar merely to drink.  Beer, wine, fino sherry or coffee are just one part of the combined eating and drinking culture, and luckily the Spanish and most long-term residents seem to have this well-balanced. It is rare to see things get out of hand.

Head for the beach

A typical “snap-shot” view almost anywhere along this relaxed coastline is likely to be of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, rarely more than gently rolling waves, sandy shores with plenty to do, sun beds for hire with the usual sun-shades in all the tourist areas, many wonderful places to eat freshly-prepared food of consistently high quality and a climate which is reputed to be the best in Europe.

Talking of climate, something that you might not have thought of when you are considering where to visit or live is that the temperature can differ by a few degrees from the coastal areas to some of the inland villages. This is not surprising really, given that some of the villages in Andalucía are situated more than 700 metres above sea level, but it might be an influencing factor to your decision about where to live or visit if you knew that a particular village was colder in the winter or hotter in the summer than the coast.

El Ingenio Centro Comercial

El Ingenio shopping centre, near Torre del Mar

No matter whether you spend your time at the coast or inland it is as well to know that the major supermarkets are usually situated along the coastal area.  Both Spanish and German chains are represented, for example with Eroski,  Mercadona and Supersol from Spain, as well as Aldi and Lidl from Germany, each one having their own appeal.

As well as supermarkets there is a larger range of shops near the coast than elsewhere and substantial indoor shopping centres are available on the outskirts of Torre del Mar and at Rincón de la Victoria, with cinemas  and other entertainment options at each location. The Axarquía’s only Carrefour supermarket can be found at the shopping centre at Rincón de la Victoria.

Atarazanas market, Malaga

Atarazanas market, Malaga

On the topic of shopping and extra facilities, you should not overlook the provincial capital city, Málaga, also on the coast. There is the recently refurbished city market, Mercado Central de Atarazanas, as well as large branches of the Spanish departmental store, El Corte Inglés.  Naturally, the city is also home to a fantastic range of tapas bars, sporting facilities, art galleries and entertainment.

One thing you should be aware of is that although May to October is the main holiday season, the seaside in this part of the world can, and often does, provide really warm sunny days all year round – in fact, around 320 of them!.   We enjoy lovely sunny days in January and February, although the weather is not quite as dependable around this time of year.  A common feature during the winter months, not only on the coast but also inland, might be to have a couple of days with rain and some wind, after which the weather reverts to clear sunny days once again.

Tree-lined walkway, La Arana

The main beach resorts east of Málaga are much more low-key than some on the western Costa del Sol,  but make no mistake, they each have their charms, and are worthy of a visit, though they do still tend to get crowded in July and August.

Have a look on a local map and you will see Rincón de la Victoria, Torre del Mar (which is very popular with Spanish tourists), and Torrox Costa, a lovely smaller town (very popular with Germans).  Near to the easterly limit of Málaga province is the delightful town of Nerja, with few high-rise buildings, still retaining its quaint narrow streets in the centre, and popular with British holiday makers.

Entrance to Balcon de Europa, Nerja, Spain

Balcon de Europa, Nerja

Fortunately, all the towns and villages along the coastal strip are easy to travel between, due to two excellent and largely uncongested roads running roughly parallel with each other – the N340 coastal road, and the wonderfully named Autovía del Mediterraneo, which is the motorway. Each of these roads connect the coastal region of the Axarquía direct to Málaga and the airport.  If you don´t have a car available to you, there is a frequent (an inexpensive) bus service run by a company called ALSA, to get you back and forth if you choose.

Another thing to bear in mind about the coastal areas is that the land is flat. As I mentioned at the start of this article, the Axarquía is generally a mountainous area with beautiful valleys running down from the inland mountains to the coast. By the sea, there are lovely flat promenades and public gardens along many of the coastal towns and villages, which might be important to you if you have any problems with mobility.

Looking towards Torre del Mar

Family holidays or a place to live, along a beautiful coastline, without rowdyism, with great facilities and fabulous food – East of Málaga is as good as it gets.

Next time I’ll look at the inland villages in more detail.

Which area do YOU prefer – coast, villages or countryside?

Frigiliana: Beautiful white village

Frigiliana, Spain

I shared this photo on my Facebook page yesterday, of the stunning white village of Frigiliana and it went VIRAL!

Many of you don’t have Facebook – so I thought you might like to see it here, too.

Other posts about Frigiliana:

Looking across to Frigiliana

A Peep-Show for 20 cents?  I know just the place!

Celebrating the “Malaga Blues”

Sailing off the coast of the Axarquía, east of Málaga

Dark objects out to sea off Torre del Mar

If you’re anything like me, you might have noticed four dark objects out to sea off the coast of Caleta and Torre del Mar, and wondered what they were.  Well, after taking a boat trip with Cruceros Axarquía from the Marina at Caleta de Vélez, I finally discovered what they were – but more about that later!

Muelle B at Caleta de Velez

Entry point to the sailing boat, La Pinta, is via Dock B (Muelle B), next to the Marina and opposite El Camarote restaurant. There is usually an umbrella up to shade the girl selling tickets and giving out leaflets, so it’s easy to spot.

If I’m honest, the information could have been a little bit more obvious. The first time we went was when they were only sailing at weekends and, as it was a weekday we sat there for a while before we realised our mistake. During the height of the summer season though, La Pinta sails daily at various times of day, beginning at 12 noon. You need to check first though, as trips can be cancelled at short notice, depending on weather and sea conditions, of course.

The cruise takes one hour and the boat travels from the harbour at Caleta, west along the coast of the Axarquía towards the delta of the River Vélez, where it turns back home.

La Pinta - sailing from Caleta

We took two trips during August, the first was a 12 noon cruise when the sun was shining. We cruised past the many pleasure boats in the inner harbour and then alongside the fishing boats moored there. It was surprising just how many large fishing boats were there.

The smaller fishing boats have lots of lights on them to attract the fish and squid which are then caught by the bigger boats.  I’ve always been an early riser, and from my terrace at home, as I look down towards the Mediterranean Sea, the lights of these fishing boats look like stars floating on the water. Very pretty.

Fishing boats in Caleta harbour

Anyway, back to the boat trip. Like I said, it was a hot sunny day and there were only about 14 people on this particular trip (I guess the boat can hold 60 people – but don’t quote me on that because I’m not a very good guesser).  Most people rushed up to the front of the boat where there were mattresses and cushions for them to sit on. There is wire mesh around the front to ensure everyone’s safety and the folk up at the front have to remain seated at all times.

That was perfect, as it left the rest of the boat “people free” for me to take photos! Yaay!

La Maroma, the largest mountain in the Axarquía region, looked resplendent from the clear blue water on this beautiful day. There was a slight swell, but nothing to worry about – and I DO worry about that, as I’m definitely a “fair-weather” sailor.

It was good to get a fresh perspective from the sea, of Caleta and Torre del Mar. Because I know the towns so well, it was easy to spot landmarks like the sailing club and the lighthouse. The beaches were busy and lined with multi-coloured umbrellas.

I was hoping we might see some dolphins, but it wasn’t to be.

Once we had turned back to head for Caleta harbour, we headed a little further out to sea, towards those dark objects off the coast. So, what are they I hear you cry? Well, wonder no more – they are mussel beds.

I got chatting to one of the crew members during the trip, and he was happy to tell us about the best “mejillones en España” (mussels in Spain). If I understood him correctly, each of the four wooden mussel beds are anchored in 23 metres of water, with the mussels growing up to eight metres below them. They are harvested after four months growth.

Sunset over Torre del Mar

We enjoyed our little jaunt so much we decided to return again a few weeks later with some friends, but this time we took the sunset cruise. This second trip was during the last couple of days of August and, with sailing time still on the summer schedule at 8.30pm, we had only left the harbour a few minutes when the sun was disappearing behind the mountains, which was a bit disappointing for a sunset cruise.  I felt that the time should have been brought forward half an hour or so.  Of course, Cruceros Axarquía announced their revised sailing times from September 1st, a couple of days after our trip, which means that the sunset cruise now leaves Muelle B at 19.45, which is much better for a sunset cruise.

I guess it wont be long until they are just sailing at weekends again – now that it’s officially autumn!

La Pinta is a lovely boat, nicely painted and comfortable. The crew were friendly and happy to help people step on and off the boat (if they wanted help). You can buy drinks on board, and there is a toilet, in case you’re wondering. Cost is 7 euros for adults and 5 euros for children.

You would be best off checking Cruceros Axarquia’s website (or their Facebook page) for weather conditions, sailing days and times before heading to Caleta.

I was a full, fare-paying passenger on board both of these trips.

Do YOU enjoy boat trips? Where’s your favourite place to sail?

Other articles you might enjoy:

Torrox: Let me take you to “funky town”

River walk up the River Chillar from Nerja

10 interesting facts about Málaga’s new Ferris wheel

As if the city isn’t exciting enough, Málaga has a new attraction on it’s skyline – a giant observation wheel.  The giant ferris wheel is located at the entrance to the port, parallel to Muelle de Heredia.

Here are ten facts about the ride you probably don’t know, but might be interested to find out:

Malaga's new ferris wheel

1.   La Noria de Málaga (as it will be known) stands 70 metres tall – that’s just short of 230 feet.

2.   Weighing in at 600 tons, the Mirador Princess ferris wheel is Europe’s largest transportable attraction – yes, it’s moveable!

3.   There are 42 air-conditioned cabins, each accommodating up to eight people.

4.   Each cabin offers 360 degree panoramic views across the city, port and Mediterranean Sea and, on a clear day, vistas of up to 30 kilometres.

Cabins on Malaga's Ferris wheel

5.   Maximum capacity is 1000 visitors per hour.

6.   An operating licence has been granted for an initial period of eight months.

7.   The wheel is LED illuminated, offering a stunning after-dark show.

8.   La Noria de Málaga is suitable for disabled passengers

Malaga's new ferris wheel at Muelle de Heredia

9.    A full turn of the wheel takes four minutes.

10.  It takes 25 special trailers to transport the wheel between sites, and 25 men working for two weeks to put it together on arrival, with a little help from a 300 ton crane.


If you’re inspired to ride on La Noria de Málaga, the observation wheel is open daily from 11am to 11pm (1am at weekends).


While you’re here, you might also be interested in:

My detailed “Cost of Living in Málaga” report

Jurassic Park: Andalucían style