Less than 10 minutes from the Costa del Sol coastline, Benahavis has retained its charm as one of the most picturesque, idyllic, quintessential Spanish villages in Andalucia. Many visitors to the coast are unaware of its existence, but those that discover this hidden gem are guaranteed to fall in love with its mountain magic.
Where is Benahavis?
The municipality of Benahavis is situated at the western end of the Costa del Sol between Marbella and Estepona. It sits slightly inland and enjoys incredible mountain panoramas, but with great connections and easy access to the local coastal towns and beaches. Both Malaga and Gibraltar airports are easily reached in less than 40 minutes and the town provides a full range of services for its residents. It is ideal for anyone seeking somewhere peaceful but still within easy reach of bustling seaside towns.
Its privileged location surrounded by peaks, in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca and just a few kilometres from Marbella and Estepona, which adjoin the municipality, make Benahavís an authentic artistic and tourist treasure. From the mountains more than 100 kilometres of the Spanish coast and much of North Africa can be seen.
It is the actual arrival into the village that really takes your breath away. One minute you are on a built up stretch of the Costa del Sol and the next driving through a practically virgin valley with breathtaking views of mountains in the distance.
A Moorish Past
Founded at the end of the 11th century, Benahavis has Arabic origins and takes its name from Havis, a Moorish prince who ruled from the castle (in Arabic, ‘Bin al Havis’ means ‘son of Havis’) making it one of the few Spanish names where the ‘h’ is pronounced.
There’s plenty of history evident in the area, with the town intimately involved in Andalusia’s Arabic past. This includes the Monte Mayor Castle. Built in the X century, part of the original walls still stand in a good state of repair. Other surviving elements of this fortress are the Torre de la Reina, the highlight of the complex featuring the remains of several rooms and a well. As a result of its immense strategic value as a view point over the Spanish coastline and the coast of Africa, this fortress played a vital role in the various battles waged between the different Taifa kindoms of Al-Andalus. It is said that underground passageways connected the castle to the coast, which the Arabs used to move soldiers, food and weapons.
History notes that, after Montemayor castle was captured by Catholic Monarchs in the 15th century, a 350-year war broke out between Benahavis and Marbella, until the village achieved independent community status.
A Guide to the Area
Benahavis Village offers the feelgood factor. A firm favourite of Princess Diana who regularly visited the Goldsmith family home. Many celebrities have also chosen to enjoy this stunning, exclusive neighbourhood, including Michelle Obama who visited in 2010. Hugh Grant and Rod Stewart also reportedly own homes locally.
The village might be small, but the municipality itself is large. It includes natural parkland, dramatic peaks, river valleys and forests, making it one of the most beautiful places on the Costa del Sol. Benahavis is therefore a paradise for nature lovers. The options for hiking, rambling, dog walking, rock climbing, mountain biking and canyoning are endless making it an ideal location for those who enjoy the great outdoors and want more than just a beach holiday destination.
Equally, Benahavis has become well known in recent years as a haven for foodies, referred to locally as the Costa del Sols ‘Dining Room.’ It boasts a brilliant portfolio of Spanish and international restaurants and the experience of al fresco dining in village streets is truly a gastronomic pleasure. Benahavis is synonymous with food. It has the highest concentration of high class restaurants in the region drawing natives and expats to savor the cuisine. Benahavis even has its own Catering School.
Despite its popularity, Benahavis has remained remarkably unspoiled. Its narrow streets and picture perfect scenery makes it seem almost film set ready. Its Moorish heritage is apparent by the presence of the 11th century castle of Monte Mayor. Anyone wishing to make the climb to visit the ruins are rewarded with truly sensational views of the coastline.
The municipality also boasts many of the Costa del Sol’s best golf courses, raising the bar on both scenery and course quality. There is no better location for golf enthusiasts. Here are a few just for starters…
El Higueral- http://www.elhigueralgolf.com/
Los Arqueros- http://www.losarquerosgolf.com
Atalaya Golf- https://www.atalaya-golf.com/en/
La Quinta- http://www.westinlaquinta.com/campo-de-golf
Villa Padierna- http://www.villapadierna.es/golf/
Marbella Club Golf- http://www.marbellaclubgolf.com/
Furthermore, Benahavis offers 3 of the finest hotels in Spain; Villa Padierna, Westin La Quinta and the Gran Hotel in the Village.
Villa Padierna provides the luxury of a Tuscan palace, surrounded by golf courses and just a stones throw away from the beach, cooled by the breeze of the Mediterranean sea. This is an exceptional hotel in a magical setting. The hotel is located in the Golf Valley, in the heart of the Golden Triangle. Hidden behind the gardens is one of Europes biggest Spas, the hotel also offers 22,000 m2 of sports facilities. The hotel has 2 magnificent pools including a heated indoor pool. It is an amazingly beautiful hotel, fantastic for golf lovers and a great way to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Benahavis countryside.
The Gran Hotel Benahavis sits at the heart of the village along the banks of the Guadalmina river, and set amidst the natural canyons of the Guadalmina gorge. It was architecturally designed to mirror a traditional Andalusian farmhouse. This lavish hotel is peacefully nestled in the Spanish countryside not far from the Mediterranean coast, offering the perfect holiday destination for a romantic getaway or family retreat. Guests can look forward to the hotel’s exclusive spa and wellness centre complete with an outdoor swimming pool and fitness room as well as an assortment of sauna, massage and Hammam facilities.
The Westin La Quinta is another paradise for Golf enthusiasts, offering a 27 hole golf course surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the Sierra Blanca mountains. It is located in a dreamlike enclave that will captivate lovers of golf. The magnificent course has been designed by Manuel Piñero, three times World Champion and Champion of the Ryder´s Cup. The many greens create a unique frame between the mountains of Sierra Blanca and the Mediterranean Sea. The hotel offers a a wide range of restaurants and bars and excellent spa facilities.
According the Holiday Programme (BBC TV) Benahavis is ‘as close to paradise as you can get.’ If you’re looking for somewhere to live on the Costa del Sol that offers both the tranquil pace of authentic Andalucian village life but within a short 10 minute drive to the coast and all it has to offer, then Benahavis is definitely the place to buy.
The surroundings are evidently inspirational. Benahavís is home to a thriving community of craftsmen, artisans, galleries, painters, potters and chefs. It has a great selection of private and public schools and offers a fantastic multisport complex for local residents.
If you enjoy walking, Benahavis is the perfect place. It features lovely walks through its various hills and mountains all with spectacular views that will take your breath away. If you like free climbing, you can find the “Las Angosturas” gorge at the village’s entrance which has over 60 climbing routes. Mountain biking is also popular among enthusiasts with excellent off road tracks running through the gorge.
Benahavis provides a spectacular backdrop to one of the most exhilarating natural water adventures available on the Costa del Sol. Following the path of the Benahavis road, the river meanders through the gorges and canyons, providing shelter and shade throughout the adventure. Starting at the Benahavis roundabout, make your way down to the river bed where you will find a pool, frequented by locals as a bathing hotspot. From here, you can walk, jump, swim, slide and climb your way through rocks, caves and pools. The scenery is breathtaking with lush vegetation, waterfalls and cool clear water. It is easily a 2.5 hour activity. It can be challenging, but doesn’t require any technique or skill. You must be a strong swimmer however. Whilst the route does not require a guide, there are some adventure companies that run organised trips if you prefer the support of an expert.
Next to the Gran Hotel Benahavis and close to the river, there is a multisport complex which houses a municipal gym, tennis and paddle tennis courts, a swimming pool and a football pitch. Residents get to enjoy full access to all facilities for less than €100 per year, just one of the many perks of living in the area.
For a family thinking of moving to the area, Benahavis has a great selection of private and public schools, the latest being the newly built Atalaya Bilingual School. There is also a nursery in Benahavis Village that caters for children up to the age of 4 and a primary school for children between the ages of 5 and 13.
The Property Market
Benahavis is part of the Costa del Sol’s Golden Triangle, along with Marbella and Estepona. As a result it tends to be associated with high standards of living and excellent quality properties. It benefits from having one of the lowest set of local taxation rates for residents on the Costa del Sol, but is the wealthiest municipality per capita in the whole of Spain.
Home to many of the best Golf Courses and exclusive residencial communities, the natural surroundings combined with a very low build density mean that Benahavis is a highly sought-after location to buy property on the Costa del Sol. Benahavis featured at number 3 in the top twenty local areas in Spain where property prices have grown the most, according to Kyero’s House Price Report from 2017.
The municipality is of vital importance to the entire area due to the exclusivity of most of the residential estates in the municipality, such as La Zagaleta, El Madroñal, La Quinta, Los Flamingos, the Marbella Club Golf Resort, Los Arqueros and La Reserva de Alcuzcuz. One must also take into consideration the important amount of development land in Benahavís, for future growth.
Benahavis is growing. On its outskirts, new urbanisations are emerging but thankfully without impacting the old village. There are three distinct areas of Benahavís, each featuring its own charm and character. The newer outskirts contain a number of modern apartment complexes, sports facilities, hotels and parkland; this is where an increasing number of expats are moving and making the most of the swift access to the coast. In the heart of town is where most of the bars, restaurants, jewellers and galleries are to be found. The third area of the town is the old residential area, where the locals live among the undulating terrain and twisting streets; an area characterised by beautifully kept villas and townhouses, charming gardens and gorgeous views.
More than ever, there is an exciting number of new projects now in development. If you think that Benahavis suits your needs and lifestyle, take a look at options for your potential future home here.