Competa in Spain
If you have ruled out Spain for your next family summer holiday, due to its mass tourism, it’s probably time to reconsider. There are still so many places to visit where you can still sample real Spain. By staying in pretty towns and villages which are just a short drive away from the coast. Villages which are not overtaken by tourism and which, still very much so, retain their Spanish character and culture even at the height of summer. Competa in Spain, is one such gem.
Competa in Spain is a small Andalusian village of white washed houses which scatter the majestic mountains like dominoes. It has interwinding narrow cobbled streets, ambient town squares filled with the chatter of locals and the most magnificent views of the surrounding Sierra Almijara countryside.
At just 18 km and a half an hour drive from the coast, the beaches aren’t out of reach. Although the roads are admittedly very winding and not for the faint hearted. Saying that the views and landscape leading down to the coast is pretty spectacular. Stunning views with a landscape filled with vineyards and olive and lemon groves.
We stayed there this summer and used it as a base to explore the surrounding area. So why should you consider Competa in Spain?
You get to Sample the Local Wine
Competa is known to many for its locally produced wine. They produce both dry and sweet varieties which are readily available to sample. Every year, Competa holds its wine festival. This celebration of wine, the Noche del Vino (night of the Wine) is held on the 15th August. If you can, this is the time to visit. It is an ongoing tradition in which the mayor of the town formally thanks the wine makers of the region. It is a day, where this sleepy little village completely comes alive.
Stalls are set up throughout the main thorough fare of the village and there is entertainment throughout the day. They kick off in the morning with a demonstration of treading the grapes. Then follows a free lunch of meat, fish and salad. There are lots of stalls with childrens toys and there is also face painting.
They still of course stop for siesta, even during the festival. As we didn’t feel like a nap, during the Siesta we went for a swim at the Balcon De Competa hotel. For a charge you can use the swimming pool for the day.
Late afternoon, the festivities resume. There are a lot of speeches, but then the entertainment starts with flamenco dancing and live music and goes on until the early hours of the morning.
Tip: If you are coming for the festival it is worth pre-booking a table at one of the restaurants in the main square for dinner at around 8:30 / 9:00 p.m. That way you will have a great spot and view of the stage. But you must book way in advance.
You can tuck into delicious tapas with the locals
Whilst it is only a small town, there are numerous restaurants to choose from all of which are family friendly. There are easily enough to provide you with a different restaurant for each night of a weeks stay. Typical food consists of rice, meats, seafood and tapas. There are options for both more formal dining or more of a casual affair. We didn’t have a bad meal out, and pretty much every restaurant we tried was good. But our favourites were:
Caso Paco – For Tapas
Right in the heart of the main square, where the locals congregate, is the perfect spot for Tapas. Make sure you try the Prawn Pil Pil and the stuffed peppers.
Meson Las Gemelas – For the Views
You’ll be guaranteed a warm welcome here. Off the beaten track, the restaurant has a courtyard out the back where you will be rewarded with the most stunning sunset views over Competa. The food is simple and fresh. The steak in pepper sauce (admittedly not very Spanish) was particularly good.
Restaurante Taberna Hierbabmena – For Moroccon Cuisine
If you want a change from grilled meat and fish you should try the tagines here. Plentiful portions with succulent beef in Moroccon spices. By far my most favourite meal in Competa.
A chance to pick up some Spanish Goodies
There is a local market run every Saturday morning in which you can pick up lots of bargains. They sell lovely earthenware, which if you have room in your suitcase for would make an ideal souvenir. In the town itself there are also a few little shops where you can pick up traditional Spanish fare.
You Get to Stay in a Typical Spanish Town House
We stayed in a very charming Town House, just a five minute walk from both of the village squares. It was a perfect base for us. We absolutely loved the decor with its white washed walls and bright green shutters. You couldn’t park right outside the property, but we always found it easy enough to find a car parking space nearby.
The house had four bedrooms, all double and all with their own ensuite. One of the doubles was set off the courtyard, which would have been perfect if the grandparents had also come along with us.
It had the most amazing roof terrace which gave panoramic views of the rooftops of the houses in the village. When the kids were in bed we would venture up there for a sneaky glass of wine to end the evening.
The beaches aren’t that far away
Torrox has the nearest beach and is filled with Spanish holiday makers. There is the main beach which is a long stretch of sandy beach and this is within a 20 minute drive. The beach itself isn’t postcard pretty, it has what I describe as dusty sand, but it is well equipped and very clean. It also has an amazing seafood restaurant right on the front called Chiringuito Paco, which was jam packed with locals. This is the perfect spot to sample fresh seafood.
If you want a break from the beach, a day at the Iberostar Hotel is a fun alternative. You can pay for a one day all inclusive pass for the family, which includes all your food and drinks from breakfast until 6:00 p.m. In the morning there are floats and fun activities going on around the pool which the kids loved. There is a separate mini waterpark for younger kids which is ideal for fearless toddlers.
Torre Del Mare
Our favourite beach in Torre Del Mare was in the area of Caleta de Velez and the beach of Playa de las Palmeras. Again a dusty type of sand, but a nice quiet beach even in the height of summer. There is also a lovely restaurant right on the sand where you can rent sun-beds too.
As with Torrox this is a popular spot for Spanish tourists and we barely heard a British accent. It is also very much like Torrox in that it is a town beach. A long stretch of sand just down from the main town.
Slightly further away to travel, with a drive of around half an hour, is the bustling seaside resort of Nerja. Still very Spanish, but a lot more touristy in terms of British holiday makers. It is definitely worth a visit. The beaches here, are in our opinion the best of the three areas.
There is the very busy and bustling Burriana Beach, or the pretty coves accessible right from the heart of town. Our favourite is the small cove which sits directly under the Balcon De Europa. You also can’t visit Nerja without having an ice-cream on the famous Balcon De Europa.
Lots to see for Culture Seekers
The whole point of staying in somewhere like Competa is to soak in the Spanish culture. Wander round the streets, have a coffee or an aperitif in the squares and explore the neighbouring white villages of the area. The closest village is Sayalonga which is another white washed village where you can sit an enjoy an early morning coffee before heading on further for your travels.
The impressive City of Granada is an hour and half away and makes for an easy day trip. With the Alhambra, City Zoo and sight seeing train all great for little ones to explore the City. Watch this space as I’ll write up what to see on a day trip to Granada soon.
Getting to Competa is easy
To get to Competa, the nearest airport is Malaga. We flew with Ryan Air from Bristol. You can also fly direct to Malaga from Cardiff Airport.
From Malaga its just an hours drive from the airport. Due to the locality of Competa, car hire is essential.
Our Overall Verdict of Competa in Spain
We loved it! The best bit was that it was so authentically Spanish and away from the touristy side of Spain. We also really enjoyed eating out at the restaurants, the surrounding views and the generaly prettiness of the village. The only down side for us was that the roads from Competa to anywhere, were very winding. Some mornings the kids would complain of feeling car sick. As we stayed for 10 nights, I did get a bit fed up of the roads but I think for a week or shorter they would have been fine.
You can book where we stayed directly with Casa Del Mermelada. There of course, plenty of other self catering options in the village. There is also the Balcon De Competa hotel, as mentioned above.
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