El Torcal de Antequera
If you are on holiday in Malaga and you are a nature lover, you should not miss a visit to the spectacular rock formations of El Torcal in Antequera.
These are limestone rocks that thousands of years ago had their origin in the seabed, a very curious fact because we can observe many Ammonites (fossil shells).
Over the millennia, erosive agents have been modelling this fantastic landscape at 1,200 metres above sea level.
Due to its altitude, this natural site offers very good views of the Mediterranean sea and on clear days, you can even make out the African coast.
You can choose between two well-signposted circular routes for all levels and suitable for families, and there is also a visitor centre where are organised routes and different activities for all ages.
The landscape of El Trocal is simply spectacular as natural sculptures have been formed in the limestone rock through erosion; many of them have been given names according to their appearance, for example the famous Tornillo (screw), declared a natural monument for its original appearance.
It is also highly recommended for nature lovers due to its rich fauna: we can see mountain goats, griffon vultures, eagle owls, foxes and weasels, among others.
Because of its great biological, geological and landscape diversity, El Torcal is a protected natural area.
El Torcal is an ideal place for nature excursions all year round and even driving up there, as the view of the surrounding landscape becomes more and more spectacular as you ascend so many metres.
Due to its height of 1,200 metres above sea level, the Torcal is fantastic during the summer months for cooling off (for every 100 metres the air cools down by 1ºC) and watching fantastic sunsets or even taking a moonlight walk, more in the activities section.
The two existing routes are suitable for families including dogs, but not for baby carriages. Baby carriers can be rented at the Visitor Centre.
Green Route: This is the shorter route of 1.5 km in length (approximately one hour). It is the short version of the yellow route and is perfect for walking with children and getting a first impression of the Natural Park. On this circular path we can observe some of the most spectacular karst formations through passages between tall natural sculptures.
Yellow Route: Longer route, about 3 km long and lasting two hours. The first and last section coincides with the Green Route. The route runs through the Torcal Alto, a labyrinthine area where it is easy to get disorientated when you leave the signposted path.
We also add the possibility of walking from the alternative car park, when the visitor centre car park is already full or if you want to walk further. This orange route is for the more sporty ones, as it adds 3.6 linear km and a difference in altitude of 270 m, for which you have to calculate 3.5 hours for the round trip.
Visitor centre and programmed activities in El Torcal
The El Torcal Visitor Centre has an interpretative area, multi-purpose room, guide service, observatory, souvenir shop, cafeteria-restaurant, toilets and car park.
The visitor centre organises routes and different activities for all ages throughout the year.
• Astronomical observatory both night and day with special filters to see solar activity.
• Perseids and planetarium
• Route of the Ammonites at dusk.
• The Torcal under the full moon
• The Torcal Orchids
• And many more
Activities can also be booked in English.
Opening hours of the Visitor Centre
Winter opening hours (25/10/20 to 27/03/21): 10 am to 5 pm
Summer opening hours (28/03/21 to 23/10/21): 10 am to 7 pm
Christmas: 24, 31 December and 5 January: 10 am to 1 pm
Closed: 25 December, 1 and 6 January
El Torcal has a website for visitors in Spanish and English.
Car park and Restaurant
The car park is free of charge. There is a small car park next to the visitor centre that is usually full very quickly on the busiest days (weekends, public holidays…).
In this case you have to park in the car park 3.6 km further down the road. We can walk the distance (3.5 hours round trip, plus 260 m of difference in altitude) or we can take a shuttle bus which costs €2 round trip. Or better, avoid the crowds, get up early or go on weekdays.
In the restaurant we can enjoy typical local homemade food at reasonable prices and with privileged views over the Torcal.
Please note that the restaurant is not open every day and some days only offers cafeteria service, here we leave the link with the current schedule, so you can better plan your visit and know if you need to bring a snack.
How to get to El Torcal
El Torcal is located about 15 km from Antequera, in the province of Malaga. El Torcal can be reached by car from Antequera and Villanueva de la Concepción. From Torremolinos for instance, you arrive in less than an hour, rent your MalagaCar with us!
How to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/FG6DBXL6oXLeFLMo8
Tips for visiting El Torcal
• As we mentioned before, you have to take into account the change in temperature at altitude, especially if you come from the Costa del Sol. As a rule of thumb, for every 100 metres the air cools down by 1ºC.
This means that even in the middle of summer it is a good idea to bring some warm clothes with you.
El Torcal has strong northerly winds and dense fog for most of the year. It is therefore advisable to take warm clothing, a mackintosh or windbreaker.
• And of course, you should always wear good shoes for walking on uneven and stony paths.
• You should always carry a bottle of water.
• It is advisable to come equipped with some sunscreen and a hat, as the sun’s rays are much stronger at high altitude.
• If you want to avoid the crowds: Don’t go at weekends. Get up early. If you arrive before 10 am, you will find parking and silence.
¿Did you know that…?
The landscapes of the Torcal were featured in several episodes of the series Warrior Nun, released in 2020 on Netflix.
Other attractions close to El Torcal
Actually, we could go on writing, as the whole Antequera area is worth a longer visit, or several day trips. Maybe we will prepare other more extensive posts, so here we just give you an idea:
This inland town in the north of the province of Malaga is noted for its enormous cultural wealth. It dates back to the Bronze Age with several spectacular dolmens and its old town bears witness to the richness of the cultures that have passed through it, with more than 50 monuments.
The megalithic Dolmens
Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Megalithic Necropolis of Antequera, formed by the Dolmen of Menga, the Dolmen of Viera and El Romeral, is one of the most important megalithic sites in Europe, with more than 6,500 years of age.
Of the three dolmens, the most spectacular is the Dolmen of Menga because of the enormous roof slab of approximately 180 tons.
How to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/LhtnKMy35avg7eyA7
La Peña de los Enamorados
This limestone crag very close to Antequera is in itself a good destination for a day hike.
It is named after an ancient medieval legend of a tragic romance between a Christian and a Muslim woman, a sort of Romeo and Juliet, who decided to end their love by plunging down this mountain, before being captured and separated.
The mountain is also known locally as “Indian Head (Cabeza de Indio)” as it resembles the head of a lying Native American.
How to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/3FKigCt4t61DcHcDA