Rural walks through the hilly countryside will give you a real feel for the place. There is a choice to suit varying levels of fitness. One circular walk is detailed in the Local Guide we send to Rustical Travel clients coming to Gaucin.
A choice of sandy Mediterranean beaches lies within a 40-minute drive of Gaucin. The charm and relative peace-and-quiet of small coastal villages such as Sabinillas and Manilva with their boulevards and chiringuitos (beach restaurants), is a far cry from the big resorts. But if you want the best and most exciting beaches of all, go the extra half hour to Tarifa for Atlantic beaches. Tarifa, a surfer's paradise, also has boats that go out whale and dolphin-watching.
With spectacular views, explore the winding streets of the old town and browse the craft and produce shops. Or why not walk up to and visit Eagle Castle ("Castillo del Águila"). The old castle was originally Roman and then enlarged by the Arabs, and is easily reached by foot up through the village streets.
A major attraction. The small historic city of museums, Hemingway and Orson Welles, shopping and the oldest bullring in Spain, and famously divided by a bridge over a yawning chasm, is 40 minutes away via a mountain road that is an interesting experience in itself.
RONDA MOUNTAINS AND VILLAGES
Drive round the old whitewashed villages of the Ronda Mountains, inhabited since Neanderthal times and you can visit caves that prove it. There are many routes, but one that people always enjoy is the easy drive round through Montejaque and Benaoján villages, continuing south to La Pileta cave, where prehistoric paintings and fossilized Stone Age skeletons were discovered in 1905. A lovely walk combines with the little train running between Benoaján and Jimar villages. We have restaurant recommendations here, also.
Read more about Ronda Mountains and villages
Alcornocales Natural Park and Jimena de la Frontera
Forests of cork oak surround Jimena village, whose atmosphere is quieter than Gaucin and castle ruins also well worth a visit, especially for the views. El Anon is an enjoyable place to eat or have a drink.
Read more about Jimena.
For a leisurely day out from Gaucin, a special Rustical Travel suggestion is this attractive village destination and the pretty drive there. Stop for lunch at a restaurant on the banks of the River Genal, with the option of a dip in the river first, and then on to Genalguacil to stroll through the open air art exhibits and watch the sunset.
BEST OF THE REST
Public swimming pool
The open-air municipal swimming pool at the entrance to Gaucin village opens during the summer months, until children go back to school in September.
There's also a municipal tennis court next to the village swimming pool.
Suitable for beginners and experienced riders. Tracks pass through Andalusian mountain countryside, through orange groves and over rivers.
Hike Grazalema Natural Park
The great, rugged limestone terrain is one hour from Gaucin.
A hotel 7 km from the village has a few mountain bikes for hire.
A small museum that not even some of the locals are aware of. Its tools, utensils, recreation of an old dwelling and photographs show you how much Gaucin has changed in relatively few years.
In the British overseas territory you can watch the monkeys (semi-wild Barbary Macaques), go shopping, take a boat trip to see and maybe even swim with the dolphins.
The razzamatazz of the coast's most exclusive resort can be enjoyed by anyone. Gourmet restaurants, designer stores and yachts in the harbour at Puerto Banus. The detailed Gaucin Guide we send you as a holiday document links you to an excellent maritime walk that goes by cool beach venues. Marbella also has a lovely old historic quarter that many people are unaware of.
Carnaval on Shrove Tuesday is a day of parody and burlesque, costumed singing groups and dancing in the main square throughout the night.
El Toro de Cuerda: the highlight of the Easter celebrations and its church processions comes on Easter Sunday when two bulls tied by ropes run through the streets, chasing the fast, the brave and the foolhardy.
San Juan: on 23rd August, the eve of Saint John's Day involves a romería (peregrination on foot), brass band, horse and motorbike races and celebrations until dawn. An old electricity pole is greased with a cured ham hanging from its top, for Gaucin's best to shimmy up and claim!
Feria de Gaucin: the main summer festival takes place over 3 days, coinciding with the first weekend in August. Fairground rides and booths, music and dancing, and a large tent with food and drink.
El Santo Niño: a religious festival on which an image of the infant Jesus is carried down from Gaucin castle and paraded through the streets on 8th September. At night, dances and atmosphere are more traditional in character. The occasion has become one on which emigrants from the village return to be reunited with family and friends.
FOOD AND DRINK
For a village of its size – you can walk across it in 15 minutes – Gaucin has a decent number bars which serve good tapas and at least two good restaurants open all year round. For dining out, try:
• La Fructuosa - A restaurant of long standing in the village, it serves Mediterranean cuisine in the elegantly rustic setting of an old wine press. It offers stylish food and a good selection of wines. On its spacious terrace, it's possible to eat enjoying views of Gibraltar and even the mountains of Africa.
• El Lateral - Opened more recently and is already gaining a good reputation. The chef used to run a Madrid restaurant. It has become especially popular for a tapas menu that's available until 3 pm. At other times, main meals are based on local Mediterranean cooking, grilled beef, lamb, venison, fish stews, rice. Has a terrace for al fresco dining.
• La Granada Divino - Gaucin's newest restaurant has a more international flavour, although the English chef incorporates some local ingredients such as olives and cured ham. It's not the cheapest of the options but it's one of the best and the viewing terrace is very impressive. In Calle de las Piedras.
• Casa Antonia - In the centre of the village, we like it for its easy-going informality.
Of the village bars, we liked:
• El Zorro - Serves interesting tapas.
• El Portesuelo - With dishes such as spicy prawns (gambas al pilpil). Both these bars have free WiFi.
For eating in, you will find some delicious dishes to take away at Bonissim delicatessen, or delivered by a professional chef with a home-run business.
Of the supermarkets in Gaucin, we recommend Ruiz Galan for its good bucher's counter and freshly baked bread. The supermarkets are not large stores but perfectly good to stock up (one of them opens Sunday mornings as well).
Gaucin also has a mercado de abasto: an indoor market for fresh produce, including fishmonger's and butchers'.