Enjoy our quick guide to Benahavis – whether you are taking a short trip there while on holiday on the Costa del Sol or perhaps even thinking of moving to Benahavis and become an expat.
Benahavis is a stunning inland, small whitewashed town that is surrounded by a natural parkland.
Just 7 km inland from the coast and it’s many beaches this is a real unspoilt getaway.
Known for its peace and quiet (the population is just under 6,000), deep well of charm and breathtaking beauty, it has become a popular destination among those who like to take a leisurely stroll or a momentary escape from the hustle and bustle of life.
Are you an expat in Benahavís? What do you like/dislike about it? Let us know in the comments box at the bottom of the page.
Where is Benahavis?
Benahavis is the most mountainous village on the Western Costa del Sol. It is situated midway between the towns of Marbella and Estepona, near the beautiful Sierra de las Nieves. With a terrain that is traversed by the Rivers Guadalmanza, Guadaiza and Guadalmina, traveling to Benahavis (pronounced Bena’vis!) is no doubt “as close to paradise as you can get.”
What is the nearest airport to Benahavis?
Benahavis can be easily reached from various airports. The nearest airport is the North Front Airport in Gibraltar which is only 31 miles away. Other airports nearby include the Malaga International Airport (Malaga, 32 miles) and the Jerez Airport (Jerez, 58 miles). Most people arrive from the airport in Malaga with a travel time of approximately 50 minutes.
What type of transportation can I take to Benahavis?
Car hire from Malaga airport is an obvious choice but what else is there?
There are also shuttle buses that are available from the airport which have destinations that can take you closer to the village such as Marbella or San Pedro de Alcantara. Afterwards, you may then take a taxi for a shorter ride going to Benahavis (approximately €30).
Or take a direct airport transfer with companies taking you direct to the village in just under an hour. You can check out shuttledirect.com if you’re interested on taking either a shared ride shuttle service or a private transfer with a driver.
Equally there are plenty of taxis outside Malaga airport willing to take you to Benahavis. The fare is likely to be (depending on the time of day), but do clarify exactly how much it will be before you set off.
Unfortunately, there is no train connection from Malaga airport to Benahavis. If you prefer to take the train, the best option is to take one going to Fuengirola. From there, you can take a bus to San Pedro de Alcantara. After getting off the bus, you can then take a taxi to Benahavis.
If you’re coming from the Gibraltar airport, you only need to follow the signs for Malaga and then take the toll highway. Upon reaching Estepona, just follow the coastal N340. You will see the Benahavis exit which is around 9.32 miles away. Remember to go under the pedestrian bridge as signposts may not be very visible.
What is there to see and do?
Benahavis mostly occupies a forest landscape with urbanized localities forming only a minimum part of the area. “Las Angosturas,” found in the Ronda Mountains, is recognized and declared as a Monument of natural interest.
If you are visiting Benahavis, don’t forget to include the following places of interest in your itinerary to make your trip truly unforgettable.
- Castle of Montemayor
- Torre Esteril
- Torre Tramores
- Torre Campanillas
- Torre Daidin
- Torre Leoneras
What are the best bars in Benahavis?
Bars in Benahavis are the coziest spots for hanging out and are perfect for satisfying anyone’s palate. There are a number of bars that you can choose which include the traditional Spanish tapa bars, the British themed bars or the late night venues.
Some of the best bars you can find in the area include:
• Legends Bar & Grill (Calle Montemayor 1, Tel. +34-952-856-263) – Its main draw is the great food while providing guests with both sporting and music entertainment all throughout the year. This is the place to watch Sky Sports and English Premiership football while enjoying Sunday roasts or fish and chips.
• Bodeguita El Chico (Calle de Malaga, Tel. +34-610-719-533) – While the bar is small, it’s famous for the big sizes of its gin and tonic which the guests would usually enjoy in a large bowl glass.
What are the best restaurants in Benahavis?
Reputed to be the dining room of the Costa del Sol, Benahavis is a haven for foodies and drinking buffs with its various types of restaurants and international dishes. It sounds incredible but some people say Benahavis has so many restaurants that there are more seats than inhabitants. Such is the town’s reputation for gastronomy that each evening, cars would arrive from miles around just to have a unique experience.
While most restaurants typically offer Spanish cuisine, you can also find French cuisine, Italian food and Indian curries. All restaurants are also known for preparing really large portions while offering guests a good value for their money.
For excellent food quality and superb service, you can check out the following restaurants.
• Los Abanicos Restaurant – We can highly recommend Los Abanicos as one of the best restaurants in Benahavis because of the generous portions which are deliciously cooked. Dishes that are fantastic include the golden sea bass alongside blueberry glazed venison or the succulent lamb. Calle Malaga 15, Tel. +34-952-855-131
• Amanhavis Hotel & Restaurant – Calle Pilar 3, Tel. +34-952-856-026 – The Amanhavis has a reputation amongst locals as standing out from all the others in the village. Most restaurants tend to serve the same type of standard menu but this is very much unique and different. Do try a drink on the top terrace before you sit down and have dinner as there are magnificent views overlooking Benahavis Village.
• Rufino – A local favourite just on the left of the village as you come in. The outdoor terrace is packed on Sundays from the many visitors to the rastro (market). These shoppers know good value when they spot it!
You can also go on a gastronomic adventure and try a wide array of local favorites such as meat dishes (veal, venison, rabbit or suckling pig); fish dishes (sole, “Fish and Shellfish Zarzuela”); and several other exquisite recipes. Many restaurants also serve these other dishes which are highly recommended such as veal sirloin steaks, T-bone steaks, oxtail and chorizo (spicy Spanish sausage).
Benahavis comes from the Arabic words “Ben” which means son and “Avis” or “Havis” which was the name of a Moorish prince who ruled in the castle of Montemayor during the eleventh century.
The castle, which was already built in the tenth century, became the “nerve center” of several battles that happened in the kingdoms of the Taifas. Its strategic location allows one to view more than a 62 mile-stretch of the Spanish coast and even part of Morocco on the African coast opposite across the Mediteranean.
After the recapture of Ronda, King Ferdinand planned to conquer Marbella which he intended to use as a naval station to the galleys and Castilian whips. On June 11, 1485, Mohammed Abuneza surrendered and signed an acknowledgement of defeat at a site called Cruz del Humilladero. As a result, Benahavis, along with the localities of Tramores, Almachor, Arboto, Ojen, Cortes Castle, Montemayor Castle, Daidin and Calalui Fort (the Castle of Light) in the Bermeja Mountains were handed over to Ferdinand. Don Pedro Villandrado, the Count of Ribadeo, was then appointed and became the first Christian mayor of Benahavis.
What type of climate does it have?
Benahavis has a sub-tropical Mediterranean climate with the summer being hot and the winter having a warm temperature. However, the cool breeze from the sea makes the summer heat tolerable and allows the temperature to reach an average of 32 degrees Celsius.
The driest month is July while August is known as the warmest month. The lowest average temperatures in the year are usually observed in January when they reach around 11.5 degrees Celsius.
Moving to Benahavis – What is it like to live there?
Benahavis has a thriving expat community that is mostly made up of Irish, Scandinavian and British residents. Having said that, moving to Benahavis can be the best decision you can make as you can easily make friends both with fellow expats and the local residents.
Plus points include that Benahavis is already an established working village with everything close by and within easy reach. It is also child-friendly as all the activities such as the festivals planned by the town hall have been well-thought of in putting a special focus on children.
Benahavis is a relatively safe part of the Costa del Sol being a quiet village so it is recommended for young families looking for a great environment in which to bring up children who can enjoy the outdoors lifestyle while having access to good education both locally or at the nearby International schools.
How safe is it?
Being a small village there is little crime and Benahavis is a great place to raise your young family.
People who have moved here
David Bentley, a former premiership footballer, told the Olive Press in an interview, “We moved to Spain for the lifestyle and the Spanish culture, and Benahavis has it all. It’s the perfect place to bring up kids as there is so much to do, and we love it all. I play golf very often but we also go horse riding and walking, plus being so close to the coast we do a lot of watersports.”
Are there any jobs for expats available in Benahavis?
In all honesty – very few. nevertheless you are only 7 km from the coast and the Costa del Sol is full of major tourist resorts and a large expat population. Benahavis makes for a good base to escape the hustle and bustle of the coast. The best options in the village would be trying to get au pair/nanny work for one of the many wealthy families who have homes in Benahavis or perhaps setting yourself up as a self-employed tradesman i.e. plumber, electrician etc to cater to the English-speaking expat population.
Are there any international and state schools in Benahavis?
You can head towards the coast where you can find a number of international schools. You can see them stretched from the west with the International School Estepona (marbellaschool.com) to the east with the Aloha College (aloha-college.com). If saving time and money is your priority, you can also opt to enroll your kids at the local state school which is well rated – Colegio Publico Daidin (ceipdaidin.es).
Real Estate Agents
Whether you’re looking for a place to rent or to stay at permanently, you can take advantage of the services from the real estate agents in Benahavis who are more than willing to help you in finding your ideal residence.
These can include PropertieSpain (www.propertiespain.com, Tel. +34-952-855-489) and House & Country Real Estate Andalucia (www.houseandcountry.com, Tel. +34-952-785-852).
We asked Tino Laenen of PropertieSpain what would the advantages to living in Benahavis compared to other Costa del Sol towns?
“Benahavis is one of the largest municipalities in the Malaga province and has many different aspects. The village has a feelgood factor that makes everyone smile when wandering through its streets, whilst the natural beauty of the surroundings, the flora and fauna make it a paradise for nature lovers. And with over 10 golfcourses on its territory, Benahavis can call itself the heart of the Costa del Golf. It is also a haven of tranquility away from the tourist packed areas on the Coast, yet it is only 5-15 minutes to the hustle and bustle of Puerto Banus, with Marbella and Estepona at 10-20 minutes and Malaga and Gibraltar at 45.
Benahavis also has the lowest taxes on the coast by far, whether it is council tax or car tax.
On top of that Benahavis town hall issues a yearly citizens card for 10 or 20 euros, where the last number includes a range of cultural and social activities. With this card you can enjoy all the sports facilities (municipal pool, paddle tennis courts, gym…) and workshops during the year for free or as good as, this also includes free Spanish lessons, yoga and pilates sessions.”
Read Tino’s interview further down the page where he gives good information about Benahavis and the state of the property market.
If I want to rent for long-term, how much would it cost me?
Apart from the location, other features that can affect the rental pricing of a property would include the total area covered, number of rooms and the year it was built. In Benahavis, you can choose from a number of property types that are available for long-term renting such as villas, private family houses, semi-detached houses, country houses and studio types. Prices for long-term renting can go somewhere between €600 and €20,000 per month.
What are the best hotels in Benahavis?
Although there are only two, they are both well-regarded and designed to give easy access to nearby golf courses and good quality restaurants.
- Villa Padierna Palace Hotel (Ctra. de Cadiz, Km 166 at Flamingos Golf Club) – Situated a few kilometers from the beach, this luxurious hotel is famed for its great golf opportunities and spa treatments. It is highly recommended to anyone who is looking for a rejuvenating retreat as well as a 5-star service no matter what days of the year are intended for a stay.
- Gran Hotel Benahavis (Huerta de Rufino) – A lovely hotel in a fabulous location surrounded by a beautiful countryside, Gran Hotel Benahavis is a brief uphill walk to the nearby village where you can find a number of well-loved restaurants. Whether you want to explore the various facilities offered by the hotel or you intend to spend more time discovering the outdoors, you will surely never run out of something to do during your stay.
Where can I find the nearest golf courses?
With twelve great golf courses out of the total 70 in all of Costa del Sol, Benahavis has easily become a hotspot for golf enthusiasts who have come from around the globe to experience the world-renowned golf haven. Whether you’re an amateur or a professional golfer, you can always find something new and exciting while playing golf at Benahavis.
The nearest golf course to Benahavis is Los Arqueros Golf & Country Club at Ctra. de Ronda km 166.5, 29679 Benahavis, Spain – Phone Number: +34 952 784 600. Designed by the Spanish legend, Seve Ballesteros, it is a course where you need plenty of spare balls as you will lose quite a few unless you are really good! Worth it for the scenic views though.
Some of the other popular golf clubs are Atalaya Golf & Country Club; Alferini Golf Club; Flamingos Golf Club; Tramores Golf Club; Club de Campo La Zagaleta; Marbella Club; Club de Golf Benahavis and La Quinta Melia Golf & Spa Resort.
Where can I find the nearest beaches?
If you’re looking for a nice beach where you can enjoy the warm weather and sunshine, Benahavis is merely a stone’s throw away from the famed beaches of the Costa del Sol.
The nearest beach to Benahavis is at San Pedro de Alcantara. From here you can walk eastwards for miles. As you head east, the quality of the beaches get better and better. If you are feeling really energetic you could get as far as Puerto Banus which has a long, flat, clean beach located at the far end of the marina.
Continue to Marbella with its busy beach packed with glamorous and beautiful bodies. Just 1 km further east is Funny Beach – you can’t miss the massive inflatable Coca Cola can and red London double-decker bus at the entrance. What’s here? – fun activities for all the family including jet skis, ringos and speedboat rides as well as go-karting.
Alternatively from Benahavis, get to the coast and go west towards Estepona where you can relax at Cristo Beach a nice shallow beach perfect for young children.
What are the popular activities at Benahavis?
If you enjoy walking, Benahavis is the perfect place as it features lovely walks through its various hills and mountains with all the spectacular views that will take your breath away. Be prepared to accept the exciting challenges of walking through the slopes and the level tracks in the woods.
Benahavis is also great for sightseeing activities with endless choices of places to visit. Not to be missed are Ronda, Gibraltar and Estepona which are all easy to reach. Moving further ahead, you can also reach Cordoba, Cadiz, Granada and Seville.
If you like free climbing, you can find the “Las Angosturas” gorge at the village’s entrance which has over 60 climbing routes.
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.
Mountain biking is also popular among real enthusiasts as it can be enjoyed all around the area. Likewise, the ski resort in Sierra Nevada provides more than a 60-kilometer stretch of slopes and can be easily reached after a two-hour car drive.
Other activities that hold a special interest among foreigners are the musical events. Concerts such as those held by the Malaga Symphony Orchestra at the city’s Cervantes Theatre under the baton of resident conductor Odon Alfonso are a favorite even among the locals. Another well-loved performance comes from the Andalusian Classical Orchestra which has been placed under the baton of Octav Calleya in Fuengirola.
What are the best days to go to the market?
Benahavis has a few little shops where you can find essentials such as freshly baked bread. On Tuesdays, you can go to the small street market which is popular for fresh fruit and vegetables. This starts around 10am and usually dies down about 2pm. You can find it on Avda. de Andalucia as you approach the village.
There is also a flea market or “rastro” on Sundays which is perfect for unique finds and bargain hunters.
Where are the nearby shops and supermarkets?
You can find the main supermarkets and shopping malls near the coast which are close to the N340. They can offer everything from DIY to building and interiors. On the way to Estepona, there are a number of supermarkets worth visiting such as Carrefour, Mercadona and Supersol. There is also the La Colonia shopping center, the wide array of interior design shops found on the entrance to San Pedro de Alcantara and more shops at the end of Ronda road.
While you can find El Corte Ingles, one of Spain’s biggest shopping malls, at Puerto Banus, the biggest mall is actually located at the far side of Marbella and is called “La Cañada.”
Your nearest supermarket for food shopping is the Mercadona supermarket on the road up to Benahavis, note that it closes at 9.30pm if you are arriving late and need some basic supplies for your holiday. We believe if you are arriving any later you can get a few basics such as milk and coffee at the Repsol garage on the roundabout as you exit the N340/A7.
Where can I find the nearest hospital, medical centre, or pharmacy?
If you are on holiday and you need medical assistance go to the nearest clinic which is in Avda de Andalucia (next to the Rufino restaurant). Opening hours are 08.30am – 12.30pm, Monday to Saturday.
The nearest hospital is the Hospital Costa del Sol near to Marbella on the N-340 km 187 Tel: 952 828 250.
The nearest pharmacy to Benahavis is Farmacia Internacional, located at Calle Marqués del Duero, 76 – this is near the A7 at San Pedro de Alcantara. Tel: 952-780-708.
What are the local fiestas (festivals)?
Each region of Spain celebrates its own annual holidays and special fiestas. In Andalucia, every town and village has its unique feria or fair with the first feria of the year happening at Seville in the month of April and the last one taking place at San Pedro de Alcantara in the middle of October.
Every mid-August Benahavís celebrates its main festival it honour of its patron saint “Virgen del Rosario.” You can enjoy the impressive processions and floats with a variety of loud music being played.
Are there any nightclubs?
Apart from the numerous restaurants and pizzerias, Benahavis has a good selection of bars to keep you entertained at night but this isn’t a place renowned for nightlife. For nightclubs you would need to travel back down to the coast where there are lively resorts such as Marbella and Puero Banus.
Some of the more lively bars that shouldn’t be missed include the Tanino Restaurant and Bar; the Caffreys Irish Bar and Restaurant; and the K Bar.
Is there a tourist office?
The Tourist Office of Benahavis is located in the municipality’s City Council. Visitors can go to the tourist office at Calle Castillo, S/N, Benahavis 29679 with the telephone number being +34-952-855-025.
Are you an expat in Benahavís? What do you like/dislike about it? Let us know in the comments box at the bottom of the page.
If you are thinking of moving to Benahavis then you must read our expat interview with Tino Laenen of PropertieSpain below:
Would the area not suit certain types of people, i.e. are there any possible downsides?
Everyone can find the perfect holiday or live-in property in the Benahavis municipality, whether it is in the village, or in the surrounding areas.
What proportion of the local population are Spanish?
Whereas the population in the village is about 50/50 between Spanish and foreigner inhabitants, the total of Benahavis municipality has around 64% of foreigners registered at the town hall.
What are your favourite things to do in the area?
From Benahavis village, the beaches are 7km away and from most of the urbanizations on its territory even less. So, whether you prefer the beach or your cozy private or communal pool, water fun is guaranteed, and the mountains present incredible opportunities for trekking, mountain biking, 4×4 adventures and rock climbing, to name just a few.
Can you give us some insider tips to the best bars or restaurants?
Benahavis has been known as “the dining room of the Costa del Sol” for quite some time and it is really hard to find a bad meal here, whether you opt for tapas in one of the bars or a full meal in one of the 20+ restaurants in the village. But also outside the village, there are the clubhouses of the golfclubs and various other restaurants which serve excellent food.
Are there many facilities such as doctors and dentists, shops etc?
Although there is a doctor’s service in the village, it is only open from monday to saturday from 8.30 until 14.00. The closest 24hr medical unit is in San Pedro. Dentists are found anywhere on the coast.
Are there smaller villages nearby that you might also recommend?
Benahavis is the jewel of the Costa del Sol, so all other villages fall short by a long way.
What are the nearest internationals schools and how good are they?
The closest international school is situated on the road to Benahavis village in the La Alqueria area, and several others are just minutes away from most areas in the municipality. In the village you can find the Colegio Daidín, the local school for up to 13 year olds, where many of the children from foreigner parents get their education.
Is crime an issue for expats?
Crime is not an issue in the village of Benahavis where the crime rate is as close to zero as you can get. In the other areas it is wise to have either shutters or bars if it is not a gated and guarded community as there are more rental homes there and fewer neighbors for social control.
Coming onto buying property – what is the market like now in terms of prices going up, down or staying the same?
Prices of property in Benahavis have taken a blow compared to the boom years, although less than in other areas of Spain, but at the moment we can say that prices are showing an upward trend in many urbanizations.
Is this a good time to buy and are there any repossessions or very cheap properties still available to buy?
This is definitely a good time to buy as we see the prices rise bit by bit and property, especially in the village, is getting scarcer. Bank repossessions are still available but the banks also know that property in Benahavis is in a premium location, so they are reluctant to sell very cheap.
What urbanisations are there and can you describe each one and how they might differ from each other?
One of the most exclusive estates in Europe is located on Benahavis territory, the La Zagaleta Club de Campo, but it is not the only luxury estate in the municipality, as the areas around the golf courses are built up with high end properties, like Marbella Club Golf, Los Flamingos, Los Arqueros, Capanes or La Quinta, where you can find villas and/or apartments. El Madroñal is another area where you will find luxury villas.
How much are typical property prices in Benahavis for apartments, villas etc?
Benahavis is not the cheapest place on the Coast and a two bed/two bath apartment can range from around 150.000 to 400 or 500.000 euros. Villas start more or less at 700.000 euros but can go up to over 20 million.
Any tips and advice to people looking to buy in Benahavis or surrounding area?
The urbanistic plan of Benahavis has always been respected, not like Marbella or Estepona, so you don’t risk to buy a property which might be destroyed in the future. Try to find the agent who has the most knowledge about where you want to buy, which is the most important factor of the buying process, where do you want to be. Choose the location first meaning you should go and discover the areas which you think suit you, then select the agent with that in mind.
Tino thank you so much for taking the time to help our readers with your experiences in Spain. If you want to contact him, you can find his details below.
Urbanización La Aldea, Plaza Camilo José Cela, Local 1 & 2.
Behind the David Marshall Gallery
ZC: 29679 – Benahavís. Málaga – Spain.
Phone: +34 – 952 85 54 89
Opening Times Mon-Fri: 9:30-14:30 15:30-18:30 – Sat: 11:00-13:30
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