There are certain places in the world that are so mystical that they make you feel like you’re a time traveller. One of these places is the natural park of El Torcal de Antequera. El Torcal is famous for it’s stunning limestone formations that have been formed over millions of years! The sheer size, odd shapes and colour of the rocks make that El Torcal definitely has a mysterious feel about it – especially when it’s cloudy weather!
After we enjoyed our stay in Malaga, we started the motor of our campervan again and headed inland! I had read about El Torcal de Antequera in my Spain Lonely Planet and was excited to check the place out! The Nature Reserve (Paraje Natural) is located at 1200 meter altitude and is only about 15 kilometers away from the city of Antequera and about 50 km from Malaga.
We spent a few hours exploring the sights and visitor center of El Torcal de Antequera. Together with visiting the city of Antequera, El Torcal can make a great daytrip from Malaga. In this article I share with you the ins and outs of what to see and do in El Torcal de Antequera, how to get there and when is the best time to visit!
What's coming up
- 1 When to Visit: Opening hours of El Torcal de Antequera
- 2 How much does it cost to enter El Torcal de Antequera
- 3 What to see and do in El Torcal de Antequera?
- 4 How to get to El Torcal
- 5 A tour to El Torcal
- 6 Spending the night in El Torcal de Antequera
When to Visit: Opening hours of El Torcal de Antequera
Great news! The El Torcal natural park is always open – day and night. There are no gates and you can always enter, although visits outside the daytime hours are highly discouraged!
Good to know: in winter (and especially on weekdays) El Torcal de Antequera is definitely an off the beaten path destination in the South of Spain, but in summer it can get crowded! Avoid the crowds by coming really early, or later in the day or join for a example a summer night tour to get a more unique experience.
On really busy days, the access to the parking at the visitor centre will be closed off by a barrier to prevent more people from entering the natural park. There are shuttle buses from lower parking lots.
How much does it cost to enter El Torcal de Antequera
More great news: a visit to this natural park is free! Access to the whole park and the walking routes is free and you don’t need any type of permit to enter the park.
Guided tours do have a cost, and range from €10 for a 3-hour guided tour to €35 for a tour including dinner and visit to the observatory. I think taking a tour like this will greatly support the maintenance and development of the natural park, so definitely consider this!
What to see and do in El Torcal de Antequera?
As with every natural park, when you are thinking about visiting El Torcal it’s good to prepare! We came pretty unprepared and I definitely feel we didn’t make the most out of our trip as there are plenty of things to do that can keep you busy for at least half a day! There are 3 main things to do in El Torcal de Antequera:
- The Visitor Center
- Watching Wildlife
- Hiking and Walking
- Enjoying local food or a picnic
The visitor centre in El Torcal de Antequera
The visitors center of El Torcal Natural Park is well worth your time. Next to the toilets and the souvenir shop, there’s a small exhibition and interpretative area. This is great to learn more about the natural park and the geography and wildlife. Even though the natural park is simply a joy to walk around in, the visitor’s center will definitely enrich your visit! The views and limestone formations are even more enjoyable if you know a bit more about the background of this fascinating natural phenomenon.
The visitor centre is open every day (except for Christmas, New Years day and the 6th of January) from 10am in the morning. It’s a great place to start your visit and is also good to visit if you are travelling with kids.
The natural park is full of beautiful wildlife, but they are not always easy to spot within the shades and caves of the rock formations. Animals that you will definitely see are birds – there’s plenty of them! Some of the birds are year-round, other birds take a break on their yearly migration.
In summer it’s quite likely that will you lizards and other reptiles. There’s also plenty of foxes and rabbits in the park, but during the busy summer days you’ll be less likely to observe them!
Hiking and Walking in El Torcal de Antequera
The best way to explore the natural park is to enjoy one of the main walking routes of the natural park. The authorities warn to not leave the trains, as the terrein is very rocky and may be slippery! There are several walking routes, ranging from 10 minutes to 3,5 hours.
Walking routes at El Torcal
- Green route | 1.5 km | 45 min| The green route is the shortest route and goes in a circle, and starts and ends at the visitor centre. Simply follow the signs.
- Yellow route | 3 km | 2 hrs | The yellow route is also circular and has its start and endpoint at the visitors center. On this route you will see several interesting rock formations/figures and some amazing trees. We walked a part of the yellow route until we had o break it off because of a thunderstorm approaching!
- Orange route | 7 km | 3,5 hrs | This route starts and ends at either the lower or the upper car park. It’s 3,5km one-way. The best way is to start at the lower carpark so you can have a break at the visitor’s center midway.
You download incredibly detailed and informative itineraries on the website of the natural park.
Enjoying local food or a picnic!
You can have a lunch at the restaurant near the visitors center. They serve a fixed menu of local dishes and it looks delicious! Alternatively, you can bring your own lunch and enjoy some of the recreational areas in and around the park.
How to get to El Torcal
So you are now convinced to actually visit El Torcal de Antequera? Good choice 😉 There are several options for getting to El Torcal de Antequera:
- Your own car or campervan
- An organized tour
- Bus from Malaga – Antequera + Taxi
Train / Bus from Malaga to Antequera + Taxi
Unfortunately, there is no public transport to the natural park. The closest you can get is to Antequera.
Train Malaga – Antequera
You can take a train from Malaga to Antequera and back the same day. There are over 10 connections every day. Make sure to check which train station you will arrive to. This may be confusing as a new train station is due to open (for many years now – but who knows!). Santa Ana is a bit out of town and you can take a shuttle into town or a taxi straight from there. The journey only takes 25 minutes and you can look up the timetables and prices on renfe.es . The rates can vary from €8 one way to €22 one way, so booking ahead will pay off!
Bus Malaga – Antequera
Alsa runs several buses a day between Malaga and Antequera. Tickets are usually only about €6 and the journey takes about an hour. This is quite an economical option, but make sure to check at which bus station yo uare being dropped and how far it is to the center.
Taxi Antequera – El Torcal de Antequera
You can approach a taxi driver when you arrive in Antequera. Other travellers report that the taxi drivers have a card with a fixed rate for several destiations, including El Torcal. Alternatively, you can contact a taxi company beforehand for information. Costs are reported around €35 for a return tripduring the week. This is including waiting time. The costs are around €40 on weekends and holidays.
Getting to El Torcal by car or campervan
By far the easiest and affordable option is to drive yourself. Especially when you’re in a group, splitting the fuel costs or renting a car may end up cheaper. Adding all public transport and taxi costs together will add up!
You will arrive either from the Antequera side or the Villanueva side. From Villanueva there is a sharp turn to enter the road to El Torcal. Don’t worry – you shouldn’t miss it! The closest parking is next to the visitor centre is the upper parking. As stated above, this parking gets full in summer and will be closed off for the better part of the day.
Around the lower parking areas there are also some picnic areas and great viewpoints. So it’s not a punishment to park there 😉 Also the lower parking areas are a starting point for the hike up to the visitor center. In summer there should be shuttle buses running to transport you up to the visitor’s center.
A tour to El Torcal
If you are not a driver, or prefer everything to be arranged, have a look at these tours. They are very efficient ways to visit both Antequera and El Torcal in one day. On top of that, you already have a guide that can explain you all the ins and outs of the area.
Spending the night in El Torcal de Antequera
Unfortunately it is not possible to spend the night in the natural park. It’s specifically forbidden to camp or spend the night in your motorhome in the natural park. This is the main reason why many people opt to make a visit to El Torcal a daytrip from Malage, or stay in nearby Antequera or Villanueva de Concepcion.
After our visit to the National Park we decided to head towards the coast again. We were making our way to the Algarve region in Portugal and we spent the night underway so I have no experience spending the night in the area.
I hope you enjoyed this blogpost and that it helps you plan your trip! Take care and safe travels 🙂