The most beautiful town in Andalucía? It’s some boast, but Benahavis might just well be. Tucked a few kilometres inland between Estepona and San Pedro de Alcántara (Marbella), this quaint and picture-perfect pueblo is considered the gastronomic capital of the Costa del Sol, home to some of the finest restaurants found anywhere in southern Spain.

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The surroundings are evidently inspirational, as Benahavis is home to a thriving community of artisans, primarily painters, potters and chefs. In addition to the art galleries and craft shops, Benahavis offers a brilliant portfolio of restaurants – from authentic pizzerias to classy haute cuisine establishments, robust grill-houses and the ubiquitous tapas taverns. Dining out is a gastronomic pleasure, matched only by the visceral thrill of enjoying an al fresco meal under a star-studded sky in one of Europe’s most alluring natural patios.

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There are three distinct areas of Benahavis, each highlighted by its own charm and character. The newer outskirts contain modern apartment complexes, sports facilities, hotels and parkland; this is where an increasing number of expats are moving and making the most of the swift access to the coast. Most of the bars, restaurants, jewellers and galleries are to be found in the heart of the town.

The third area is the old residential part, where local Spaniards live amidst the undulating terrain and twisting streets; an area characterised by beautifully kept villas and townhouses, charming gardens and gorgeous views.

When there is so much to see, so much can be missed. Driving – such a joy along the twisting mountain roads that typify 95 per cent of inland Costa del Sol – should be shunned when in and around Benahavis. While going by foot through the steep, tight streets of the town centre is just good common sense, there is a more spectacular reason to forego the wheels as you leave Benahavis and head towards the coast.

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