Cycling to and Hiking Malaga montes
Clearly, everyone loves a sunset or sunrise. Even better if they are accompanied by spectacular panoramic views from off the beaten track trails. Our cycling and hiking Malaga tips will take you to the middle of nature yet not so far from the city centre. However, to get to them on foot can involve a long and often not so interesting walk. (If you don’t want to cycle to the hiking spots, there are local buses which will take you close to them so you have less of a walk).
Nevertheless, on a bike, you can get there in record time to enjoy the hiking trails. Still, be warned- the ride to a couple of the montes included here is quite steep. However, the rewards and the amazing photos you will capture will make up for any pain along the way. And, of course, getting there by bike gives you more time on the mountain top.
And then afterward you have the added bonus of adrenaline filled downhill thrills as you cycle back after being on top of the world!
The four small mountains close to Malaga in order of difficulty are:
Monte Gibralfaro is the easiest route followed by Monte Victoria.
Monte Coronado is a longer route and a bit more challenging with Monte San Anton being the most challenging of all.
Ask the Malaga Bike staff for the QR code of each route.
What kind of a bike should I rent to get to Hiking Malaga trails?
We recommend renting one of our KONA trekking bikes (with 24 gears) to manage some of the steep uphill climbs and to be more comfortable on any gravel trails.
What should I take with me?
One of our strong bicycle chain locks is essential for these rides. Lock the bike while you hike around the montes. Of course, locks are included in the price of your bike rental. Make sure to always lock the bike to something like a lamp-post or fence.
The weather can be quite different on the montes from the coast. Therefore, It is a good idea to take a light jacket or sweater.
The sun is extremely strong so make sure you put on sun cream before you leave. Also take it with you to reapply during your trip.
Comfortable, sturdy shoes
Wear shoes that can do double duty: for cycling and hiking. Sturdy shoes that are not too stiff will ensure safe footing on uneven hiking trails.
Wearing a helmet is not obligatory for adults. However, we do recommend that you wear one for these rides, especially for the downhill part. You could even keep it on for extra safety while hiking! Helmets are included in the price of bike rental.
Cycling gloves can do double duty. Firstly, they make comfortable biking. Secondly, they provide protection on hiking trails and craggy peaks.
Wear a hat during summer months while hiking for sun protection. Likewise, take a warmer hat during cooler months.
Water and snacks
There are no shops or bars at these spots. Therefore, be sure to take enough water and a snack to enjoy along the way.
A small backpack
Carrying your things in a backpack means having less weight on the bike and keeps your hands free for all that panoramic photo-taking!
Cycling and Hiking Malaga: MONTE VICTORIA
Altitude: 193.5 metres
Distance from Malaga Bike Rentals shop: 3-4 km one way (depending on route)
What’s the story?
Monte Victoria has a rich and extensive history. The territory that we know as Spain today was under muslim power for eight centuries. The Christian conquest over the muslims was brought to its fruition by the Catholic monarchs: Queen Isabel la Católica and King Ferdinand el Católico. Apparently, Málaga was one of the most difficult cities for their armies to conquer.
As you follow the trails of the monte, imagine King Ferdinand ‘El Católico’ holed up on this very same monte with all of his troops in 1487. Queen Isabel ordered the troops to pray constantly during the final siege of the city. In fact, the siege lasted from May to August and entailed many bloody battles before the muslims fell.
King Ferdinand was a highly devote man who adored religious images. The Emperor Maximilian I of Austria had given him an image of the virgin as a present. One night, on Monte Victoria, the virgin came to the King in a dream. Specifically, she pronounced that in three days the city would fall. And guess what? She was right!
After the victory, the Emperor sent over another statue of the virgin. The Catholic Monarchs named the statue Victoria. Obviously, they believed that she had intervened in the victory over the muslims.
The monte is situated very close to the city overlooking the Basílica de la Santa Maria de la Victoria. Apparently, King Ferdinand ordered the building of the church. Thus able to worship the Virgin at the place from where they had conquered the city. The statue of the Virgen de la Victoria is housed in the basilica over the alter.
(Many say the virgin – which came from Austria – looks more anglo-saxon with her pale skin and light brown hair than she does Spanish). It is a very impressive statue and altar so well worth a visit.
La Virgen de la Victoria is now ‘one’ of the patron saints of Málaga (we have three!) We celebrate the day of the virgen de la Victoria on September 8th. There is a procession from the church with the virgin on a ‘trono’ (large altar carried on the shoulders of the Malagueñ@s). First they march to the cathedral for a mass. Then later they process around the city and back to her ‘temple’. September 8th is also a public holiday in the city.
Cycling Routes to Monte Victoria
Cycling Route Option 1.
Our route starts from the Malaga Bike Tours shop. First, go past the Roman Theatre and then straight up Calle Victoria. At Plaza de la Victoria turn right onto Calle Ferrandiz. Then turn left on the second street on the left – Calle Hurtado de Mendoza. Continue north on Calle Conde de Ureña. Follow the road through this quaint neighbourhood which offers you some glimpses over the city along the way.
Eventually the road goes through the forest of the monte. It is a nice short ride on smooth asphalt with dense pine trees on either side. Once you get to the top, lock the bike to the fence at the start of the hiking trail, opposite COLEGIO CARDENAL HERRERA OBIA.
Cycling Route Option 2. This route will take you to the other side of the Monte Victoria and almost to the antennas. Be warned the road is very steep.
The route starts from the Malaga Bike Tours shop. Go past the Roman Theatre and then straight up Calle Victoria. At Plaza de la Victoria turn right onto Calle Ferrandiz. Continue up the hill and then turn left on Subida San Cristobal. Continue going up. Then take a right on Calle Felix Revello de Toro. Follow Calle Macio de la Llana.
The gravel trail up the monte starts after the barrier. Normally, the barrier is down. However, you can squeeze your bike through the side. Continue on the trail and enjoy amazing views to the east and over the Mediterranean. Don’t follow the trail all the way to the antennas. Stop when you see some steps to the left.
Lock the bike then follow the trail after the steps for great views of the Gibralfaro castle, the Mediterranean, the city and the mountains beyond. On the cycle back down there is a turnoff to the right with a plateau which offers more fine views.
Cycling and Hiking Malaga: MONTE GIBRALFARO
Altitude: 130 metres
Distance from Malaga Bike Rentals shop: 4 km round trip
What’s the story?
Evidently, this Monte forms part of the spectacular skyline of Málaga. The silhouette of the Gibralfaro castle crowning the monte forms part of the fundamental identity of the city. Clearly, a testament to this is the fact that its image is on the coat of arms of the city as well as that of the province of Málaga.
The Phoenicians founded the city at the foot of Gibralfaro in the 8th century B.C. Today the monte presides over the historical centre. A hike or cycle up through the dense forest of pine and eucalyptus trees of Monte Gibralfaro is essential in order to understand the city’s past and present. The castle was the last hold-out of the muslims after the city was conquered by the Catholic Monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel in 1487.
The name of the monte comes to us from Arabic. Apparently it means monte del faro (mountain of the lighthouse). Probably as far back as Roman times there was a lighthouse at the top of this monte.
Cycle and Hiking Route to Monte Gibralfaro
This is a hike or bike route.
From the Malaga Bike shop head towards the Alcazaba. Then go up the hill at the side of the Alcazaba. Enjoy panoramic views over City Hall, El Parque and the port. Later head through the tunnel. Then cycle past the barrier.
At this point, we recommend stopping for a second to look over your shoulder. You have a bonus panoramic view over the city, dominated by the cathedral. (We are sure there is another amazing view to be had from Antonio Banderas’ penthouse which you can also see from this vantage point).
Hikers can either walk on the asphalt road through the trees following the same route as cyclists. Alternatively, take one of several hiking trails that lead off the road on the right. Once on a trail always keep to the right until you reach the wall- La Coracha. This is the wall that connects the Alcazaba and el Castillo Gibralfaro. We personally prefer to take the first trail that you come across. This takes you straight up and along the ‘coracha’. (When you reach the wall, turn left).
Walking through the trees here gives us a completely different view of la Coracha from what most people see on the south side. The views to the west of the city through the trees that seem to bend down the hill are breathtaking too. You will likely have the company of adorable red squirrels along these trails.
Hikers- on the way back you can either a) walk down the south side of la Coracha. This can be quite steep and sometimes slippery with its marble steps or b) follow the hiking trail that starts just below the mirador (look-out point). Eventually this hiking trail turns into the aforementioned path.
Once you get to the tunnel, you can turn left to head toward the bullring and the Malagueta or right through the tunnel to get to Plaza de la Merced. If you want to visit the Alcazaba, go straight ahead following the walls of the Alcazaba. The entrance is at the bottom of the hill to your right. We highly recommend visiting both the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro.
Cycling and Hiking Malaga: MONTE SAN ANTON
Altitude: 508 metres
Distance from Malaga Bike Rentals shop: 11 km one way
The climb from El Palo to reach San Anton is a 3 km route- to climb 508 metres. Honestly speaking, it is a very steep challenging cycle.
If you prefer to take public transport from Malaga, take bus no. 11 to El Palo. From there you can walk to the monte.
What’s the story?
“To really get to know Malaga, it is necessary to climb Monte San Anton”.
San Anton is an extension of the Montes of Malaga and is the highest mountain in the urban area. In Arabic times it was called the ‘Peñon de Buenavista’- the big rock of the good view. Says it all! Probably its name today originates from San Antonio Abad, the patron saint of the hermits. He gave permission for a small church (ermita) to be built here 5 centuries ago.
Locally, the monte is known as the ‘tetas’ of San Anton for its two promentary peaks that bear resemblance to certain parts of the female anatomy. The two peaks are visible from pretty much every point of Malaga. An older local nickname for the monte is ‘los huevos del toro’- the testicles of the bull.
Apparently, this gave way to a saying for predicting the weather: “Cuando en los huevos del toro se mete la niebla, lluvia seguro.” (When fog gets into the testicles of the bull, it will be sure to rain.)
Monte San Anton is one of the most interesting natural spots of Malaga. For example for its fascinating geology, flora and fauna. Therefore it is a favourite Sunday outing for many a Malagueño.
In our opinion, it is the perfect place to get a good overall vision of the area.
Cycle route to Monte San Anton
Our route starts at the Malaga Bike Tours shop and heads east along the coast.
Just before the first dry river turn left and then turn right on Avda. Juan Sebastian Elcano, cross the bridge over the dry river and then turn left onto Calle Antonio Trueba. Continue north to the next roundabout then veer right.
Lock your bike at the start of the trail. There are a couple of signs pointing the way to look out points (miradors) and trust us, the views will blow you away!
If you want to scramble up to the peaks of the ‘tetas’ where you will also find a cross, there are various trails to choose from. The peaks are quite rocky and craggy, so gloves would help as you might be on all fours now and then. You will be rewarded with the most amazing 360 degree views – which you may have to share with goats!
Cycling and Hiking Malaga MONTE CORONADO
Altitude: 220 metres
Distance: 5 kms one way
What’s the story?
The translation of the name is ‘The Crowned Montain’ . This is due to the plateau of rocks that, close up, looks like a crown. The ‘crown’ was originally circular but now it is more of a half moon shape. This is owing to the fact that the ‘crown’ was used as a quarry years ago.
Some locals believe that it is a dormant volcano, probably due to its current shape. But not to worry, there are no volcanoes here! You can also see the ruins of a cement factory that was on the monte from the 1970’s to the year 2000.
The silhouette and location of this monte is well known to many Malagueños. However, these days, most people have not ventured up there. In the old days, whole extended families would go there on weekends. It was like their day out in ‘el campo’ (the countryside). They would make a giant paella on an open fire. Meanwhile, the children would run around and play games with their friends.
At the top of the monte, you will find a cross- la cruz del Coronado- the cross of the crowned. The cross is 3 metres high and weighs 30 kilos. Apparently, the cross originally formed part of a church in the neighbourhood. When a new church was built, the cross was thrown into a rubbish container.
Nevertheless, a local man called Paco retrieved the cross and looked after it for no less than thirty years. Throughout those three decades, Paco made numerous petitions to the local authorities- and even to the bishop of Málaga- to install the cross on the top of the monte. Unfortunately, his requests were ignored. Sadly, Paco became ill and passed away. It was Paco’s last will that the cross be erected on the monte. Amazingly, seven neighbours made it happen after he died. There is a plaque under the cross to honour Paco.
‘La Cruz del Coronado’ has become a symbol of the neighbourhood. Many believe it provides them with protection. The cross can be seen from far and wide. And you too can enjoy views of great distances on top of the monte. And, of course, phenomenal sunrises and sunsets, too.
Cycle Route to Monte Coronado:
Our route starts at the Malaga Bike Shop. Turn left on the Alameda Principal then cross the dry river to El Corte Ingles department store. Follow the bike path which will take you to Malaga Football stadium. Turn left at the stadium and then right after the Centro Comercial La Rosaleda. Cross over into the neighbourhood of Palma- Palmilla and follow the roads turning left at every turn. Once you can see the monte and the cross, park your bike to a lamp post. (Better to take two locks than one).
Enjoy the views!
Happy cycling and hiking!