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Four great towns to visit about an hour from Gib

Gaucin

Nestled in the mountains above Estepona is Gaucin, one of the biggest white towns in the area. Getting there can be tough, navigating winding roads across a deep valley before scaling the mountainside, arriving at this pearl, it is a sight to behold. Along with that distinct Moorish flavour that punctuated Andalusia for 700 years comes a bit of that bohemian flair which brought many expats to the area, even starting their own businesses here.

Steeped in history, the Castle of the Eagle (Castillo del Aguila) watches over the sleepy town in the cool summer days, while at nights it comes alive with flamenco music as a number of festivals run throughout the summer months. The cacophony of village sounds, punctuated with laughter and the thrill of life in the slow lane makes this destination a must at any time of the year.

Tarifa

The afternoon breezes across the Atlantic are best experienced in this town, which despite growing exponentially in recent years, never loses its charm. A mecca for kite and windsurfers, the city has outgrown its watersports clientele and becoming a fashionable place for tourists to spend their summers.

Watch out for the tasty tuna festival, see amazing sunsets after long days at the beaches or revel in using renewable energy to power your adrenaline surge while kitesurfing. Interminable nights under the stars, wandering along cobbled streets to find each one’s preferred atmosphere or eating fish to the heart’s content, Tarifa leaves a memorable imprint on the heart.

Tangier

Tired of the European mainland? Just want to dip your toe into Africa? Well, Tangiers is just a stone’s throw away (okay, you would have to be able to a pretty good thrower..) but this port city has a lot to offer. Whether it is the bustling Kasbah, a European-esque way of life and a lot of historical connections with the Rock, Tangiers has a lot more than meets the eye.

Many Gibraltarians have even taken the step of getting a second residence here, while many Moroccans who now live on the Rock emanate from the city. Getting international status under colonial powers in 1923 it hosted a motley crew of writers, diplomats and spies before returning to Moroccan control 30 years later. Whether it is visiting the Sultan’s Palace, staying in the famous Hotel Continental or doing business at the modernised City Centre, this destination has a pinch of Africa within easy reach for all.

Castellar de la Frontera

This medieval fortress has many charms and a serenity few other locations can deliver. Almost forgotten about in this day and age of beaches and technology driving up to Castellar is a very pleasant experience, especially with the new road that branches out from near San Roque. Once visitors walk through the first archway the stillness of the passageways calms the senses as they navigate the labyrinth of its narrow streets overlooking a lake that brings back memories of Loch Ness.

Around a corner a door marks the Peña de Flamenco, where the community comes out of the woodwork to try their hand at the ancient art in surroundings that inspire creativity. They welcome friendly guests into their world with smiles and passionate strums at guitars that make newcomers feel right at home in this time-warp of a place.

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