One of the favourite paths among cyclists near La Cala del Moral, east of Malaga city.. / SUR

Explore the Costa del Sol on two wheels

The Senda Litoral path that will eventual link the entire coast from Nerja to Manilva includes several sections ideal for cyclists

FERGAL MACERLEAN

With an abundance of year round sunshine, blue sky days and light winds there can be few better places to cycle than on Malaga's flat, traffic-free, route alongside the Mediterranean. Take sunglasses and swimwear for a leisurely Costa del Sol ride where you can stop to cool off in the azure water at dozens and dozens of beaches and enjoy fresh seafood cooked on an olive wood fire at a chiringuito (beach bar).

Passing by unspoilt stretches of the coast as well as by many of the province's pretty seaside towns and resorts, variety is guaranteed on the Malaga Coastal Path, or Senda Litoral as it is called in Spanish. The waymarked route, still under development in places, runs for some 170 kilometres from Manilva on the western Costa del Sol to Nerja in the east. It follows a mixture of cyclelanes, unsurfaced tracks and promenades, of which the latter are primarily for walkers and on which there may be restrictions in the busy summer months.

Four great routes are detailed here, ranging from a super easy four-kilometre return spin to a 34-kilometre return ride. But as all the rides are linear you can choose how far to go.

Torre de Benagalbón to La Cala del Moral: 6.5 kilometres (one-way)

Named after its Arab-built tower, Torre de Benagalbón sits to the east of Malaga city and is backed by a huge beach of dark sand and calm waters where you can enjoy a quiet swim. The Coastal Path runs right by the beach and passes a string of chiringuitos - hugely popular with the local people of Malaga (Malagueños) throughout the summer months and at weekends for live music and food.

Cycling along you will soon come to the medium-sized town of Rincón de la Victoria which has many restaurants by the beach. A shrine to the patron saint of sailors - the Virgen del Carmen - can be seen before an ascent leads through tunnels. Further on, a compact beach track is followed at La Cala del Moral with its glorious sea views.

Malagueta beach to Baños del Carmen: 2 kilometres (one-way)

A smooth cycle lane makes for this super easy ride alongside Malaga's palm tree-lined promenade. The cycle starts a stone's throw from the city centre at Malagueta Beach - look for the photogenic sculpture spelling 'Malagueta'. Passing several chiringuitos, with sweeping views of the bay, the Coastal Path leads to Baños del Carmen. Built in 1918 as an opulent cast iron pavilion with a bathing area, it has been a popular Malaga entertainment centre for decades. Now it operates as a restaurant and bar and is a superb place to watch the sunset with sublime views back to the city and along the coast.

Baños del Carmen. / SUR

Huelin to Guadalhorce Nature Reserve – 4 kilometres (one-way)

This is a very varied section of the Coastal Path which leads from the area of Huelin, just west of Malaga city centre, to a nature reserve.

An excellent cycle path leads beside the promenade which was once the site of heavy industry where lead was smelted and blast furnaces operated. A diversion can be made to the Car and Fashion Museum, with vintage cars and designer fashions from the 20th century to today, housed in the old tobacco factory La Tabacalera.

Pedal on, passing old factory chimneys, by the wide city beaches to the end of Sacaba Beach and a large block of flats to follow the Coastal Path/ Senda Litoral markers onto an unpaved track that keeps going straight to the River Guadalhorce. Head up the river to cross an attractive large, wooden, curved bridge. From there you can visit the Guadalhorce nature reserve on foot (locking your bike at the entrance). With several lagoons and bird hides this is a peaceful spot where more than 200 migratory and resident birds have been recorded, including flamingoes, and the endangered white-headed duck which lives there.

Marbella to San Pedro: 17 kilometres (one-way)

Marbella has a beautiful old centre which you should explore on foot before hopping on a bike to follow the Coastal Path west to San Pedro. This route follows the promenade which is busy in the summer season so it is recommended for the quieter off-peak months.

Then it is absolutely ideal for a relaxing ride - passing through upmarket Puerto Banús - with tons of great places to eat en route and leading to pretty chiringuitos by San Pedro Alcántara where you can see the small traditional fishing boats hauled up on the beaches.