We are planning to rent a car in Valencia on around 1 November and spend the next 10 days traveling along the Mediterranean coast to Malaga. I would welcome advice and tips about places to visit/stay along the way. We are more interested in out of the way gems of places than in tourist sites. Roman ruins, Moorish and/or mudejar art and architecture, great unknown restaurants, good hikes or deserted beaches all interest us. This is our third trip to Spain and we are looking to expand our appreciation of out of the way Spain.
Much of the coast south of Valencia is pretty commercialized and touristy, especially the Costa Blanca. Just south of Alicante, Elche is a pleasant Unesco World heritage site, known for it's ancient palm groves and Moorish gardens, called the "Huerto del Cura". Cartagena has the Museo Teatro Romano, a recently restored Roman Theater from the 1st century B.C. along with some good Modernista architecture. Further south, is the Cabo de Gata National Park, one of the last un-spoiled parts of the coast, with some of Spain's most beautiful beaches. In the Jaen region, the twin towns of Baeza and Ubeda are worth a stop on the way to Granada, one of my favorite cities in Spain, which is well worth spending a few days. It was the last stronghold of the Moors and famous for the Alhambra, which you should reserve well in advance. Other than Granada and Nerja on the Costa del Sol, we don't cover Valencia or any of SE Spain in our guidebook. You might want to pick up "Lonely Planet Spain" for hotel, restaurant and sightseeing recommendations.
Rich, thanks for your reply. We were in Granada 2 years ago, couldn't agree with you more. We loved it.
Altea has a lovely hilltop village square and would be a nice stop.
You might also do a google search of Moors and Cristianos festivals that may be happening enroute.