Arenas lies 44 kilometres from Malaga and 13 kilometres from the coast at Torre del Mar, at an altitude of 416 metres. The village is located within the Axarquia region, on the scenic Mudejar Route , and has a population of around 1,400.
The usual route to reach the village is to take the A117 out of Velez-Malaga from where the village is just 10 kilometres away. This road winds up to the Bentomiz hill and has splendid panoramic views down to the sea. Halfway along this road at the Venta El Palomar the municipality of Arenas begins. Behind is the old Roman road from the 1st century BC which linked Arenas to the coast. This old road ran parallel to the River Seco on the right bank. A little further on is a group of farmhouses where, in times past, mulateers transporting raisins, silks and wine from Arenas to Torre del Mar rested. These products were exported to the rest of Europe and the Far East .
The Moorish origin of the village itself is evident in the narrow, winding streets. There is an ancient olive mill and a mural made by the ceramist Virgilio González at the village entrance. The centre has typical narrow streets, squares and corners adorned with flowers and potted plants. There are three different areas to the town. The Barrio Alto is an interesting area where craftsmen, ceramists and blacksmiths live. The urban centre is where the better-off residents of the town live and is the area which houses the Town Hall and a square with the 12th century church-mosque of Santa Catalina . The third area is the Barrio Bajo where many of the town's workers live. From any point in the village you can see the hill of Bentomiz, with its ancient fortifications. The parish church of Santa Catalina was built in the 16th century of Mudéjar construction on the previous site of a 12th century mosque. The minaret of the mosque remains in perfect condition.
As with other areas of the Axarquia, walking as an activity attracts visitors to Arenas. There are two popular routes, one leading to the base of the Bentomiz hill south of the village and the other towards the Cerro Alto beside the Salares stream.