Spain’s celebrated Costa del Sol
The Costa del Sol feels like the original Spanish Costa. A favourite with British holidaymakers for years, it has everything you need for a sun, sand and fun filled holiday and a whole lot more besides. As well as mile upon mile of golden sandy beaches backed by English-speaking cafes, bars, nightclubs and restaurants galore, you can soak up some glamour in celebrity hotspots like Marbella and Puerto Banus, or supercharge your artistic side in Malaga, a city that’s rich, cultural and Spanish-to-the core. With good-time resorts like Torremolinos and Fuengirola grabbing the headlines, it’s easy to forget the Costa del Sol is part of Andalusia, a region known for its distinctive architecture, fiery fiestas and that most iconic of all Spanish artforms, flamenco. Look closer and you’ll find pockets of old Spain in places like Nerja, with its whitewashed houses and pebble streets, and Benalmadena Pueblo with its winding cobbled alleys and tree-lined squares. If you can drag yourself away from the beach and party scene, authentic Andalusia is never too far away.
Whether you simply relax and enjoy the scenery or throw yourself in to the best of everything a holiday on the Mediterranean coast can offer, there’s a lot to love on the Costa del Sol. Here are a few of our favourite things to see and do.
This famous port city needs little introduction. Visit for the historic Moorish architecture of the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle, fill up on delicious Andalusian cuisine, and spend a few happy hours in the traditional and contemporary-chic shops. Proud to be the birthplace of Picasso, there’s plenty to sate your hunger for art too. The Museo Picasso Málaga showcases his life and works, and the nearby ‘mile of art’ offers exhibitions of pieces by Pompidou, and collections of regional art at the Carmen Thyssen Museum.
Anyone with a taste for the finer things in life should place Puerto Banus on their holiday itinerary. This glitzy harbour town, situated just six kilometres west of Marbella, is the epitome of the glamorous lifestyle. Admire the elegant yachts in the harbour, browse and buy clothes by designer labels in the shopping centres or even go autograph hunting, as this town is a popular haunt of the rich and famous. If you prefer classic holiday relaxation to high-end glitz, you can soak up the sun on the silky sands of the town’s three main beaches.
The former fishing village of Nerja sits flanked by the Sierra Almijara mountain range and has escaped the high-rise development that has overtaken some other resorts on this coastline. Located in the east of the Costa del Sol, the town proudly places 16 kilometres of beaches at your disposal. If it’s views you want, head up to the Balcony of Europe, Nerja’s famous clifftop promenade that offers sweeping views of the Mediterranean below and mountains behind. You should also explore the mysterious Cuevas de Nerja, an underground network that stretches for nearly five kilometres and contains the largest stalagmite in the world, a towering 32 metres high, and cave paintings dating back thousands of years.
Lying 20 minutes by car from the popular town of Torremolinos, Benalmadena can be roughly divided into three main areas. Benalmadena Costa offers you relaxation on sun-kissed beaches, while Benalmadena Pueblo (the Old Town) serves up elegance with its pretty squares and fine dining opportunities. Finally Arroyo de la Miel, once a sleepy Spanish village, has transformed into the region’s go-to place for shopping.
Absolutely. Costa del Sol means ‘Sun Coast’, and the weather is fine all year round. Temperatures start to heat up in May, reaching a pleasant average of 19oC and rising each month until August when it pushes towards the 30s. Outside of summer, the weather is generally mild, and not even winter stops people from walking happily around in their shorts.
The Costa del Sol’s coastline stretches for nearly 300km from Gibraltar in the east to La Herradura in the west, but it’s the section between Estepona and Nerja that steals the show. The large numbers of expats alone make it hard to state an exact number of inhabitants in the Costa del Sol. The region has a shifting number of British expats, once estimated at 300,000 people, and that’s not counting those on holiday in the area.
Taxi drivers on the Costa del Sol region don’t expect tips, but you should agree the fare with them before getting in the taxi. If you want to tip them, a euro or two is enough. At restaurants, service is not usually included, so aim to tip around 10% of the bill.
The Costa del Sol is one hour ahead of the UK.
Major credit cards are widely accepted and there are ATMs in the larger towns and cities. However if you want to use cash, the local currency is the Euro.
Flights from the UK to the Costa del Sol fly direct to Malaga. The flight time is just under three hours.
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