Holidays to the Costa del Sol can be tailor-made to suit you. Sandy beaches, glitzy towns, historical villages and lively theme parks are just a few of the things Spain’s Sunshine Coast has to offer.
A national treasure
Britain’s love affair with the Costa del Sol has just passed the diamond anniversary point. It was slightly more than 60 years ago that holidaymakers from the UK started to head to Spain’s southern coast. Today, the relationship couldn’t be stronger. Not only do thousands of visitors travel over here every year, but 300,000 expats now call this place home.
The Sunshine Coast
The secret to the Costa del Sol’s success is in its name. The sunshine coast experiences approximately 320 days of sun every year. What’s more, the region’s 161-kilometre coastline has everything you need to make the most of the weather. In Marbella alone there are 25 kilometres of silky sand, broken up by five-star hotels and beach clubs. Torremolinos’ beaches, meanwhile, are backed by tapas bars, shops and ice-cream parlours. And in Benalmadena, a whitewashed old town sits shoulder-to-shoulder with a cosmopolitan harbour area.
The Costa del Sol is the gateway to Andalucia. This part of Spain is known for its pueblo blancos – whitewashed villages that spill down the hillside. It’s also the location of guidebook-touted cities like Granada and Seville.
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Marbella waved goodbye to its fishing village roots decades ago – now this Costa del Sol goliath is home to 300,000 Spaniards and Brits, as well as one of the world’s highest concentrations of Rolls Royce cars. The glitz factor is high on the seafront Golden Mile, which throbs with bars and clubs. But there’s a traditional side, too, in the calm oasis of the old town.
Torremolinos’ next door neighbour is a gracious and well-loved resort on Spain’s Costa del Sol. It lines up modern hotel complexes and apartment blocks along the 10-kilometre seafront area called Benalmadena Costa, but also packs in plenty of Andalusian appeal in the Spanish part of town.
Teetering on the rocks on the southern tip of Andalusia – about 40 minutes from Malàga – is Nerja, AKA the jewel of the Costa del Sol. You’re in classic Costa territory here, with sandy beaches and an all-night bar scene. There’s tumultuous history to explore, too – the centrepiece is the Balcon de Europa, a viewing platform that was once part of a battle-torn castle. No wonder King Alfonso XII made Nerja his holiday home back in the 1880s.
Estepona is tucked between Marbella and Manilva on Spain’s Costa del Sol. This Andalusian town comes with whitewashed houses lining the narrow cobbled streets and a mountain backdrop. It’s got a great mix – it’s the kind of place where you get Spanish tapas and flamenco dancing alongside sophisticated shops, cocktail bars and a pretty marina. And the Blue Flag beach stacks up pretty well, too.
San Pedro De Alcantara
San Pedro de Alcantara – or San Pedro, for short – is anchored in the west of the Costa del Sol, in Andalucia, about 10 kilometres from Marbella. It’s got a bit of a split personality – along the beachfront, it’s all hotels, cafés and souvenir shops, while the town centre is more like traditional Spain, with sieasta, tapas bars lining narrow backstreets and a big weekly market.
Sandwiched between Torremolinos and Marbella, the former fishing village of Fuengirola is now one of the Costa del Sol’s biggest players. It’s got the high-rise hotels, buzzing bars and tourist-friendly restaurants to prove it, but there are also side streets and squares crammed with upmarket tapas places and chic boutiques. And a Moorish castle adds a bit of history. The real draw, though, is the super-sized sandy beach.
Torremolinos is a bit of a dab hand when it comes to holidays – and it’s got 3.5 million yearly visitors to prove it. This is one of the oldest and best-loved holiday places on the Costa del Sol, with a pedigree going back to the early Fifties. Back then, it was a haunt of Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Nowadays things still revolve around the sandy beach, but there’s party nightlife and great shopping in the mix, too.
Puerto Banus is Marbella’s world-famous port, right in the heart of Spain’s Costa del Sol. It’s a millionaire’s playground with beach clubs, super-yachts moored in the marina, and a long strip of bars, clubs and designer boutiques along the water. There’s another side to this firecracker of a spot, though – head away from the sea and there are quieter bars and authentic Spanish tapas.
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