The Costa del Sol, as we all know, is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Spain. It’s incomparable weather, range of resorts to suit all tastes and pockets, and beautiful scenery, all go towards explaining this popularity. It’s such a diverse part of Spain for tourists, that it can be hard to pick out exactly which area is going to be most suitable to meeting your holiday desires. So, that’s why we’ve put together this guide to the Malaga region.
The City of Malaga
Let’s start by taking a look at the city of Malaga itself, which is a great destination for a city break in the sun. Malaga city is often compared to the Spanish capital of Madrid, and the Catalan capital Barcelona, for its wealth of culture, cuisine and its mixture of the contemporary and historical.
Central to the historic city is the towering Gothic cathedral, from which radiate a maze of narrow pedestrian streets, with both modern and traditional bars, quirky shops and boutiques, and also chic and contemporary stores. Towering over the beautiful city, the 11th century Gibralfaro castle grandly overlooks all. Take a trip up here and experience the stunning views of church spires, red-tiled roofs and sprawling modern and historical architecture.
Moving on from the city to the coastal resorts along the Costa del Sol. Quite a different experience from the urban beauty of Malaga itself, the Costa del Sol is much more of a tourist trap, as you’re probably already well aware.
Head west from Malaga airport, and you’ll be in real Costa del Sol territory. Immediately recognisable tourist centres, with apartment tower blocks and long standing hotel developments signal that you’re in Costa del Sol resort land. Villas, leisure complexes, and marina developments like Puerto Banus have thrived under large international investment, and the influx of foreign expats flocking to the region. It’s now estimated that around 300,000 residents from overseas now live around the Costa del Sol, mostly Northern Europeans, including Brits. Timeshare has done well here, and not without good reason.
Let’s take a look at some of the leading Costa del Sol resorts in the region.
Now Torremolinos has outgrown its archetypal Brit holiday resort image, and come of age as an appealing, attractive resort, it has once more exploded in popularity. Offering clean, sandy beaches, a wide range of restaurants and nightlife, as well as plenty of daytime activities and entertainment, there’s scarcely more to ask from a Costa del Sol resort.
The first resort on the Costa del Sol to be developed, way back in the early 1960s, Torremolinos was once a sleepy fishing village. The town is located just 7km from Malaga airport, making it a convenient and easy journey on arrival and departure.
Its reputation for rowdy nightlife still stands, particularly during the summer months when young holidaymakers flock to the resort. But there is another side to Torremolinos.
Its proximity to Malaga itself has led to it beginning to merge into a suburb of the city, and, as such, the Spanish influence is back with a vengeance in Torremolinos. It’s a friendly, welcoming town, the perfect location for those seeking a bit of winter sun, when the youngsters are back in Blighty!
A little further along, 25km from Malaga airport, you’ll find one of the most popular destinations in the Costa del Sol. A vibrant, cosmopolitan town, borne out of fishing village roots, Fuengirola is simply buzzing with unique character.
Shoppers will love exploring Fuengirola’s many chic little boutiques and hidden shops. Take a stroll through the narrow streets leading off from the town’s main square, to discover delightful hidden secret bars, restaurants and shops. Fuengirola is certainly a town for roaming.
Along with all the many attractions offered by this great resort, there are also five miles of gorgeous sandy beaches stretching all the way from Torreblanca to Sohail Castle.
“No carbs before Marbs!” the wags and tanned beach blondes cry, before packing their bright pink suitcases and heading to the distinctly glamorous Marbella.
A favourite location of the rich and famous, Marbella is Spain’s answer to St Tropez. Its wealth of chic boutiques, art galleries and Michelin-starred restaurants, not to mention those ritzy beach clubs, go some way to explaining its popularity with the white Range Rover set.
And then, of course, there’s those incredible beaches, which are some of the most beautiful on the Costa del Sol.
Enjoy a stroll around the Plaza de los Naranjos, lined with pretty orange trees, and situated just off main street. The cobbled streets, full of restaurants and quaint and unique shops, make a stay in Marbella a real treat, whether you’re sporting a vajazzle or not!
Just along the way from ritzy Marbella town, in the Nueva Andalucia suburb of Malaga, you’ll find Puerto Banus. Modelled after the Spanish fishing villages that once lined the coast of the Costa del Sol, Puerto Banus was actually not developed until 1970, when a local property developer named José Banús visualised a luxury marina and shopping centre.
A similarly posh playground for the Marbella money mob, Puerto Banus is home to buzzing nightlife, swanky beach clubs and stunning beaches. Designer stores are all over this small town, particularly along the marina stretch, in between great little fish restaurants and tapas bars.
In the face of the tourist tsunami of the Costa del Sol, Estepona has stood strong in its traditional Spanish charm.
Cobbled narrow streets are lined with street cafes and traditional Spanish tapas bars, bodegas and pretty local shops. It’s a much cheaper shopping haunt than Marbs and Banus, and – of course – has its own fair share of lovely beaches.
Whilst the traditional character of Estepona reigns supreme, you’ll still find all the tourist facilities: activities, cuisine and hotels, right to hand. It has its own marina, museums and art galleries, and a touch of nightlife for those not keen on braving the bars along the other resorts’ strips.
These are just a few of the great resorts to be enjoyed all over the Andalucian coast. There are, of course, many more to choose from, whether you’re looking for a timeshare, villa, hotel or apartment. As such a special, popular destination, the entire Costa del Sol is teeming with things to do, and if you get fed up with the urban tourist spots, there’s plenty of natural splendour just a little way inland.