The Costa del Sol is found in the province of Malaga and stretches along the coastline for 159 km from Manilva to Nerja. Most of this coastline is composed of beautiful beaches of all types. Malaga is the capital city, with a metropolitan population of about a million. East of Malaga there are the cities of Rincon de la Victoria, Torre del Mar, Velez-Malaga, Algarrobo, Torrox and Nerja. West of Malaga one can find the cities of Torremolinos, Benalmadena, Mijas Costa, Fuengirola, Marbella, San Pedro de Alcantara, and Estepona. A bit inland are the famous cities of Antequera and Ronda. The Costa del Sol is Spain’s best resort for several reasons.
The Costa del Sol has Spain’s best climate. The average temperature throughout the year is 18.5 C. There are at least 300 days of sunshine, and thus the title of Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun). The winters are the mildest in Europe and there is plenty of tourism then, when northern Europeans want to escape their snow clad countries. There is little rain in winter, and even if it rains, the skies clear afterward and the sun shines again. Truly the climate is ideal in the Costa del Sol. Two cities on the Costa del Sol, Marbella and Torrox Costa, have the best microclimates in Europe, with surrounding mountains protecting these cities from cold, northerly winds. The mild winters are appreciated by those who come to live here permanently, or those who want to spend winters here and return to their countries in spring. So winters are mild and summers are cooler than inland Spain.
2. Friendliness of Malagueños
The native Malagueños are a very friendly people who enjoy the company of all types of visitors, whether they are Spanish from other regions, other Andalusians, or foreigners. They are probably the friendliest of all Spanish and they have a custom of hospitality that is ingrained. They are used to having all types of guests, from the earliest centuries of their history. The Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, Vandals, and Moors came and stayed. This land was alluring to all visitors, and the Malagueños are a mixture of all these people. The tourist boom that started in the 1970’s continues and keeps bringing tourists to the beaches and resorts of the Costa del Sol.
The Malagueños are innately charming. The majority are outgoing and optimistic about their future. They like to talk and they like to party and have fun. They enjoy eating good food and they have a long history of culture associated with their food. They always try to help visitors, no matter where they come from. The visitor is really welcomed with open arms.
Everyone connected with the tourist industry speaks enough English to be understood, so the language problem does not exist in the Costa del Sol.
The Malagueños are amazingly tolerant of all people, no matter what color they are, what religions they have, what country they come from. There are Moslem mosques, Protestant churches, Jewish synagogues, and a Buddhist shrine. They are also tolerant of people with different types of gender orientation. Malaga is now one of the best gay destinations in Europe, with many gay bars.
3. Malaga Airport
Malaga Airport is the third largest in Spain, after the airports in Madrid, Barcelona. Connections to other Spanish and European cities is easy and there are many low cost airlines that are now coming to Malaga, so it is getting more inexpensive to travel to Malaga. Work is now going on to build a second runway and a new passenger terminal has just been inaugurated, so the capacity of the airport has doubled. Easy access to Malaga is very important for tourism, because tourists lose enthusiasm when they have to make too much effort to reach a tourist destination.
4. New AVE Service from Madrid
Madrid is the transportation hub of Spain for both national and international flights. At the end of 2007, the new AVE route from Madrid to Malaga was inaugurated and passenger traffic increased tremendously to Malaga from Madrid, especially on weekends. Many Madrileños want to spend their weekends on the beaches of Malaga, instead of in their big city of Madrid, to relax and decompress from high pressure jobs. The AVE now takes only 2.5 hours each way. Malaga is also connected with high speed trains to Seville and Cordoba. Work on the AVE to Granada is continuing.
5. Great Beaches
With 159 kilometers of coastline, one expects to find good beaches in Malaga. The beaches of Torremolinos, Fuengirola, Marbella, and Torre del Mar are world class. They are clean and have many facilities, such as bathrooms and beach showers. Blue Flag beaches are beaches that meet quality standards and the Costa del Sol has very many Blue Flag beaches.
The beaches have very good seafood restaurants that are economical or moderately priced. Fresh fish is served on a daily basis, and eating fish is one of Malaga’s enchantments.
The blue flag is given to the best quality beaches in Spain. In 2009, 23 beaches in the Costa del Sol received this honour.
1. Los Boliches-Las Gaviotas (Fuengirola)
2. Torreblanca (Fuengirola)
3. Carvajal (Fuengirola)
4. Santa Amalia (Funegirola)
5. El Castillo-Ejido (Fuengirola)
7. San Francisco ( Fuengirola)8. Torrecilla (Nerja)
9. Burriana (Nerja)
10. Malapesquera (Benalmadena)
11. Arroyo de la Miel (Benalmádena)
12. Algarrobo Costa
13. Ferrara (Torrox)
14. Misericordia (Málaga capital)
15. La Cala de Mijas
16. Cabo Pino (Marbella)
17. Venus-Bajadilla (Marbella)
18. Casablanca (Marbella)
19. Guadalmina (Marbella)
20. El Padrón (Estepona)
21. El Cristo (Estepona)
22. La Rada ( Estepona)
23. Sabinillas (Manilva)
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6. Golf Paradise
The Costa del Sol has at least 40 beautiful golf courses, many of them designed by the most famous golf course designers of the world. There are many more golf courses that are nearing completion or are starting construction. The good news is that most of them are being watered with recycled water. The few that are not using recycled water are in the process of converting to recycled water because there is a new law forcing all golf courses in Malaga to use recycled water. So ecologists will be satisfied regarding this matter.
Few tourist destinations in Spain have as many cultural offerings as the Costa del Sol. A very large number of artists, both Spanish and foreign, live in the Costa del Sol because the light is marvelous, which makes painting appealing. There are a large number of cultured people, again both Spanish and foreign, who enjoy the arts in the city. Among the major cultural offerings are:
a. Picasso Museum – Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga and this museum shows his work. It is one of the few museums that show representative work from each of his seven different work periods, from the Blue Period to Cubism.
b. Picasso Birthplace Museum – Located in the Plaza de la Merced.
c. Cathedral – Started during the Renaissance. This is one of Spain’s most beautiful cathedrals.
d. Alcazaba and Roman Theater – The Moorish fort on the hill overlooking Malaga is the best preserved Moorish fort in Spain. At the bottom of the fort is the Roman amphitheater.
e. Museo del Vidrio y Cristal – The new museum of glass and crystal is housed in a beautifully restored 18th century palace and is one of its kind in Spain.
f. Basilica of La Victoria – One of Andalusia’s most beautiful Baroque churches.
g. Contemporary Art Museum – A free museum showing Europe’s best contemporary art.
h. Municipal Museum – This museum shows Malaga’s history.
i. Palacio Episcopal – The Archbishop’s palace is a beautiful Baroque building that has large art exhibitions that change every two months. Entrance is free.
j. Cervantes Theater – This theater shows flamenco, musicals, ballet, and drama.
k. Gibralfaro Castle – The Moorish castle is on top of the Gibralfaro Mountain and has the best views of the city below.
l. Museum House of Dolls – This museum has 50 miniature houses and is the best museum of its kind in Spain.
m. Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares – This museum shows costumes and many other exhibits that highlight Malaga’s culture.
n. Museo de Arte Sacro – This little museum near the Cathedral shows beautiful religious art, both paintings and sculpture.
o. Archivo Municipal – There are many temporary exhibitions in this building, always free to the public.
p. Benalmadena Pueblo Museo Arqueologico – Contains many Pre-Columbian artifacts in a new building with very educational exhibits. The collection was donated to the city by a rich resident.
In 2011 Malaga will have a Thyssen Museum and will exhibit part of the Carmen Cervera Collection. The 16th century Palacio Villalon is now being remodeled to be the new museum. There are about 10 new museums that are on the way for the city. Work is continuing in the Palacio de la Aduana to house the Museo de Bellas Artes and the archaeological museum.
8. Beautiful Gardens
There are some exceptionally beautiful gardens in the Costa del Sol.
a. Malaga Park – In the heart of Malaga, adjacent to the port is the Malaga Park, a hundred year old park that has been recently remodeled. This park is known for its semi tropical plants and is 800 meters long.
b. The Garden of Pedro Luis Alonso is located by the Town Hall and has a beautiful rose garden that contains 10,200 rose bushes, with 70 different varieties.
c. The Botanical Gardens of La Concepcion – On the outskirts of Malaga are these huge semi tropical gardens, the biggest garden of this kind in Europe.
d. Villa Padierna Hotel – In Estepona is this new Tuscan style hotel with beautiful gardens and some of the best Roman statuary in Spain.
e. Puente Romano Hotel – This Marbella hotel has wonderful gardens that border a stream.
f. Kempinski Palace Hotel – This hotel in Estepona has lush gardens around many waterfalls and cascades.
9. Transportation Hub
Malaga has a big transportation interchange building, called Vialia (Maria Zambrano Station), where one can take the AVE, the Cercanias train, and the bus to other cities in Malaga or to other provinces. Vialia is one of the biggest of its sort in Spain, making transportation connections easy. Malaga is also building a Metro system that will also be connected to Vialia. The bus system in Malaga is easy to use and it goes everywhere one wants to reach in the city.
10. Good Roads
The A7 motorway parallels the coast of Malaga. It has parts that one needs to pay tolls, but these toll roads make journeys faster. The main roads in the Costa del Sol are very good, but many have a lot of traffic. More ring roads are being built to alleviate the traffic.
11. Good Food
Malagueños love to eat and there are many very good restaurants all over the coast. Some are at the high end and have famous national chefs. All types of restaurants can be found in every city along the coast, from the most sophisticated to the simplest. Many restaurants are of new construction and are beautiful, with beautiful gardens beside them. The most sophisticated restaurants are located in Marbella and are expensive and frequented by the beautiful people of Europe.
The small town of Benahavis, close to Marbella, is calling itself the culinary capital of the Costa del Sol and boasts about 20 good restaurants. The town gets crowded on weekends as people flock to these restaurants.
The Costa del Sol now has five one-star Michelin restaurants, which goes to show that good food can be found here.
There are hundreds of chiringuitos (inexpensive fish restaurants) along the Costa del Sol, where one can eat fresh fish. The ones on the beaches of Torremolinos are especially popular. Besides fish they also serve meat dishes and salads.
In Malaga one can eat at many inexpensive restaurants that have menus of the day, complete meals for a low price. There are very many good tapas restaurants too.
12. Great Shopping
The Costa del Sol has some of the best shopping in Spain. Sophisticated people will enjoy shopping in all sorts of shops, from souvenir stores to stores with famous brand names and quality goods. The variety of stores is unique to the Costa del Sol and can compare with stores in Madrid and Barcelona.
a. Puerto Banus – This is the home of international brand names. It can compete with Calle Serrano and Ortega y Gassett in Madrid. Besides, it has a beautiful yacht harbor. The most expensive jewelry stores are also found here.
b. Old Town in Marbella – Very good shops in the old center of Marbella.
c. Downtown Fuengirola – There are very good shops around the Plaza de la Independencia. Many good leather stores abound.
d. Calle San Miguel – This street in Torremolinos is one of the best shopping streets in Spain. Some very good merchandise is found here, as well as affordable jewelry stores owned by merchants from India.
e. El Corte Ingles – This giant department store chain has two branches in Malaga City, one in Puerto Banus, another near downtown Marbella, and another in Fuengirola (Las Lagunas).
f. Nerja – Some very good stores can be found here in Calle Pintada.
g. The Costa del Sol has some of the biggest shopping centers in Andalusia, including La Cañada in Marbella, Plaza Mayor in Malaga, Larios Center in Malaga, and the Rosaleda Center in Malaga.
h. Calle Larios in Malaga is the main shopping street in the city. The streets close to it have very good quality shops.
Other beach resorts have only inexpensive shops and really very few good stores.
13. The White Towns
Ronda, Mijas, Nerja, Frigiliana, and Casares are some of the internationally known white towns of Malaga. They are some of the most beautiful and charming towns in all of Spain, completely unforgettable. Ronda is the queen of the white towns and Hemingway called it the most romantic town in Spain. A trip to the Costa del Sol is incomplete if one does not go to Ronda. These white towns have very long histories and show architecture that comes from the times of the Moorish conquest. Everything is whitewashed twice a year and that is why these towns are called white towns. The Axarquia is the region that is east of Malaga. There are white towns there that are very charming, such as Comares and Competa. The white towns are a whole different world.
Access to Ronda is not easy now because it takes about an hour from the coast along a narrow two lane road that winds through the mountains. However the AVE will soon reach Ronda and make access easy. A new four lane highway is also planned. Access to the other white towns mentioned here is quite easy, as they are all quite close to the A7 motorway.
14. Beautiful Buildings
In many areas of the Costa del Sol, one finds beautiful apartment buildings that mix the traditional architecture with modern Mediterranean architecture. Many have beautiful semitropical gardens surrounding them, or are beside golf courses. Many people have bought second homes here to escape harsh winters in other places. Other foreigners have decided to live here permanently because Malaga is a beautiful place to live in. Some of the most beautiful construction is in Marbella, where one can find whole apartment buildings faced with marble and other fine stones. One example is the Benabola Building in Puerto Banus.
And of course some absolutely beautiful properties: Costa del Sol Properties
15. Beautiful Women
Malaga is famous for being the home of many beautiful women. Marisol was a child star who became one of the biggest and most beautiful movie stars in Spain. She is a native of Malaga and has retired to a quiet life in the Malagueta, in Malaga City. Malaga’s women have won many of the Miss Spain contests. One of them, Amparo Muñoz, was the only Miss Spain to win the Miss Universe Contest. She became a famous movie star. One just has to walk along Calle Larios to see many beautiful women walking there. Besides, the women of Malaga are also known to be very feminine. Another beautiful woman is Elisabeth Reyes, the Miss Malaga of 2006 and Miss Spain for the same year. She is now one of Spain’s most beautiful international models.
There are also many handsome men to be seen. The mixture of the races has produced a strong and beautiful race. Juan Garcia Postigo, Mr. Malaga of 2006, won the Mr. Spain contest in 2006 and later won the Mr. Universe Contest in 2007.
16. Holy Week in Malaga
Malaga and Seville have the best Holy Week processions in Spain. The processions in Malaga show the deep faith of its people and every night of the week, there are six to nine processions that wend their way around the downtown area, finishing in the wee hours of the next morning. The processions are a giant spectacle, with colorful costumes that may date from the middle ages in design. The thrones carried by the men and women of the different cofradias (religious brotherhoods or clubs) are beautiful works of art in gold and silver, made by the best goldsmiths and silversmiths in Spain. The sculptures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Apostles may be several hundred years old, done by famous sculptors. More than a million people come to Malaga for Holy Week.
17. The Malaga Fair
Every August Malaga has its fair, which runs for 10 days and is the biggest fair in Europe. People dress in native colorful costumes and parade around the city on foot or horseback. Beautiful women parade in horse drawn carriages around the city. There are many free dance exhibitions of flamenco and Sevillanas downtown. Every night, people flock to the fairgrounds at the edge of town in the Cortijo de Torres, where they have many temporary buildings housing restaurants of many clubs. People eat, drink, and dance. The festival grounds are lighted with hundreds of thousands of lights and there are also rides. The whole town is on vacation and everyone tries to have a good time, even during the height of the summer heat.
18. Good Hotels
There are about 19 five star hotels in the Costa del Sol, most of them being in Marbella and surroundings, the most beautiful being the Gran Hotel Guadalpin, a jewel of design, in the best location, near downtown. There are also about 80 four star hotels, distributed over the Costa del Sol. One can find a good hotel one is comfortable in, no matter what Costa del Sol destination one chooses. Many of the good hotels have beautiful spas attached to them for the convenience of clients. The Vincci Seleccion Posada del Patio Hotel is a new 5 star hotel that just opened in Malaga City.
The most beautiful spas are those at the Villa Padierna, near Marbella, and the Villa Padierna Carratraca Spa.
19. Amusement Parks and Other Places of Amusements
There are many park attractions to entertain people of all ages. There is no other destination with so many amusement parks. One will not be bored in the Costa del Sol.
a. Fuengirola Zoo – One of the best in Europe in the center of Fuengirola. Winner of several awards.
b. Aqualand in Torremolinos.
c. Benalmádena Cable Car – Rises above a 700-metre slope in 12 minutes, reaching the Calamorro Peak, with a wonderful view of the coast.
d. Benalmadena Casino Torrequebrada Sala Fortuna Show – The Hotel Torrequebrada has a gambling casino and the Sala Fortuna show has a beautiful dining room and wonderful shows.
e. Benalmadena Dolphinarium and Aquarium – A good place to entertain children.
f. Crocodile Park in Torremolinos.
g. Sea Life in Benalmadena (by the Marina ).
h. Selwo Safari Park in Estepona – Safari style park.
i. Tivoli World – Benalmadena – Many rides and restaurants.
j. Aquavelis Water Park – Velez-Malaga.
k. El Ranchito Equestrian Center – Torremolinos.
l. Funny Beach – Marbella.
m. Karting Mijas – Mijas Costa.
n. Parque Aquatico Mijas Water Park -Mijas Costa.
o. Selwo Marina – Benalmadena Costa.
20. Cultural Visit to Antequera
The nearby city of Antequera (half an hour away from Malaga) is a very Baroque city, with about 35 wonderful churches, monasteries, and convents. The Municipal Museum is in the Palace of Najera and has the Ephebe of Antequera. An ephebe was in ancient Greece, a young man aged between 18 and 20 who had just reached manhood or full citizenship and was undergoing military training. The statue is made of bronze and is full scale, being hollow inside. It shows a young nude man with arms outstretched, and with a garland of leaves in his hair. The Ephebe is a beautiful work of art and was made in the 1st century AD, during the Roman period. There are only 6 of these statues discovered in Europe, and the one in Antequera is the most perfect. The statue is the best Roman find in all of Spain.
Antequera also has the Church of San Jose, which contains the Descalzas Museum, a museum that contains many wonderful works of religious art.
21. Cruise Ship Destination
Barcelona is the most popular cruise ship destination in Spain, followed by Malaga. Malaga has just opened a new maritime terminal to handle more passengers, and the port is expanding to handle more cruise ships.
22. Beautiful Yacht Harbours
Puerto Banus in Marbella is an internationally famous yacht harbor where the biggest yachts of the world go to. Puerto Marina in Benalmadena is famous for its unique dreamlike architecture. These two yacht harbors are world class.
23. Beautiful Countryside
The countryside around Malaga is very beautiful and scenic. From the beaches, the land goes into hills and mountains. There are many farms and groves of fruit trees, as well as olive trees. The countryside near Antequera is one of the most beautiful in Spain. The Axarquia is the area east of Malaga and is another area that has a beautiful countryside. The Serrania de Ronda is the mountain range around Ronda and it has some spectacular countryside too.
24. Night Life
The Costa del Sol is famous for its night life. Puerto Banus is full of bars and nightclubs. Marbella has other famous discotheques scattered around the city that are famous internationally. Another haven for night life is Puerto Marina in Benalmadena. Malaga City has night life in the city center. Torremolinos also has plenty of night life.
Marbella has some famous international discotheques. These include La Notte and Club Olivia Valere. These places are expensive and one has to have a big bankroll to patronize them. There are many more nightclubs that are not as expensive.
25. Good Medical Care
The last thing on one’s mind when one plans to travel is that one will have a medical emergency or accident during one’s trip. If this happens in Malaga, one should not worry because Malaga is a big city with very good doctors in public and private practice and one will be attended to in an efficient manner. There are good public and private hospitals and clinics in Malaga and Marbella. In the Costa del Sol, one is not too far away from good medical care. Other smaller resorts in Spain may not have good medical care and one would have to be transferred to a big city hospital that may be far away.
26. Nature Parks
There are several nature parks in or very near the Costa del Sol.
Fuente de Piedra is a small town in the province of Malaga, and it has about 2000 inhabitants. It is located 19 km from Antequera. It is famous for the Laguna de Fuente de Piedra, which is a national reserve where flamingos breed, with the largest population of flamingos in Europe. The Romans called the town Fons Divinus (divine spring) because of the medicinal properties of the water in the lake. There is an interpretation center in the park where one can get explanations for the park. The marshes at the edge of the lake show the flamingos and their young, and one can walk along its edges and take nature pictures.
El Chorro is an area which has three beautiful turquoise lakes, located 12 km from the town of Alora, which is about 40 km away from Malaga. The lakes were formed when the Guadalhorce River was dammed in 1921 at a place called Garganta del Chorro, a limestone gorge. Around the lakes there are pine forests with much wildlife. There is a nearby pass that is 700 m high and is called the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes (the Gorge of the Bagpipers). There is an extremely dangerous path along the face of the gorge called El Caminito del Rey (King’s little path), which was opened by King Alfonso XIII. Several people have died walking on this path that is 100 meters above the river because of its poor condition, falling off the cliffs, so the path has been closed by the authorities. However there are plans to improve the path and reopen it in the future. There is a railroad line that was used in the 1965 film “Von Ryan’s Express”. The whole area is one of the most beautiful areas of the Province of Malaga.
The El Torcal Natural Park is a karstic or calcareous landscape, the most amazing one in Europe. It occupies an area of about 20 square kilometers and includes the Sierra Pelada. There are towers, walls, spires, passages, and capriciously shaped rocks. They were formed by the water and the wind over a period of thousands of years. This area has been protected by the government since 1929. The area has many flowers that bloom in spring, as well as many eagles, vultures, owls and small birds.
27. Christmas in Malaga City
Christmas is a special time in the city of Malaga. There are more than 3 million low voltage lights that are placed in the Alameda Principal, Calle Larios and the streets around it, and the Paseo del Parque. The designs of the lights are changed every year and are simply beautiful. When the lights come on at night, it turns Malaga into a magical land. Many tourists now come in December to be able to see these wonderful lights.
28. Wine Tasting at the Antigua Casa de Guardia
The Antigua Casa de Guardia (Alameda Principal, 18) is the oldest tavern in Malaga, and it was founded in 1840. One can try many different wines from Malaga, many which are stored in oak casks in the tavern. There is a very long bar, without chairs, where one stands while trying the wine. The atmosphere is that of the 19th century.
The Bar El Pimpi is a historic bar where many celebrities have gone and where one can have wonderful tapas while trying their wine selection. There are many other good bars in town.
29. The Costa del Sol Is International
Because the Costa del Sol is so beautiful, it has lured thousands of immigrants from all over the world. These immigrants have made the Costa del Sol very sophisticated and very international. They have all contributed their culture to the area’s culture in a very positive way. Many of them have small businesses here. That is why the Costa del Sol is one of the most cosmopolitan areas in Spain. Two out of every three tourists who come to the Costa del Sol return in the future because they enjoyed it so very much.
30. The Costa del Sol Is a Year Round Resort
Unlike other resorts north of Andalusia, Malaga is a year round resort, with a large population. A few chiringuitos on the beach may shut down for winter, but most of the restaurants and stores do not shut down for winter. There is a large population the whole year, so everything remains open.