The Costa del Sol is a famous tourist destination because the coastline is blessed with many stretches of good quality beaches coupled with a fantastic all-year-round weather and climate.
Because of this many huge tourist resorts have been built up as well as many world-class marinas and golf courses making this one of Europe’s premier choices for a holiday destination. Water sports such as scuba-diving, wind-surfing and snorkelling are especially popular.
On the video below, the famous tourist commentator really tells you exactly what is good and bad about the different areas of the Costa del Sol!
Where is the Costa del Sol?
The Costa del Sol used to refer to the entire stretch of coastline from Almeria all the way down to Gibraltar but today the term is more strictly applied purely to the coastal strip within the Malaga province.
This 80 mile stretch of coastline contains a variety of beach resorts from up-market Marbella, Puerto Banus and Sotogrande to family-friendly package holiday resorts of Fuengirola, Benalmadena and Torremolinos with their abundant facilities, things to do and nightlife. Then there are other medium sized resorts which cater to the middle-ground such as Mijas and Estepona.
The other side of the Costa del Sol are the quieter fishing villages and mountain villages with their white-washed houses such as Frigiliana, Mijas Pueblo and Benahavís.
For history and culture there is plenty to do and see. For example there is the big city of Malaga with the Picasso Museum. There are the historic towns of Ronda and Coin.
The Costa del Sol is part of the region known as Andalucia, it is famous for its love of Flamenco music and dancing and bull-fights which are mostly held from October to May.
You would assume the Costa del Sol being at the very south of Spain would be dry and barren with little greenery or scenery – nothing could be further from the truth, because from the coast you can see the green mountain ranges in the background.
This whole area is dotted with pretty white-washed villages clinging to the rock. It is a great area for walking and hiking with many different types of flora and fauna. At Sierra Nevada in Granada you can even ski at one of Spain’s top ski resorts.
Nature lovers should also head down to the area around Gibraltar where many companies offer boat trips for dolphin, turtle and whale spotting.
The only negative we can hold against the Costa del Sol are the beaches, many of which have grey-brown sand instead of the ideal golden sand that you will find more commonly especially on the Costa del Luz and Costa Blanca coasts of Spain.
Malaga is the largest city and the main gateway to the Costa del Sol. Many low-cost budget airlines operate flights to Malaga airport, including EasyJet, Ryanair and Monarch. A rail service operates to the major resorts of Fuengirola, Benalmadena and Torremolinos.
Malaga airport transfers, taxis and buses are plentiful although if you are further out you may well want to hire a car, especially if you want to explore inland Costa del Sol.
Tourism really boomed from the 1950’s when the Marbella Club opened. This luxury holiday resort attracted the rich and famous of the day such as Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida. Luxury hotels such as the Pez Espada were built attracting even more tourists. Golf courses and marinas followed.
To this day the area around Marbella has a reputation as attracting the rich and wealthy as well as the more infamous (many criminals from the United Kingdom fled to this area to escape the law).
The Costa del Sol doesn’t just cater to the rich and wealthy tourists. The massive growth in package holidays in the 1960’s saw former fishing villages turn into sprawling mass urban tourist resorts full of high-rise apartment blocks and hotels.
This applies most to the neighbouring resorts of Torremolinos, Benalmadena and Fuengirola to the west of Malaga and very close relative to Malaga airport. This whole area is full of nightclubs and tourist attractions such as the Tivoli World amusement park, cable car, Selwo Marina, Sealife Aquarium, zoo’s and water parks such as Aqualand.
Taking you on a tour of the main towns of the Costa del Sol, starting from the port of Algeciras in Spain we pass Gibraltar crossing the border back into Spain to San Roque, La Linea de la Concepcion, along the coast we pass Santa Margarita, La Alcaidesa and Punta Mala before coming to Sotogrande a luxury development with many famous golf courses such as Valdarrama which hosted the Ryder Cup. Up to Punta de la Chullera, Martagina, La Duquesa with its well-known golf club and Colonia Infantil.
At San Luis de Sabinillas the A-377 takes you inland towards the towns of Manilva, the famous pretty village of Casares, Gaucín, Benarrabá, Algatocín, Benalauría, Benadalid, Atajate, Jubrique, Genalguacil, Jimera de Líbar, Cortes de la Frontera, Montejaque and Benaoján.
Continuing up the coast past Marina de Casares, Bahia de Casares, Brisamar, Buenas Noches, Bahia Dorada, Pedro Lagaspara, Saladavieja, Seghers and Punta de la Doncella comes the resort of Estepona with its sandy beaches and fishing port, this resort has retained much of its original character.
The next major resort is Marbella but before that we pass many resorts including Punta Pinillos, Torre de Valeria, Playa del Sol Villacana, Saladillo Benamara, Atalaya-Isdabe, Guadalmina, San Pedro de Alcantara, Nueva Andalucia, Linda Vista, Puerto Banus and Guadalpin La Venta.
At this point there is a major road into the mountains, the A-397 goes towards Ronda with other important inland towns in this area such as Benahavís, Istán, Alpandeire, Faraján, Júzcar, Pujerra, Igualeja, Cartajima, Parauta, Arriate, Almargen, Cañete La Real and Cuevas del Becerro.
Another road the A-355 goes inland from Marbella towards Ojén, Guaro, Monda, Coín, Alhaurín el Grande, Alozaina, Tolox, El Burgo and Yunquera.
From Marbella we continue up the coast past Hacienda Cortes, Albarizas, Lomas de Pozuelo, Incosol, Marbella Golf, Los Monteros, Las Chapas, Costabella, Elviria, Artolla, Torre Ladrones, Torre Calahonda, Urbanisation Riviera de Sol and Urbanisation Oasis Cala de Mijas before the major area of Mijas Costa. Inland in the foothills of the mountains is Mijas Pueblo a pretty village well-worth an excursion.
We now hit the busiest stretch of the Costa del Sol as we move towards the massive resorts of Fuengirola, Benalmadena and Torremolinos.
Just past Mijas Costa there is Jaramar, El Chaparral, El Faro, Residencial Hipodromo, Calaburra, Punta de Calaburra, Playa de la Campana, Don Alberto, Las Lagunas then Fuengirola.
From Fuengirola there is Santa Fe de los Boliches, Torreblanca, Torremar, Cabena, Carvajal, Mi Jardin and Torre de Benalmadena before Benalmadena itself.
Benalmadena is one of the most popular holiday resorts on the Costa del Sol, with a variety of tourist attractions including Tivoli World, Selwo Marina and Sealife Aquarium. The main areas surrounding Benalmadena are Arroyo de la Miel, Benamaida, Torrequebrada golf, Torrequebrada, Torremuelle, Pueblo Monterrey, Rancho Domingo, Serrezuela and Santana.
Past Benalmadena there is Punta Negra, Arroyo de la Miel, El Pinillo, Torre Bermeja, Solymar, La Carihuela and Cerro del Toril before the massive Torremolinos with its close proximity to Malaga airport an important advantage over other Costa del Sol beach resorts. Inland towns and villages include Pizarra, Álora, Casarabonela, Valle de Abdalajís and Carratraca.
After Torremolinos there is Los Alamos, La Cizana, Guadalmar and then the city of Malaga. Just outside of Malaga is Alhaurín de la Torre. Then going inland on the A-45 and the AP-46 in the direction of Antequera you come across Almogía, Casabermeja, Villanueva del Rosario, Villanueva del Trabuco, Alfarnate, Alfarnatejo, Archidona, Campillos, Teba, Ardales, Villanueva de Algaidas, Villanueva de Tapia, Villanueva de la Concepción, Cuevas de San Marcos, Cuevas Bajas, Sierra de Yeguas, Humilladero, Mollina, Colmenar, Fuente de Piedra, Alameda and Cártama.
Heading east of Malaga along the coast you will come across La Biznaga, Club de Golf El Candado, Cala del Maro, Urbanisation Parque Victoria and then the large resort of Rincon de la Victoria (inland is Totalán and Moclinejo). Then Hacienda Conde, Panorama, Benajarafe, El Molino, Lomas del Sol, La Sirena, La Capellania, Torre del Jaral, Piedra, Almayate Bajo, El Capitan, Monte Azul, Los Toscanos, Las Casillas and then Torre del Mar.
Head inland from Torre del Mar and there is La Mata and then the major town of Velez-Malaga. There are a number of inland towns and villages including Iznate, La Viñuela, Macharaviaya, Benamocarra, Almáchar, Algarrobo, Arenas, Canillas de Aceituno, Canillas de Albaida, Árchez, Periana, Comares, Cómpeta, El Borge, Cútar, Benamargosa, Salares, Sayalonga, Alcaucín, Riogordo and Sedella.
Heading east there is Baviera Golf, Ribera de Tamayor, Camarillas, Algarrobo and Algarrobo Costa, Mezquitilla, Lagos, Huit, El Morche and Santa Rosa before the resort of Torrox which is in two parts Torrox Costa and Torrox Pueblo.
Passing Punta Lara Canamiel we now head towards Nerja, the main tourist resort on the eastern part of the Costa del Sol. This former fishing village is one of the Costa del Sol’s most attractive towns, with pretty streets of whitewashed houses.
Inland of Nerja is the pretty white-washed houses in the village of Frigiliana.
The beach area of Nerja consists of La Torrecilla, Playa del Salon, La Almijara and Playa de Calahonda. Heading east of Nerja takes you to Fuente del Baden, San Juan de Capistrana, the Cuevas de Nerja (famous caves), Maro, Torre de Maro, Torre del Rio de la Miel, Torre del Pino, Torre Caleta, La Herradura and then the major resort of Almunecar.
This area is full of rocky coves and is now known as the Costa Tropical. It also includes Salobrena and Motril. The A-44 motorway goes north towards Granada and its famous Alhambra Palace.
Costa del Sol (Malaga Airport) Car Hire – A number of useful pages including how to find cheap car hire from Malaga airport and a quick car hire quote.
Tourist Offices – full contact details for the official tourist information offices including addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and websites.
Costa del Sol Weather Forecasts – Guide to the weather and climate in the various towns and cities on the Costa del Sol including today’s weather, tomorrow’s weather and forecasts ahead for 5 days, 7 days and 10 days.
MOVING TO COSTA DEL SOL – LIVING IN COSTA DEL SOL
If you have found this guide on Costa del Sol because you are thinking moving to the Costa del Sol area you may also find our moving to Spain section with expat interviews and accounts of how they found their move to Costa del Sol Spain, useful and informative, as well as our living in Spain section which has more tips and advice.
Costa del Sol Town Guides
Alcaidesa Tourist Information – Alcaidesa is south of Sotogrande and close to San Roque and Gibraltar. An hour and a half to Malaga airport. Good blue flag beaches (Arcades) and golf course (Alcaidesa Golf Course).
Algeciras Tourist information – Algeciras is an industrial port city with many ships and boats travelling to nearby Morocco, there is a very strong Arab influence with many road signs in Arabic as well as Spanish.
Alhaurín el Grande Tourist Information – Alhaurín el Grande is situated inland from Malaga and is a popular traditional market town near to Coin and Alhaurin de la Torre. Close to Lauro golf and Alhaurin golf club and set in rolling hills in a pleasant agricultural area.
Alhaurín de la Torre Tourist Information – Not too much reason to visit Alhaurín de la Torre except the El Retiro gardens. A fast-growing town convenient for Malaga.
Almunecar Tourist information – Almunecar is a beach resort appromimately 65 kilometres east of Malaga on the Costa Tropical area of Spain.
Benahavis Tourist Information – Benahavis is a stunning inland, small whitewashed town that is surrounded by a natural parkland. Just 7 km inland from the coast and it’s many beaches this is a real unspoilt getaway.
Benalmadena Tourist Information – Benalmadena is 15 km west of Malaga and close to the similar huge tourist resorts of Torremolinos and Fuengirola. Benalmadena has 8 km of beach is very large with mostly high-rise buildings (very built up).
Calahonda Tourist Information – Calahonda (Sitio de Calahonda) is a large new development which is part of Mijas. There are no tourist sights but it is pretty enough there are plenty of facilities (El Zoco centre) and a beach area (Torre de Calahonda) with port (Puerto Cabopino).
Coin Tourist information – Located about 30 minutes inland from Malaga and situated at the foot of the Sierra de Mijas mountains.
Elviria Tourist Information – Elviria is a community (or development) located about 15 minutes to the east of Marbella. Elviria’s best-known local landmark is the Don Carlos Hotel, home to the glitzy Marbella Nikki Beach where the rich and famous come to party.
Estepona Tourist information – Tourists come to Estepona because of it’s 8 kilometres of beautiful beaches with it’s marina lined with yachts, restaurants and bars.
Frigiliana Tourist Information – Frigiliana is a small traditional white-washed village in Andalucia. Frigiliana is very well-located as it is just six kilometres inland from the popular beach resort of Nerja.
Fuengirola Tourist Information – Once a sleepy fishing village Fuengirola is now a thriving tourist destination west of Malaga.
Granada Tourist Information – Granada is famous for its stunning Moorish Alhambra Palace at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains from which you can ski at Spain’s most southerly ski resort.
Guadalmina Tourist Information – The development/urbanisation of Guadalmina is next to San Pedro de Alcantara and is close to Marbella. Guadalmina has blue flag beaches, Guadalmina Golf Course, commercial centre and the Calpe College, Aloha College and Swans Primary School international schools nearby.
La Duquesa Tourist Information – The port of La Duquesa is set close to Sabinillas and Manilva. The Puerto de la Duquesa is one of the very best marinas on the Costa del Sol. Great sandy beaches and many golf courses nearby including the the La Duquesa Golf and Country Club.
La Línea de la Concepción Tourist Information – La Línea is the coastal town that borders Gibraltar. It has a port area and beaches. Many people live here but work in Gibraltar.
La Vinuela Tourist information – The village of La Vinuela is set 19km inland from the coast at Torre del Mar. La Vinuela lies within the area of Axarquia east of Malaga on the scenic Route of Olive Oil and Mountains. Noted for the reservoir called Lake Vinuela.
Malaga Tourist Information – Málaga is the gateway to the Costa del Sol coast of Spain. Malaga is a port city with a very mild climate – the average yearly temperature is approximately 19 °C.
Marbella Tourist Information – Marbella on the Costa del Sol is one of the most luxurious resorts in Spain. It has a reputation as a destination for the rich and famous.
Mijas Tourist Information – Mijas is the Costa del Sol’s largest municipality consisting of three main parts; Mijas Pueblo, Mijas Costa and Las Lagunas.
Monda Tourist Information – Monda is a historic village set inland from Marbella and Ojen. The landmark is the restored Arabic fortress/castle on the hill, now a luxury hotel (Castillo de Monda).
Motril Tourist Information – Motril is a large coastal town an hour and a half’s drive east of Malaga International Airport. Motril is a bustling town with a port and two beaches. At the foothills of the Sierra Lujar mountains it is worth a drive inland up to historic Granada.
Nerja Tourist Information – Once a sleepy fishing village Nerja is now a thriving tourist destination located 50 km east from Malaga on Spain’s Costa del Sol. The new road means it is only half an hour from Malaga airport.
Nueva Andalucia Tourist Information – Nueva Andalucia is a development to the west of Marbella where the apartments and villas are modelled on traditional Andalucian architecture. Close to San Pedro Alacantara and Puerto Banus. Set on a hill with great views of the Mediterranean and close to many golf courses such as Las Brisas, Los Naranjos, Aloha Golf and La Dama de Noche. Centro Plaza shopping mall is in Nueva Andalucia.
Ojen Tourist Information – Ojen is a village inland from Marbella in the foothills of the Sierra de las Nieves mountains. Famous for the anise liqueur, Aguardiente, Ojen also has a pretty old quarter, wine museum and a ruined Moorish castle.
Puerto Banus Tourist Information – Puerto Banus is immediately west of Marbella and shares many similarities with its better known neighbour. Puerto Banus also has many designer shops, a marina full of luxury boats and yachts and many wealthy residents and visitors.
Rincón de la Victoria Tourist Information – Rincón de la Victoria is situated 12 km east of Malaga. With a nice sandy beach the seafront is somewhat spoiled by many high-rise apartment blocks and other over-development.
Ronda Tourist Information – From Malaga on the Costa del Sol you travel 60km inland and you find the historic and visually stunning town of Ronda in the mountain range of the Serranía de Ronda. The major sights of Ronda include the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) and the Plaza de Toros (Bullring) of the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda (Royal Riding School of Ronda).
Salobrena Tourist Information – Salobrena is an attractive little town in the province of Granada. This unspoilt resort boasts an old quarter of whitewashed houses clinging to a rocky hillside.
San Pedro de Alcantara Tourist Information – San Pedro de Alcantara is a beach resort just west of Puerto Banus and Marbella. With the Sierra de Ronda mountains in the background San Pedro is less glitzy and much quieter than some of the larger Costa del Sol resorts. San Pedro is also famous for its summer fair (feria) in the second week of October and the Bora Bora Beach Club. Next to Guadalmina and close to many fine golf courses such as Los Naranjos golf and Atalaya golf. Nueva Alcántara is the beach area.
Sotogrande Tourist Information – Sotogrande is located on the far left-hand side of the Costa del Sol just before Gibraltar after which the Costa del Luz begins. It began as a luxury development which began in the 1960’s. Sotogrande has beaches and a world-class marina and is surrounded by many golf clubs such as Valderrama.
Torre del Mar Tourist Information – Torre del Mar is a small coastal town with good sandy beaches situated on the coast 28 km east of Malaga International Airport.
Torremolinos Tourist Information – Torremolinos is one of the best known resorts in Spain with thousands of holidaymakers flocking here every year for its beaches and nightlife.
Torrox Tourist Information – Torrox is located in the sunny region of Andalucia 65 km east of Malaga and is protected by the Sierra de Almijara mountains. There is the old historic town of Torrox which is inland from the coast and the modern holiday resort of Torrox Costa.
Velez-Malaga Tourist Information – Velez-Malaga is more simply known as Velez. A big town this is the capital of the Axarquia region and it is surrounded by agricultural land (the Muscatel sweet wine is from here). Set 5 km inland from the resort of Torre del Mar Velez-Malaga is overlooked by most tourists who tend to visit the Costa del Sol beaches. Velez-Malaga does however have a long history and sights such as the Fortaleza castle.
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