Costa Del Sol Guide

The Costa del Sol, or ‘coast of the sun’ runs along the south coast of Spain in the region of Andalucia. In its center is the city of Malaga, and what is considered the Costa del Sol stretches both east and west of it. The area is chock full of long stretches of warm, Mediterranean beaches.

Why visit Costa del Sol?

The Costa del Sol is an absolutely brilliant area of the world. The beaches which it encompasses are long and sandy, and the water which laps against their shores is warm and calm. The Costa del Sol beaches are lined with chiringuitos (beach bars) and dotted with sun chairs. There is plenty to see and do in Costa del Sol - whether you’re looking for calm, serene and Spanish or big, buzzing and British, you’ll find the glitz and glamor as well as the down to earth right here on the Costa del Sol. Be sure to have enough days devoted to Costa del Sol in your itinerary

Best time to visit

There is not really a bad time to visit the Costa del Sol but when is the best time for you depends on what you want to do while there. August is by far the most crowded month with Spanish and foreign holidaymakers jamming up the parking lots and the beaches. When September 1st arrives it’s as if the plague had come to town. Everyone clears out. And yet the weather doesn’t change for some time. September as well as May and June, are excellent times to enjoy the sunshine and significantly fewer beachgoers. Winter on the Costa del Sol is also a stunning time to visit. The sun shines and while the air goes crisp and cool it is by no means cold and quiet, empty beach walks can be a part of your daily itinerary.

Top things to see and do

  • Snorkel: The clear, warm waters of the Mediterranean will make you want to stay in, spotting fish all day. Rent or buy a mask and dive in.
  • Kayak: While some spots are more kayak friendly than others you’ll never be too far from a rental spot. Nerja is a great bet, you can kayak in and out of the caves there.
  • Caves of Nerja: Inland from the coast you’ll find the impressive cave system near Nerja. Book a time for a tour as they do sell out in high season.
  • Ronda: A wonderful day trip from the west end of the coast, Ronda is an adorable small city with a breathtaking view up to its bridge.
  • Parque de la Paloma: Outside of the town of Benalmádena on the west end of the coast you’ll find this tranquil oasis which is great for an escape from the sea and the tourists.
  • Marbella and Puerto Banus: A pair of beach towns. Marbella for old town history and sanity. Puerto Banus for a crazy night out in one of the best party spots on mainland Spain.
  • Malaga: Port town with rich history and bullfighting tradition. Famous for so many museums, as for gastronomy. Malaga is the gateway to Costa del Sol and deserves at least a day.

Where to stay

There are touristy and central options along the coast. These towns, like Marbella and Malaga, are good for Michelin starred restaurants, beach bars, nightlife and boutique shopping. They are all close to nice beaches. Natural parks and Ronda are never far from anywhere on the Costa del Sol.

Smaller towns (like Benalmadena) are also an alternative, good for relaxed beach restaurants and swimming with kids. Many small beach towns are close to Nerja, Frigiliana, and Torre del Mar.

More : Where to stay

Getting around Costa del Sol

Hiring or having a car on the Costa del Sol will make your life very easy. Parking in most of the towns is relatively simple and depending on which town you’re in it is also free. If you don’t have a car you can get around on buses, though they are not super reliant and are more often than not quite late. The bus company is Alsa, routes and times can be found on their website.

More : Essential information

Day trips

Many excursions in Costa del Sol are to neighbouring beach towns to get a change of scene and pace, for the day. Then there are inland mountain-top cities and villages well worth a visit. And a nice contrast with their history, architecture, pueblo blancos, small local bullrings, and Arab influence more starkly visible everywhere than in large cities. A trip to Rock of Gibraltar is a must-do.

More : Day trips ideas

What to eat and drink in Granada

Food and drink options range from earthy local food to high end dining, depending on where you are. Sea food and inland arab-inspired cuisines combine everywhere you eat. Defining picks of the region are:

  • In Marbella: El Cortijo de Ramiro Guadalmina baja. Great fresh fish and a beautiful atmosphere which will is kid friendly. You will also many such restaurants in Marbella
  • In Mijas: Casa Hecko. Best reached by car. Try the shrimp on bananas rolled in bacon. A perfect venue but high prices for the region.
  • In Ronda: Tropicana. Some great tapas, including the regional favorite of crispy oxtail as well as mains, try the tuna tataki.
  • In Malaga: Tapas and paella
  • In Nerja: El Burro Blanco. Start your evening here with a flamenco show and continue on as the place gets livelier and livelier as the evening gets later and later.
More : Eat & Drink

Planning a Costa del Sol visit as a family

Smaller beach towns of Costa del Sol are perfect spots to come with youngsters in tow. In many of the family friendly beaches, sea remains shallow for quite some distance from the beach making it great for new swimmers and children.

The region also has many theme parks and waterparks, with plenty of slides, pools for all ages and lounge chairs all around. Boardwalks all along the coast are child friendly and with all the outdoor seating you’ll be comfortable at any of the beach facing bars, watching children play in the sand.

Visiting Costa del Sol as a couple

Costa del Sol has many small towns with a kind of cozy feel for a perfectly romantic getaway. Even the main ports, in Malaga or Marbella, for example, have activities like night sailing. Couples have an endless choice of dining options from a single casual beach bar in a cove, to classic white tablecloth restaurants, to comfortable lounges with couch seating.

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