Holidays in Costa del Sol

Everything you need to plan the perfect holiday in Costa del Sol: how to get there, the best places to stay, the best times of year to go, and an unbeatable selection of hand-picked holiday villas and cottages.

Find your Holiday home in Costa del Sol

The Costa del Sol rediscovered: delve deeper and you find rural beauty, phantasmagoric caves and urbane Malaga.

Long established in the popular imagination as the top destination in mainland Spain for cheap resort holidays (Fuengirola, Torremolinos) or the ritzy high-life (Marbella), the Costa del Sol's hotel and tourism infrastructure continues to draw tourists by the million.

The warm, sunny climate and Mediterranean sandy beaches constitute the main attraction, but the countless restaurants, tapas bars, shops, golf courses, fun venues for children and other tourist facilities complete the picture.

It's hard to believe that Marbella and Torremolinos were quiet fishing villages in the 1950s. Among the residents are now 300,000 expatriates from all over Europe. You certainly don't need to learn Spanish to get by here.

It's a picture that also brings to mind a hot and dusty built-up coast, crammed beaches backing onto concrete developments and high-rise blocks, overrun tourist towns linked by busy motorways, kitschy bars and karaoke, overpriced sangria, and imitation Spanish paellas that have nothing to do with the real thing.

But the reality is generally more agreeable than this and overall standards have improved in recent years, even if there are few places along the 160 km of the Costa del Sol between Estepona and Nerja that were spared the curse of the mass tourism developers.

The interesting news is that the quality of rural tourism has held up and improved, and there are delightful surprises, too: the amazing caves at Nerja, the warm, relaxed character of Malaga town and some happily unspoilt beaches.

For a relaxing holiday experience, the best plan is to look inland from the coast, where rental villas, typically with gardens and swimming pools, can be found in surprisingly pleasant villages such as Frigiliana, or unspoilt rural locations like Casares.
Read more in our Casares Holiday Guide.

From your base in rural Costa del Sol, you can drive the short distance to selected beaches, enjoy a day of sun, sea and sand, and then return to the refreshing environment of a quiet, private villa with a view and the countryside at hand, fresher air and cooler nights.

The entire coast is well served by Malaga's large international airport.

+ Read more

Summary

The Costa del Sol rediscovered: delve deeper and you find rural beauty, phantasmagoric caves and urbane Malaga.

Long established in the popular imagination as the top destination in mainland Spain for cheap resort holidays (Fuengirola, Torremolinos) or the ritzy high-life (Marbella), the Costa del Sol's hotel and tourism infrastructure continues to draw tourists by the million.

The warm, sunny climate and Mediterranean sandy beaches constitute the main attraction, but the countless restaurants, tapas bars, shops, golf courses, fun venues for children and other tourist facilities complete the picture.

It's hard to believe that Marbella and Torremolinos were quiet fishing villages in the 1950s. Among the residents are now 300,000 expatriates from all over Europe. You certainly don't need to learn Spanish to get by here.

It's a picture that also brings to mind a hot and dusty built-up coast, crammed beaches backing onto concrete developments and high-rise blocks, overrun tourist towns linked by busy motorways, kitschy bars and karaoke, overpriced sangria, and imitation Spanish paellas that have nothing to do with the real thing.

But the reality is generally more agreeable than this and overall standards have improved in recent years, even if there are few places along the 160 km of the Costa del Sol between Estepona and Nerja that were spared the curse of the mass tourism developers.

The interesting news is that the quality of rural tourism has held up and improved, and there are delightful surprises, too: the amazing caves at Nerja, the warm, relaxed character of Malaga town and some happily unspoilt beaches.

For a relaxing holiday experience, the best plan is to look inland from the coast, where rental villas, typically with gardens and swimming pools, can be found in surprisingly pleasant villages such as Frigiliana, or unspoilt rural locations like Casares.
Read more in our Casares Holiday Guide.

From your base in rural Costa del Sol, you can drive the short distance to selected beaches, enjoy a day of sun, sea and sand, and then return to the refreshing environment of a quiet, private villa with a view and the countryside at hand, fresher air and cooler nights.

The entire coast is well served by Malaga's large international airport.

+ Read more

Overview

BENALMÁDENA

A top location for families as it offers a remarkable variety of attractions: Selwo Marina (dolphins, sea lions, penguins); Sea Life (sharks, giant turtles, rays); Tivoli World (fairground rides and amusements); Cable car (rises 700 metres to Calamorro Peak).

 

FRIGILIANA

The white village by the sea has survived an influx of new foreign residents and remains a charming place to visit and stay. The winding streets of the old town built on the hillside are very enjoyable to wander round at dusk.

 

CASARES

Despite its proximity to the coast, the village has an Andalucian character you won't find elsewhere. Holiday villas tend to be located in the green Acedia Valley between the village and the Mediterranean Sea.

 

MÁLAGA

Often overlooked by visitors, the town is a very pleasant one and the venue of Picasso Museum in his birthplace. Close by is El Palo beach and its restaurants.

 

ESTEPONA

In addition to its beaches, Estepona's Selwo Safari Park is well worth a visit.

 

NERJA

Nerja Cave: the caverns and rock formations are quite amazing, drawing 500,000 visitors a year.

 

TORRE DEL MAR

Aquavelis Water Park is the place for active youngsters to have total fun.

 

PUERTO BANÚS (MARBELLA)

The jetset's top choice. Some of the world's finest yachts are moored in the harbour and the nightlife is jumping.

 

PUERTO MARINA (BENALMÁDENA)

Puerto Marina rivals Puerto Banús with modern architecture and up to 1,000 boats. Another favourite for those who want to go dancing and clubbing.

 

BEACHES

There are over a hundred to choose from and you will naturally tend to favour those most convenient for driving to. Here, though, is a selection of whet your appetite:

• La Cala el Cañuelo (Nerja) – charming and natural, even if sand is grey; good for families; beach bars for food & drinks GPS 36°44'16.3"N 3°46'32.9"W

• Peñoncillo (Torrox) – long, free of apartment buildings and rarely busy even in summer GPS 36°43'49.2"N 3°56'56.0"W

• La Carihuela (Torremolinos) – classic Costa del Sol beach with sunbeds, beach restaurants, water sports; backs onto a pleasant village and promenade continues to Benalmadena for boutiques and clublife GPS 36°36'42.3"N 4°30'06.2"W

• Bounty Beach (Puerto Banús) – beach music, tapas, cocktails and the Marbella buzz for the younger set GPS 36°30'28.0"N 4°51'49.7"W

• El Cristo (Estepona) – sheltered from winds; the clear, shallow water is good for children and snorkelling; chiringuito beach bars and nearby marina GPS 36°24'58.7"N 5°09'53.5"W

• Bahía Dorada (Estepona) – lovely situation and sea within an urban area GPS 36°23'26.6"N 5°12'11.6"W

• Sabinillas (Manilva) – rocky and sandy Blue Flag beach GPS 36°21'31.6"N 5°13'42.0"W

 

GOLF

The climate makes the Costa del Sol a huge draw for golfers who have dozens of courses to choose from.

 

BEST OF THE REST

Torremolinos

For a family day out, there's Aqualand for water fun and a Crocodile Park.

 

Mijas

The Contemporary Art Centre has works by Picasso, Dalí and Miró.

 

Mijas Costa

Karting provides an exciting experience for budding racing drivers. Three different cars for children of all ages.

 

Marbella

Exchange natural beauty for the glitz one day with a visit to Marbella and its upmarket harbour of Puerto Banus. Top activities here are shopping, dining at fine restaurants, people-watching and yacht-gazing. There are beaches, too. We recommend a maritime walk between Marbella and Puerto Banus. Away from the traffic, a path runs along the beach,  a place for cool beach venues, LA-style joggers and care-free strollers.

You can see the route on this link: https://goo.gl/maps/IOMFJ. The walk takes about half an hour. For something different, why not visit Marbella's Bonsai Museum, which is said to house of the most complete collections of the mini-trees in Europe.

 

FIESTAS

Malaga celebrates at least four significant events every year. Carnaval sees jocular floats accompanied by bands and satirical singing groups parade through the city. Easter week is celebrated more solemnly and religiously, with processions of saints and virgins. On 23rd June, bonfires, fireworks and paper dolls (juas) are lit for the occasion of the eve of San Juan. This fiesta at the onset of summer is celebrated all along the coast with bonfires on the beach, music and dancing. In August, the Feria de Malaga (fair) is a week of music, flamenco dancing and foodstalls.

Nerja is another good venue for Carnaval the week prior to Lent. Costumes, masks, music and humour fill the streets in the special expression of popular culture.

Marbella's fishermen celebrate the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen on 16th July. Fishing boats carry the statue of their patron saint in their own procession along the waves.

Feria de Casares: Casares village holds its summer fiestas on the first weekend in September with live music and dancing all night.

 

FOOD AND DRINK

The international influence is so marked that in certain places it can be difficult to find authentic Spanish restaurants.

At the major resorts, many European visitors can expect to be able to order their own national dishes in their own language, but it would be a great loss to not try some of the wonderful culinary experiences that the Costa del Sol has to offer.

Classic fare is the pescaito frito, fried fish that is well complemented by the salads in olive oil dressing that epitomizes the Mediterranean diet.

The best places to enjoy fish are ports where you should be prepared to make yourself heard in typically loud and busy informal bars, or from the chiringuito beach restaurants that are pretty much ubiquitous along the coast.

Chiringuitos range from simple beach huts serving cold drinks to the latest musical sounds to busy restaurants with parasol-shaded tables on the sand.

Gazpacho is the healthiest summer dish of all. The cold tomato soup blended with cucumber, onion, green pepper, olive oil and the cook's mother's special extra is full of vitamins.

Sometimes, the beer or wine you order may be served with a complimentary tapa such as olives or crisps, but the civilized practice is less common in touristy spots. If you want a local sherry, ask for a vino fino.

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Photos

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Climate

The Costa del Sol acquired its moniker for good reason. Andalucia's sunny coast averages just 50 rainy days per annum, making it a perennial draw for holidaymakers from the wet and cloudy lands of Northern Europe.

The climate is, naturally, Mediterranean; relatively gentle without important fluctuations in temperatures, tending to be hot in summer and very mild in winter.

It is this mild climate that has attracted people from all over the world to stay and live here.

It's by no means unusual to see in the news how Northern Spain is suffering from cold, rainy weather when at the same time people in Malaga are sunbathing and swimming in the sea in wintertime.

Temperatures can be semi-tropical and there have been no frosts since the 60´s, when local old people remember the weather as being decidedly chillier than it is now.

The long dry season often lasts 8 months of the year and even winter months can be warm, dry and sunny, making the Costa del Sol a good holiday destination for most of the year.

The weather in summer is often hot, but rarely unbearably hot (which we would consider to be between 35 C and 45 C). Most years, the summer sea breezes come in from the south-east or south-west and keep maximum temperatures at around 28 - 31 C.

Once in a while, hot winds blow in after taking a long passage overland and then temperatures can rise uncomfortably high. Fortunately, this dry-wind phenomenon is a rare occurrence.

Even winter months can be warm, dry and sunny2.

Tropical nights (above 20 C) are common for many months of the year, especially from June to September. A certain degree of humidity can make the heat sensation less pleasant, but in general we can say that the Costa del Sol has a fairer climate than eastern Mediterranean areas such as Murcia, Valencia, Alicante where the humid conditions can make the heat more intense.

On the coast, air conditioning is often desirable, whereas inland rural areas by the sierras such as Casares or Frigiliana are a little cooler and often dispense with it.

Precipitation, when it does come, is concentrated in winter months. At least 60% of the rain collected in Costa del Sol falls in winter. Costa del Sol is not the driest coastal stretch of Mediterranean Spain, as the influence of the nearby Atlantic means that some clouds still find their way here, so rain is not unheard-of, and some winters can be wetter than others, but droughts are also possible.

There may be some showers in spring and autumn but they tend to be occasional and followed by long, sunny spells with temperatures commonly around 20 C.

Is there a difference in the climate between different areas of the Costa del Sol? Well, it is slightly cooler towards the west, closer to the Atlantic, and a little warmer and drier to the East, where the Mediterranean influence rules over the Atlantic.

 

COSTA DEL SOL CLIMATE SUMMARY

Costa del Sol has a sub-tropical Mediterranean climate, with a measure of influence from the nearby Atlantic Ocean. There are over 300 days per year of sunshine and rainfall is generally restricted to winter months.

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Maps

Getting there

AIRPORTS FOR COSTA DEL SOL

The main airport for Costa del Sol is Malaga Airport (AGP), although check the location tab for your villa because Gibraltar Airport (GIB) may be closer (if your villa is in Casares, for example).

Alternatives: Other international airports that can be suitable for Costa del Sol are Jerez Airport (XRY) and Seville Airport (SVQ). Malaga has the most flights to choose from, but you might find a better offer to one of the other airports.

 

CAR HIRE

We recommend a car for getting to your rural holiday villa in Costa del Sol. It's practical, convenient and needn't be expensive. Unless you take a taxi, a car is the only way of reaching your property, and is then invaluable for shopping, eating out, visiting places of interest, days out at the beach, and making an easy return trip at the end of your stay.

Driving times from the nearest airports to each villa are shown on the individual property page. You will receive a map with detailed directions for the holiday villa as one of your holiday documents.

Rustical Travel doesn't have a professional arrangement with any particular car hire company and we suggest you shop around for car hire using a broker such as rentalcars.com or similar.

It's easy to compare prices of rentals with companies that operate at the airport you fly into, and all the reputable agencies have online payment for advance booking these days. You don't have to use the broker. If you prefer, you can check the car hire companies own websites, compare prices, and book direct. 

If you're flying into Gibraltar at rush hour time, when the queue for cars crossing the border into Spain can be long, we suggest hiring a car from one of the companies (Avis or Europcar, for example) with an office on the other side of the border in La Linea de la Concepción. It's just a 10-minute stroll from Arrivals in Gibraltar Airport across to La Linea in Spain.

Rural villas in Costa del Sol are often accessed via slightly bumpy tracks, so low-slung sports cars with poor clearance would be unsuitable, but there is no height or width limit if you wanted to opt for a large vehicle.

 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Buses operate along the coast more or less frequently. Trains run from Malaga as far as Fuengirola (but no further), stopping in Torremolinos and Benalmadena.

For locations inland from the Costa del Sol, car hire is virtually a necessity.

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