Welcome to the original golden oldie, where lively resorts meet beloved pueblos blancos. Affectionately nicknamed 'the gateway to Andalucia', the Costa del Sol is a first-class starting point for a jaunt along Spain's sunshine coast. Doing exactly what it says on the tin, the region is a dream come true for beach bums everywhere. Beloved by generations, holidays here are all about comfort, culture and carefree fun.
Named for its notorious sun-blessed shores and colossal 160km of coastline, Spain went the extra mile for its southernmost stretch. Backed by brooding mountains and lapped by the gentle Mediterranean Sea – you'll find the finer things come a lot easier in the Costa del Sol. Timeless glitz and glamour ooze from modern marinas, while Moorish towns keep watch from their loftier locations.
Rooted in humble beginnings, the region's one-time fishing villages have long since evolved into fully fledged luxury resorts. From walls dripping in bougainvillea to picturesque plazas connected by charming cobblestone streets, these towns bring a lot more to the table than tapas (although there's plenty of that too!) Whether you're wandering the coveted 'golden mile' or playing a round of golf, Costa del Sol's reputation precedes it.
Sun-baked beaches are undoubtedly the biggest draw. Blessed with a flurry of Blue Flags and trademark good looks, these beauties have maxed out many a bucket list. Golden sands are kissed by crystal-clear waters and backed by swaying palms, so whether you're a civilisation sun-seeker or in search of something more secluded – you won't be disappointed. Celebrating over 60 years as Spain's premier beach destination, holidaymakers love affair shows no sign of letting up…
Boasting a near perfect climate and racking up well over 300 days of sunshine a year, the Costa del Sol most definitely lives up to its name! Average temperatures sit at a pleasant 26°C, although it's not unheard of for July and August to reach well over 30°C. Spring and Autumn are ideal for golfers and holidaymakers looking to get outdoors, and relatively low rainfall means you can happily go hiking or get a couple of rounds in without having to worry about pesky showers.
There's no denying it, holidaymakers are here for the endless string of beautiful beaches. But rest assured, the Costa del Sol has a lot more up its sleeve than sun, sea and splash. Forget everything you think you might know and discover a new side to Spain's southern shores – it might just take you by surprise…
If you're of the opinion that holidays and luxury go hand in hand, you'll love Marbella's golden mile. Stretching all the way to the millionaire's playground of Puerto Banus – rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous is the norm here. If you've ever wondered how the other half lives, this is your chance to find out! Marinas jostle with celebrity yachts, super cars cruise the streets and high-end designer stores are the closest thing you'll find to a high-street.
Culture shocks don't come quicker than the short drive from Marbella to Mijas. Nestled in the mountains above the high-rise beachfront, the Moorish village is a world away in terms of observing time-honoured traditions. A typical 'pueblo blancos', the whitewashed wonder is a must-see for anyone wanting to experience the real Spain. From weekly Flamenco dances to quaint cobbled streets and a 16th-century rock-carved grotto – Mijas is overflowing with historical heritage and authenticity.
Famed for world-class golf courses, the Costa del Sol has over 70 greens to take a swing at. Mostly positioned next to the coast, you can play a round and marvel at the beautiful panoramas all in one hit! The prestigious fairways at Sotogrande are mere steps away from the Mediterranean Sea, so tee off in style and make the most of their well-manicured masterpieces. With more golf courses per square mile than any other destination in Europe, you're sure to find a place to improve your par.
Day-trip devotees are spoilt for choice when it comes to cities within driving distance of the Costa del Sol's central hub. The golden triangle of Seville, Granada and Cordoba are around two hours away from Marbella – all rooted in remnants of a bygone time and featuring important relics from the region's past. Historical heavyweights, Granada alone is home to one of the most visited attractions in all Spain, the iconic Alhambra.
The teetering town of Ronda is a 'must' that you cannot miss! Another Moorish masterpiece, the town seems precariously balanced at the top of a plunging gorge. Surrounded by idyllic countryside and scattered with second-to-none viewing platforms, make your way across the gravity-defying bridge that stands 120 metres above the ravine floor.
If beaches are your be all and end all, you've come to the right place. A spectacular 125 sandy sweet spots stretch out across this 'Costas' coastline, flaunting unforgettable fishing villages alongside luxury resorts. Nerja's breathtaking Playa de Burriana is hemmed by honey-hued cliffs and the go-to spot for sea kayaking. Malaga's offering is surprisingly good considering the scale of the city, with a cluster of beautiful beaches beginning at the end of a 10-minute walk east of the luxury port. Marbella and Mijas both bring their a-game, dolling out soft sands, family-friendly facilities and a huge collection of chiringuitos.
Finding a beach that ticks all your boxes is a shore thing in the Costa del Sol. So roll out your towel, indulge in an ice-cream and de-stress – you are on holiday after all…
Whether you choose to eat like a local or never stray from your comfort zone, eating in Costa del Sol is as easy as pie (and mash). Graced with an ever-growing gastronomic scene – bellies are kept full and plates overflowing. Brits have most definitely influenced the menus with their beloved basics (great news for fussy eaters), but those who want a taste of authentic Spain have plenty of options too. Whet your appetite with culinary classics like Paella, sardines on skewers and tasty tapas.
With a list of restaurant types as broad as the Costa del Sol is long, you'll find everything from themed dinner experiences to traditional dishes and home favourites. Conveniently placed on beach promenades and town plazas, choose between fine dining or market stall street foods. Plus it's a great opportunity for the kids to experience other foods too!
Embrace the Costa del Sol lifestyle and shop 'til you drop at the countless centres, outlets, markets and boutiques that the region is known for. Bag beloved brands at a fraction of the price, wander the walkways of Malaga's malls or indulge your a-list aspirations along the golden mile between Marbella and Puerto Banus. High-end design houses line the pristine marina, with iconic names like Armani, Gucci and Prada all paraded in pride of place.
Pick up a sentimental souvenir at one of the iconic pueblos blancos, where you'll uncover all kinds of local handiwork. From ceramics to traditional clothing and even bottles of olive oil – you'll be able to cook with Spanish flair long after you've left the villa's kitchen! During your stay, be sure to swing by a food market for the freshest ingredients and speciality spices. Whether you're whipping up family favourites with a twist or trying something new, experimenting with local flavours is a must.
Keep your itinerary as diverse as the country you're visiting with a hire car! After all, a region this rich in natural parks and dazzling panoramas deserves some extra attention. It takes a total of two hours to drive the entire coastline, boasting endless views over the bright blue sea and secret coves away from the crowds. Highways are well-maintained and easy to navigate, so adventure-seekers can uncover hidden treasures far away from the typical tourist trails. From whitewashed villages, charming wineries and quirky old towns – off-the-beaten track and hire car freedom go hand in hand. Just don't forget to pull over and enjoy the view…
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