Welcome to a coastline that knows how to have a good time. Cramming in a list of things to do longer than any tapas menu, the Costa del Sol is a tried and tested holiday favourite. With enough attractions to tickle every taste, you can go from Blue Flag-suntraps to historic old towns in a matter of minutes. The place where mountains meet the sea, discover all the sunshine coast has to offer with a stay in one of our Costa del Sol villas.
Marbella's reputation as a glamorous getaway is well deserved, but be sure to swing by the tangled web of cobbled streets that make up its old quarter. Accessorised with whitewashed architecture, terracotta roofs and pastel-hued houses, it's a world away from the glitzy bars that flank the seafront. Bright-coloured flowers drip from fairytale balconies, bougainvillea cascades across trellises and potted blooms hang masterfully on walls. One thing's for sure, Marbella's Old Town is certainly easy on the eye.
Sun-dappled streets and pretty plazas lead to shady courtyards, where you can snatch glimpses through ancient archways to the region's Arabic heritage. Immaculate gardens are sprinkled throughout, bursting with luscious greenery and awash with the soothing sounds of water fountains – just the spot to sit and take it all in. History hunters will enjoy playing dot to dot with a handful of historical sites, like the Chapel of Santiago and the Church of Saint Mary.
Once you're done soaking up the sun, soak in some culture instead! Nestled in the slopes of the Sierras that gave the town its name, the beautiful village of Mijas is likely to be your first taste of the region's iconic pueblos blancos. Potter through the picturesque alleyways, lined with whitewashed houses, centuries-old churches and ceramic creations that make up the old quarter.
Spanish charm is certainly in strong supply here, so whether you're admiring bohemian artwork or watching full scale flamenco performances in the Plaza Virgen de la Pena (in full traditional dress, no less) – you'll feel like you're experiencing the real deal. Although some of Mijas' main attractions can be quite popular, it's likely you'll find yourselves virtually alone once you move away from the central hubs.
A postcard come to life, Ronda is living proof that Andalucía and the Costa del Sol are littered with historical landmarks. The city drapes itself dramatically over the El Tajo Groge, and reconnects via the site's star attraction, the Puento Nuevo Bridge. Complete with all the quintessential quirks you'd expect from an old town, wander through narrow streets, walk beneath Arabic walls and city gates and discover relics of Roman rule. The Cuenca Gardens are a peaceful spot to soak in the cinematic scenes, made up of a series of terraces cut into the cliff face. Ronda is also a great starting point for a good, old-fashioned hike – perfect for nature lovers longing to explore the surrounding hills they've been peering at from the viewing platforms.
As if seeing the city wasn't special enough, road tripping to Ronda is an adventure within itself. The driving directions are simple to follow (pop on the A377 from the coast and follow it to Gaucin, where you'll join the A369), but the real magic lies in a string of pueblos blancos that line the Genal Valley. Plan for plenty of pull-over time, as it'd be a crime not to admire the traditional villages and jaw-dropping views over the Guadiario Valley.
Since the early 60's, the Costa del Sol has cemented itself as a golfer's paradise. Peppered with a whopping 70 courses and countless award-winning greens – if you're looking to improve your par, this is the place to do it. Immaculately maintained and set out across prime locations, you'll have to try your hardest not to get distracted by the panoramic views. Overlooking the glistening Mediterranean Sea and tranquil Costa del Sol countryside, teeing off here is a treat for any golfer.
The Costa del Sol's gastronomic scene leaves no stone unturned. Sink your teeth into time-honoured dishes, local delicacies and home favourites, and revel in the sheer choice of restaurants! Indulge in Michelin-star luxury in Malaga or treat your tastebuds to traditional espeto de sardinas (chargrilled sardines on a stick) at a classic beach chiringuito. Tables groan under the weight of tapas, with piles of the little dishes serve up a storm all along the Costa del Sol. If you're looking for some inspiration on what to order, ask your server for their favourite, or play it safe and stick to the staples of Patatas Bravas, Chorizo, Tortilla Española and Gambas al Ajillo (garlic shrimp).
The Spanish are a nation with a serious sweet tooth, and while you'll find plenty of ice cream parlours to get your sugar fix, it'd be criminal not to chomp down on a classic churro. A fried pastry-meets-dough creation, you'll find these delicious desserts literally everywhere – just remember, don't skimp on the dipping chocolate!
It's likely you'll be ogling a far-off limestone ridge on your sunlounger at some point during your Costa del Sol holiday. Calling to you across the glistening sea, day-trip devotees won't be able to resist the Rock of Gibraltar and its towering limestone cliffs. It can even be seen from as far as Calahonda on a clear day! Considering its humble size, the amount of activities packed into such a small space are nothing short of mind-boggling. From military history, duty-free shopping and helicopter rides to an abundance of natural attractions and UNESCO World Heritage Sites – whittling down your 'to see' list might be a little tricky.
Pssst! A stay in the ultimate Holiday Resort of Sotogrande puts you thirty minutes from Gibraltar's borders.
One for the families (or the young at heart), Aqualand is the Costa del Sol's largest waterpark. Boasting a whopping 12 adrenaline-fuelled slides and a whole host of more relaxed ways to spend the day, everyone from the tiniest tot to the oldest man-child is sure to have a splashing time!
Daredevils will dart for Europe's highest slide, Kamikaze, that has a drop so steep it'll leave you breathless. Boomerang is another gravity-defying favourite which can happily be conquered in twos if you want a hand to hold. Blast off on a float and hurtle along a 15-metre-high half pipe, although clue's in the name with this one – what's goes out, must come back…
If thrills and spills aren't your style, or you're travelling with toddlers that are still too small for the fast-paced slides, then fear not! A specially designed kid's pool – aptly named 'Children's Paradise' – is made up of gentle slides, hanging bridges, water fountains and ankle-deep waters. There's also a friendly team of lifeguards close by at all times.
The park's other facilities are second-to-none too, with a bubble pool, wave beach, plenty of restaurants, bars, sunbathing areas and showers on hand. As always, the early bird catches the worm – so get there promptly and you'll have the run of the place. Plus the kids will be nice and tired out by the time you're ready to sit down with a glass of sangria.
Culture vultures won't want to miss the magic of the Costa del Sol's capital, Malaga. Overflowing with every kind of attraction imaginable, you can go from botanical gardens to state-of-the-art marina complexes and Moorish palaces in a single afternoon. Tales of ancient times are intermingled with modern masterpieces, all coming together for a day of sightseeing that's sure to spark your wanderlust.
For one of the best views in the house, hike your way to the hilltop overlooking Malaga's port. It's a pretty steep climb, but there's lots of spots to admire the city scenes and catch your breath on the way up. The infamous Castillo de Gibralfaro is the reason for most people's visit, so be sure to save some energy for exploring the craggy ramparts and watchtowers.
This one's a bit of a no-brainer! From sand and the city in Torremolinos to luxurious Blue Flag-suntraps in Marbella, you'll no doubt want to dedicate a good few days to the beach. After all, the generous serving of silver sands and first-class facilities are the Costa del Sol's number one calling card. Hit the waves on a hair-raising banana boat ride, try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding, sun yourself alongside celebrities and grab a cocktail at a chiringuito bar – there's a beach for everyone on the sunshine coast…
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