The Costa del Sol (literally "sun coast") is a long stretch of Mediterranean coastline in the Andalucia region of southern Spain. It one of the most important tourist areas in Spain, drawing northern Europeans and Spaniards for its beaches, beautiful weather, and relaxed attitude. It also offers historical and cultural attractions due to its long history of occupation by the Moors.
- 1 Benalmádena — Benalmádena Pueblo, Arroyo de la Miel and Benalmádena Costa have a long stretch of sunny beaches, a lively nightlife and excellent cuisine
- 2 Elviria — a low-density residential area surrounded by a UNESCO biosphere reserve called La Sierra de las Nieves
- 3 Estepona — a coastal town that has succeeded in maintaining its pueblo charm and character, despite the onslaught of tourism
- 4 Fuengirola — a tourist town with 8 km of sandy beaches and a Moorish castle
- 5 Malaga — the largest city on the Costa del Sol offers beaches, hiking, architectural sites, art museums, and excellent shopping and cuisine
- 6 Marbella — one of the most cosmopolitan beach resorts on the Costa
- 7 Mijas — a typically Andalusian white-washed village on a mountain side
- 8 Ojén — a beautiful small town in the mountains, with hiking opportunities
- 9 Puerto Banús — a luxury marina and shopping complex for the rich and famous
- 10 Torremolinos — the former armpit of the Costa is now an attractive, clean, safe tourist town that attracts families, LGBT vacationers, and a lot of Spanish tourists
The eastern Costa is highly developed, but not nearly as much so as the south western part, which has been constantly developed and redeveloped since the 1960s and is geared wholly towards international tourism.
The Costa del Sol has a pleasant climate, with an average temperature of 19 °C and more than 300 days of sunshine a year. The mountain ranges just behind the coastline protect against cold north winds. In summer it is warm between 25 °C and 30 °C during the day, in winter it rarely goes below 10 °C. The amount of precipitation on the Costa del Sol is 500 mm, in the interior it can be twice as much.
However, it is a little cooler than on the coasts further east (e.g. Almería area). This continues the further you go west, as the influence of the Atlantic can be felt there.
The Costa del Sol is on the Mediterranean sea, and the average water temperature is 18ºC (24ºC in August).
As with most of the rest of Spain, Spanish is the main language. However, as the Costa del Sol is Spain's most popular tourist attraction, you'll find people fluent in several different languages working in the main beach resorts, particularly during the summer. Languages commonly spoken in the resorts include French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian and of course, English.
Nevertheless, knowledge of Spanish is still useful as beyond the beach resorts, as well as during the off-season (i.e. winter), it is rare to find any locals who speak foreign languages.
The central airport is in Málaga. Alternatively, you can also arrive via the airport in Seville or the airport in Gibraltar. Seville is already a bit away from the Costa del Sol, but it is a good idea if you want to spend a few days in the Andalusian capital before your beach holiday. You can only get to Gibraltar from Birmingham, London or Manchester via England.
Málaga is connected to the RENFE high-speed network. The AVE runs here every hour. You can get to Barcelona and Madrid from Malaga. The next transfer station is in Córdoba. There are only a few other trains to the Costa des Sol. A train runs every two hours to Seville, one from time to time to Ronda.
With the RENFE train C-1 you can go from there to the centre of the capital or southwest along the coast to Fuengirola. The trains run every 20 minutes from early in the morning to late in the evening, the fares range between €1.70 and €2.60. See also timetable , map , stations .
Well-developed motorways (Autovía del Mediterráneo) and expressways run along the coast, mostly the A-7 (toll), and in Málaga also the MA-24 and MA-20. At the same time there are also good country roads, on which you need a little longer to get to your destination. You can get to Malaga on the A-45 from Cordoba. The traffic will be distributed near Antequera, where the east-west connection A-92 from Seville to Cordoba crosses the A-45.
The bus network on the Costa del Sol is quite well developed. You always try to be on time, but this is often hardly possible, as the buses always drive through built-up areas and are often delayed due to traffic. Also, if you want to cover longer distances by bus, you have to change frequently. The buses are quite modern equipped, also have air conditioning. Every larger town also has a bus station where you can change trains. Since many Spaniards also use this bus, the buses can get quite full.
It is said that the Spaniards who live here on the Costa del Sol have a very aggressive driving style. But that's not as bad as one would often like to believe. Normally you won't have any problems in traffic. Even when parking, the stories of dumped cars are often fairy tales. However, the toll booths on the autobahn are unusual for German drivers. Here you first have to get an overview and then go to the right counter.
Most of the villages have no or only a few parking spaces. Often times, if you have a parking space, you have to take it, who knows when the next parking space will be available. This also and especially applies to the so-called white villages. They are not designed for so many people to drive here. And there are certainly no parking spaces. It is often better to use public transport.
In the seaside resorts of the Costa del Sol there is actually a lot of traffic all day. The road network is actually not intended for the mass of cars that drive here. It's not just the holidaymakers who travel here, it's also the people who work here everywhere but don't live here. If you drive on the coastal road, you often only make very slow progress. The general rule is that you should get onto the motorway as quickly as possible, because the traffic rolls better here.
The A7 (nicknamed the "road of death" due to the large number of accidents that occur on it each year) runs the length of Spain's south coast.
You can see a lot of racing cyclists on the Costa del Sol who train here. A lot of teams prepare for the season here, especially in spring. This has the advantage that there is a pleasant climate here and the routes can also be quite demanding when it comes to the mountains. Even in summer you can still ride a bike here. In addition to the road riders, you can also see a lot of people here on their mountain bikes. Here, too, there are some very demanding routes that can be tackled. Many are also signposted. Overall, it has to be said that on the Costa del Sol, bicycles are seen as sports equipment. As a means of transportation, it is more or less unknown.
Trains are operated by Renfe, buses to Malaga by EMT and to most cities elsewhere in the region by Avanzabus. Tickets for the intercity buses can be bought online or at the booth right outside the arrivals terminal exit but not on the bus. You may need to stand in a long line for buying tickets if it's a busy day. From the ticket booth, continue straight ahead to the bus stop.
- Miles and miles of beaches.
- Tivoli World theme park.
- The aqua parks in Mijas and Torremolinos.
The best known is the Roman amphitheater in Malaga. You can find it at the foot of the Alkazaba very close to the port. The complex was found by chance while building a house and then excavated. It dates from the first century AD. During the Moorish period, parts of the theater were integrated into the Alkazaba fortress.
In Fuengirola you can visit the Finca del Secretario. The excavation dates from Roman times and contains a curing facility that is still in good condition, but also a thermal bath and a pottery workshop. The Roman apartments and the baths are not original, they are replicas. You can find the excavation on Avda. Nuestro Padre Jesús Cautivo west of the Pajares River.
In Marbella you will find the Villa Romana de Río Verde at the mouth of the Rio Verde, in the west of the city. All that remains of the villa is unfortunately only the floor, a mosaic of black and white tiles. In addition, the beginnings of the walls can still be seen. The archaeological site can be found on Calle del Rio in the east of the Rio Verde river. The site can be visited.
In Torrox, at the end of the beach promenade, if you go east, you will find a small excavation from Roman times. The excavation is divided into several small parts. The remains of the Roman city of Caviculum were excavated here. There isn't that much to see, but at least the ancient building remains were preserved here and not built over them.
The Banos de Hedionda can be found at Casares. They are the remains of a sulfur bath from Roman times. Even Julius Caesar is said to have healed his wounds from the long marches on his campaigns of conquest here. His troops also revered the bath for its healing properties. The baths, which are open to the public and can be visited and used, can be found near the village of Gaucín on the right of the Albarra stream.
The most famous buildings from the Moorish period can be seen in Málaga. The Alcazaba and the Castillo de Gibralfaro date from the Moorish period. Both can be visited and guided tours are offered. The buildings testify to the great prosperity of the city in the Moorish times.
All over the coast there are still watchtowers that date back to Islamic times. These towers, called Atalaya, were warning towers that were supposed to detect fleets in the Mediterranean. This would then be reported by beacon that troops could be mobilized to repel the impending attack. The towers were manned by only one or a maximum of two soldiers. They are usually on elevations directly on the coast, so that a good view of the Mediterranean was possible and an uninterrupted chain was created between the individual towers. Many names of other buildings and districts still refer to these watchtowers.
In the southwest of the city of Fuengirola you can find the fortress Castillo de Sohail. The original place Fuengirola is said to have formed around them. The name of the city is also said to be derived from Fuen for Fuerte , i.e. fortress. The fortress dates from the time of the Muslim occupation and is said to have been built around 900 AD. You can visit the fortress today. It also serves as a venue for concerts and festivals. The Noches de Castillo, the castle nights, during which pop and rock concerts take place here, are well known.
The original town centres on the Costa del Sol come from the Moorish settlement phase. You can recognize them by the narrow streets that run like a labyrinth through the whole place. These places are also often decorated as it was customary in Moorish times. A nice example is Frigiliana near Nerja or Mijas Pueblo north of Fuengirola.
The Costa del Sol is also known as the Costa del Golf. It has the greatest concentration of golf courses in Andalusia and on the European continent. This concentration of golf courses attracts an incredible number of wealthy tourists, but you need a lot of water to irrigate golf courses. And there is not very much water here.
The wonderful wind and the beautiful waves attract a lot of surfers to the beaches of the Costa del Sol. There are real surfers' paradises here, which are mentioned in the same breath as the beaches of Fuerteventura. There is a beach west of Fuengirola, which is teeming with kite surfers.
There are several ports for private boats. The Costa del Sol also attracts people who want to sail the Mediterranean with their boats. You can find ports in Benalmádena, Fuengirola or Marbella, for example.
The area of the Costa del Sol is quite mountainous. So it drives many cyclists here who train in this demanding area. You can also rent bicycles in the seaside resorts, even if the quality of these bikes is not very high. People who like to ride a mountain bike will also find their way here. Many are even signposted in the villages. It goes from easy to very demanding.
The cuisine on the Costa del Sol has adapted to the tastes of its visitors. You can actually find everything you would expect in a holiday resort, from the well-known fast-food chains to stalls, from small to large restaurants. In addition to Spanish cuisine, Asian cuisine and Italian cuisine are particularly well represented here. The prices very often have a lot to do with the location. It is significantly more expensive in busy places than in the back streets. It is therefore worth taking a look around before choosing a restaurant. The quality also fluctuates very clearly, but the quality does not always have to have something to do with the price. Here, too, it is worth taking a look around first.
Spanish cuisine also follows demand here. Almost every Spanish restaurant offers tapas platters, which then represent a whole meal. Paella is also always offered. Here, too, you have to be careful, because to save time, some of it comes from the freezer. You always have to wait about half an hour for a paella made on site. If you really want to have good Spanish food, then you should go into the hinterland. Here you are also prepared for holidaymakers, but the quality is usually better than in the middle of the seaside resorts.
If you really want to eat tapas, you shouldn't be satisfied with the tapas platters offered over and over again. In the bars off the beaten track of tourists, when ordering a beer, wine or even a soft drink, you get a tapa, as is traditional. Which one this is in the case remains a surprise. There are olives, Andalucian bread (toasted white bread with tomato, garlic and olive oil) or just toasted toast with olive oil. With every order you get something different. These are tapas based on the original tapas culture. Tasty and easy.
As a holiday paradise, the Costa del Sol also has a lot of nightlife to offer. Everyone will surely find something to pass the time at night. It never gets boring here. On the contrary, you are almost spoiled for choice as to what to do, because the possibilities are so diverse.
But first, a few general tips. In Spain nightlife starts relatively late. You first go to a bar or bodega and eat and drink something. You don't actually stay in a single bar, but wander from bar to bar, have a drink and move on. The clubs and discos open around midnight. Now you can throw yourself into the disco where you like the music best, but here, too, the general rule is that you don't stay in a disco or club, but rather move on. In the clubs and discos, women usually have free entry, while men often have to pay. The night ends at dawn and you meet again in a bar to have breakfast.
But even those who want to take it easy will always find a restaurant or bar on the Costa del Sol where you can sit and chat until late at night. And in fact there are also many very beautiful ones. You can often sit outside, often near a beach. You can hear the waves and let the wind blow around your head. In most bars you can always eat something. Usually they have very nice little things (tapas) to offer.
The busiest place is definitely in Malaga. In the old town there are tons of small bars and pubs, all of which invite you to linger and whoever wants to go dancing will always find something that suits their taste. If you have a little more money in your pocket, you can visit the exclusive clubs in Marbella. Here you can be lucky enough to come across a star or little star. There is also something going on every night in Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Benalmádena. Here you will find something for every taste and you can party all night.
In the Spanish crime statistics, the Costa del Sol is very far ahead. Three cities with Malaga, Fuengirola and Torremolinos are in the top ten. Of course, there are also all sorts of crimes that have nothing to do with tourism, but street crime had assumed threatening proportions. Even in Marbella there was open street selling of drugs and open prostitution. In fact, they did something because they didn't want to drive away all of the holidaymakers. First of all, the police present tense has been greatly increased. If you go for a walk on the Costa del Sol, you will always come across a duo of police officers who are on patrol. And patrol vehicles are also part of the street scene.
Well, holiday resorts, generally places where many people stay, belong to a worthwhile area for all kinds of theft and fraud, and this is not only the case on the Costa del Sol, it is the same everywhere there are many holidaymakers. So you always have to take care of your things. The normal advice applies that you should heed on every vacation, no matter where you are going. You should only take as much money with you as you really need, valuables are best left in the hotel safe, neck pouches are not nice but safer. Avoid street vendors and beggars and avoid crowds. Nothing new, not even on the Costa del Sol. If you observe these precautionary measures, you can get through your holiday well on the Coste del Sol, even if the number of cases here seems very high.
The human trafficking from Africa to Europe flourishes here on the Costa del Sol and kills many people every year. The route of marijuana from Morocco, one of the largest cultivation areas of this drug in the world, to Central Europe also leads over the Costa del Sol, no wonder, it is not far and there is a lot of shipping traffic. Then there is the rapidly growing unemployment. Corruption is still very widespread on the Costa del Sol.
To make matters worse, the police in Spain are organised very opaquely. In a small town you often see three different police authorities patrolling and you really don't know what one or the other is doing. But, as already mentioned, they are trying to increase the police presence and that has certainly been very successful.