Tips for a holiday on the sun-kissed coast of Andalusia / Costa del Sol Travel Guide
A holiday on the sunny coast of Spain – sounds tempting, doesn’t it? The Costa del Sol is undoubtedly one of the most famous holiday regions in Europe. If you are planning a holiday on the coast of Andalusia, you can expect a varied stay. There are numerous places around Marbella and Málaga that are perfect for a beach holiday. You can also visit historic cities, hike through picturesque nature or discover UNESCO World Heritage sites. In the following, the Costa del Sol tips offer you an insight into the versatility of the area. Do you only associate the region with a holiday by the sea? Then let yourself be convinced of the opposite.
Facts about the Costa del Sol
A holiday by the sea with around 325 days of sunshine a year sounds tempting, doesn’t it? On the sunny coast of Spain you can spend an unforgettable holiday all year round.
From Nerja to Estepona, a summer trip along almost 160 kilometers of coast in southern Andalusia promises a lot. Endless beaches, marinas, golf courses, quaint villages, lively holiday resorts and beautiful nature in between.
On site you can plan cultural excursions or do sporting activities. Varied highlights promise an exciting stay.
Golden beaches frolic on the blue waves of the Mediterranean Sea, mountain landscapes tower in the distance, the wind caresses the palm trees and cypresses – sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? In the following you will get some tips to help you plan your round trip along the Costa del Sol.
Getting to the Costa del Sol – How to get to the south coast of Andalusia?
You can reach Málaga Airport from numerous German airports in just under three hours by direct flight. Once you’ve arrived under the Spanish sun, your shuttle will take you to your accommodation.
Holiday resorts such as Benalmádema, Fuengirola or Torremolinos are less than 20 kilometers away. You can get to your holiday destination in less than 40 minutes. Find cheap flights here!
By car to the Costa del Sol
Have you ever thought about driving your own car to Spain? If you are planning a road trip through Europe, have a large time buffer and want to make a stopover in some places in France or Italy, then it is worth driving your own car.
Otherwise you should consider renting a car. With this you can get to know the region around the Costa del Sol away from the beach.
This not only saves you valuable time, but also allows you to be flexible and get to know the area through your own eyes. Stopping where you find it beautiful is what makes a holiday special and unique, isn’t it?
By train along the Costa del Sol and through Andalusia
You also have the option of traveling through Andalusia by train. Due to the well-developed rail network between the larger cities, you do not necessarily have to rely on a car during your vacation.
Once you’ve explored the Malaga area and want to travel further afield in Spain, it’s worth taking a ride on the AVE high-speed trains operated by Spanish railway company Renfe.
Here you should keep an eye on the connections between Madrid-Málaga and Barcelona-Málaga. In addition, small towns or landscapes worth seeing are perfectly connected by the regional transport network.
Costa del Sol by bus
Are you traveling without a rental car? Then you will often use the local bus network in the coastal region.
Along the Costa del Sol, not all holiday resorts are connected by rail. Accordingly, you should take a close look at the possible bus routes. From Málaga you can reach Marbella, Torre del Mar, Nerja or Estepona, for example.
Best travel time Costa del Sol
At what time of the year is a holiday on the Costa del Sol worthwhile? Of course you can already have an idea of when you should travel to the Spanish coast, right?
In principle, the best travel time for the Costa del Sol can be limited to the months from May to October. But despite the mild climate, a visit is possible all year round without any problems.
Especially in the summer months it can quickly get hot with an average of 26 °C. Even in the hinterland of Andalusia there is no draft.
So if you don’t just want to relax by the sea, but also want to explore the areas, discover cultural highlights and go hiking, you should think about a stay in spring or autumn.
Resorts on the Costa del Sol / Malaga
The port city of Málaga is definitely one of the top Costa del Sol tips and is definitely an integral part of your itinerary. With one look at the city, you can sense the witnesses of history framing the city’s modern backdrops.
This refers to the Alcazaba fortress and the ruins of the Castillo de Gibralfaro. The largest coastal city in the region not only inspires with numerous museums and historical sights, but also knows how to convince with delicious cuisine and numerous nightlife options.
In the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, the art lovers among you can marvel at the Museo Picasso during a stay and learn more about the artist of the century. Due to the direct location on the Mediterranean Sea, you also have the opportunity to relax on the beach after a sightseeing tour and let your soul dangle.
When you think of Marbella, you probably think of parties and jet set right? The well-known holiday resort can do so much more.
In addition to the historic old town, you should pay a visit to the cultural center Cortijo Miraflores. The former convinces with cute streets and numerous hidden boutiques and bars.
The Puerto Banus marina is a bit more sophisticated. There are numerous motor yachts and luxury shops lined up next to each other. If you are looking for some action and fun, you should book a day trip.
All in all is just for active vacationers, with a
San Pedro de Alcantara
Southwest of Marbella you will find the resort of San Pedro de Alcántara. Beach holidays are at the top of the agenda here!
The sandy beach of the same name, almost 1.4 kilometers long, has a complete infrastructure and is ideal for a family holiday. In addition to sanitary facilities, you can discover numerous restaurants and bars along the beach promenade.
Endless beaches, Tivoli World amusement park, large marina, Sea Life Aquarium, imposing Castillo de Colomares and the unique Stupa of Benalmádema – this is exactly what the holiday resort of Benalmádema offers you.
As you have surely noticed from the list, the place is perfect for a holiday with the whole family. So you have the opportunity to experience a varied and exciting holiday away from the beach.
Torre del Mar
Torre del Mar is now one of the most important tourist destinations along the Costa del Sol. If you are planning a beach holiday, you will find numerous hotels, restaurants and leisure activities in the small town. The choice is huge!
A must on your to-do list is the beautiful resort town of Nerja. Despite the booming tourism of the past, the small town has retained its very own charm.
At the foot of the Sierra de Almijara mountain range with an impressive cliff, Nerja scores above all with picturesque beaches, Moorish architecture, unexpected destinations and important sights.
How about hiking on the Pico del Cielo or the Cerro Cabeza del Caballo? You will also find authentic atmospheres and a historic aqueduct in the old town of Nerja with its whitewashed houses.
Or you dare a trip underground. The stalactite caves of Nerja are one of the natural wonders of the area. In addition, you have fabulous views of the wide sea from the Balcón de Europa.
Estepona is also one of the special Costa del Sol tips. But why? Despite numerous tourists, the city has retained its special flair and is not only known for its endless sandy beaches.
In the old town of Estepona you will still find quaint and authentic streets that bring you closer to the traditional ambience of Andalusia. Pack your camera! Because the narrow streets with their typically colorful flowers and tendrils offer a unique atmosphere.
Accordingly, you will surely already notice that you should not only spend your time on the beach during your stay. In addition to the sights, hikes to Estepona’s local mountain, the Pico de los Reales, or a trip to one of the golf courses on the Costa del Sol are worthwhile.
Resorts in the hinterland of the Costa del Sol
One of the most beautiful villages on the Costa del Sol is the “white” mountain village of Frigiliana. About 15 minutes by car from Nerja you reach the rural hinterland of Andalusia.
The journey through the mountain landscape alone promises pure excitement. A tip: If you don’t take one of the buses from Nerja, but are driving your own car, you should go to one of the parking spaces in front of the town entrance.
And what should you absolutely do in Frigiliana? Choose your favorite flower-decorated alley and take beautiful photos, hike on El Fuerte and enjoy the views, stroll through the botanical garden or enjoy the enchanting ambience in one of the bars.
After exploring the original Moorish-influenced district, it’s worth taking a trip to the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama Natural Park.
In the traditional region of La Axarquía you will find the fascinating city of Vélez-Malaga between valleys, hills and vineyards. A trip into the hinterland is worthwhile simply because of the venerable and historic old town centre.
You can still feel the Arabic influences of bygone times up close today. The fortress of Vélez-Malaga with its city wall, the church of San Juan Bautista and the church of Santa Maria la Mayor flank the historic center.
The information speaks for itself, right? Nothing stands in the way of an exciting day away from the beach.
Andalusia is characterized above all by the numerous villages with their traditional, whitewashed houses. This also includes the town of Mijas.
It’s worth a visit for the fantastic views of the coastal landscape alone. You will also find some highlights between the mountain slopes and steep, colorfully decorated alleys. There you should simply let yourself be carried away by your senses!
A walk on the Paseo de la Muralla is also worthwhile. Along the cliffs you will encounter an incredible panorama.
A special insider tip is the small chapel Ermita de la Virgen de la Peña.
When holidaying in Spain, you should gather inspiration about the unique hinterland of Andalusia in advance. There is also the city of Ronda, lying on a gorge.
The pictures alone promise a special stay. The city sits on a rocky plateau between river valleys and is brimming with historical sights.
In addition to the traditional Ronda bullring, you can marvel at the remains of the Arab baths or walk across the Puente Nuevo bridge.
There is a lot to discover away from the coastal region of the Costa del Sol. Do you want to immerse yourself in the life of the locals? Then a trip to the village of Casares is worthwhile.
Framed by imposing mountain landscapes and views of the Mediterranean Sea, you will find the place on a rocky hill. The architectural features and the medieval atmosphere alone make for an important stay.
The surrounding hiking opportunities and the views to Gibraltar and Africa are unbeatable. By the way, only in clear weather!
One of the oldest cities in Andalusia? Yes, this is Antequera. The so-called “Heart of Andalusia” is known for a historic old town.
The romantic city rises not far from the El Torcal nature reserve and on a plateau on the Guadalhorce river. In addition, the location of the city, between the big cities of Málaga, Córdoba and Granada, plays an important role. Thus, more and more visitors get lost in the streets of Antequera.
You can still feel the numerous influences of the centuries-old city today. The most important sights include the Alcazaba of Antequera, the numerous churches or the cave tombs.
Other resorts in the hinterland of the Costa del Sol:
Top beaches on the Costa del Sol
While planning your holiday, you probably want to know where you can relax on the most beautiful beaches on the Costa del Sol, right? Below you will find some tips that you should not miss.
Basically, you have the chance to spend your vacation on lively stretches of beach, to discover hidden bays or to jump into one of the city beaches after a day full of culture.
First you have to get to know the city beaches of Marbella, Playa Casablanca and Playa de Artola. After your stay in Málaga, you should take a dip in the cool water at the Playa de la Malagueta or Playa de la Misericordia beaches.
You have already learned in advance that there are unique beaches in and around Nerja. These include Playa Burriana, Calas Torre del Pino and Playa Carabeillo.
A detour to the beaches Playa de Maro, Playa de Carvajal and Playa del Canuelo is also worthwhile. By the way, it might be interesting to know that most of the beaches are perfect for family vacations.
Fine, gently sloping sandy beaches, good water quality and sanitary facilities do the rest.
Other beaches on the Costa del Sol:
Playa de Sotogrande
Playa de Cortijo Blanco
Nerja Playa Calahonda
Cala del Moral
Playa del Cristo
Playa de La Butibamba
Strand Playa La Randa
Playa Los Boliches
Playa el Pinillo
Tourist attractions on the Costa del Sol
Believe it or not, the Costa del Sol is also home to exciting sights that give you the opportunity to plan some tours. So you don’t just have to laze around in the sun and on the beach.
In addition to the historical sights of Málaga (Málaga Cathedral, Alcazaba or Castillo de Gibralfaro) you should visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dolmen Sites of Antequera.
The monuments are impressive contemporary witnesses of megalithic architecture. If the heat gets to your head, a trip into the underworld of the Nerja Caves is worthwhile.
We continue in Benalmádema with the Castle of Colomares and the Buddhist building, the Stupa in Benalmádema. As a little additional info, the castle was built as a monument in memory of Christopher Columbus.
In contrast, the regions on the Costa del Sol surprise again and again with their unique nature. This is also the case in the Montes de Málaga Natural Park or in the nature reserve on the cliffs of Maro.
It’s worth taking a look from the beach and exploring the surroundings, I promise. In this way you get to know the country and its people in a completely different way.
Activities on the Costa del Sol
Hiking on the Costa del Sol
Do you fancy an active holiday away from the tourist strongholds? If you also like to go on excursions on vacation and want to do sports, you should pack sturdy shoes and sports clothes.
Because in the hinterland of the Costa del Sol there are numerous breathtaking hiking opportunities. One of the most famous via ferratas is the Caminito del Rey.
Over hill and dale, it goes along deep gorges and over narrow bridges over a distance of almost eight kilometers. You should definitely have a head for heights here, just the thing for adrenaline fans.
Furthermore, the more than 650 km long Gran Senda de Málaga is a real highlight for a complete hiking holiday. In addition, you will find untouched and lonely landscapes in the Sierra de las Nieves, which allow you a perfect break from everyday life. So that you can gather even more inspiration, you will now find a small list of other hiking areas.
Mountain ranges and hiking routes near the Costa del Sol:
Sierra Blanca mountain range
Sierra de Mijas
Sierra de Almijara
Hiking trails around Istán
Sierra de Tejeda
Senda Litoral Dunas de Artola hiking trail in Marbella
Hiking area Barranco Blanco
Serranía de Ronda with hikes in the valley of the Río Genal
Golfing on the Costa del Sol
The numerous golf courses should not be missing from the list of Costa del Sol tips. Almost 20 golf courses in the immediate vicinity – what more could you want?
Fascinating views and perfect conditions all year round with endless hours of sunshine await you. The well-kept, demanding and varied facilities are really a dream.
Golf courses on the Costa del Sol:
Santa Maria Golf Club Marbella
Santa Clara Golf Marbella
Miraflores Golf Club
Cabopino Golf Marbella
La Cala Resort
Atalaya Golf & Country Club
Marbella Golf Country Club
Chaparral Golf Club
Family holidays on the Costa del Sol
You can easily spend your family vacation in Spain on the Costa del Sol. As soon as you reach your holiday destination, you will realize that the region is ideal for a stay with children.
The numerous and easily accessible beaches alone ensure a relaxing holiday. There are also entertaining leisure activities that are guaranteed not to leave you bored.
The amusement park Tivoli World or the Sould Park Fuengirola provide fun and excitement. All the water rats in the family are in the right place at Aqualand Torremolinos and Aquavelis Water Park with their slides, wave pools and pools.
You must also visit the Biopark Fuengirola wildlife park and the Mariposario de Benalmádema butterfly park! These parks are among the top Costa del Sol tips.
Excursions on the Costa del Sol
If you have enough time and want to discover more of Andalusia, there are some exciting excursion destinations from the Costa del Sol. How about a visit to the old town of Gibraltar?
Those of you who like kiting or surfing should plan a few days at the water sports hotspot Tarifa. If you are already in the area, a round trip along the Costa de la Luz is worthwhile.
Surrounded by untouched natural landscapes and picturesque dunes, things are a little quieter and more relaxed there. In addition, the tourist route of the “white villages” (Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos) should look familiar to you.
As the name suggests, you can discover numerous historic mountain villages of Andalusia on an exciting jaunt. In addition, the historic cities of Cordoba and Granada are always worth a detour.
Eating & drinking on the Costa del Sol
Of course, a successful holiday also includes delicious food and drink. On your trip you can get to know the delicious, Mediterranean cuisine of Spain and the different eating habits of the country.
In this way, the meal is formally celebrated. Because the locals love to enjoy good food with delicious drinks and in the best of company. The so-called traditional after-dinner get-together is called “Sobremesa”.
During your stay you should definitely take the opportunity to taste the typical Andalusian fish dishes or order typical tapas. In the hot summer months, the locals also like to prepare cold soups such as gazpacho, porra antequerana, ajoblanco or salmorejo. One of the top Costa del Sol tips!
Typical for Málaga are the so-called Fritura Malagueña, ie fried fish. In addition, in the city the paella is usually not served with rice as usual, but with vermicelli.
It is also worth taking a look at the typical markets such as Málaga’s Atarazanas market. In addition to fresh fruit and vegetables, you have the opportunity to buy regional products such as oil or wine.
You also have to try sherry (white wine with a special aging process), tinto de verano (mixture of red wine and gaseosa) or carajillo (alcoholic espresso mixed drink). A tasting at one of the numerous wineries is worthwhile.
Wineries & Bodegas near the Costa del Sol:
Bodega F. Sweetheart
Bodega Dona Felisa
Bodega Garcia Hidalgo
Viña & Bodega Remseed
Bodega Fernandez Bolet
Nightlife on the Costa del Sol
Finally, the nightlife of this region cannot be missing from the list of Costa del Sol tips. Where can you party in the evening or comfortably enjoy the warm summer nights with a delicious drink?
In the entire coastal region you will find numerous bars where you can spend your evening under the starry sky and to cool beats. Whether beach bars, clubs or pubs – there is something for everyone here.
Of course, there is no shortage of nightlife in Málaga. In addition to the city center, you can go out and have a lot of fun at Playa de la Malagueta.
Sure, Marbella is known for its numerous clubs like Nikki Beach, Pangea or Funky Buddha. At Puerto Banús in particular there are a variety of nightlife options.
But would you have thought that you would find a vibrant nightlife in Estepona, Torremolinos or Fuengirola? Convince yourself.