Costa Del Sol

A national treasure

Britain’s love affair with the Costa del Sol has just passed the diamond anniversary point. It was slightly more than 60 years ago that holidaymakers from the UK started to head to Spain’s southern coast. Today, the relationship couldn’t be stronger. Not only do thousands of visitors travel over here every year, but 300,000 expats now call this place home.

The Sunshine Coast

The secret to the Costa del Sol’s success is in its name. The sunshine coast experiences approximately 320 days of sun every year. What’s more, the region’s 161-kilometre coastline has everything you need to make the most of the weather. In Marbella alone there are 25 kilometres of silky sand, broken up by 5 star hotels and beach clubs. Torremolinos’ beaches, meanwhile, are backed by tapas bars, shops and ice cream parlours. And in Benalmadena, a whitewashed old town sits shoulder-to-shoulder with a cosmopolitan harbour area.

Pueblo blancos

The Costa del Sol is the gateway to Andalucia. This part of Spain is known for its pueblo blancos – whitewashed villages that spill down the hillside. It’s also the location of guidebook-touted cities like Granada and Seville.

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Nerja

Teetering on the rocks on the southern tip of Andalusia – about 40 minutes from Malàga – is Nerja, AKA the jewel of the Costa del Sol. You’re in classic Costa territory here, with sandy beaches and an all-night bar scene. There’s tumultuous history to explore, too – the centrepiece is the Balcon de Europa, a viewing platform that was once part of a battle-torn castle. No wonder King Alfonso XII made Nerja his holiday home back in the 1880s.

Fuengirola

Sandwiched between Torremolinos and Marbella, the former fishing village of Fuengirola is now one of the Costa del Sol’s biggest players. It’s got the high-rise hotels, buzzing bars and tourist-friendly restaurants to prove it, but there are also side streets and squares crammed with upmarket tapas places and chic boutiques. And a Moorish castle adds a bit of history. The real draw, though, is the super-sized sandy beach.

Benalmadena

Torremolinos’ next door neighbour is a gracious and well-loved resort on Spain’s Costa del Sol. It lines up modern hotel complexes and apartment blocks along the 10-kilometre seafront area called Benalmadena Costa, but also packs in plenty of Andalusian appeal in the Spanish part of town.

Torremolinos

Torremolinos is a bit of a dab hand when it comes to holidays – and it’s got 3.5 million yearly visitors to prove it. This is one of the oldest and best-loved holiday places on the Costa del Sol, with a pedigree going back to the early Fifties. Back then, it was a haunt of Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Nowadays things still revolve around the sandy beach, but there’s party nightlife and great shopping in the mix, too.

Nerja

Teetering on the rocks on the southern tip of Andalusia – about 40 minutes from Malàga – is Nerja, AKA the jewel of the Costa del Sol. You’re in classic Costa territory here, with sandy beaches and an all-night bar scene. There’s tumultuous history to explore, too – the centrepiece is the Balcon de Europa, a viewing platform that was once part of a battle-torn castle. No wonder King Alfonso XII made Nerja his holiday home back in the 1880s.

Frigiliana

Frigiliana is perched high on a ridge above Nerja on the Costa del Sol. This whitewashed village is navigated by a maze of steep cobbled streets – at its centre is the Moorish old town, where floor mosaics narrate the story of the Moors’ uprising. Here you’ll find authentic restaurants where tapas and sangria reign. And for nightlife and sandy beaches, Nerja is just down on the coast.

Benalmadena Pueblo

Narrow streets, whitewashed houses and bougainvillea spilling from balconies are all part of the picture at Benalmadena Pueblo on Spain’s Costa del Sol. So are the mountain and sea views that frame this peaceful hillside village. And it all comes with the sort of relaxed vibe that has locals chilling out alongside tourists in the bars and restaurants. As for beaches, there’s a whole coastline waiting in the wings.

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