Spreading from Nerja in the east to Gibraltar to the west, the Costa del Sol combines low-rent - Torremolinos with chic Marbella) on a coastline that is anything but subtle.
Torremolinos was developed in the 1950s and is dated, yet there remain attractive areas such as the low-rise former fishing district of La Carihuela.
The next door resort of Benalmádena consists of a reasonably ordinary built-up coastal stretch with the best parts being Puerto Deportivo (leisure port), and the relatively unspoiled Benalmádena Pueblo (village) further inland. Meanwhile, the Tivoli theme park can be found at another resort, Arroya de la Miel, which is also falls part of Benalmádena.
This part of the Costa del Sol is dominated by sprawling suburbs and overdeveloped beaches and that can lead to differences of opinion among visitors but, the Costa, to use one of its favourite tourist-brochure phrases can be said to really have “something for everyone”.
So, if your idea of an ideal holiday is basking on sandy beaches, drinking and dancing the night away in pulsating nightclubs, and, for those travelling with kids – large amusement parks, then this warm year-round coastline has plenty.
If, despite the warmth the idea of Torremolinos and surrounding areas leaves you cold and craving something a little less crowded head inland. Seventy percent of the region’s annual tourists, spend their time on the Costa del Sol meaning the towns of Tarifa, Vejer de la Frontera and Grazalema are havens of peace and tranquility.
In stark contrast (and price) is Marbella - Costa del Sol’s classiest resort. This is a playground of the rich and famous and their wealth can be seen all along the Golden Mile, which is a line of luxury clubs, restaurants and hotels that stretches from Marbella to the marina of Puerto Banús. Sheltered by the beautiful Sierra Blanca mountains, Marbella has a climate all of its own in a fantastic natural setting. Adding extra charm is the attractive casco antiguo (old town).
The area around Marbella also has a long and illustrious history - home to Phoenicians, Visigoths and Romans, as well as becomming the most important town on the Spanish coast during Moorish times.
Arab kings own homes here, as do plenty of other rich and famous people such as Marbella native, film star, Antonio Banderas.
In peak season, from June to October the coast is swamped with people, so be sure to make a hotel reservations in advance. At other times of the year hoteliers are likely to give you VIP treatment and almost roll out the red carpet to welcome you.
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