There is more to Costa del Sol than just beautiful beaches. Stroll along the cobbled streets to admire the ancient architecture, hike up the iconic La Concha, or even ski on the Sierra Nevada.
The Costa del Sol is well-established as a bucket holiday destination, but few realise how much is on offer.
The Costa del Sol with its 300 days of sunshine per year has everything you could want for in a holiday – beaches, history, culture, sports, fantastic cities, the great outdoors and even skiing!
Skiing and sunbathing in one place on the Costa del Sol
The Costa del Sol is associated with fantastic beaches and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea and is certainly a great place to soak up the sun, enjoy the fantastic atmosphere and nightlife.
However, many people don’t know that Andalucía also has a ski resort, where great skiing can be enjoyed from December to the beginning of May.
This winter wonderland is just a stone’s throw from the Costa del Sol. On a good day you can even see the sea from the slopes. In fact it’s so close that you can enjoy hot sunshine on the coast in the morning and then be on the slopes within two hours to enjoy an afternoon of skiing!
The Sierra Nevada (Snowy Mountain Range) near Granada offers sunshine, good snow and a good mix of runs for beginners and intermediates, plus a handful of more challenging runs. Although it is not a huge resort, there are wide, well-positioned slopes, quick and efficient lifts and good restaurants and bars to rest those weary feet. Plus you can combine skiing with a day on the beach to recover before you head home.
Terrific towns and picturesque pueblos
While this area of Spain has been slammed for its concrete tower blocks and non-existent town planning, there are several stunning white villages nestled into the hillsides, not to mention vibrant, Spanish towns and cities with great architecture in every Torremolinos.
Marbella is a fantastic town with lots of charm, a predominantly Spanish population, a beautiful beachside promenade and tons of fantastic bars and restaurants. It is often confused with the nearby Puerto Banus and thought to be an expensive, flashy place, but in fact this is a very real, working Spanish town and merits a visit.
Marbella’s hidden gem is its historic and picturesque casco antiguo (Old Town). This has changed little over the centuries and still features ancient architecture, a maze of narrow cobbled streets with charming white washed houses and beautiful plazas. At the centre is Orange Square, a beautiful and typically Andalucian square, full of orange trees and sweetly scented tropical plants. The Old Town is full of unusual shops and galleries, little chapels and churches, not to mention a fantastic selection of bars, cafes and eateries, and is a great place to explore.
The picturesque Pueblo Blancos with its numerous ‘white villages’ is a typically Andalucian feature and has been well-preserved over the years. If you are able to hire a car then you can spend several days driving around the stunning countryside, visiting these relatively unexplored little villages and stepping back into Andalucia’s past.
The most beautiful is Casares that is built on the mountainside around an ancient Muslim fortress. Despite its proximity to the coast it has been un-spoilt by tourism and you can spend hours wandering its quaint, narrow cobbled streets, taking in the breathtaking scenery and enjoying its sleepy old-fashioned feel.
A sports man’s dream
If you want to have an active holiday then the Costa del Sol is a fantastic choice. It features more than 35 18-hole courses and over 10 9-hole courses, as well as hosting high-profile tournament such as the Volvo Masters in October.
If you like tennis, there are nine fantastic tennis clubs, as well as many outdoor courts attached to hotels and urbanisations. As the European city of Sport 2009 Marbella has organised many events including The Andalucía Tennis Experience in April featuring Jelena Jancovik and Serena Williams competing for the crown. Puerto Banus is also hosting the Davis Cup semi-final between Spain and Germany in July.
The Costa del Sol is a perfect place for mountain-biking and hiking in the nearby hills and mountains. For the more adventurous a hike up the iconic La Concha is a must, but as it is as high as Ben Nevis it isn’t to be underestimated. There are numerous companies offering quad-biking, horse riding and walking tours to help you make the most of the stunning scenery just minutes from the coastal resorts.
There are also a host of water sports to take advantage of the Med such as sea-kayaking, windsurfing, diving and kite surfing. Or if you want to stay dry, you can take to the sea for a spot of fishing, learn to sail, or to try to spot some native dolphins.
Andalucia’s unique cultural treasures
Andalucía boasts some of the most amazing cities and the most breathtaking sights to be seen anywhere in the world.
There’s the narrow, bustling cobbled streets and ancient architecture of the Jewish Quarter in Seville; the harmonious blend of 2,000 years of Christian and Muslim religious history in the stunning Mezquita in Cordoba; the Alhambra set against the snow covered peaks of Sierra Nevada in Granada and the golden dome of Cádiz cathedral shimmering high over the white tipped waves of the blue Atlantic ocean.
These cities are just two or three hours away by car from the Costa del Sol and make fantastic day trips to spice up any Costa del Sol holiday itinerary.
Even closer to the coast is the lovely and often overlooked city of Malaga. Malaga is so much more than an airport. Its long history has left a host of beautiful monuments such as the Cathedral, Gibralfaro Castle, the Alcazaba and the Roman Theatre. There are also a selection of beautiful historical gardens, and over 20 different museums to choose from.
However, it’s the city’s artistic heritage that is its biggest claim to fame. Malaga was Picasso’s birthplace, and has the fantastic Picasso Museum to honour and celebrate the city’s most famous son. This gallery has over 200 examples of works by Picasso on permanent display, including oil paintings, sculptures, drawings, sketches, etchings and ceramics housed in a stunning 17th century Renaissance building.
Relax and rejuvenate
A holiday in Spain is a great way to get rid of the stress and strain of working life. Visit some of the beautiful beach clubs, stroll down the promenade and enjoy the laid-back pace of life. In addition, there are some amazing luxury spas and health clubs where you can pamper yourself and ensure you come back rested, relaxed and rejuvenated.
If facials and treatments just aren’t enough to achieve the desired result then you can combine a relaxing holiday with a spot of cosmetic surgery, for a truly rejuvenating trip! There are several clinics to choose from in this area. All clinics have fully-qualified, English-speaking surgeons, excellent after care and an opportunity to recover from the surgery before returning home.
Spain is a very family friendly place and kids are welcomed wherever you go. The Costa del Sol has a whole host of fantastic places to go and things to do. A day at Funny Beach is perfect for those who love amusement, speed and adrenaline. There is a go-karting track, trampolines, video games, electric bikes and cars, a pool, children’s rides, as well as a restaurant serving kiddie-friendly fare and a bar with a live band on Sundays.
There are also a number of cinemas showing English films, children’s theatre at the Black Box Theatre in Marbella, a bowling alley and of course fantastic beaches. There is also Tivoli World Amusement Park in Benalmadena, the water park in Mijas-Costa, Fuengirola Zoo and Selwo safari park in Estepona.
For more teenage fun, there are many good organisations on the Coast who offer such adventures as scuba diving, quad-biking, jeep safaris in the National Parks, mountain treks on horse-back, canyoning in the region’s gorges, and paintballing.
Eating and drinking
One of the many pleasures of a visit to the Costa del Sol is the fantastic food. There are so many restaurants to choose from, serving all types of food. The chiringuitos on the beach are great and tasty tapas is an excellent way to sample some of the local Spanish fare. You don’t have to walk far to find great restaurants, the main problem is knowing which ones to choose.