Costa del Sol

Let me introduce Costa del Sol

Few places conjure up such evocative images on hearing its name as the Costa del Sol. It is the original sun, sea, and sand destination, and still remains the most popular. Needless to say there is much more to the Costa del Sol than just that, it is also the home to some of the images that most typify Spain – Flamenco, white washed villages, and a laid back approach to life. From its epic mountain ranges to its millennia of history and layers upon layers of culture, both ancient and modern, The Sun Coast is a diverse and intoxicating destination.

Tags

sun
sea
beach
golf
cuisine
tapas
relax
villages
white washed
flamenco
sevillanas
Who is living next door

The Costa del Sol was once the most provincial of all Spanish regions, home almost exclusively to farmers and fishermen. Many still engage in these activities but in the last 50 years tourism has come to outstrip them in terms of economic importance meaning that you are likely to find people of all nationalities living and holidaying in the Costa de Sol.


What to expect

Expect brilliant sunshine year round and a warm Andalucian welcome. On the coast itself you will find excellent tourist infrastructure and in the mountain villages you will find a way of life that seems almost untouched by modernity.


Outdoor Life

There is a perception of the Costa del Sol that laying on the beach and hitting the bars is all that there is to the outdoor pursuits here. For some people it is, but the more curious traveller will find that there is a plethora of outdoor activities away from the beach to keep you occupied.


What not to expect

Do not expect solitude, at least not in peak season in the busier resorts. The Costa del Sol receives somewhere in the region of 10 million tourists a year, the vast majority of whom come during the summer months. If it is peace and tranquillity you want explore the interior of the region. It is lesser known, yet full of hidden gems.


You will be amazed by

You will be amazed by the quality of life and how cheap it is to live well on the Costa del Sol. Locals may complain about rising prices but compared to northern Europe everything in this part of Spain feels like a steal, from the free tapas with you drinks to the property market: compared to what you would get for the same money back home, you can live like royalty here.


Location

How to get there

By train from Málaga to:


Madrid 2hr 45´

Seville 2hr 40´

Granada 1hr 35´

Córdoba 1hr 40´

Alicante 4hr 35´

Valencia 6hr

Renfe

By boat from:

Algeciras to Ceuta

Tarifa to Tangier

Málaga to Melilla



Malaga city is all connected by the Metro.

Metro of Málaga

By car from Málaga to

Distance...

  • Marbella - 60 km
  • Granada - 125 km
  • Gibraltar - 134 km
  • Córdoba - 150 km
  • Seville - 296 km

Conections with 126 destinations

From the airport to

  • Málaga - 8 km
  • Torremolinos - 18 km
  • Fuengirola - 27 km
  • Marbella - 54 km
  • Nerja - 70 km
  • Estepona - 84 km

Getting around

Málaga

Once upon a time Málaga was seen as just the entry point to the Costa del Sol, with the airport being as close as visitors would get to the city before heading off for one of the other coastal destinations. In the last 10 years that has all begun to change as Málaga has increasingly asserted its credentials as a destination in itself.
The rejuvenation was kicked off by the opening of the Picasso museum and it now has more museums than any other city in Andalucia. The subsequent arrival of countless high-end restaurants and hotels, the pedestrianisation of the city centre and investment in public transport has all contribute to making Málaga the true capital of the Costa del Sol.

Nerja

Although the rise of tourism has swelled the population of Nerja from a few hundred to 22,000 in recent decades
it has managed to avoid ruinous overdevelopment and maintain its historic core.
Here you can find charming restaurants and Cafés amid its bustle of tight, winding streets. Nerja´s other major attractions are the balcony of Europe, a spectacular cliff side promenade overlooking the sea; and the caves carved into rocks beneath, one of which has been converted into an otherworldly venue for concerts during the summer season.

Marbella

Marbella remains one of Europe´s go-to destinations for the rich and famous. This has been the case ever since the likes of Cary Grant, Ava Gardner and Audrey Hepburn put it on the map in the 1950´s. Besides its port full of super yachts and streets lined with designer boutiques it has a beautiful old square in the town centre filled with orange trees, Cafés and baroque architecture. It also has a number of small secluded beaches within a short distance. It is the place to see, and be seen, among the beautiful people.

Rincón de la Victoria

Rincón de la Victoria is a popular location for Spanish people to buy a second home on the Costa del Sol. At Just 12 km from Málaga and yet managing to retain its small town feel, it´s not hard to see the appeal. The beach which spans the length of the town is definitely its main selling point. On the western tip of the beach stands a Moorish watch tower from which a promenade stretches to the town of la Cala cutting through the cliff via tunnels carved out of the rock. This makes for a very attractive and hugely popular walking route for locals.

Benahavís

Benahavís is one of those picture-perfect mountain hamlets that people think of when they talk about the “real” Andalucía. Apart from the white-washed walls adorned with colourful flower baskets and byzantine cobbled streets, what makes Benahavis so special is the number and quality of the restaurants to be found there. Indeed, such is the number establishments here that Benahavis has acquired the enviable moniker of “the dining room of the Costa del Sol”

Estepona

Estepona manages to strike the right balance among everything that the Costa del Sol has to offer. It is big enough to have all the amenities and leisure facilities that a family could ask for, without being overdeveloped; and it has similar beaches and lifestyle to Marbella and Puerto Banús  but without the price tag. Its old town is still intact and there are numerous parks and green areas in and around the city. These factors all work towards making Estepona the ideal Costa del Sol destination.


Places to go

Eat

Amador Restaurant - Malaga

The tantalising dishes created by its talented chef, Amador Fernandez, after whom the restaurant is named, could not have been complemented by a better setting. Between the gorgeous, specially commissioned art work on the walls, and breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside, Amador Restaurant is well deserving of its reputation for excellence.

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El Muelle de Arriate - Arriate

This restaurant is well worth peeling yourself away from the coast and heading inland to visit. Situated just north of Ronda right next to the train station, each dish of theirs is a finely crafted mini masterpiece that has spread the fame of El Muelle far and wide. Diners are blown away twice at El Muelle, first by the flavours and then by the value.

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Amanhavis - Benahavis

Not far from Marbella or Estepona, this romantic little restaurant forms part of Moorish style boutique hotel, in the picturesque hill-top village of Benahavis. For a truly unforgettable dining experience try and get a seat in the courtyard, near the dipping pool. In this setting anything would taste good, luckily the menu is one of the highest rated on the Costa del Sol.

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La Moraga - Puerto Banús

The brainchild of Michelin star Chef Dani Garcia, who already claimed his place among the top tier of Spanish chefs with his other Marbella restaurant, Calima, in the Don Pepe Hotel. The style is contemporary Spanish cuisine with a cutting edge twist. Dishes like cherry gazpacho and ox burger are matched with excellent wines and cavas and served in a minimalist modern setting.

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Skina - Marbella

A relative newcomer to the dining scene in Marbella Skina has already got one Michelin star under its belt, and also holds the distinction of being one of the world’s smallest Michelin star restaurants. There is an Andalucian tasting menu or 3 course a la carte menu to choose from.

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Fusion Food and Lounge - Nerja

Fusion food offers a pared down menu with an emphasis on flavour and presentation. Fredrik Kullberg, the Swedish chef at the helm, has subtly incorporated some of the ingredients he picked up when living in Thailand and the result is sublime. They also do catering, hold wine tastings, and you can even learn to cook with the master himself.

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Jose Carlos Garcia Restaurant - Málaga

Occupying an enviable position right in the Port of Málaga with sea views as well views towards the city and its Cathedral, Jose Carlos Garcia Restaurant consists of a welcoming area with six dining tables where customers taste each dish on the menu, and in summer months the beautiful terrace is opened. This all makes for a uniquely personalised dining experience in one of Malaga’s top restaurants.

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La Consula - Malaga

Between Málaga and Benalmádena, near the airport, lies a catering school which is well worth a visit as it houses a restaurant onsite. The restaurant is staffed by trainee chefs meaning that prices are lower than they might otherwise be. But don´t take this to mean that the quality is inferior, these are top quality chefs in the making and the restaurant has won many, many awards.

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El Lago – Marbella

The lake which gives this restaurant its name forms part of the Greenlife golf club, over which the restaurant has an open views. Its wine list of over 300 choice Spanish vintages and the excellent Andalucian cuisine combined to win El Lago a Michelin star in 2005. The restaurant and its staff have close connections with La Consula catering school near Málaga.

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Drink

Época – Málaga

Epoca and its adjacent property Sala Moliere form a veritable landmark in Malaga´s sleepless nightclub scene. Pumping out chart music as well as classic house tunes it is a favourite of locals and tourists alike.

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Old Town Café & Club – Fuengirola

Old Town Café has been a fixture of the Fuengirola bar scene for over 20 years so it must be doing something right. Perhaps it’s the combination of the chilled out terrace serving cocktails and delicious paella by day and the DJ spinning dance grooves by night that keeps people coming back for more.

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Aqwa Mist – Puerto Banus

There are Rolls Royces parked outside, you enter through a waterfall and the champagne buckets come with sparklers attached - yes, Aqua mist is where the high rollers go to let loose in Puerto Banus. World famous artists and DJs regularly perform in this exclusive spot.

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Sinatra Bar – Puerto Banús

Sinatra´s is much loved locale amongst Puerto Banús regulars, with its bar opening onto the street and looking out onto the yachts in the marina it consistently draws a crowd at night, and during the day it´s a chilled out spot to grab a coffee or a cocktail along with something light to eat.

Boal´s Ice Bar – Benalmádena

One way to cool down from the summer heat of the Costa del Sol is to chill out in the Boal´s Ice Bar. Everything from the seats, to the glasses, to the bar itself, is made of ice so you are given gloves, socks and a coat on entrance. But it´s no mere gimmick, this is a full on late night bar with ambient lighting and fresh tunes.

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Kiu - Benalmádena

Consisting of four distinct dance floors amounting to over 2,000 sqm of party space, Kiu is the beating heart of the Benalmádena nightclub circuit. Its distinctive sub marine style décor and mixture of Latin and European dance music has made this place the roaring success that it is.

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Eugenio´s Disco and Piano Bar - Torremolinos

If you start to find the dance music being played in most of Torremolinos´ nightclubs a bit repetitive and you are looking for some variety, Eugenio´s Disco and Piano Bar offers that something different. With its cabaret show, classical décor and private rooms and salons it attracts a range of audiences from young to old, and its summer terrace is the ideal place to catch up with friends for a drink, whatever the occasion.

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The Palladium – Torremolinos

The Palladium stands front and centre of the Torremolinos nightclub scene, playing host to the best local and visiting DJs. The onsite swimming pool and amazing light displays are what make it really stand out from the crowded Torremolinos nightclub scene.

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Liceo – Málaga

This is a bar with a split personality. During the week it hosts Flamenco shows and on weekends it is blasts out electronic music to the delight of all night revellers. The sumptuous décor of this old mansion property adds to its unique feel.

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Shop

Málaga Plaza

Málaga Plaza is the main shopping centre in the centre of Málaga city. It offers a broad range of high street and lesser known brands over 3 levels. Parking is also available and to encourage you to shop for longer, the second hour of parking is free of charge. Child centred activities are also held regularly throughout the year.

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Centro Comercial Rincón Larios Centro

Larios Shopping centre is a spacious affair with excellent transport links as it is situated next to major bus and trains stations. With parking for over 1, 500 cars there is no need to worry about being stuck for somewhere to park should you decide to drive. All the usual high street suspects are to be found here plus many more besides.

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Atarazanas Market

A perusal around Atarazanas Market is an absolute must when in Málaga. It is the entrepot for fresh goods from all over the region and the Mediterranean Sea. Besides the delectable array of meats, fish, and vegetables on sale, the building itself has a number of unique features, like the Arabesque horseshoe entrance and the colourful stained glass window opposite.

Gómez & Molina – Puerto Banús

Anybody who frequents Puerto Banús knows that all the city is a catwalk and it simply will not do to be seen in anything less than the finest of pearls and diamonds. If you want to keep up with appearances then Gómez & Molina, jewellers to the stars, should be first port of call.

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Funny Beach Market – Puerto Banus

If the prices at Gucci, Versace, and Prada are a bit steep for your budget there is a way of styling yourself from head to toe in Puerto Banús without breaking the bank. Every Sunday on Funny Beach there is a market selling second hand clothes and goods as well as trinkets and handicrafts of every kind. Its airy seaside setting and laid back vibe is the perfect antidote to stuffy boutiques in town.

Marina Banús – Puerto Banús

For your everyday retail therapy in Puerto Banús there is Marina Banús shopping centre where you can find the likes of Zara, H&M, Pull And Bear, and Bershka: high street names that won´t cost you an arm and a leg. Its location just a short distance from the beach makes it the perfect place to pop into for some post or pre sunbathing shopping.

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Vélez Málaga

Velez is a market town about 40 kilometres east of Málaga city. Surrounded by strawberry farms and vineyards and an important centre for the processing of olive oil and sugar cane, a market is held here every Thursday where these foods can be found alongside ceramics and other handicrafts.

Miramar shopping centre

At 119,000sqm Miramar Shopping Centre on the outskirts of Fuengirola is the reference point for shopping on the Costa Brava. Boasting a dozen or more restaurants and eateries and a vast children´s play area with a host of activities, Miramar has just about all you could possibly desire from a shopping centre.

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Laguna Beach village - Estepona

Laguna Beach Village is a highly attractive development built around a swimming pool and practically on the beach itself. Its thatched roof and bamboo style architecture all add to the pacific island feel of the place. The shops consist of a variety of unique brands not found elsewhere and there is similar variety in the restaurants on site. A shopping experience with a difference.

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Golf

Alhaurin Golf Resort - Fuengirola

Between Málaga and Marbella in the mountains above Fuengirola, this Seve Ballesteros designed course is a picturesque and richly forested addition to the Costa del Sol golfing circuit. It is a highly playable course that really comes into its own on the 6th hole which boasts a spectacular bird´s eye view over the valley.

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Aloha Golf Club – Puerto Banús

Having hosted the Andalucian Open Tournament, and the PGA European Tour in 2007, 2008 and 2012 it´s no surprise that Aloha Golf Club is ranked as one of the very best in Europe. It is designed such that amateurs can get around it with the right amount of concentration but also throws up enough surprises to keep professionals on their toes.

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Añoreta Golf Club – Rincón de la Victoria

An attractive Andalucian farmhouse-style clubhouse overlooking the first hole, rolling greens, mature palm trees and fragrant flower beds combine to make Añoreta one of the Costa del Sol´s favourite courses among locals. For beginners there is a putting green, driving range, and lessons to avail of.

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Atalaya Golf club - Marbella

Atalaya Golf club is a delight for both amateurs and professionals. The former are attracted to its gently sloping fairways, whereas the latter meet a challenge in the fast greens and numerous bunkers. Its plentiful olive, pine, and eucalyptus trees make it one of the more natural courses in the region.

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Aymerich Golf Centre – Benalmadena

The 8th hole with its waterfall and sweeping Mediterranean views is what makes this course stand out from the rest. Its smaller size, flood-lit driving range and putting green makes it ideal for novices and those building up their confidence to move on to some of the Costa del Sol´s larger courses.

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Baviera Golf Club – Caleta de Vélez

Offering lessons for beginners of between 2-5 hours where they can practice a range of shots under the guidance of a seasoned teacher, and located very nearly on the beach of Caleta de Velez itself, a day´s golfing at Baviera is not soon forgotten. More advanced players will welcome the challenging water features and bunkers.

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Cabopino – Marbella

This is considered to be one of the more challenging courses in the region, with numerous hazards and tight stretches at some points. It is also thought to be one of the Costa del Sol´s more picturesque courses too, its clubhouse and restaurant overlooking the white sand dunes of the beach and the pine trees in the forest.

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Casares Golf Club – Casares

This is a tricky course whose designer has taken pride in presenting a different scenic experience with each hole. The fairways bring out the best in even the more advance players and the 8th hole is the darling of the course, surrounded as it is by verdant vegetation.

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Cerrado del Aguila - Fuengirola

This is a smooth course with medium sized greens and broad fairways making it ideal for beginners or those who haven´t played in a while and are trying to get back into the swing of things. It is less than 10 years old and is currently a 9-hole course with a further 9 under construction.

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Beach

Playa Nueva Andalucia – Puerto Banus

Playa Nueva Andalucia is the name given to a string of small beaches connected by a seafront promenade. This is the favoured beach haunt of the jet set and it is not uncommon to spot famous faces at the many bars and restaurants that are located along the waterfront

La Carihuela – Torremolinos

The seaside village of Carihuela maintains its old small-scale fishing industry, so fishermen tying up their nets on the boats is still a common sight here. The pretty, colourful village adds to its charm. This is a highly popular beach for its renowned seafood restaurants and its expansive views.

La Malagueta – Málaga

For most visitors and residents of Malaga La Malagueta and Caleta Beaches are the first port of call if you want to hit the sand without having to get out of the city. For this reason they are some of the best serviced, with the bars and restaurants of Pablo Picasso Promenade running along them, but they are also two of the busiest.

El cañuelo – Nerja

El Cañuelo beach is at the foot of the Maro Cliffs which is a designated nature reserve so there are no unsightly modern developments to be seen for miles around. The beach itself is beautiful white gravel, and the water is as clear as can be, making it an excellent location for snorkelling and scuba diving. 

Playa de Maro – Nerja

In 2013 Playa de Maro was voted the best beach in Andalucia and number two in all of Spain. Part of its appeal and what makes it so unique is the presence of a waterfall into the sea just 5 minutes kayak from the beach itself. Adventurous types can climb the rocky, moss-grown cliff-face from which the waterfall descends.

Playa la Rada – Estepona

Although this is the main beach serving Estepona there is a welcoming sense of openness on its golden, palm tree-planted shore. Several chiringuitos located on the beach dish out traditional Andaulucian snacks as well as international dishes. An attractive promenade runs along the beach towards the marina and lighthouse.

Playa El Cristo – Estepona

Its position in a secluded cove means that the waters of Playa El Cristo are a touch warmer than on other beaches, and its orientation means that it gets the longest hours of sunshine. These benefits added to the presence of two trendy chiringuitos serving food and playing music have resulted in Playa El Cristo becoming the most popular beach in Estepona.

Playa El Padron – Estepona

Popular with residents of the nearby Kempinsky Beach Resort Hotel as well as visitors to the Laguna Village shopping centre, Playa El Padron boasts of more in the way of eating facilities than most beaches, with a number of restaurants as well as the usual beach bars. Like most beaches in the area it is regularly awarded a Blue Flag.

Carvajal – Benalmádena

Carvajal is a short train ride from Benalmadena and it is a popular journey as it leads to this family friendly beach with much in the way of amenities in terms of shops and restaurants. This is the main family beach for local residents as well as visitors to Benalmadena.

Inland

Montes de Málaga Nature Park - Málaga

Residents of Malaga are doubly blessed, on one side they have the beach, and on the other, a nature park. And Montes de Malaga is not just a few bald hills dotted with picnic spots, it is a real wilderness, at least it has been since the 1930s and a massive reforestation project. Now it is home to over 100 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, as well as 400 species of plants.

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El Chorro – Málaga

El Chorro Gorge is a magnet for rock-climbers who are attracted by its sheer sides and spectacular views. The artificial lakes created when the gorge was damned have become a tourist attraction in themselves due to their brilliantly clear water which makes them look far from artificial. This area has become known as Malaga’s Lake District and it’s well worth a visit, for adventurists and nature lovers alike.

Ronda

About a 1hr 30´ drive inland from Málaga lies the town of Ronda. This is a trip worth making for at least two reasons. First there are the Serranía de Ronda mountains outside the city and the unique escarpment landscape around them; and second, the view from the “New Bridge” which spans the 100m high gorge within the city itself.

Fuente de Piedra Nature Reserve

The star attraction of this nature reserve is the colony of flamingos that come to feed in its lagoon during the wetter months. In summer the lagoon dries up and flamingos move on, but the park is still teeming with over 150 other bird species alone, as well as dozens of other mammals and reptiles.

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Antequera

A bloom of sunflowers sets the town of Antequera ablaze each summer, which in itself is reason enough to make the 45 minute drive from Malaga, but on your arrival you will notice from the dolmens, Roman baths, Moorish castle and Christian churches that Antequera is an open air museum of Andalucian history.

Lake Viñuela - Málaga

This may be a man made reservoir but its setting is in the unspoiled environs of Axarquia, with its wealth of flora and fauna gives it the feel of true wilderness. There are a number of beaches along the reservoir making it the ideal location for a picnic, sunbathing or swimming. Ringed by majestic mountains it is also a popular camping spot for local families.

Sweat

Bossaball

Bossaball is new concept in sport that combines volleyball and trampolining. It is played to samba music and incorporates capoeira movements meaning this is a highly dynamic and energetic way to throw your body around in a fun and safe manner. Because it requires a net and a trampoline there are some set-up costs but there is a team who practice in Mijas and it is spreading quickly, so even if you can´t join in just watching it being played is enough to work up a sweat.

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Paddle Tennis

Another relatively unknown sport which you can practice on the Costa del Sol is Paddle tennis. The rules and scoring are akin to tennis but played in something like a squash court using an oversized table tennis paddle. It´s very easy to play for people of all ages and provides a great workout. More and more hotels along the Costa del Sol are adding paddle courts as the game increases in popularity.

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Caving at Cueva del Tesoro

The landscape of Andalucia is pot holed with incredible caves, with none more incredible than the “treasure cave” near the town of Rincon de la Victoria, 15km east of Malaga. One of the reasons why this cave is so special is because of the legend attached to it. It is said to be the hiding place of a 12th century horde of treasure hidden by an Arab ruler before his death. Even if you don´t find any gold visitors are still presented with amazing natural treasures such as Neolithic cave paintings and incredible stalactite formations.

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Horse Riding

The wild mountainous landscape in the interior, and broad sandy beaches of the Costa del Sol both scream out to be explored by horseback. Whether you are a seasoned equestrian or somewhat nervous beginner there is a horse riding package suitable for you. The rugged inland routes are most popular because of the images they bring to mind of the Wild West, which isn´t so far-fetched when you learn that a considerable number of those old Hollywood movies were actually filmed near Almeria.

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Sphering

They say a rolling stone gathers no moss, well now you can test that theory out by strapping yourself into a giant inflatable ball and hurtling down a hill at speeds of up to 50 km per hour. This is unadulterated fun that is guaranteed to result in uncontrollable screaming and laughter. If you want to get your adrenaline pumping but value your life too much to go bungee jumping or you just need to get down a hill in a hurry, sphering is the way to go.

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Skydiving

Most people have a very rational fear of falling out of a plane from thousands of feet above the ground; others embrace it as a pastime. Wherever you fall on this spectrum it is agreed that there can be few more exhilarating experiences than skydiving.

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Mountain biking

The mountainous terrain surrounding the city of Ronda is extremely picturesque to view from one the many look-out points in the city, but if you want to get up close and gritty with the scenery then the best way to do it is by mountain bike. In the nature parks around Ronda there are dedicated biking trails for intermediate and experienced riders.

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Hiking

Another way of experiencing the Costa del Sol´s unspoilt interior in a really hands on way is to hike its diverse terrains. Depending on the route you choose there are canyons, gorges, caves, rivers and lakes to be discovered by the intrepid explorer. The most accessible hiking trails from Malaga are just a few kilometres from the city centre in the Montes de Malaga, but if you really want to escape civilisation head further north to Grazalema National Park or towards Ronda.

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Footgolf

It´s surprising really that it took so long for this sport to be invented since it involves combining two of the world´s most popular and easy to understand games. Take a course with golf-like holes in the ground and make them big enough to kick a football into and that´s Footgolf, an immensely enjoyable game that´s part walk in the park and part kick about.

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Culture

Picasso Museum - Malaga

It is very fitting that a Picasso museum in the city of his birth was responsible for the cultural rebirth of that city. Prior to the opening of the Picasso museum in 2003, Malaga was a backwater compared to Seville but Picasso put his city back on the map, as hundreds of thousands have been drawn to Malaga to see some of classic works housed in the permanent exhibition.

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Museo Carmen Thyssen - Malaga

Divided into four sections: Old Masters, Romantic Landscapes, Naturalistic Landscapes and Late 19th Century, the paintings come from Carmen Thyssen-Bornmisza´s personal collection. The central space in the building resembles an outsized Cordoban patio with arabesque arches which makes for a fitting environ for these works which focus on the life and landscapes of Andalucia.

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Museo de Vino - Malaga


Malaga’s signature grape is the muscatel, which after the sherries of Jerez is the south of Spain´s most well-known tipple. In the museum of wine you can learn all about the production process for the moscatel sweet wine and a variety of other brews as well as the ancient history behind them.

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Christmas Festival Carnival

The Costa del Sol is synonymous with summer sun, but If you are lucky enough to find yourself there during Christmas you will soon discover that here in Spain they have really held on to the true spirit of Christmas. Nativity scenes, for example, are extravagant affairs, as are the processions around Three Kings Day.

Carnival

Prior to the forty days of abstinence during lent, Catholic countries, especially those in the Spanish speaking world are wont to have one last wild bacchanal in the form of Carnival. The south of Spain is arguably where Carnival began so it is takes on an especially riotous air here.

Sherry festival - Málaga

To celebrate the reconquest of the city by the Christian monarchs in the 15th century, Malagueños hold a sherry festival each August. During this week long affair, much sherry is consumed and flamenco is danced as parades and parties are held on the streets.

La Virgen del Carmen

La Virgen del Carmen is a charming seaborne spectacle during which Estepona´s beloved patron saint is celebrated in the hope that she will continue to protect its fishermen when they go out to sea. This is done by parading her statue along the coast before setting sail as fireworks explode overhead.

Semana Santa - Málaga

Whereas in northern Europe Easter has come to mean a time of excessive chocolate consumption, in Spain it still means something, and nowhere more so than in the South of Spain. Semana Santa is an amazing spectacle of solemn processions that bring with them a sense of depth and mystery that is so often missing from modern life.

San Isidro - Estepona

In Spain it is still common to see dramatic displays of religious devotion during holy feasts. One of the most dramatic on the Costa del Sol is held in Estepona on May 15th to celebrate San Isidro, the patron saint of farmers. The day´s activities culminate in the burning of wooden figures made by the women of the town in honour of the saint.

Indulge

Tivoli World Malaga

Indulge your children, or better yet the child in you, by taking a trip to Tivoli World near Benalmadena. There are over 300 rides to choose from and a 3,000 seat theatre that hosts important concerts as well as some of the best flamenco performance on the Costa del Sol.

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Arab baths - Ronda

One of the many legacies of the Arab reign in Andalucia is the tradition of Arab baths. As authorities have come to realise the tourist potential of these attractions many have been restored to their original glory. One such example is right in the old town of Malaga where you can indulge in their specialty Turkish massage as well as a range of other relaxing treatments.

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Spa - Marbella

The modern version of the ancient Arab and Roman baths is undoubtedly the spa. What better place to indulge in Finnish saunas, Hammam steam baths and a broad range of relaxing therapies than in the Marbella club - the original haunt of the Costa del Sol jet set. Here you can unwind, find inner peace, and emerge from it all looking like a beauty queen.

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Yurt Camping

The traditional image of camping is that of rickety old caravan with barely space inside to stretch your legs. They were anything but glamorous. That´s all changed with the advent of glamping, yes, glamours camping, and a favourite mode of glamping now is in a yurt. These Mongolian inspired, round, canvas tents can come with all the furnishings of a five star hotel room but at a fraction of the price.

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Yacht rental - Marbella

Nothing says you have arrived more than lounging on the deck of a private yacht in the port of Marbella. The super-rich, of course, own their own, but for those who want to treat themselves and live like the elite while on holiday, the option is there to charter a boat. The yachts, powered by wind or by motor, and varying massively in size and price range can all be rented in Marbella port.

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Farmhouse rentals

If camping, or even glamping is too primitive for your tastes but you still appreciate the countryside and want to wind down from the hectic pace of the city, then renting a beautiful stone farmhouse with a few acres of land around it should satisfy your needs. Often found in national parks with all the attendant outdoor activities and pursuits, these villas are usually luxurious affairs that can sleep up to a dozen or more people in comfort.

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Horse and carriage ride - Málaga

A wonderful way of exploring Malaga is by horse and carriage. This is a real indulgence as it can take you where the tour busses can´t and there´s a level of privacy and romance that is also missing from a conventional open top bus. There are numerous pick up and drop off points for carriage rides in Málaga with a 45 minute jaunt costing €30.

Cruise from Málaga

Since Malaga port opened up to cruise liners in 2013 it has become an increasingly popular starting point for luxurious journeys around the Mediterranean or even further afield across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. Star Clippers, Pulmantor and Caribbean Cruises all offer tours beginning and ending in Malaga.

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Whale watching

Not far from the Costa del Sol, in the straits of Gibraltar, it is possible enjoy one of the natural world´s most magnificent sights: whale watching. All year round Minke and Sperm whales can be seen in these waters, and during the summer months they are joined by orca whales hunting for tuna. The tour operators provide a fun and informative running commentary on the behaviour of the animals as you observe them.

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Artist retreat

Artists have flocked to Andalucía in their droves over the centuries to take advantage of the quality of the light owing to the brilliant sunshine and vivid colours. The Costa del Sol truly is a painter´s paradise and there are numerous artist retreats catering to practitioners of all levels. If you are a budding artist and the sight of a white-washed country village with sea views doesn´t inspire you then nothing will.

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Ballooning

There is something about drifting silently above a landscape that helps to put everything in perspective and inspire a fresh outlook. On the Costa del Sol there is surely no better area over which to take in the views than the historic city of Ronda and the breathtaking countryside that surrounds it.

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Flying lesson

Another way of ensuring the best possible view over the natural beauty of the Costa del Sol landscape is to fly over it, and of all the flying contraptions there are the gyrocopter is probably the easiest to get to grips with and the most liberating to fly. A mixture between an airplane and a helicopter, after 3 hrs training you can be at the controls and enjoying a once in a lifetime experience.

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The Pompidou Centre - Málaga

This is a new concept in the art world - a pop up museum (in the form of a cube situated in the port of Malaga) that will remain in place for a number years running occasional exhibitions of contemporary cutting edge art. So if you are in Malaga port wander into the cube as you never know what may be awaiting you.

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Centre of Contemporary Art - Málaga

Since the CAC opened in 2003 it has rapidly ascended to a position of international relevance, and along with the Picasso museum, has done much to put Malaga on the map artistically. It hosts a steady stream of top names in the contemporary art world making it a must see for any visitor or long-term resident.

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Flamenco Art Museum - Malaga

The neighbouring province of Seville is really the birthplace of Flamenco but Andalucía in general is credited with developing this most Spanish of art forms that has gone on to charm and conquer the world. In the Flamenco art museum in Malaga you can see 200 year old guitars and flamenco records, posters, and memorabilia dating back to the 19th century.

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Alcazaba

The Alcazaba is Malaga’s most iconic building, and the best preserved Moorish fortress in the whole of Spain. It is an extensive structure that overlooks the city and forms part of the city walls. It was restored in 2011 opening up yet more of it to the public, specifically, the mosque and baths. The Alcazaba should be high up on anyone´s itinerary when visiting Málaga.

Salón Varietes Theatre - Fuengirola

One of the downsides to life as an expat can be the language barrier preventing you from going out to the theatre. For English speaking theatre fans living in Fuengirola, this gap in their cultural life has come to be filled by the all English language Salon Varietés Theatre. They stage musicals, dramas, reviews, and comedies and they have been going strong for 30 years.

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