Your guide to the Costa del Sol, Spain

The Costa del Sol and beach holidays go together like buckets and spades. This is surely the most famous resort in Iberia. Spain's 'Coast of the Sun' lies in the very south of the country in Andalusia with a balmy Mediterranean climate to match. Tourism has been big business here since Torremolinos' golf course opened in 1928, but it was the advent of cheap charter flights in the 1960s that really kicked things off and transformed the Costa del Sol into a world-renowned resort getaway.

Your resort guide to the Costa del Sol, Spain
Your resort guide to the Costa del Sol, Spain © big-ashb - Flickr CC BY 2.0

Your guide to the Costa del Sol

Once a necklace of little fishing villages lined the Costa del Sol. Today many of these have become tourist resorts. Some naysayers who have not been to the Costa del Sol in a while turn their nose up at some of the resorts, but each boasts its own charms, whether it be the perfect set-up for a cheap and cheerful beach holiday or a classy escape in a five star hotel surrounded by the global glitterati.

There's a reason people have been coming here for so long - the Costa del Sol boasts glorious beaches and, remarkably, over 300 sunny days a year! If you are planning a trip to this glorious region of southern Spain, don't miss the latest deals and online discounts from First Choice*, which offers all inclusive holidays direct from London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter and various places in between. Join us now as we run through a sun kissed rundown of some of the best Costa del Sol resorts to help you decide where to go.


If it's glitz and glam you're after then Marbella for you. This chic escape is a real playground of the rich and famous with plenty of parking for fast cars and millionaire yachts. The setting is deeply dramatic as the resort sits between the sparkling Mediterranean and the Sierra Blanca.

Marbella Beach at the height of summer
Marbella Beach at the height of summer © eDomo - Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

The marina is a great place to celebrity spot as you sip champagne in its hip bars. The Golden Mile is the ostentatious, brilliantly fun hub of Marbella, with the old town offering a more laidback slice of Marbella and a moodily rugged 10th-century Moorish castle. Roman sandals have smoothed the local streets with ruins to explore if you can tear yourself away from the sprinkling of well kept beaches. As you might expect Marbella has the best upmarket boutiques in the Costa del Sol too, so bring a fully loaded credit card.

Read more: Marbella weather


Torremolinos does exactly what it says on the tin - it offers excellent value beach holidays with no pretension or airs and graces. Things have moved a bit more upmarket in recent years as the resort adjusts to what people want. Staggeringly, Torremolinos is reputed to attract over three million visitors a year yet there always seems to be room for everyone.

Torremolinos Beach, Costa del Sol
Torremolinos Beach, Costa del Sol © Gert Mewes - Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

You are well served here with beaches and also a phalanx of water sports, restaurants, hotels, apartment complexes and bars that crowd around the sweeping waterfront promenade. The raucous nightlife is there if you want it too, in a resort that is really its own mini-city. Aqualand*, the largest water park on the Costa del Sol, is a serious family drawcard. Try the new adrenaline pumping 'speed racer' - if you dare!

Read more: Torremolinos weather


Just next door to Torremolinos is another popular resort with over a dozen beaches, this time catering even more to families, as its nightlife is a little less boisterous. The seafront stretches for a whopping 10 km and there is an old, more traditional Spanish quarter too. There is a string of excellent sandy beaches and Benalmadena is renowned as something of a watersports paradise too.

It also has its own marina if you are lucky enough to need somewhere to moor your yacht. The Puerto Marina boasts the impressive Sea Life Benalmádena* aquarium with its highlight of shark feeding. Kids will demand a visit to Tivoli World*, a world class theme park, while there are two golf courses for grown ups.

Read more: Benalmádena weather


Another former fishing village, Fuengirola, is handily tucked between Torremolinos and Marbella. As well as all the modern trappings of tower hotels and myriad of restaurants, an old Moorish castle overlooks the scene, evoking Andalusia's rich history. Sohail Castle is a spectacular setting for the cultural events and live concerts that grace it today.

Fuengirola and its surrounds boast some of the best beaches of any resort in Spain, never mind the Costa del Sol - there are eight main beaches to choose from. We like that the beaches (like many on the Costa del Sol) are home to chiringuitos, little snack bars serving tasty treats and ice cold beers.

Read more: Fuengirola weather


Malaga may be fully-fledged city, but stick with us here as it's a brilliant one. Most arrivals into Malaga airport are spirited off straight away to the resorts, but stick around in this beguiling city for a few days and you won't regret it. It is worth a visit for the hulking brace of fortresses that hang over the city, the palatial Alcazaba, and the rugged Gibralfaro alone.

The town hall in Malaga, Costa del Sol
The town hall in Malaga, Costa del Sol © JackF -

There is a historic centre to explore and some of the best tapas bars in Andalusia - and that is saying something! By day there are museums and art galleries to sift through, while the nightlife is authentically Spanish. Don't even think about heading out until at least 10pm at the earliest or you will be practically the only one out. For the morning after there are bountiful beaches to relax on.

Read more: Malaga weather


Nerja feels out on its own in many ways. It hides away on the very eastern edge of Andalusia set apart from the other resorts. We love its whitewashed buildings and laidback vibe. It has a rich holiday heritage, as the Spanish King Alfonso XII had a holiday home in Nerja back in the 1880s.

The town of Nerja, 35 miles east of Malaga, Costa del Sol
The town of Nerja, 35 miles east of Malaga, Costa del Sol © Liquid Studios -

Blue Flag beaches are among the 10 strips of sand that tempt today's holidaymakers. The sand is a little darker here, but it just adds to the drama of the rugged coastline. The beaches echo to party sounds at night, as the local bar scene is famously lively. The heart of the action is the Plaza Tutti Frutti, a buzzing bar lined square. One more unusual attraction we recommend a visit to is the landmark Balcon de Europa, a viewing platform that offers views up and down the coast and is often the setting for live music at night.

Read more: Nerja weather

As you can see, there's much more to the Costa del Sol than often meets the eye. If you are hoping to escape to this part of Andalusia, check out the latest discounts from First Choice with offers on all inclusive holidays including low deposits. You can also see our pick of when to go for the best weather, and check out the Costa del Sol climate guide for annual averages.

First Choice: Low deposits & flexible payments on holidays in 2024/2025

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Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie is a Scottish travel writer, author and broadcaster. He has visited over 100 countries and regularly writes about Scotland and the Canary Islands. As well as frequently contributing to, Robin writes for publications including The Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, The Times and Wanderlust, and has authored more than 30 guidebooks.

Posted on Thursday 29th September 2016 in: Beach Europe Summer

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