An insider´s view
I have lived in southern Spain for the past 20 years (for my sins) and have visited most of the top attractions, inland areas and holiday hotspots on the Costa del Sol during that time. Below are my personal favourite things to do on the Costa del Sol.
- Malaga Andalusia Costa del Sol
Malaga is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with some great tapas bars, shops, and restaurants. Take your time to explore Calle Larios, and wander down to the old Port area where you will find plenty of things to see and do. If you want to party the night away, there´s no better time to be in Malaga than August, when the annual feria is held, complete with street processions, flamenco, loud music, decorated Andalusian horses and parades.
- Costa del Sol beaches and beach bars
Visit some of the best beaches in Spain on the Costa del Sol. Worthy of particular mention is Golden Beach, Elviria, just east of Marbella, Cabopino Beach, just east of Elviria, and Los Boliches Beach at the east end of Fuengirola. Beach bars can also be fun and informal if you fancy a bite to eat beside the sea. Don´t expect five star service, but do expect fresh white fish, jugs of home-made sangria and live entertainment in the summer time.
- Dressage the Hippodrome
Situated in the Cerros del Aguila region, above Fuengirola, The Hippodrome holds dressage competitions and also hosts Sunday second hand markets each week from 9am-3pm.
- Costa del Sol Ventas
If eating and drinking is your thing on holiday, take a break from the tourist route and you will discover some great set menus or menus del dia, which are advertised in the local ventas. You can enjoy a three course meal including wine from around €8 per head, and even cheaper if you go inland.
- Gay nightlife in Torremolinos
Not for the faint-hearted, Torremolinos by night is the gay entertainment capital of Andalusia. Some of the nightclubs in Torremolinos don´t open until 3am (open, not close at 3am). If you are a party animal of a particular persuasion you won´t beat Torremolinos for a fabulous night out. If sea and sand are more your thing, take a trip to Torremolinos in the day time and lounge on one of its long, sandy beaches and top up your tan.
- The Beach House Restaurant Marbella
Along with Arroyo Hondo in Casares, The Beach House is my favourite restaurant on the Costa del Sol, and I recently spent my birthday there (yes 21 again). Situated literally on the sand on Golden Beach, Elviria, just east of Marbella, the Beach House offers superb food in an unbeatable location.
- Marbella Tapas Bars
The swish resort of Marbella offers much more than great beaches. A favourite day out is a trip around the town during spring or autumn and visiting as many tapas bars as possible. Favourite places to eat tapas in Marbella include Gambrinus, La Taberna del Pintxo, where waiters come round with plates of food and you pay for the amount of cocktail sticks on your plate at the end.
- Puerto Cabopino Marbella
One of the most under-rated marinas in southern Spain, Puerto Cabopino, for me, knocks spots off the famous Puerto Banus. Cabopino is situated just 7km to the east of Marbella town centre, and offers visitors some great restaurants, bars and beaches. You can stroll around the marina looking at the luxury yachts, or sit waterside in one of the attractive bars with outside terraces.
- Costa del Sol Markets
The best markets I have been to on the Costa del Sol are held in Nueva Andalucia each Saturday, close to the bull ring at Puerto Banus, La Trocha Commercial Centre Market on a Sunday near to Coin and La Paloma Park Market at Benalmadena every Wednesday. Most of the goods sold at La Paloma are second hand, bric-a-brac and handicrafts, and you can find some great clothes, leather goods and even electrical items at Nueva Andalucia.
- Let´s go Selwo
Having just realised I haven´t mentioned any good days out for the kids, in my previous top nine things to do on the Costa del Sol, I must mention Selwo Aventura Park, which is situated just 3km east of Estepona. At Selwo you will find over 2,000 animals from every corner of the world living in semi-free conditions and allowed to roam the park freely (well not the tigers and bears obviously). You can walk through most of the park, including an incredible aviary, and when you get over the bridge, safari trucks will take you to view the lions, tigers and larger animals at a safe distance.
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