Ditch the packed beaches and boring resorts and discover a new side to the Costa del Sol.
Spain’s sunny coast has long been Britain’s favorite holiday destination.
Known for its stunning stretches of sea, sand and guaranteed sunshine, it’s our go to location to top up our tans by the poolside. However, there is more to Spain’s southern coast than simply beach bars and cheap beer. So, before you pass it off as a one trick pony, read on and discover what else Spain’s Costa del Sol has to offer.
Sadly, most people will only know Malaga for its airport, bypassing it to head further along the coast, but it’s true to say that they’re well and truly missing out. Malaga is a fantastic coastal city; oozing with Andalusian charm, it’s incredibly compact, with all the main attractions just a short stroll away from the seaside. Highlights include its Roman amphitheatre, the imposing Alcazaba and The Picasso Museum, which pays homage to the city’s most famous resident.
2. Playa del Cañuelo
Hidden at the foot of the Maro cliffs, this is continuously referred to as the best beach on the Costa del Sol. Due to its unusual greyish sands, the sea is exceptionally clear – you’ll be able to see the fish swimming around your feet. Kick back and relax, wihtout the usual ‘Kiss me quick’ tack you might more readily associate with the sandy shores of del Sol.
No carbs before Marbs! A playground for the rich and famous, the Costa del Sol’s glitziest resort is where you’re most likely to spot some famous faces, either on their mega-yachts in the dazzling Puerto Banus, or in its exclusive clubs along the Golden Mile. Dine in one of its renowned restaurants, such as the intimate Michelin starred Skina that serves up tasty artisan food in the heart of Marbella’s old town.
The picture-perfect town of Nerja is situated at the far east of the Costa del Sol. Once a quiet village, it’s now one of Andalucía’s most popular resorts – however, it remains blissfully unspoiled by the masses. Hike to the top of the Bálcon de Europa, a striking belvedere built on top of a 13th century fort, for amazing views of the Med. Head underground to check out Cuevas de Nerja, a massive caved labyrinth of stalagmites and stalactites. During the summer the caves host the International Festival of Music and Dance where you can see flamenco and classical music performances. Be prepared for some impressive acoustics.
5. Pueblos Blancos
Throughout the Andalusian hills you’ll spot a spattering of white-washed villages amongst the sun-drenched scenery, the perfect place to escape the coastal crowds. Best explored by car, these tiny towns are where you’ll find the region’s most authentic tapas bars. Arriate and Cortes de la Frontera, sit amongst pretty cork groves, and make sure you visit other peaceful hamlets, such as Pujerra, Faraján, and Cartajima. Just make sure you get there before siesta or they’ll undoubtedly be closed for business!
Where else in the world can you soak up the Spanish sunshine, pop into staple British store Marks & Spencers, and take a selfie with an ape all in one day? Gibraltar is a curious slice of Blighty that dips into the Mediterranean Sea. A trip up the rock by cable car is highly recommended, not only to see its famous primates but also for the unbeatable views.
7. El Caminito del Rey
Until recently, Spain’s most thrilling (or terrifying) walk, El Caminito del Rey, was closed to the public but it is now open and you can stroll through this narrow gorge. Considered to be the most dangerous path of the world, there are four kilometres of trails more than 100 metres high. For those with a touch of vertigo, you can still see some pretty impressive views of the gorge from the town of El Chorro.