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A sun-drenched stretch of Mediterranean shoreline west of Málaga, the Costa del Sol has been one of Spain’s most popular destinations for more than half a century. And, with an average of 320 days of sunshine a year, a host of beaches and a backdrop of mountains, it’s easy to see why. Development was rapid, and the coast is now lined with high-rise blocks. But, with views of the north African coast, a host of traditional whitewashed villages in the hills, Moorish influences in the old city cores, and easy access to Granada, Córdoba and Seville, it makes a convenient spot to base yourself or relax at the end of your trip.

Despite its reputation as a resort destination, I go to the Costa del Sol for its history and culture. Archeologists are always uncovering new Roman ruins here and the old Moorish section of Marbella town is fascinating. It’s also the best place to have gazpacho.

Spain & Portugal specialist Talia

Things to see and do in the Costa del Sol

Málaga

Often overlooked by visitors to the coast, Málaga has had a dynamic resurgence in recent years. Its handsome historic core has been cleaned up, new art galleries are opening all over the city, the port area has been revamped and there’s a palpable vibrancy in the young crowds that throng its many bars and restaurants.

Málaga is also home to a grand Gothic cathedral, a Roman amphitheatre and an 11th-century castle, the Alcazaba, which, if you don’t have time to visit the Alhambra, offers a good overview of Moorish architecture. On top of this, you’ll find some of Spain’s best tapas and seafood here.

Marbella

Boats moored, MarbellaMarbella is the Costa del Sol’s most glamorous resort town, attracting the rich and regal in equal measure. Luxury yachts line the marina at Puerto Banús, and designer shops and supercars line the streets.

Venture back from the waterfront promenade to the casco antiguo, the old town, and its winding whitewashed lanes, courtyards filled with orange trees, independent shops and flower-strewn balconies feel like half a world away.

Marbella’s Museo Ralli is also worth a visit to see a collection that includes work by Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Henry Moore and Marc Chagall.

Golf

Nicknamed the ‘Costa del Golf’, the coastline is Spain’s premier golf region with more than 70 golf courses. Many hotels have their own courses, there are a host of golf academies, and it’s possible to arrange tee times and club hire at some of the most renowned courses.

You’ll find a cluster of leading options around Sotogrande, including the Valderrama Golf Club, home of the 1997 Ryder Cup. There’s also Real Club de Golf Sotogrande, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones, La Reserva, part of an exclusive country club community, and the San Roque Golf Club, which has two highly regarded courses.

Best time to visit the Costa del Sol

May and September are good times to visit the Costa del Sol, when the region is less crowded and temperatures hover around 20 C (68 F). From June to August, the area is thronged with holidaymakers and temperatures average about 26 C (79 F), but are often considerably higher. However, with pleasant weather and fewer crowds, the area still makes a fine place to visit throughout the winter as well.

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Audley Travel Specialist Samantha

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Map of Costa del Sol

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Costa del Sol

    Accommodation choices for Costa del Sol

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Costa del Sol. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa, Marbella

      Puente Romano

      First Class

      Echoing the feel of an Andalusian village, the Puente Romano is a leafy retreat of scattered rooms and villas surrounded by botanical gardens on the Marbella waterfront along the Costa del Sol.

    • Gran Hotel Miramar, Malaga

      Gran Hotel Miramar

      Deluxe

      Overlooking the Málaga waterfront the Gran Hotel Miramar is a refined hotel in easy walking distance of the city’s sights and offering plenty of facilities for a relaxing stay.

    • Vincci Estrella del Mar, Marbella

      Vincci Estrella del Mar

      Medium

      Surrounded by greenery and boasting a selection of outdoor pools and a waterfront beach club, the Vincci Estrella del Mar offers a restful getaway on the Costa del Sol close to Marbella.

    • Finca Cortesin, Casares

      Finca Cortesin

      Deluxe

      An upscale countryside retreat with Michelin-starred dining and a championship-level golf course, Finca Cortesin offers the height of luxury and elegance on the Costa del Sol.

    • Marbella Club, Marbella

      Marbella Club

      Deluxe

      With an impressive range of facilities and an ideal beachfront location, the Marbella Club offers refined, relaxed luxury in a tropical garden setting.