The varied coastline of the Costa del Sol has diverse offerings; many long sandy beaches, coves half hidden amongst cliffs, marinas and fishing grounds. It is protected from cold north winds by the mountains and has a mild climate with sea breezes and scant rainfall. The vegetation is subtropical in character while oranges, lemons and olives grow in abundance. Away from the coast the scenery is largely mountainous and dotted with pretty, white Spanish villages, valleys and hillsides planted with orchards and spectacular views.
Málaga, the fifth largest city in Spain, is situated in the centre of the Costa del Sol. Málaga has been influenced by the different cultures which have populated it since its beginning. Founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century, it later became a Roman settlement. Afterwards, it was conquered by the Moors and finally re-conquered by the Christians in 1487. With such a varied history it is no surprise that the city contains a wealth of interesting features including fine gardens, a magnificent cathedral, the Alcazaba (an 11th century Moorish castle) and numerous museums and galleries. It is the birthplace of Picasso and his childhood home is a museum.
Each town along the Costa del Sol has its individual character depending on its history. Torremolinos, the first resort heading west from Malaga, was the pioneer for resorts in the area and many people erroneously associate it with its reputation of 20 or more years ago. Whilst it still has its discos and high rise apartment blocks, the old fisherman’s quarter has been developed into an area of wonderful shops and restaurants. The two main beaches, Bajondillo and La Carihuela, are renowned for their beauty.
Heading further west you arrive at Benalmadena Costa, a modern resort that has incorporated the older towns of Arroyo de la Miel and Benalmadena Pueblo. This area provides every facility for tourists, including one of the finest pleasure ports on the Mediterranean to a modern seaside area and, in Benalmadena Pueblo, a typical white Spanish village.
Along the coast is Fuengirola where the longest sea front promenade on the coast can be found. The old town centre with all its attractions has been preserved and is an area buzzing with life from bars and restaurants.
Mijas is a white village perched on the side of a mountain. It is famed for its donkey taxis and artist colonies. The town has spread down to the coast where it is known as Mijas Costa.
Marbella, playground of the rich and famous, was never a little fishing port but has always been a thriving trading town. Along with Puerto Banus and Estepona, further to the west, Marbella has been very successful in attracting upmarket guests to its exclusive developments, luxury hotels and five star shopping.
East of Malaga is less well developed with the main resort town being Nerja. This is a small town built on a ledge where the mountains meet the sea. Nerja is famed for its protected climate, clear air, caves and magnificent views over the sea. A series of musical concerts and ballets, with top artistes are held in the caves every year.
Travelling inland, the area is full of small white villages with narrow winding streets; each with its own quality and history. There are several areas of incredible natural beauty such as El Parque de los Alcornocales, a forest area populated with cork oaks and chestnuts. The two inland towns of Ronda and Antequera each have something special to offer visitors. Ronda is a particular favourite, with its spectacular gorge, ancient bullring and magnificent mansions.
The Costa Del Sol with its numerous golf courses has been given the alternative name of Costa Del Golf and is a must for golfers who will find their every need and standard catered for.
Finally, the Costa Del Sol is acclaimed for its way of life, with plenty of small bars to relax in, superb food, wonderful people and its ferias
or fairs. Every town and village has at least one feria
in celebration of its patron saint. These usually last a week and are an excuse for residents and visitors alike to enjoy themselves from dusk to dawn.