The southernmost region of Spain is home to Costa del Sol, the pride and joy of the region of Andalucía. Tucked between the lesser known Costa de la Luz and Costa Tropical, it stretches over 300km of coastline. Famed for its golden sandy beaches sprinkled with fabulous holiday resorts such as Malaga, Marbella and the beautiful Benalmadena this area is flattered by a mild Mediterranean climate, with four somewhat distinct seasons throughout the year.
Spring lasts through March, April and May, summer spreads over June, July and August, autumn gracefully occupies September, October and November, and winter graces the coastline with its presence throughout December, January and February. The average temperatures rarely drop below 12°C on the colder days, while the hotter days often exceed the 27°C mark, particularly during the summer.
However, there are significant temperature differences between the year’s extreme seasons, and summer is clearly the top choice for tourists to visit this beautiful slice of Spanish coastline. The monthly average rainfall varies substantially as well, with July being the driest month at 3mm and November being the wettest with an average of 115mm of precipitation expected. Winter days are shorter, experiencing up to just 5 hours of sunshine per day, while the summer days are gloriously bright and long with up to 11 hours of sunshine per day. The sea is surprisingly cool outside the summer season; sometimes dropping below 16°C, but it then gradually reaches 23°C throughout the month of August. Overall, Costa Del Sol is blessed with over 325 days of sunshine per year and a comfortably hot holiday season for people to enjoy – it lives up to its name and it welcomes hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
Resorts like Malaga, Benalmadena and Marbella experience daytime averages ranging between 23°C and 26°C during the hot season, and are often the top choices for vacationers worldwide. Frequently chosen for their superb beaches and calm, shallow waters, these resorts have plenty of other amazing things to offer. If you are planning a trip to Costa del Sol anytime soon, be prepared for some spontaneous adventures – sure, feel free to go there for the smooth strips of fine sands and sunshine galore, but do not be surprised if you end up in some of the area’s most beautiful and fascinating corners without even planning it. The tour guides will certainly enjoy surprising you with some unique takes on the local cuisine, swift immersions into the local culture and exciting trips through nature resorts and swirling hiking trails hidden beneath lush forests and wavy hills.
You can set yourself up with a stylish suite at the Petit Palace Plaza Malaga, or the splendid Vincci Seleccion Posada del Patio, both excellent accommodation options in beautiful Malaga. You can have loads of drinks and decadent fun at posh clubs such as Sala Gold or Passion.
Alternatively, you can go for a sumptuous suite at Marriott’s Marbella Beach Resort or the stunning Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa in Marbella, and enjoy late night cocktails at lush spots like Olivia Valere – Discoteca y Restaurante or Suite Discoteca. You can even get cosy in a beachfront location like Luxury Rentals Puerto Marina or the exceptional Vincci Seleccion Aleysa – Hotel Boutique & Spa in beautiful and sunny Benalmadena, leaving it up to its stunning marina to show you a thing or two about nightlife and entertainment. Whichever resort you choose, remember that there is so much more to it than what meets the eye!
For example, one thing Spain is most famous for is its fiery spirit and passionate sentiments, both concentrated in the flamenco dance. Kelipe Centro de Arte Flamenco is located just outside the beautiful resort of Malaga, where the best dancers of the coast gather to perform, away from the regular washed-down shows usually found in the cities. This is not something that tourists are acquainted with, so chances are you will get a full taste of the local spirit and truly immerse yourself into the undisputable raw beauty, passion and elegance of authentic flamenco dances – just the way it should be!
You might want to find yourself lost in Almeria on a sunny afternoon. Around a street corner, begins the breath-taking and fascinating Cabo de Gata, a nature park filled with the most wondrous sights and superb biodiversity. It rolls into a wide bay area, framed by sharp volcanic rocks, and it’s home to majestic flamingos and other feathered wonders. It was once a little hidden fishing village, and now it is a sanctuary for many protected species of animals, as well as an endless resort of stunning views and unique landscapes. An hour spent here is worth the day trip from anywhere on Costa del Sol!
There are also several absolutely unmissable and incredible nature parks on the southern coast of Andalucía, of which one is the Selwo Adventure Park – one of the best safari parks in all of Europe. It’s home to well over 2,000 animals, many of which are protected species and part of important breeding programs. Selwo is approximately 100 hectares’ worth of jungles and savannahs, and it includes the Ravine of the Bears, the stunning Tiger Gorge and the Lion Hill. You can tell by their names what they are about, right?
Another insanely fun place to try out is Tivoli World, in Benalmadena. It has been a raging success since the 1970s and it holds a wide variety of fairground rides, outdoor theatres with live shows and themed restaurants for the entire family to enjoy. The Sea Life Centre of Benalmadena is another must-see, with an underwater walkway that offers a unique view of the elusive and beautiful marine creatures – nothing makes your blood pump faster than staring a shark in the face or feeding a stingray, for sure.
The Nerja Caves should also be on your unofficial checklist. Located two miles away from town, they were only discovered recently in 1957. They hold the world’s largest stalactite formation, along with ancient cave paintings of snakes, turtles and even shellfish dating back as far as 15,000 years. According to a recent study, it turns out that these caves were once a pit stop for Neanderthals and their slightly more advanced successors. So yes, do put the beach away for one day and go see these incredible caves – a true slice of history.
Malaga was once the home of Pablo Picasso, so it’s no wonder that the King and Queen decided to inaugurate a museum dedicated to this titanic artist, the creator of an entirely new art style and an influencer for his generation and those that followed. Museo Picasso holds an impressive amount and interchanging series of the celebrated artist’s paintings, drawings, sculptures and even ceramics. You cannot lie in the sun on Costa del Sol and not get a whiff of the local art, particularly when the local art here was generated by such a brand name of the modern world.
Not many of you might be accustomed to the regional cuisine of Andalucía – a good chunk of it consists of seafood, but it is cooked in a particular way, incredibly tasty but also incredibly different from what you would normally get out of a continental European restaurant. A good example is Pepe Seafood Restaurant in Marbella; it overlooks the beautiful blue sea and it specializes in a variety of lobster, crayfish, prawn and clam dishes that are simply out of this world! The Indian City Restaurant in Benalmadena brings the authentic taste of Asia to the sunny coast of Spain – expect the most unusual and spicy recipes, with special bread and mind-numbing sauces.
Finally, the Cielito Lindo Restaurant in Nerja serves amazing Mexican food – again, the recipes were brought all the way over from Central America, and many of them were given a Spanish touch. If this does not rattle your senses while vacationing in Costa del Sol, we do not know what else will.
Ultimately, most people come to this part of Andalucía for the abundance of sun and splendid beaches, calling for relaxation, spa treatments and pampering massages. However, there is this hidden face of Costa del Sol that simply cannot be missed – the impressive array of hidden and unusual gems described above is only a taste of what the area can surprise you with. More often than not, the local guides might be able to take you even deeper, and further enchant you with new and authentic experiences.