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Costa del Sol

9 of the best beaches on the Costa del Sol

By Eddi Fiegel

6 February 20245 min read

View from the crystal-clear waters of Playa del Cristo towards the resort-lined sandy beach

El Cristo Beach This horseshoe bay in Estepona is a favourite on the Costa del Sol.

With more than 100 gorgeous beaches to choose from, the Costa del Sol has a beach for everyone.

Whether it’s soft sand, Blue Flag beaches with plenty of activities to keep the kids happy, a palm tree-lined city beach buzzing with bars and restaurants, or wild, romantic bays and rocky, sheltered coves that feel a world away from the livelier resorts, you’ll find them all here.

The Costa del Sol’s best beaches are all easy to reach too, with even the most unspoilt stretches of sand rarely more than about half an hour’s drive from Málaga airport. These are some of our favourites.

1. Playa de Burriana, Nerja

Regularly voted one of the Costa del Sol’s best beaches, this long and wide, child-friendly bay lies just a leisurely 15-minute stroll from Nerja’s town centre. Set against the mountain backdrop of the Alhama Natural Park and the Sierras de Tejeda and Almijara, the beach has pretty much everything you could ask for, from crystal-clear waters and fine sand to a seafront promenade lined with shops and restaurants. If you’re feeling active, you can take to the water in pedalos or kayaks and there’s also jet-skiing and diving.

2. Playa de Artola, Cabopino, Marbella

Another contender for the title of ‘most gorgeous beach on the Costa del Sol’, this wonderfully wild stretch of sand near Marbella sits within a protected area of naturally formed dunes and feels like a real escape from city life. The shallow waters are perfect for dipping your toes in the water, although strong currents mean it’s not recommended for swimming. There is, however, a watersports centre for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, as well as a chiringuito beach shack on the sand. If you feel like baring all, there’s even a naturist section at one end.

3. Playa de la Malagueta, Málaga

If you’re sightseeing in Málaga and want to squeeze in some beach time without heading beyond the city centre, look no further than La Malagueta. A leisurely ten-minute walk from the main sights of the old town, it may be a city beach but with its clean water, this long stretch of soft, dark sand has been awarded Blue Flag status. You’ll find everything you could want here from sun-lounger and parasol rental to a children’s play area. If you get peckish or thirsty, there are plenty of bars and restaurants just behind the beach.

4. Playa de Pedregalejo, Málaga

With its clear, shallow waters and soft, dark sand, Playa de Pedregalejo, just to the east of Málaga, is another favourite with families. Made up of four small bays separated by low breakwaters, the beach gets busy in the height of summer, but it still has a laidback vibe.

You’ll find everything you could want here, including sun-loungers, parasols, showers and lifeguard services, as well as assistance for visitors with special needs. There’s also a children’s playground and beach volleyball court for added entertainment value. The palm tree- and restaurant-lined promenade, meanwhile, is the place to come for superb local seafood, including sizzling fried fish and super-fresh fish skewers.

5. Playa de Fuengirola, Fuengirola

Walking along the golden sand on Playa de Fuengirola, it’s not hard to see why this is one of the most popular resorts on the Costa del Sol. Barely a pebble’s throw from the town centre, the beach sits right behind the seafront promenade and is fabulously family-friendly, complete with a mini water park with inflatable toys. As well as the usual loungers and showers, the beach also has specially adapted facilities for people with reduced mobility. The seafront promenade, meanwhile, has bars and restaurants aplenty.

6. Real de Zaragoza Beach, Marbella

Just ten minutes from Marbella town centre by car or bus, Real de Zaragoza is one of the Costa del Sol’s longest beaches and its most popular thanks to its golden sands and wonderfully clear water. However, it rarely feels crowded, even at the height of the summer, as there’s so much space. With no high rises in sight, it also feels wonderfully unspoilt but there are still plenty of chiringuitos, restaurants and beach bars to choose from, as well as basics like showers, sunbeds for rent and easy parking nearby.

7. Playa de la Rada, Estepona

This is yet another of those of wide, long beaches that make the Costa del Sol such a great choice for a beach break in the sun. With miles of soft, grey sand and beautifully clear water, you’ll find sun-loungers and showers, as well as plenty of activities to keep children entertained, with playgrounds as well as trampolines and climbing frames. There’s no shortage of bars and restaurants either, and the Paseo Maritimo, which backs the beach, has everything from paellas to fried fish and local specialities.

8. El Cristo, Estepona

Boasting Blue Flag status, the silky sand and beautifully clear and calm shallow waters at this horseshoe bay make El Cristo another great choice for families, as well as anyone else who loves a great beach. Just to the west of the marina at Estepona, the wooded area around the beach provides natural shade and shelter and there are also children’s play parks if the kids want some respite from building sandcastles. Look out for sun-loungers, parasols and paddle boats to rent as well as a couple of beach bars if you get thirsty.

9. La Cala de Mijas

Although there are several beaches stretching along the coast at La Cala de Mijas, this long, wide stretch of palm tree-fringed, soft sand is the main one attached to the town. As with so many of the beaches along the Costa del Sol, you’ll find everything you could want here from sun-loungers, parasols and beachfront chiringuitos, to children’s playgrounds and watersports, including pedalos and jet-skis. If you fancy a stroll, there’s a lovely boardwalk and seafront promenade, and with the town centre right behind the beach there’s no shortage of shops, bars and restaurants on your doorstep.

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