With mile after mile of sandy, Blue Flag beaches, and almost year-round sunshine, it’s little surprise that the Costa del Sol has long been one of Europe’s most popular destinations.
Fly into Málaga and you’ll find top resorts stretching from Nerja in the east to Torremolinos, Benalmadena, Fuengirola and Estepona to the west.
Whether you’re looking to flop on a sun-lounger, build sandcastles with the kids, soak up some art and culture or party the night away, our guide to the best resorts in the Costa del Sol will help you find your ideal holiday destination.
When it comes to family-friendly resorts on the Costa del Sol, several could win the prize, including Benalmádena and Estepona, but Fuengirola has to be one of the top choices.
With family-friendly beaches, water so clear and clean you can see your reflection in it, a water park and a zoo, Fuengirola has plenty to keep kids of all ages – and their parents – happy.
For fun-filled days out, AquaMijas water park is nearby, and you won’t have to look far for food either as the seafront promenade is lined with bars and restaurants.
With a picturesque setting in the shadow of the spectacular Sierra Bermeja mountains, Estepona has everything you could want from a Costa del Sol resort, from idyllic, sandy beaches and snorkelling to a picturesque, typically Andalusian old town. There’s nightlife too, but the volume is definitely a few notches lower than in other resorts like Marbella.
Take a romantic stroll through the cobbled streets with their whitewashed houses ablaze with pink and red geraniums and you’ll find shops, tapas bars and restaurants aplenty as well as pretty squares like the orange tree-filled Plaza de los Flores.
For more shopping, there’s a lively Sunday market, and if you want to head out of town, there are lovely mountain walks and drives within easy reach.
Thanks to world-class museums, award-winning restaurants and historic castles, the days when Málaga was seen as little more than a gateway to the Costa del Sol are long gone – the city is now a brilliant city break destination in its own right.
As the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, art lovers can enjoy not one but two Picasso museums, as well as contemporary art at the super cool Pompidou Centre on the main city beach. Elsewhere, you can immerse yourself in history at a Roman amphitheatre, Moorish castles and an old town teeming with tantalising tapas bars. If you fancy a stint on the beach, Málaga has several, such as sandy Playa de la Malagueta.
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If your perfect beach break means basking on a blissful beach by day and strutting your stuff on the dancefloor by night, Marbella is the place for you.
Possibly the Costa del Sol’s most famous resort, Marbella’s ‘Golden Mile’ – between Marbella and the swanky village and marina of Puerto Banus – is teeming with bars and clubs.
Known as one of Europe’s major nightlife hotspots, as well as home to some seriously smart hotels, clubs and beach bars, there’s plenty of fun to be had – and you don’t need to own a super-yacht to have a good time. From budget bars and rocking live music venues to cocktail lounges, nights out in Marbella can be as low-key or wild as you like.
Torremolinos and Benalmádena are also great options for nightlife.
The largest and unquestionably one of the most famous resorts on the Costa del Sol, you’ll almost always find cheap deals to Torremolinos. But just because there are bargains to be had, that doesn’t mean you’ll get less for your buck.
If you want to bask in the sun and laze away your days on the beach, Torremolinos has long stretches of silky sand, Blue Flag beaches, as well as a water park nearby. Or, if boogieing the night away and letting your hair down to some DJ-led sounds is more your scene, the town centre is nightlife central with cocktail bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants aplenty.
With fabulous beaches, lively nightlife, and family-friendly entertainment in droves, holidays to Benalmádena tick all the boxes for a sunshine break.
Whatever kind of beach floats your boat, you’ll find it here, from wide swathes of golden sand, perfect for kicking back on a sun-lounger, to rocky, tucked away coves where you can bare all should you fancy.
If you’re travelling with kids, there are plenty of shops, restaurants and bars, as well as the Sea Life Aquarium, a cable car ride and the pretty Paloma Park, complete with a children's playground. For adults, the pedestrianised town centre is packed with bars and nightclubs.
With gloriously golden, sandy beaches and one of the prettiest, whitewashed towns on the Costa del Sol, Nerja could be another contender for the best all-rounder, but it’s also a firm favourite with snorkellers, scuba divers and walkers.
The huge array of fantastic marine life around Nerja’s rocky headlands are a scuba diver’s and snorkeller’s dream, and there’s also paddle surfing, kayaking, windsurfing and jet-skiing on offer.
If you prefer to stay on land, you’ll find gorgeous countryside, waterfalls and spectacular views on the walking trails around La Maroma mountain and the Rio Chillar.
If you want to get away from the hullabaloo of the larger Costa del Sol resorts and instead kick back in a picture-postcard hilltop village with sun-soaked beaches nearby, Mijas ticks every box.
Made up of two halves – Mijas Pueblo (or town) and Mijas Costa – you’ll get the best of both worlds here. In Mijas Pueblo, you’ll find a classic Andalusian whitewashed village filled with narrow, bougainvillea-draped streets and cobbled squares – perfect for whiling away an hour or three over a sangria or coffee. There are also gorgeous hillside walks through the countryside on your doorstep.
On the nearby coast at Cala Mijas, you’ll find golden sands, warm, child-friendly water and a children’s play park.
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