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For a standard package of sun-and-sand in a three-star all-inclusive Costa del Sol hotel in 2016 or 2017, check out what the biggest resorts have to offer. At tourist-geared destinations such as Fuengirola, Benalmádena and Torremolinos, things revolve around spacious sandy beaches and there are ample cheap hotels and family-friendly apartment blocks.
Benalmádena is probably the buzziest of the three, with its bars and clubs attracting a stream of thirsty, fun-loving revellers. It’s especially good for those who want late nights and lazy days, though the old town area also offers a distinctly Spanish ambiance too.
In Torremolinos, family Costa del Sol resort hotels are widely available, with everything from kids’ clubs to children’s menus designed to keep the younger generation smiling, though you won’t have to look too hard to find somewhere that will serve you a drink or three.
Torremolinos is also home to heritage attractions, including the 15th-century Pimentel Tower, which is just a stone’s throw from many of the resort’s hotels.
If you are looking for something with a little more glitz, turn your attention toward the Costa del Sol’s luxury four-star and five-star hotels in Marbella.
Close by, Puerto Banús is a hangout for the filthy rich, chic and shiny; it attracts a designer-clad, yacht-owning crowd. Its exclusive restaurants and plush bars cater to those with well-stuffed wallets.
The nightlife in Marbella and Puerto Banús is worth writing a postcard home about. Find out more on our Costa del Sol nightlife page.
If you are after a mellow resort on the Costa del Sol, give Nerja a go.
It has cheap hotels, late-night Brit-thronged bars and a series of gorgeous coves with water so clear you’ll be able to see your toes dangling above the sea bed as you swim. But that isn’t all Nerja has up its sleeve. It also has the palm-fringed cliff-top Balcón de Europa viewpoint, which overlooks the jewel-toned Med, and the stalactite-riddled Cueva de Nerja – caves decorated with 20,000-year-old wall paintings, the handiwork of prehistoric artists.
Costa del Sol holidays typically centre on the beach, but if you’re willing to relinquish direct access to the sand, you can find cheap Costa del Sol hotels or pensiones in one of the inland pueblo blancos (white villages), such as Benaoján, Frigiliana, Montejaque and Olvera.
If you crave a traditional Andalusian touch, but aren’t willing to forgo your fix of barefoot beach time, the Costa del Sol mountain village of Mijas is a good compromise.
You’ll forget it’s 2016 at the white-washed, pine-bordered Mijas Pueblo, where donkeys serve as taxis and matadors flash red capes at horned beasts in the local bullring.
Just a quick journey downhill via the more modern parts of town and you can strip down to your swimwear at Mijas’ Blue Flag-awarded golden strip of sand, Playa de la Cala Mijas.
Last but by no means least is the regional capital, Málaga. With its dynamic art and cultural scene, fountain-filled historic centre and top-notch, seafood-stocked tapas bars, Málaga has proven itself not to just be a jumping-off point for the coast, but a fully-fledged holiday destination in its own right.
In this urban stretch of the Costa del Sol, cheap hotels as well as luxury spa hotels vie for the attention of visitors.