Over several decades the Costa Del Sol has developed into one of Europe’s premier holiday destinations based largely on its climate which provides around 300 sunny days per year with hot, dry summers and mild winters. Malaga airport is the key gateway to the region which attracts more than two million annual visitors. Most of the tourist development has taken place to the west of Malaga as mega resorts have grown out of what were no more than fishing villages in the 1960s.
The main resorts include Torremolinos, Benalmadena and Fuengirola which are very close to the airport. Further along the coast lie Marbella with its famous marina at Puerto Banus, Estepona, Sotogrande and finally Gibraltar where the Costa del Sol comes to an end. Tourist developments to the east of Malaga are mainly geared towards domestic tourism until you reach the popular resort of Nerja which attracts mainly foreign visitors.
Malaga Airport lies 13km south-west of the city centre of the city of Malaga in the south of Spain. With over 14 million passengers passing through its terminals it is Spain’s 4th busiest airport and serves as the gateway to the holiday resorts of the Costa del Sol. The airport has three terminals with flights to more than 100 European destinations and many cities in Spain. The Irish budget airlines Ryanair offer many routes to and from Malaga whilst the Spanish low-cost carrier, Vueling, also have a major presence here. Transport services to Costa del Sol holiday destinations include buses, trains, taxis and a number of private transfer options.
Best Time to Visit the Costa del Sol
One of the most common questions we’ve been asked over the years of running this is website is “What will the weather be like on the Costa del Sol in MONTH”. Ten years ago I’d have confidently been able to give you a fairly reliable answer but in these days of global warming I tend to sit on the fence if people are visiting during the off season as weather patterns have certainly changed and can’t be predicted with the certainty of not so long ago. Having said that you’re not likely to have any great problems with the weather if you’re heading down to the south of Spain during the summer months.
The tourist brochures don’t lie when they claim that this region gets over 300 days of annual sunshine, so you’d be very unlucky to have anything but great weather during July and August. June and September aren’t necessarily as reliable but again it’s fair to say that you can expect great weather during those months. In temperature terms you can expect it to reach around 30ºC during those peak summer months with little or no rain. The odd summer storm is often a welcome respite from the soaring heat. Personally I’d aim to visit the region in May, June or September when temperatures are still very nice but with the added advantage that places are often more relaxed outside school holidays.
Golfers often refer to the region as the ‘Costa del Golf‘ which isn’t surprising considering conditions for the sport are idyllic and attract players all year round. Certainly May, June and September are great months for golf tourism but the region is also popular during the winter months when daytime temperatures average around 16ºC. For holidaymakers there’s an element of luck involved in what your weather will be like during these off peak months. Daytime temperatures will most likely be very pleasant with a bit of a chill in the evening. As for rain, you never know. Rainy days certainly occur during the winter and are fairly unpredictable though they rarely last more than a few days. Not much use if you’re only there for a week I suppose!
In summary … peak summer (July/August) will most likely be fabulous weather, May, June and September are usually some of the best months to visit, and the winter is generally very mild but rather unpredictable.
Costa del Sol Resorts
During the 1950s and 60s Torremolinos was converted from a quaint fishing village into the Costa del Sol’s original tourist resort. Today it is a concrete jungle but with fine beaches and ample accommodation it has plenty to offer. It is the closest holiday resort to Malaga airport.
Benalmadena is the nearby neighbour of Torremolinos, lying just a short distance to the south-west of Malaga airport.It is home to a wide range of accommodation options including luxury apartments on purpose built urbanisations and a 5 star hotel with casino.
Further west comes Fuengirola which has experienced huge development such that today the resort extends for some 10km along the coastine with intensive developments of hotels and apartments creating one of Spain’s mega-resorts. It is is especially popular with British tourists of all ages especially families and middle aged groups.
Marbella was one of Europe’s original playgrounds for the rich and famous. Today it imay not be considered as quite so exclusive remains an upmarket resort town. The central area offers a great number of hotels and apartments near excellent beaches whilst the quaint old town remains intact. It’s an ideal base from which to play the region’s world class golf courses.
Puerto Banus was established long ago as a favourite haunt of Europe’s jet set. Today it is still home to multimillion dollar yachts and flash cars but is also open for business to everyone.
Estepona is 75km from Malaga airport and is the most westerly of the Costa del Sol’s main resorts. It has avoided the worst of large scale property development and is an ideal choice for those people looking for a quiet beach holiday.
Sotogrande marina is the first port of call for yachts entering the Mediterranean. It is also home to two of Europe’s finest golf courses including Valderrama which hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup.
Holidaymakers who take the time to visit Malaga will discover a gem of a city which is home to a much visited Picasso Museum in its fascinating old quarter. Historical attractions include a Roman theatre and Moorish palace whilst the city’s commercial centre and vibrant social life add to its popularity.
Mijas Pueblo stands high up the mountain above the coastal resorts and is a popular ½ day excursion from the Costa del Sol whilst Mijas Costa is the resort on the coast below which attracts mass tourism to its many attractions.
Nerja is a charming holiday destination which is the most easterly of the Costa del Sol resorts. It’s a fairly upmarket destination with a good selection of low rise accommodation, good beaches and excellent restaurants.
Things to Do on the Costa del Sol
The climate of southern Spain is such that golf can be played all year round which has turned it into one of the world’s great golfing destinations . With more than seventy courses to play on, excellent accommodation options first class tourism infrastructure the Costa del Sol attracts golfers from all over the world.
There are so many things to do on the Costa del Sol thanks largely to its extensive coastline which is conducive to water based activities. Every resort caters for its visitors with a variety of pastimes such as kitesurfing, scuba diving and even dolphin and whale watching. The local markets which take place in different resorts each day always prove popular with visitors.
For something more cultural you can take full day excursions to the great Moorish cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada or shorter trips into Malaga and Mijas or to the lovely town of Ronda. Other popular tours include Gibraltar and Tangier in Morocco which is only a short catamaran journey across the the Straits of Gibraltar.
Costa del Sol Holiday Rentals
Marbella and Puerto Banus have long been recognised as the jet-set capital of the Costa del Sol where many celebrities from around the world are owners of luxury villas. For those of us without the means to buy luxury holiday homes there are plenty affordable villas and apartments available for short-term holiday lets in this area.
A great way to enjoy the Costa del Sol is to arrange a private rental then pick up a hire car at Malaga airport. This provides you with return transfer from the airport and the flexibility to take some great day excursions to the likes of Ronda, Gibraltar, Cordoba and Seville. For othere a private villa rental is an ideal way of staying in close proximity to a range of world class golf courses.