If you’re looking for a reliably warm European destination, look no further than Costa Del Sol, Spain. In the province of Malaga, this region is home to 103 towns and villages and boasts more than 320 days of sun a year, one of the highest in Europe. With a diverse range of cities, landscapes, food, traditions, in-land villages, and even mountains, there’s a wide range of things to do in Costa Del Sol Spain besides soaking up the sun on their 100 miles of beaches.
Things to do in Costa del Sol Spain
Costa del Sol is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Andalucia. There are tons of things to do with a long, glittering coastline offering beach bars, pool resorts, snorkeling, kayaking, and more. Costa del Sol also has a magnificent mountain range overlooking the beaches that boast some of the best hikes in Malaga.
In addition, you can spot an ocean of golf courses spreading out across the countryside between the mountains and the coast. Here are 10 of the best things to do in Costa del Sol and why the region draws so many visitors yearly.
1. See A Stunning Sunset from the Mountains
Costa del Sol boasts some of the most astounding sunsets with golden light playing on the glittering Mediterranean. While it is truly magical to see the sunset from the beach, there is nothing like getting up high to see the color show on the sky with towns lighting up below.
Among the best places to see the sunset is the Mirador de Gibralfaro, a viewpoint right below the Gibralfaro Castle in Malaga city. You can combine it with a visit to the castle in the evening and walk down by sunset to take advantage of the sweeping views.
Another beautiful spot for sunset is the Ermita del Calvario above Mijas Pueblo. This is a bit of an uphill hike but gives the best views of the village and the deep blue sea. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, hike a little further on the red trail to enjoy a sunset in nature. You might get lucky and see mountain goats along the way too. If you do this, make sure you wear proper shoes and pants for hiking as you’re in the middle of the mountain.
Top tip: In the months between January and May, be careful not to step on or touch any Pine Processionary Caterpillars. The tiny hairy larvae are usually found in areas with pine trees and come down from their nests (looking like white spider web balls) in the pine trees to walk in processions, often up to 2 meters long. Their hairs are poisonous enough to kill a dog and can create extreme irritation and rash in grown-up humans.
2. Shop At The Historical City Of Malaga
Calle Larios in Malaga’s historic center is famous for its shopping. One of the best things to do in Costa del Sol Spain is no doubt to spend a day browsing the shops. You find anything from H&M and Pull&Bear to Victoria’s Secret. However, if you are looking for more high-end shopping, several shopping centers in Malaga, especially El Corte Ingles, are famous for their luxury shopping.
3. Travel Back In Time At The Alhambra
Not exactly on Costa del Sol, but the Alhambra in Granada is a must-visit attraction while you are so close. Alhambra is one of the most visited sites in Costa del Sol and Spain. The Moorish castle, fortress, and gardens are among the country’s best-preserved and tell a tale about what life was like centuries ago. In addition, it is a wonderful place to learn about the history of Andalucia and illustrates a lot of where today’s culture comes from.
There are several guided tours from Costa del Sol if you do not have a car. However, tickets must be booked in advance as they quickly get sold out.
4. Take A Road Trip To See The Whitewashed and “Smurf” Villages
One of the biggest attractions in Andalucia is no arguing the whitewashed villages dotted throughout the countryside and mountains. The best way to see them is by car. Go on a road trip to see at least 3-4 villages.
- Among the best ones is Frigiliana above Nerja, nominated the most beautiful Pueblo Blanco for its colorful pot plants decorating the terraced mountain village overlooking the sea.
- Setenil de Las Bodegas is a unique village built inside the rock walls featuring a rock-covered street with restaurants built inside the walls.
- Juzcar, aka the Smurf village, is a favorite for the kids. The village is actually not white. It is blue. And there is a Smurf theme throughout the village with fun activities for the whole family.
- Other white villages visiting on Costa del Sol worth are Ojén, Istan, Mijas Pueblo, Tolox, and Zahara de la Sierra.
5. Hike To A Waterfall
Hidden in the mountains behind the coastline, there is a vast network of rivers pressing through narrow ravines and elegantly cascading into lush waterfalls.
Hiking to a waterfall is one of the most memorable things to do in Costa del Sol. In the summer months, head to Rio Chillar, a river walk above Nerja taking you through narrow ravines and swimming holes. The whole hike is in the water, so make sure you bring good shoes that can get wet and a dry bag for hiking to keep your stuff dry. This is a good 8-hour hike, so you must bring a lot of water and food for the entire day.
Outside the summer months, head to Faraján, where you can hike the Chorradas de Balastar. This is a 2-hour hike taking you through lush countryside to two beautiful waterfalls. Another great hike to do for multiple waterfalls is the Sendero de Las Cascadas in Tolox, Sierra de Las Nieves.
The two latter hikes can get extremely hot on a sunny day as they are not taking you through a river. So avoid doing them between June and September, and wear a hat and sunscreen on a sunny day, no matter what time of the year.
6. Do Some Wine Tasting
Among the best things to do in Costa del Sol is to go on a wine tasting tour in Serrania de Ronda. While there are many amazing white villages along the route, Serrania de Ronda is also known for its wine.
Wine cultivation has been taking place in Andalucia since the 1st and 2nd century BC, and wines like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, and Acinipo, among others, are still being cultivated.
Serrania de Ronda is one of the finest wine regions in Andalucia, and there are numerous wine yards in the area. On a wine tour of Serrania de Ronda, you will taste exquisite wine and learn more about the wine cultivation in Andalucia.
7. Cross An International Border Into Gibraltar
The tiny peninsula of Gibraltar is situated right off the coast of Cadiz’s La Linea, a short drive from the popular surf town of Tarifa. An easy day trip from Costa del Sol, and you find yourself on British territory.
Gibraltar is mainly known for its wild monkeys stealing from tourists, so look after your stuff when heading up to the Rock of Gibraltar. This is where you get the iconic views of the rock with the mainland in the background and can get tickets to visit the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, including the Ape’s Den, Saint Michael’s Cave, and the O’Hara’s Battery.
Gibraltar also has a number of other attractions worth your time. Head to the mosque, see the lighthouse at Europe Point, explore the Moorish Castle, and grab a bite to eat at the main square of Gibraltar’s historical center.
Day tours to Gibraltar leave daily from Malaga and the largest cities and towns on Costa del Sol.
Top tip! Do not forget your passport as you are crossing a country border.
8. Play A Round Of Golf
With more than 70 golf courses, Costa del Sol is commonly referred to as Costa del Golf. The coast is jam-packed with world-class golf resorts and a popular destination among golfers from all over Europe. The easy accessibility to reach Malaga airport and play golf in one of the best climates in Europe says it all.
The highest concentration of golf courses is between Mijas and Marbella. Stay in Cabopino, Mijas, or Chapparal to be close to the best ones. Alternatively, Fuengirola and Marbella are good places to base yourself to drive to the nearby golf courses.
9. The Alcazaba
No trip to Costa del Sol is complete without visiting Malaga’s top attractions, and the Alcazaba is truly one of them. Being the best-preserved Alcazaba in Spain, the fortification towers above the city’s ancient Roman Theater.
When the Moors built the Alcazaba in the 11th century, it was used to defend Malaga against the Christians. Today, it offers spectacular views of Malaga and its port, while you can meander the gardens and courtyards and admire the ancient fountains decorating the courtyards. There is also an Archaeological Museum where you can see a vast Moorish ceramics and pottery collection.
Top tip: Entry to the Alcazaba is free on Sundays after 14:00.
10. Hike El Caminito Del Rey
Once known as one of the most dangerous hikes in the world, El Caminito del Rey was renovated and reopened in 2015. The walkway is pinned up to 100 meters up the vertical rock wall in the jaw-dropping Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Gorge.
The path goes just above the old, destroyed path, which has collapsed in several places so you can see it along the walk. This is not for the faint-hearted, though we assure you the path is now secure, and entry is controlled. You will get a mandatory helmet and security brief before your walk, whether you go on a guided tour or not.
The walk takes about 2 hours one way, and for the other direction, there is a shuttle bus that you have to pay cash on the bus. However, it is only 1.55 Euros. There are trains from Malaga to El Chorro, where the shuttle bus takes you to the start of the hike.
Top tip: Book your tickets online as early as possible as they get sold out quickly.
Visting Costa Del Sol Spain: FAQ’s
Is Costa del Sol safe?
Costa del Sol is a fairly safe destination. You need to watch your stuff like anywhere else in Europe. Occasional violent incidents happen, especially at night around nightclubs and bars, so it is recommended to take a taxi or walk-in busy streets over empty, dark streets at night.
What is Costa del Sol known for?
Costa del Sol is known for beaches, parties, golf, water sports, and hiking.
Is Costa del Sol expensive?
Compared to other parts of Andalucia, Costa del Sol is expensive, especially the areas around Marbella and Puerto Banus, which are mainly known for luxury. On the other hand, most parts of Costa del Sol are inexpensive compared to other countries – especially in northern Europe.
Where is Costa del Sol Spain?
Costa del Sol Spain stretches 150 kilometers from La Linea in the west to Nerja in the east, covering mainly Malaga province’s coastline.
How Do I Get To Costa Del Sol Spain?
If you’re traveling from Europe, Asia, the Middle East you can fly directly into the Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport, one of Spain’s busiest airports. As post-pandemic flights begin to be added back to flight maps, look out for the return of direct flights from New York City and Toronto.
If you’re already in Spain, you can take a high-speed train to Costa Del Sol from Madrid Barcelona, Seville, Valencia and other cities. From Madrid, the travel time is 2.5 hours.
Linn Haglund is a blogger and content creator from Norway who has spent 10 years living in Andalucia. Today, she calls Mijas in Malaga home. While she love traveling the world, she never sits still when at home either. When she’s not working on my travel blog, Brainy Backpackers, or Andalucia Hiking she’s out exploring Andalucia, with her dog Ayla, and a lot of that exploring happens on the hiking trails taking in the beautiful scenery.