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Costa del Sol

Regularly derided but perennially popular, Spain’s famous ‘sun coast’ is a chameleonic agglomeration of end-to-end resort towns that were once (hard to believe) mere fishing villages. Development in the last 60 years has been far-reaching and not always subtle, throwing up a disjointed muddle of urbanizaciones, each with its own niche. Torremolinos is a popular gay resort, Benalmádena plugs theme parks and aquariums, Fuengirola draws families and water-sport lovers, Mijas poses as one of Andaucía's authentic white villages of yore, Marbella is loudly rich and partial to big yachts and golf, while Estepona maintains a semblance of its former Spanish self. Take your pick.

The coast east of Málaga, sometimes described as the Costa del Sol Oriental, is less developed. The suburban sprawl of Málaga extends through a series of unmemorable and unremarkable seaside towns that pass in a concrete high-rise blur before culminating in more attractive Nerja.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Costa del Sol.