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Sunshine and sophistication combine to offer a luxurious break in the soul of southern Spain, the Costa del Sol

Boasting sensational sunshine and a taste of how the other half lives, the Costa del Sol region offers visitors the refreshing blend of relaxation and exploration a good holiday entails. Part of the Andalusia region, found in the south of Spain, this coastal area combines quaint towns that retain the traditional Spanish feel alongside more cosmopolitan locations offering modern glitz and glamour.

Take a day out in the main city, Málaga, where you can witness traditional festivals and see the Costa del Sol at its most Andalusian, or take a wander around upmarket towns like Puerto Banus and keep your eye open for celebrities as well as designer gear. Wherever you go, the ‘Sun Coast’ will spoil you with beautiful beaches and inspiring views.

 

Top holidays in Costa del Sol

Culture and history

Spain itself is predominantly Roman Catholic by religion, but the diversity of the Costa del Sol’s population means a range of practised in the region. Málaga is renowned for its Holy Week celebrations, during which you’ll see processions march through the historic centre and groups of Catholics publicly show penitence. You might even see Hollywood superstar Antonio Banderas, who regularly returns to his home city of Málaga in Holy Week to attend the celebration.

If you come to the Costa del Sol in August for your holiday, you should catch the Málaga Fair. This annual festival takes place in Málaga city and celebrates the re-conquest of the city by the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella I and Ferdinand II, in 1487. The fair gets off to an explosive start with a firework display, then the next day you’ll see ladies out on the streets in flamenco dresses and dancing the ‘Sevillanas’, the traditional dance of Andalusia. You’ll see plenty of sherry in this time too! The Málaga fair is typically Andalusian and normally takes place in the third week of August, running from Saturday through to the Sunday of the following week.

Things to do

A Saga holiday to the Costa del Sol is a lesson in luxury and relaxation. Explore the scenery and relax in sleepy seaside towns, or enjoy the best of everything a holiday on the Mediterranean coast can offer and see something of the luxurious lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Málaga 

This famous port city needs little introduction. Visit for the historic Moorish architecture of the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle, refresh your body and mind with delicious Andalusian cuisine then wander among the city looking at traditional and contemporary-chic shops.

Proud to be the birthplace of Picasso, the city offers you plenty to sate your hunger for art as well. The Museo Picasso Málaga showcases his life and works, and the nearby ‘mile of art’ offers exhibitions of pieces by Pompidou, and collections of regional art at the Carmen Thyssen Museum.

Puerto Banus

Anyone who has a penchant for the finer things in life should place Puerto Banus on their holiday itinerary. This glitzy harbour town, situated just six kilometres west of Marbella, is the epitome of the glamorous lifestyle. Admire the elegant yachts in the harbour, browse and buy clothes by designer labels in the shopping centres or even go autograph hunting, as this town is a popular haunt of the rich and famous. If you prefer classic holiday relaxation to high-end glitz, you can soak up the sun on the silky sands of the town’s three main beaches. 

Nerja

The former fishing village of Nerja sits flanked by the Sierra Almijara mountain range and has escaped the development of high-rise buildings that sometimes takes the sheen off some resorts. Located in the east of the Costa del Sol, the town proudly places 16 kilometres of beaches at your disposal, and if you walk along the Balcón de Europa (Balcony of Europe) you’ll be able to take in a staggering view of the mountains.

Of course, while you’re visiting this town, you should also explore the mysterious Cuevas de Nerja. These caves stretch for nearly five kilometres and feature three different galleries which contain several halls and paintings.

Benalmadena

Lying merely 20 minutes by car from the popular town of Torremolinos, Benalmadena tailors itself to visitors with three varied areas. Benalmadena Costa offers you relaxation on sun-kissed beaches, while Benalmadena Pueblo serves up elegance with its pretty squares and fine dining opportunities. Finally, Arroyo de la Miel was once a sleepy village but has transformed into the region’s go-to place for shopping.

You also have opportunities to appreciate nature in Benalmadena. Dolphin and whale watching trips are a popular pastime, and you can also do some birdwatching. The Jardin de las Águilas centre is committed to raising and protecting different species of birds of prey. You’ll see eagles, hawks, falcons and other birds there, all expertly supervised by experienced bird handlers.

Flight time

Direct flights to Malaga from London take just under 3 hours – plenty of time to finish a few chapters of your book, or read a magazine from the airport.

Currency

Euro - Just like in the rest of Spain, the unit of currency in the Costa del Sol is the euro. This is subdivided into 100 cents.

Passports and visas

Unless you’re planning to stay for more than three months, you don’t need anything more than a passport that is valid for the duration of your stay in Spain. If, however, your passport states you have a passport other than that of ‘British citizen’, or one that displays your right of abode, you may require a visa and should consult the nearest Spanish embassy before travelling.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

Practice these simple phrases to help with everyday interactions in restaurants, shops and hotels

¡Hola! – Hello

Buenos días – Good morning

¡Perdón! – Excuse me

Por favour – Please

Gracias – Thank you

¿Cuánto cuesta? – How much is this?

Me gustaría – I would like

¿Habla inglés? – Do you speak English?

¡Salud! – Cheers!

Timezone

Spain observes Central European Standard Time, placing it an hour ahead of the UK. In late March, the Spaniards switch to Daylight Saving Time, staying an hour ahead of British Summer Time (BST) until both switch back to normal in late October. With only an hour’s difference, this means that jet lag needn’t be a concern!

Electricity

As a part of Spain, and Europe, the Costa del Sol’s homes and hotels have continental sockets, so you’ll require an adaptor. The typical plugs are IEC Type F, accommodating plugs with two round prongs, such as the Type C and E plugs. The standard voltage is 220 V, which shouldn’t prove a problem for British appliances.

Language

Spanish; Castilian - Being a part of Spain, the main language in the Costa del Sol is Spanish, but the high levels of tourism mean that English is widely spoken throughout the region, especially in touristic areas. The Spanish will always appreciate it if you take the time to try to speak the language, so why not brush up on your Spanish before you go?

Tipping

The Spanish have a laid-back attitude when it comes to tipping. Taxi drivers in the Costa del Sol region don’t expect tips, but you should agree the fare with them before getting in the taxi. If you do wish to tip them, a euro or two is enough.

At restaurants, service is not included, but the most you’re expected to leave as a tip is 10% of the bill. This is customary, although locals will tend to round up to the nearest five euros.

Climate

Costa del Sol means “Sun Coast”, and with good reason. Temperatures start to heat up in May, reaching a pleasant average of 19 degrees Celsius and rising each month until August when it hits 26 degrees Celsius. The average high temperature pushes towards the 30s in August. Throughout summer, there will be plenty of days when you’ll see not a cloud in the sky. Outside of summer, the weather is generally mild, and not even winter stops a lot of people from walking happily around in their shorts!

Health

Information and advice on health is often subject to change, so you should check with your GP at least six weeks before you travel to see if you require any vaccinations.

For further information and to prepare for your trip, you can visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit.

Population and size

The Costa del Sol’s coastline stretches for nearly 300 kilometres from Gibraltar in the east to La Herradura in the west, but it’s the section between Estepona and Nerja that steals the show. The large numbers of expats alone make it hard to state an exact number of inhabitants in the Costa del Sol. The region has a shifting number of expats from Britain, once estimated at 300,000 people, and that’s not counting the temporary population on holiday in the area.

Smoking

Spain has introduced European anti-smoking laws, and the Costa del Sol is no different in that respect. Since January 2011, smoking has been prohibited in all enclosed public spaces, including bars. If you’re sitting at an outside table of a bar, you’ll be likely permitted to light up. If you’re in a park, near a school or a health care centre or other public space, it would be advisable not to smoke.



Climate

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