Costa del Sol: the perfect destination for your luxury holiday villa

Experience unparalleled luxury with our holiday villa rentals on the Costa del Sol.

 

Our luxury holiday villas on the Costa del Sol are as varied as its landscapes: from mountain retreats to beachfront sanctuaries, authentic rustic charm to sleek minimalism, traditional to ultramodern, or an enchanting hybrid of styles. But they all have one thing in common: stunning design, lavish amenities and breathtaking views. Our matchless offer of luxury villas, exceptional tailored hospitality service, and the Costa del Sol’s captivating cultural and natural heritage will guarantee a holiday to remember.

 

If you’re looking for the perfect luxury villa to rent on the Costa del Sol for your vacation, you’re in the right place. Have a look at our curated collection of exclusive holiday villa rentals on the Costa del Sol and choose the one for you!

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Villa La Graciosa

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GUESTS

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1500 m²

Welcome to Villa La Graciosa, a spacious and luxurious rental property designed for those who know how to unwind and have fun. It is more than simply a lovely façade.

BOOK NOW FROM €
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Villa La Roca

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12 GUESTS

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1750 m²

This modern Marbella Villa La Roca, designed by a famous Spanish architect, offers elegance in Sierra Blanca. Enjoy spacious living areas, eco-friendly features, and breathtaking views.

BOOK NOW FROM 8500 €
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Villa Magda

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10 GUESTS

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2052 m²

Villa Magda is located in an elevated position, with panoramic views of the sea, within the most sought-after sector of the prestigious residential area of La Zagaleta Golf & Country Club.

BOOK NOW FROM 10000 €
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Villa Bulería

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12 GUESTS

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990 m²

Step into Villa Bulería, an exquisite Andalusian Hacienda where contemporary decor meets traditional charm. With panoramic mountain views, a stunning pool, cinema.

BOOK NOW FROM 2750 €
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Villa Palo Alto

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10 GUESTS

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1000 m²

Villa Palo Alto is a show-stoppingly cool and contemporary 4-bedroom luxury villa, set on high in peaceful grounds in the exclusive La Zagaleta residential resort.

BOOK NOW FROM 4500 €
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Villa La Bambola

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12 GUESTS

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1186 m²

Villa La Bambola is a spectacularly beautiful 7-bedroom mansion set in a prime location in the prestigious La Zagaleta Golf & Country Club, just a short drive from Marbella.

BOOK NOW FROM 4500 €
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Villa El Aire

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10 GUESTS

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600 m²

This impeccably designed contemporary luxury vacation home is located in La Alquería, a private gated development next to the Atalaya Golf & Country club.

BOOK NOW FROM 1400 €
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Villa El Cielo

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12 GUESTS

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2000 m²

Villa El Cielo in Marbella offers a luxurious retreat with 6 bedrooms, a rooftop pool, and breathtaking sea views. Experience opulence in this ultramodern manor, available for rent with a Villa Manager and concierge services.

BOOK NOW FROM 4250 €
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Villa Mirador

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18 GUESTS

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1000 m²

Villa Mirador is a fabulously refined 9-bedroom Mediterranean residence set in beautiful gardens towering above the coast in the exclusive La Zagaleta resort.

BOOK NOW FROM 4500 €
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Villa Cayetana

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12 GUESTS

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1390 m²

Villa Cayetana is a spectacular 6-bedroom luxury villa to rent in La Zagaleta on a stunning elevated plot with panoramic sea views.

BOOK NOW FROM 6950 €
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Villa Panamera

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15 GUESTS

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900 m²

Hacienda Panamera provides a masterclass in the art of positioning the right property in the right location: this truly imposing colonial-Andalusian style residence is a haven of peace and privacy

BOOK NOW FROM 1550 €
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Villa Breeze

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14 GUESTS

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945 m2
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The elegant 7-bedroom Villa Breeze occupies a prime location in the exclusive La Zagaleta Resort, set amid beautifully landscaped grounds with stunning views, and offering a blend of classic colonial style and modern comforts.

BOOK NOW FROM 2950 €
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Villa Zagala

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10 GUESTS

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1000 m²

The beautiful colonial-style Villa Zagala is set on a vast elevated plot with stunning views of the Ronda Mountains and golf courses, offering guests sophisticated charm and luxurious comfort.

BOOK NOW FROM 1750 €
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Villa La Vega

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GUESTS

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920 m²

Villa La Vega is a beautiful mansion situated in the famous gated enclave of Vega del Colorado in Benahavis, Malaga. This magnificent hotel combines elegance, comfort, and contemporary conveniences.

BOOK NOW FROM 4400 €
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Villa Fina

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12 GUESTS

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550 m²

Villa Fina is an contemporary but elegant architect-designed villa in Benahavis, near Marbella, where refined luxury and artistic coherence combine with the perfect homely atmosphere.

BOOK NOW FROM 2500 €
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La Perla Romana

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GUESTS

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198 m²

La Perla Romana is a totally restored southwest-facing apartment in the famed Japanese Gardens of the Marina Puente Romano development

BOOK NOW FROM 950 €
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Hacienda Tramores

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20 GUESTS

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1000 m²

This luxury country house is an exclusive hideaway set in 600 acres of private woodland, filled with antiques and original features, and imbued with historical character.

BOOK NOW FROM 2450 €
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Villa Silvana

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14 GUESTS

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8625m2 m²

2500m2 built villa is spacious and stylish home has been built in an original, modern and contemporary design to exceptional quality & comfort.

BOOK NOW FROM 3312 €
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Villa La Cartujana

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12 GUESTS

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1200 m²

This magnificent 5-bedroom luxury villa set in gorgeous, landscaped gardens is located in Guadalmina, just five kilometres from the beach and a short drive from Puerto Banús and San Pedro de Alcántara.

BOOK NOW FROM 2950 €
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Villa del Agua

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16 GUESTS

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1100 m²

This modern 7-bedroom beachfront villa to rent comprises two interconnected properties and is just a short stroll from Puerto Banús.

BOOK NOW FROM 2950 €
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Villa La Armonía

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8 GUESTS

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600 m²

Nestled in the heart of Nueva Andalucía’s Golf Valley, Villa La Armonía is a stunning contemporary residence located within an exclusive, boutique-style, ultra-secure development.

BOOK NOW FROM 1550 €
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Villa Infinita

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8 GUESTS

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1000 m²

Split over two floors and situated in peaceful private grounds, the property offers guests an unrivalled level of comfort, outstanding location, space and lodge retreat style.

BOOK NOW FROM 1950 €
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Hacienda La Española

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16 GUESTS

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1145 m²

Welcome to Hacienda la Española, hidden away in the most desirable area of Marbella’s Golden Mile, Los Verdiales steps away from Hotel Puente Romano.

BOOK NOW FROM 8142 €
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Hacienda El Encanto

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12 GUESTS

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900 m²

This absolutely stunning 6-bedroom villa is located in El Madroñal, a prestigious gated residential estate, surrounded by cork oak and pine forests, just a short drive from Puerto Banús.

BOOK NOW FROM 1750 €
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Villa Amorosa

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10 GUESTS

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The perfect marriage of nature and modern on the outside, charm and authenticity of a small country side village, while the inside reveals the luxury and amenities of Marbella lifestyle.

BOOK NOW FROM 750 €
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Costa del Sol: Spain’s sunshine coast

The Costa del Sol is a major tourist destination in Andalucía, Southern Spain, stretching along 150km of the Mediterranean coastline across the provinces of Málaga and Cádiz. The sunshine coast lives up to its name, promising over 300 days of sun every year, and with its sandy beaches and unique combination of historical legacy, cultural diversity and scenic beauty, it’s no surprise that visitors from all over the world are drawn to its shores.

 

What to do on the Costa del Sol

 

The Costa del Sol has 150km of coastline, with 125 sun-drenched beaches, dozens of fantastic beach clubs and many water sports and sea-based activities on offer.

 

The area is famous for its varied and lively cultural scene encompassing religious celebrations, music, dance and cuisine, with a host of events honouring the region’s deep-rooted traditions.

 

Affectionately referred to as the Costa del Golf, the region is one of Europe’s top golfing destinations, with over 70 golf courses. The Costa del Sol’s perfect climate, spectacular natural setting, and world-class courses with prestigious clubhouses, attract amateur and professional golfers from all over the world.

 

The Costa del Sol’s beaches may be a big draw, but the region’s natural heritage makes it a popular destination for nature lovers. The region’s protected nature reserves and natural parks, and diverse landscapes comprising mountain ranges, fertile plains, rivers and lakes, and ancient oak and fir forests, make it an appealing destination for hikers, cyclists, horse riders and those that simply want to reconnect with nature.

 

The Costa del Sol is renowned for its culinary excellence. Fresh, local produce, regional delicacies, traditional homemade cooking or the creative fusion of international cuisines can be enjoyed at an extensive choice of eateries, from informal beach chiringuitos and tapas bars, to Michelin-starred restaurants, and everything in between.

 

You can shop to your heart’s delight on the Costa del Sol: whether you’re looking for designer fashion, traditional gastronomical fare, artisan souvenirs or fresh local produce, the region’s luxury boutiques, shopping centres and traditional markets can fulfil every whim.

 

If you’re in need of a spot of pampering, the Costa del Sol has a wealth of luxury spas and wellness centres where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life and indulge in facials, massages and an assortment of traditional and modern treatments drawn from Eastern and Western techniques.

 

The Costa del Sol offers umpteen children’s activities from theme parks to animal parks, water-based activities, horse riding, trampolining, ziplining, karting, buggy rides and many more. Little ones won’t have time to be bored!

 

In a nutshell, the Costa del Sol has something for everyone: from history-steeped towns to charming white-washed pueblos; iconic architecture to natural wonders; beautiful beaches to stunning mountain ranges; traditional charm to Andalusian-style sophistication; wholesome home cooking to a fusion of gastronomical delights. You’ll have to come here to discover it for yourself!

 

The Costa del Sol at a glance

 

From coastal towns to mountain villages, authentic Andalusian tradition to glamorous sophistication, each place has its own distinct character and individual appeal. Read on for an overview of some of the most interesting sites to visit during your vacation on the Costa del Sol.

Málaga

With one of the busiest international airports in Spain, Málaga is a main gateway to the Costa del Sol and Andalucía. The city is a captivating combination of old and new. The historic Old Town is home to architectural treasures such as the Alcazaba fortress, El Teatro Romano and Gibralfaro Castle, as well as the impressive Renaissance cathedral and charming 19th century Plaza de la Merced. Málaga’s modern side encompasses the Barrio de las Artes neighbourhood – where urban art adorns many of the building’s facades – and Málaga City Port, home to the Pompidou Centre, with its iconic coloured glass cube. Puerto de Málaga is both a busy international seaport and a popular fishing port, the oldest one of its kind in Spain. Its Muelle Uno (Quay One) is a lively retail and leisure complex with over 70 shops, bars and restaurants lining the promenade on one side, opposite luxury yachts moored on the other, with stunning views of La Alcazaba.

 

Málaga is known for being Pablo Picasso’s birthplace, and not surprisingly places art centre stage in its cultural offer. The town showcases the artist’s life and work at venues such as Casa Natal – the house where he was born – and the nearby Picasso museum; you’ll also find a statue of the artist seated in Plaza de la Merced. The CAC Málaga museum is one of the most important contemporary art museums in Europe, occupying an impressive 2,400m space in what used to be the wholesale market. The Carmen Thyssen Museum, housed in a former 16th century palace, displays 19th century Spanish painting from the Thyssen family collection, with a focus on Andalusian artists.

 

Málaga is a wonderful place to simply stroll around, immersing yourself in the ambience of its streets, parks and marina. Don’t miss the pedestrianised Calle Larios with its upscale boutiques and shops, and lively café culture; the Alameda Principal, a lovely tree-lined avenue running from the city centre to the seafront; and El Parque de Málaga, a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, dotted with sculptures and featuring beautiful botanical gardens. Málaga is also famous for its festivals and religious processions: El Carnaval in February, the Málaga film festival and Semana Santa processions in March, and one of the biggest summer fairs in Andalucía – La Feria de Agosto. A 40-minute drive north takes you to the World Heritage Site Antequera Dolmens, one of the largest known ancient megalithic tombs in Europe.

Mijas

The Mijas municipal district extends from the foothills of Sierra de Mijas all the way to the coast, divided into three main areas: the mountain village of Mijas Pueblo, the coastal strip of Mijas Costa, and Las Lagunas, the modern commercial side of town. Mijas Pueblo is a traditional Andalusian village with charming squares and historical buildings such as the resplendent 17th century chapel of San Sebastián, the atmospheric 16th century Ermita de la Virgen de la Peña carved into the rock, and the picturesque Plaza de Toros, reportedly the smallest bullring in Spain. Don’t miss the less-visited neighbourhood of Barrio Santa Ana, with its beautiful little Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios on Plaza de los Siete Caños, a typical white Andalusian village square that has remained unchanged for decades.

 

For an insight into the Andalusian rustic way of life, the Museo Histórico-Etnológico has twelve brilliantly set out rooms displaying agricultural and artisan tools and trades, household objects, two old olive mills, a bakery, a beautiful plant-filled patio and a wine cellar. And for a museum with a difference, pay a visit to the Carromato de Mijas, a museum of miniatures collected over forty years by the Spanish-born “Professor Max” during his travels, displaying over 300 weird and wonderful exhibits, including Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper painted on a grain of rice! If you’re a fan of Picasso or Dalí, the CAC Mijas contemporary art museum is for you, with a floor dedicated to each artist; it also has the second largest ceramics collection by Picasso in the world. All these sites can be travelled to using an alternative mode of transport: you could hail a “burro-taxi” – a donkey-drawn cart or just the donkey’s back – or rent a 100% electric-powered tuk-tuk.

 

Mijas Costa is a 12km stretch of coastline boasting several beautiful beaches, including Playa Calahonda and the lovely semi-urban La Cala de Mijas, with excellent facilities and many water sports on offer. Las Lagunas is for shopping, sports and culture, with a modern and versatile theatre proposing a varied calendar of cultural events. The Mijas golf valley is home to excellent clubs, including Calanova and La Cala, which is the largest golf complex in the area. For nature lovers, there are some stunning walking routes around the Mijas mountains; from Mijas Pueblo, seasoned hikers can take the Pico de Mijas trail, a 14.5km circular route to the highest peak towering 1,150 metres above the village.

 

Mijas Pueblo has a flourishing arts and crafts scene, with many annual festivals and events that celebrate its cultural heritage. The “Vivemijas de Noche” is a varied programme of events held throughout July and August; the 4-day Festival de Teatro puts on performances at the open-air Municipal auditorium in July; the Virgen de la Peña pilgrimage is a major event honouring the town’s patron saint on the 15th of August; and the 5-day Feria de Mijas in September rounds off the summer festivities. Kids will love the Aquamijas water park in Mijas Costa and will go choco-loco for the Mayan Monkey Mijas chocolate factory in Mijas Pueblo, where they (and you!) can learn about the origins of cacao and the world of chocolate, sample their delicious ethically sourced artisan chocolates, or try out their chocolate-making workshops.

Benalmádena

Just 15km east of Mijas, Benalmádena is nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sierra de Mijas mountain range and, like Mijas, is divided into three main areas: Benalmádena Pueblo, Benalmádena Costa, and Arroyo de la Miel, the commercial and residential area. Another perfect example of an Andalusian white-washed village, Mijas Pueblo is steeped in history dating back to the Bronze Age, with highlights including the lovely 17th century Santo Domingo church – the oldest in the municipality with its lush Jardines del Muro gardens – and the Castillo Monumento de Colomares, an intricately carved stone castle-monument dedicated to Christopher Colombus, which holds the Guinness World Record for the smallest church in the world.

 

With 10km of coastline and several Blue Flag awards, Benalmádena Costa has a beach for everyone: the popular promenade-lined Playa Malapesquera, Santa Ana and Arollo de la Miel with their excellent facilities, Playa Bonita with its two sheltered coves and swimming pool, the palm-backed Playa de La Viborilla and nearby secluded coves, and even a naturist beach Playa Benalnatura. The 1,100-berth Puerto Marina is an award-winning port, named “best marina in the world” in 1995 and 1997 for its outstanding facilities and unique architecture, and since 1987 it has consistently been awarded the Blue flag. With over 50 restaurants, countless cafés and bars, shops, a nautical centre, and numerous nightlife venues, the marina is a lively hub for social and sporting life in Benalmádena. It’s also a paradise for kids with Sea Life aquarium, and Prison Island and Laser Island entertainment centres, as well as Selwo Marina park, just a short drive away. For unrivalled views of the Mediterranean and surrounding countryside, step into the Teleférico Benalmádena, a cable car that will whisk you the three kilometres from the coast to Monte Calamorro at 800 metres above sea level. From there you can continue the adventure with equestrian and bird of prey shows, or a hike or bike ride. Benalmádena’s annual festivals and events include the week-long Feria de San Juan in June, the Benalfest music festival in October, the FICCAB International short film and alternative film festival in November and the Festival Internacional de la Navidad fair in December, celebrating Christmas traditions from different countries and cultures throughout the world.

Torremolinos

Located between Benalmádena and Málaga, Torremolinos is a popular seaside resort known for its beaches and vibrant nightlife. In the 1920s and 1930s, several wealthy families chose to have their summer residences built in the area. Subsequently, hotels started to spring up, including the iconic 5-star Hotel Pez Espada in 1959, which became the hub of glamorous events and famous guests. Torremolinos was the first town on the Costa del Sol to be extensively developed, transforming it into the bustling tourist centre it is today. The original village still retains some elements of its traditional Andalusian heritage, including the quaint 18th century neo-classical San Miguel ArcángeI church and the 14th century Torre de Pimentel watchtower. The beautiful Casa de los Navajas, built in 1925 in Neo-Mudéjar style, stands out magnificently above the town’s modern architecture.

 

Torremolinos has 8km of beaches joined by a pretty promenade lined with restaurants and offering a wide range of water and beach sports and leisure activities. The central Playa del Bajondillo and Playa de la Carihuela to the west are separated by a natural landmark known as El Morro or Punta de Torremolinos; and to the east, Playamar and Playa los Alamos are popular with the younger cosmopolitan set for their beach clubs and buzzing nightlife. The charming neighbourhoods of El Bajadillo and La Carihuela offer a more traditional village atmosphere, with narrow streets such as Cuesta del Tajo, with its pretty mosaic-tiled floors, flower-filled balconies, bodegas and tapas bars emblematic of Andalusian life. Parque de la Batería is considered the “green lung” of Torremolinos, covering 74,000 square metres in a prime location above the town, with a large artificial lake with fountains and paddle boat rental, a 15m-high observation tower, a small amphitheatre, gardens with over a thousand trees of 25 different species, and great vistas. Molino de Inca botanical gardens are a tranquil oasis barely two kilometres from the town centre, with over a thousand plant species, water features, a gorgeous Japanese garden, and even a replica of the old mill; it’s also home to twelve bird species, including owls, hawks and eagles.

 

For mountain bikers and hikers, the foothills above Torremolinos comprise a network of trails running through dense pine forests leading to several viewpoints offering some of the most beautiful panoramic views of the Costa del Sol, including La Cañada del Lobo (Wolf’s glen) complete with a statue of a howling wolf. Back in town, the Ruta de los Murales is an initiative started in 2022, with street art gracing many of the town’s walls and buildings, including paintings of stars such as Frank Sinatra and Brigitte Bardot, and artists like Dalí and Picasso and other celebrities who have a connection with the town. Torremolinos’ Príncipe de Asturias Municipal Auditorium is the largest in Andalucía, regularly putting on concerts, ballets and other cultural events. For kids there’s Aqualand Torremolinos, one of the largest water parks in Spain, and next door at Crocodile Park, they’ll get the chance to meet these present-day dinosaurs alongside other reptiles and even pet the baby crocs! Like the rest of the Costa del Sol, Torremolinos hosts various annual cultural festivals and events, including the Torremolinos Carnival in February, the 4-day Feria de San Miguel and the long-standing Flamenco Festival in September.

Marbella

Once a simple fishing village, Marbella has become a glamorous cosmopolitan city, attracting jet-setters, celebrities and wealthy vacationers from all over the world. But Marbella remains a city of contrasts. The picture-postcard historic quarter represents the authentic Marbella, with its pretty white-washed buildings and narrow cobblestone streets, inviting Andalusian squares and diverse architectural styles. Marbella’s glamorous side is epitomised by the famous Golden Mile and Puerto Banús marina, with its luxury yachts, high-end restaurants, and designer boutiques, as well as its prestigious gated developments such as Nueva Andalucía and Los Monteros on the coast, and Sierra Blanca and La Zagaleta in the hills.

 

Marbella’s 27km of coastline has no less than 24 glorious beaches dotted with chic beach clubs and chiringuitos providing refreshment and entertainment, as well as many water sports and sea-based activities. It’s no surprise that Marbella is considered one of the most desirable golf destinations in the world, with ten of the Costa del Sol’s 70 golf clubs located here, most with championship courses designed by celebrated architects. Marbella is also a paradise for nature lovers, with the stunning Sierra Blanca mountains providing the perfect backdrop for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and other outdoor pursuits. Marbella’s vibrant cultural scene encompasses religious celebrations, and national and international events including regattas, motor shows, music and food festivals. Marbella Arena, the former bullring, also puts on musical, theatrical and sporting events throughout the year. Art lovers can admire the collections of European and Latin American works at the Ralli Museum, history buffs can visit the ruins of Villa Romana de Río – a 1st century Roman villa with incredibly well-preserved mosaics – and architecture aficionados can visit the contemporary Andalusian-Arabic-style Marbella Mosque (also known as the King Abdul Aziz Mosque), with its beautiful gardens and extensive library. You can do a spot of open-air shopping on Saturdays at the bustling street market Mercadillo de Puerto Banús, next to Marbella Arena, but if it’s the designer experience you’re looking for, Puerto Banús has it in spades: boutiques galore line the marina with all the leading names in fashion and luxury apparel. Marbella is renowned for its culinary excellence and diversity; there’s something for every taste and occasion, from traditional Spanish tapas to international haute cuisine served at informal beach chiringuitos, cosy eateries, chic diners or Michelin-starred restaurants. Kids can take their pick of awesome activities, like Costa Water Park – a floating inflatable playground next to the marina – as well as animal and theme parks, karting and buggy rides, treks on horseback and so much more.

Estepona

The municipality of Estepona is one of the largest on the Costa del Sol, nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sierra Bermeja mountains. This charming coastal town, aptly known as the “Garden of the Costa del Sol”, is a picturesque locale with wide tree-lined avenues, pretty white-washed buildings and stunning floral displays. Estepona is a place steeped in history, its beautiful Old Town dotted with historical buildings, traditional Andalusian squares, and family-run shops, bodegas and tabernas. With no less than 17 beaches, chic beach bars, a lovely palm-tree lined promenade with gardens, children’s playgrounds, cafés and restaurants, as well as a lively marina, and many cultural venues and events, Estepona has a lot to offer!

 

Estepona puts an accent on art, providing beautiful spaces for temporary and permanent collections, both inside and outdoors. Works by local artists are shown at Casa de las Tejerinas in Plaza de las Flores, which also has a beautiful patio and an exquisite stained glass window, and Centro Mirador del Carmen puts on exhibitions by Spanish and international artists. Three designated routes throughout the town showcase both Spanish and International artists: you can admire 40+ murals on the Ruta de Murales Artísticos, 50 sculptures on the Ruta de las Esculturas and yet more at the Playa del Angel open-air museum, and 40 poems – many engraved on tiles around the town – by Spanish poets and writers and international wordsmiths such as Shakespeare. Flamenco holds a special place in Estepona’s heart: Peña Flamenca de Estepona, one of the province’s 50 federated clubs, hosts its weekly Friday night Flamenco Gala and teaches this amazing Andalusian art form at the Flamenco Academy, while several other venues hold flamenco dinner nights. You can dig into Estepona’s history at the Museo Arqueológico de Estepona or discover its bullfighting past at the Museo Taurino, in the Plaza de Toros. The former bullring is also home to the Museo Etnográfico where you can gain an insight into the daily lives of Estepona’s past residents, and the Museo Paleontológico, which has replicas of Patagonian reptiles and original fossils from local and national excavations. And just a 15-minute drive northwest, the Dólmenes de Corominas museum is the setting for incredibly well-preserved cave tombs and graves from 5,000 years ago, as well as the magical venue for a host of jazz, soul, flamenco and classical concerts. Some of the highlights of Estepona’s cultural calendar include the colourful Carnaval in February; Semana Santa (Easter Holy Week), the Cruces de Mayo (May Crosses) festival, and the patron saint San Isidro Labrador pilgrimage in May; and the Noche de San Juan festival in June, where juás (effigies) are burned on beach bonfires. A jam-packed July continues the celebrations with the Feria (summer fair), La Virgen del Carmen pilgrimage, and Espeto Fest, three nights of free concerts on the main Playa de La Rada.

 

When it comes to markets, Estepona has you covered: Wednesdays are for browsing the 250+ stalls at the Mercadillo de Estepona, whilst on Sundays you can go market mad at the Mercadillo del Puerto on the marina, the farmer’s market for organic local produce on Plaza ABC, and the flea market at the bullring. Through the “Estepona Natural” initiative, visitors can find information on the wealth of trails through its landscapes, with highlights including hiking routes around the spectacular Sierra Bermeja mountain range and walking or cycling along the Senda Litoral de Estepona coastal path. And for a paragon of plant paradise, Estepona’s dazzling Orchidarium is home to the largest collection of orchids and tropical plants in Europe, boasting over 5,000 plants and 3,000 species! Estepona’s wide range of children’s activities include Fun Beach Park Estepona, the Pony Club at Escuela de Arte Ecuestre, and Selwo Aventura Safari Park.

Benahavís

The municipality of Benahavís stretches across 145 square kilometres between the Sierra Blanca mountain range above Estepona and the slopes of the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, and is intersected by three rivers – Guadalmina, Guadaiza and Guadalmansa – that flow down from the Ronda mountains into the Mediterranean. The hillsides around Benahavís are dotted with luxury developments, including El Madroñal, La Alquería, Marbella Club Golf Resort and La Zagaleta, one of the most exclusive private residential resorts in Europe. The charming village of Benahavís, which sits at 500m above sea level among the Marbella Hills, is considered one of the most beautiful pueblos in Andalucía.

 

Benahavís is a premier golf destination, with 12 world-class golf courses in the municipality, including La Zagaleta, La Quinta, Marbella Club, Los Flamingos, Villa Padierna and Los Arqueros. The area is renowned for its culinary excellence and affectionately known as the “dining room of the Costa del Sol” for its many fantastic restaurants serving the very best of traditional Andalusian cuisine, often with a creative twist. Although Benahavís is best known for golf and gastronomy, it’s also an area with rich natural and historical heritage. Torre Leonera park is a lovely oasis with beautiful trees, ponds, a small open-air theatre, and the 13th century watchtower after which it is named. Among the many hiking trails criss-crossing the region, there’s the 3km circular “dragonfly route” along the banks and dam of the Guadalmina river, the moderately challenging Guadalmina canyon trails, or the 6.3km round-trip up to the ruins of the 10th century Castillo de Montemayor – you’ll be rewarded by the incredible views! There’s also an abundance of trails and forest paths perfect for cycling or horse riding, whether south towards the coast or north towards the Sierra de las Nieves National Park. One of three designated National Parks in Andalucía, this stunning site covers 300 square kilometres and is home to 1,500 plants and 2,000 hectares of Spanish fir forest – the largest concentration in the world – as well as a great diversity of fauna; keep an eye out for the birds of prey, including the golden eagle, eagle owl and several species of hawk. The Guadalmina river is perfect for swimming and canyoning: southeast of the village, near the Torre Leonera park, you’ll find Charca de las Mozas, a 4m-deep natural pool in the Cañón de las Angosturas marking the start of the 1,100m long river ‘walk’ to Charca de los Tubos, passing through the narrow gorge walls through crystalline waters.

 

Benahavís has a vibrant cultural scene, hosting a varied calendar of events including concerts, art and food exhibitions, talks, children’s activities and much more. In mid-August, the village comes alive with the annual 5-day Benahavís Fair; in early September, Benahavís hosts the Andalusian Show Jumping Championships, an annual event held at the Marbella Club Equestrian Centre that draws some of the best jockeys and horses from Spain and beyond; and the 7th of October marks Benahavís’ annual pilgrimage honouring its patron saint, La Virgen del Rosario.

Istán

Istán is another gem in the Costa del Sol’s crown, a traditional pueblo blanco 15km north of Marbella in the heart of the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, known for its stunning natural beauty, traditional Andalusian architecture, and rich cultural heritage. A stroll through the village reveals treasures such as the ruins of the 15th century Torre de Escalante of Arabic origin, the 16th century San Miguel Arcángel church, and La Ermita de San Miguel, a unique shrine carved into the rock 3km from the village housing a statue of Istán’s patron saint. The “Estaciones del Vía Crucis” is a route through the village displaying twelve crosses in vaulted niches in the facades of houses and the church; legend has it that during Lent penitents would kneel at each cross to repent.

 

Istán is famous for its pure spring water which flows down from the Sierra de las Nieves mountains, feeding the many fountains dotted around the village, as well as the Embalse de la Concepción reservoir which supplies water to most of the west coast. El Coto de Istán is a beautiful natural site with an ancient network of Moorish irrigation channels known as Acequias Moriscas that transported water from the Río Molinos source to irrigate the orchards below. There are several walking trails through this lovely shaded natural site, with stunning views you can enjoy to the sound of flowing water. The Fuente y Lavadero El Chorro is a fountain with seven jets, fed by one of these Arabic water channels. Embellished with brick arches and beautiful blue and white tiles, the lavadero was historically used as a public wash house and this tradition continues among some of the villagers today. Istán’s Museo del Agua showcases the vital role of water in the region, including exhibits on the Moorish irrigation channels and La Concepción reservoir, and a small-scale canal leading to a glass-enclosed pool.

 

Istán is known as the “Green Mile” or “Green Lung” of the Costa del Sol, with its rugged landscapes, lush forests, natural springs and breathtaking views. There are hiking routes for every level, from short and accessible circular walks to higher difficulty trails, including the challenging 5.6km (one way) Pico de la Concha that takes you to the highest peak in the Sierra Blanca at 1,215m. The Camino Rural de Istán a Tolox is a mountain trail that runs the 30km to the white-washed village of Tolox. Along this route, at 6.8km from Istán, you’ll come across the Charco del Canalón, a stunning gorge carved out by the Río Verde river, with natural pools and a waterfall. There are many viewpoints around the area, including Mirador del Tajo Banderas and Mirador de la Herriza II, offering amazing vistas of the mountains, the Río Verde valley, the reservoir and the sea beyond, as well as back towards the village itself. Just 28km northwest of Istán is the Castaño Santo (Holy Chestnut), an ancient chestnut tree 30m tall and five metres in diameter thought to be between 800 and 1,000 years old.

 

Throughout the year, Istán celebrates various cultural festivals and events that showcase its heritage and traditions. These include the Semana Santa celebrations in March, and the 3-day Feria de San Miguel at the end of September, preceded by the “Tomillería”, a procession in honour of the patron saint to La Ermita de San Miguel, where villagers congregate to enjoy paella, tapas and music. Two initiatives celebrating Istán’s culinary heritage are held every year in May, along with live music and performances in the central square. The Muestra Gastronómica de Istán y Día de la Naranja is a feast for the senses, with villagers offering visitors recipes passed down through the generations, washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice made from local orchards. The Ruta de la Tapa is the foodie version of a pub crawl: participants are given a tapas “passport” (“tapaporte”) gaining them entry into the village’s restaurants and bars to try authentic local fare.

Casares

Casares is an enchanting village perched in the foothills of the Sierra Bermeja mountains 435 metres above sea level, 15km northwest of Estepona. Known as the Costa del Sol’s “hanging village” due to its steep, winding streets, Casares has a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in its historic buildings and layout and traditional festivals. A stroll up through the maze of narrow streets to the 12th century Castillo de Casares is a must. The iconic castle ruins overlook the village, with a vertiginous drop down the side of the cliff and spectacular views; from its viewpoint Mirador del Tajo de la Planá, you can often see griffon vultures soaring close to the ruins. The adjacent 16th century Iglesia de la Encarnación, with its distinctive Mudejar-style minaret, was restored after falling into disrepair and now houses the Centro Cultural Blas Infante, which holds permanent exhibitions on the history of the town. The main square Plaza de España is dotted with pavement cafes and restaurants and its centrepiece – the 18th century four-spout Fuente de Carlos III – has provided locals with fresh water since 1785. Next to the square is the pretty 17th century San Sebastián parish church. Casares is the birthplace of Blas Infante (1885-1936), known as the “father of Andalucía” for fighting for the region’s Statute of Autonomy, and the house where he is was born – Casa Natal – is now a museum. Just 10km south of Casares village are the Baños romanos de la Hedionda – ancient Roman baths built around sulphur springs that were thought to have been used by Julius Caesar’s army – which are freely accessible and popular with villagers on weekends.

 

The nearby mountains of Sierra Crestellina, Sierra de Utrera and Sierra Bermeja are criss-crossed by trails for hiking, mountain biking or horse trekking, such as the 8.5km circular route around the Sierra Crestellina natural reserve, where you can admire the spectacular views of the Costa del Sol, Gibraltar and the Straits, Ceuta and the Rif mountains. Casares and surrounds are a paradise for nature lovers, with an abundance of flora and fauna, including birds of prey such as griffon vultures, Bonnelli’s eagles and peregrine falcons, and some truly breathtaking scenery which you can take in from the many viewpoints dotted along the routes.

 

The fiestas in Casares are lively affairs, with the whole village coming together to celebrate with food, wine, music and “casareño” folk dancing. Día de Andalucía on 28th February is an especially important day for Casares, given that Andalucía’s autonomy was fought for by one of their very own. The first weekend in March is dedicated to the colourful Carnaval; in April, residents celebrate all things culture with their Semana Cultural, including the Ruta Gastronómica with restaurants, bars and shops serving traditional tapas; and the 4-day Feria de Casares takes place at the start of August. Casares honours its patron saint in two celebrations every year: an 11km pilgrimage at the end of May, and Día de la Patrona, four days of religious ceremonies, processions, music and performances during the second weekend of September.

 

A brief drive south brings you to Casares Costa, a short stretch of coast which forms part of the Casares municipality. Casares Costa’s 2km of pristine beaches have calm waters and excellent facilities: Playa Ancha is the largest and most popular beach, whilst Playa Chica is the most accessible and Playa de la Sal the most natural. Casares Costa is home to two prestigious golf clubs: Finca Cortesín, rated among Spain’s best courses and one of the longest in Europe, and Doña Julia, a welcoming club and course great for social golf set among a spectacular landscape.

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