Are you planning your next holiday to Spain? This Costa del Sol itinerary is all you need!
Costa del Sol is sometimes well-known for being touristy and overcrowded, but let me tell you this isn’t true if you know when to visit it and know where the locals go.
Costa del Sol isn’t only about staying in a resort near the beach in summer but it has plenty to offer. This place is for you if:
- You love the combination of mountains and beach.
- You are passionate about art and dance.
- You love the warm temperatures and sunny weather almost all year.
- You are a foodie.
- You are interested in history and culture.
To visit Costa del Sol you need at least a week and, still, you won’t have time to see it all. But this itinerary will help you make the most of your time in Costa del Sol.
In this post, I’m going to show you the perfect Costa del Sol road trip itinerary with must-see places you cannot miss and travel tips, from a local point of view, to make your experience even better.
Day 1 – Málaga
If you’re wondering what to do in Malaga for a day, there are plenty of fun activities to do and amazing places to see.
However, you’ll be happy to hear the main attractions are very close to each other.
Here are some of the must-see places in Malaga you can easily visit in one day.
It’s Malaga’s main Street where many events happen during the year such as Christmas lights, Easter parades, etc. So, don’t forget to check the calendar to see what’s going on.
Walk along the main street with well-known stores and get lost exploring all the little streets in the area.
You’ll love wandering the beautiful narrow streets, discovering colourful buildings and important monuments such as the cathedral and getting a feeling of Málaga lifestyle.
Here you will also have a wide variety of cafes and restaurants to have some food at any time of the day.
A popular restaurant you should try is El Pimpi. Relax and enjoy the tasty food in their open terrace looking at Teatro Romano and Alcazaba.
Are you looking for a quick bite? Then, you must try 100 Montaditos.
It’s the beautiful and modern port area where you can enjoy the bright and colourful sunsets, enjoy a delicious fruity ice cream in the outdoor terraces or treat yourself in one of their many stores.
The port opened in late 2011 and it has hugely improved over the years. Exploring the port is a way to get to know the cultural life of the city too.
There’s always something going on: crafts markets, art exhibitions, concerts, films in the open air, etc.
Here, you can also visit the colourful and famous Centre Pompidou art museum and walk to Playa de la Malagueta and sunbathe.
Alcazaba de Málaga is a must-see palace-fortress located in Malaga city centre on the top of a hill. Inside this beautiful palace, you can smell the oranges trees, see fountains and impressive architectural patterns as well as getting one of the best views in the city.
From the Alcazaba, you’ll see Malaga park with pretty flowers and trees, the town hall, the port and the bullring.
It’s also your place if you would love to immerse yourself in history and learn about the culture.
Insider tip: If you want to enter for free, there’s a free tour every Sunday from 2 pm.
Next to the Alcazaba, you’ll find the Roman theatre, which was built during the reign of Augustus, and it was used until the 3rd century.
It was in 1951 when this buried hidden gem was discovered. Nowadays, you can see its three parts: the stands, the orchestra pit between the stands and the stage and the stage.
Castillo de Gibralfaro is located on a high hill overlooking Málaga city and port near the Alcazaba.
The hill, where the Gibralfaro is situated, is part of the Montes de Málaga mountain range.
If you have enough time, visiting the Montes de Málaga is worthy. You can enjoy the views as well as having the typical Plato de los Montes meal.
Plato de los Montes is a hearty meal of fries, one or two pieces of lomo (cured seasoned pork), the famous Spanish chorizo, one flawlessly fried egg and roasted green peppers.
Playa de la Misericordia
If you’re looking for a beach where most locals go, this is the one for you. It’s located an hour walk from the city centre. However, if you prefer to use public transport, you can take bus number 40 or 3.
It’s a beautiful beach in which you can sunbathe, relax or walk in the promenade. One of my favourite things is to walk along the promenade in the late evening and watch the sunset.
An interesting fact is that you’ll see a big tower, “la Torre Mónica” known by the locals, that used to one of the chimneys from a factory. It’s very popular!
Museo Picasso Málaga is the most famous museum in the city. You’ll have the opportunity to see the impressive artist’s work where he was born.
There is an admission fee that is approximately 9 euros.
However, you can get a free admission every Sunday the last two opening hours (up to 30 minutes before closing time), Day of Andalusia (28 February), International Museum Day (18 May) and World Tourism Day (27 September).
Day 2 – Torremolinos
Los Álamos beach
Dreaming of having a refreshing cocktail while sunbathing? You need to visit Los Álamos beach where you can find a good variety of beach clubs.
La Palapa Beach Jazba Club is one of my favourites. You have plenty of options to choose from (from sushi and burgers to vegetarian meals).
The food and the drinks are amazing and you will love the atmosphere.
If you want a relaxing area, you just need to walk to the left area of the coast. However, if you walk about 15 minutes, you must know there is a naked beach which is not very signalised!
Old Town Centre
One of the best ways to discover Torremolinos and is local people, it’s walking around the old town centre.
Here you can find independent restaurants, stores and much more. If you want a great picture, you should visit the colourful umbrellas.
Parque de la Batería
This isn’t just a normal park and, it’s often forgotten in the travel guides. Parque de la Bateria is at the top of Torremolinos and it has great things to do.
If you’re travelling by car, there’s a car park inside the park, however, don’t be surprised if it’s full on the weekends.
My favourite things to do are getting a small boat on the lake and going up the tower.
As you climb the tower, you will be able to see beautiful views. You’ll see the resorts and the sea background. One of the best views in Torremolinos!
Day 3 – Benalmádena
Castillo de Colomares
This castle is one of the most wonderful tourist attractions the town has to offer. It’s a monument dedicated to the life and adventures of Christopher Colombus.
You’ll be impressed by the architecture and design of this castle which unifies various styles that had an influence on Spanish culture: Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic and Mudejar.
The place is magical and, don’t be surprised if it has become a spot for Instagram influencers.
You can check the opening times and price here.
Parque de la Paloma
This is one of my favourite parks in Costa del Sol. It’s located at the bottom of Benalmádena near the beach and next to Selwo Marina.
The park is hilly and has many animals who live freely (chickens, rabbits, turkeys…) It’s a beautiful place to relax and get some beautiful views of the park’s big lake and the beach.
It’s also the perfect place to have a picnic!
Teleférico de Benalmádena
I remember being absolutely scared before getting in the cable car. I had to think about it twice to decide whether I was going to be brave or not.
The cable car goes from Benalmádena to the top of the mountain. It can sound terrifying but, if you don’t get in you’ll regret it.
The panoramic view you get from the top of the mountain is incredible.
Check their opening times, prices and plan your visit here.
Day 4 – Mijas Costa y pueblo
Playa de la Butibamba
Butibamba beach belongs to the municipality of Mijas and it’s also known as La Cala for its proximity to Cala del Moral stream.
It’s a beautiful beach to spend the day and it has a lively nightlife during weekends. During the summer, you’ll find several musical events.
Mijas Pueblo is situated on top of a hill. It’s a bit tricky to get by car because the road is very narrow and there are many curves. I struggle to get my car there!
Last time I visited it, it was very busy so I had to park even further and then take the free public bus to get you to the village.
Once you are there, you’ll contemplate beautiful white buildings everywhere and as you wander through the narrow cobbled streets of the village, you’ll understand what has attracted tourists over the years.
The best place to be is the viewpoint! Admire the beautiful coast view, go inside the little church, grab some traditional almonds and visit the pottery shop.
Apart from the viewpoint, you must wander around to feel the vibe of this place.
In the summer, it gets very lively and you’ll see many people having their late dinner in the outdoor terraces, kids playing in the streets, etc.
Day 5 – Marbella
The most luxurious port in the Costa del Sol that you must visit. You’ll see incredible and expensive buildings around the area and as you get in the port, you can find the expensive and very famous watch and clothing stores.
There are also a wide variety of restaurants to choose from, however, I wouldn’t eat here for three main reasons: 1) it’s too expensive, 2) it’s too touristy and, 3) you don’t find the real and traditional Spanish food.
One of the best things to do is to enjoy the views from the little bay and see the yachts.
Would you love to do some shopping? Then La Cañada shopping centre located in Marbella motorway is perfect for you.
With over 150 stores, there’s something for you. Plus, you can find stores you won’t be able to find in other shopping centres in Málaga.
Marbella Old Town
In comparison to Puerto Banús, this part of Marbella is well preserved and tourism hasn’t had a big effect on it.
As you explore the Old Quarter, you’ll notice that there are some patterns and layouts from the Arabic era despite being conquered by the Christians after.
Los Naranjos Plaza is where you can find the city hall which was built in the sixteenth century and enlarged in the eighteenth.
Apart from significant and historical buildings, the old town was the heart of the town and it has always been a place where you’ll see many tourists having a coffee or dinner in some of the bars and restaurants.
Ocean Beach Club
Looking for a trendy place to spend the day while drinking sangria and mojitos? Ocean Beach Club is the place!
It’s a bit expensive but you’ll definitely enjoy the atmosphere.
In the summer, there are many events going on so check their event calendar before going.
Day 6 – Nerja
Balcón de Europa
In general, Nerja is a must-see town located 50km east Málaga.
However, one of its most famous and beautiful places to see is Balcón de Europa which attracts tourists from all over the world.
Nowadays, it’s a touristy place, but still so worth visiting. The view you get is unique! You’ll see the turquoise clear sea, the sandy beach and the Mountain view too!
You’ll be in love with el Balcón de Europa!
Cuevas de Nerja
Nerja Cave is another must-see attraction you cannot miss. It’s a four kilometres long cave that has the world’s longest and largest stalactite.
The truth is that it sometimes gets very busy so I’d recommend you get your tickets online as well as to show up 10 minutes before the scheduled entry.
Day 7 – Antequera
This town, located in the east, is well-known for the dolmens. However, there are many other things to do.
Torcal de Antequera
It’s a nature reserve known for its unusual landforms and it’s one of the most geologically impressive natural parks in Andalucía.
The best time to visit Torcal de Antequera is winter and early spring since temperatures are very high during the summer.
Dolménes de Antequera
Antequera Dolmens Site is a cultural heritage recognized by UNESCO. It’s formed by cultural monuments and natural mountain features.
You can see the three dolmens: Menga Dolmen (the largest in Europe), Viera Dolmen and El Romeral Dolmen which is a few kilometres away.
It was recently when I visited Alcazaba with my family and partner and it stole my heart away!
I had never been and I was very impressed by the architecture of this building and its location.
It’s located at the top of the town so you get a beautiful panoramic view. You’ll see the town and, on the other side, you’ll see Peña de Los Enamorados mountain.
There are many other places that you can visit during your trip to Costa del Sol but these are a mixture of main attractions and local places you must see.
If you’d love to have an authentic experience in Costa del Sol, read these top tips where I tell you all the secrets from a local point of view.
If you have any questions, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @creina.diary on Instagram. I’d be very happy to help you plan your Costa del Sol holiday and tell you more hidden gems.
Enjoy your trip to Costa del Sol!
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