Benalmadena is one of the most lively towns. Its beautiful top coastal views, diverse attractions and traditional chiringuitos (beach bars) where you can enjoy the local food, and its proximity to Málaga make it one of the most visited towns in Costa del Sol.
There are plenty of things to do in Benalmadena as it’s a big town that is divided into three main areas: Arroyo de la Miel, Benalmadena Costa and Benalmadena Pueblo. Due to its size and variety of activities, I can definitely say that there’s something for everyone and for you, of course.
If you’re staying in a hotel in Benalmadena costa or pueblo, you’re also in great locations to explore other nearby beautiful towns such as Torremolinos, Fuengirola, and the well-known beaches and famous venues of Marbella.
Being born and raised in Costa del Sol has helped me explore all the beautiful and touristy towns as well as hidden gems that only locals know. I’ve heard many people say that Costa del Sol is only for tourists, but I completely disagree. If you know it well, you can certainly have a more authentic and better experience.
One of the biggest mistakes I see many tourists do is to spend most of their time on the beach or in the hotels swimming pools and forget all the incredible things they can do in Benalmadena and its surroundings. Benalmadena and Costa del Sol are much more than a beach destination.
So in this guide, I’m going to tell you all the incredible things to do in Benalmadena to make your experience unique.
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Puerto Marina Benalmadena
Puerto Marina in Benalmadena’s port where you can find a shopping centre, all sorts of restaurants and bars, traditional shops and attractions like Sea Life Benalmadena.
The port is a busy and lively place where you find families with their kids, couples enjoying an Italian meal or friends going for a drink.
It’s definitely one of those places that you’ll be surrounded by tourists, see menus in different languages to target tourists, hear other languages as you walk, etc. so it isn’t the best place to have an authentic experience, but it’s still worth visiting once. Especially to see the incredible expensive yachts!
One of my favourite things to do is to walk in the promenade from below Parque de la Paloma to Puerto Marina. It’s a nice walk, especially at sunset, as you see the beach and you can stop to eat in some bars just before arriving at Puerto Marina.
Parque de la Paloma
This lovely park is located in the centre of Benalmadena and just about 3 minutes from the beachside. It’s one of the most beautiful parks in Costa del Sol, and it’s a must-see if you love seeing animals running freely and being in green spaces.
It’s the perfect place for relaxing in the afternoon, having a picnic or doing some exercise if you want to keep fit during your trip.
In the park, you can see rabbits, chickens, ducks and parrots, and other animals. They’re quite used to humans, so you can normally feed them.
Apart from the friendly animals, one of the best things to do is to sit in one of the hills to get the view of the stunning lake and enjoy a small picnic.
Exact location: Av. Federico García Lorca, s/n, 29630 Benalmádena, Málaga, Spain
Opening times: Every day from 9 am to 11 pm.
Selwo Marina is a small marine park located next to Parque de la Paloma. Inside the park, you can see animals like penguins, sea lions and dolphins.
Not only do you see animals, but you can do activities like encountering dolphins or swimming with sea lions as well as attending talks about exotic birds. The only thing is that some of these activities aren’t included in the general ticket, so you’ll have to pay extra.
Encountering the dolphins was a good experience because you get near them and feed them, but the activity didn’t last long enough for the price you pay. I must admit I found it expensive, especially if you need to pay for friends or family.
Opening times: Saturday to Sunday 10 am to 6 pm (The opening times have been reduced at this time, so it’s better to check exact times on their website).
Prices: €21,00 general entry
€15,50 reduced entry
However, booking your tickets online will save you a couple of euros, €16,90 (general entry) and €14,50 (reduced entry).
TIP: they sometimes offer discount codes with other partners. If you are planning to go on the cable car, you can buy a bundle that includes entry to Selwo Marina, Benalmádena Cable Car and Selwo Aventura (a small safari located in Estepona).
Castillo de Colomares is one of those hidden gems I recently discovered and I’m very glad I did. This impressive castle is dedicated to the life and adventures of Christopher Colombus, known as Colón in Spanish.
Dr Esteban, an American doctor, realised the lack of homage to Christopher Colombus and built this fairytale castle that represents Columbus’ trip to America. As you wander, you’ll be impressed by all the architecture details from the predominant cultures at the time (Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic and Mudejar).
It’s a place that will blow your mind. Not only because of its architecture and art but its views too!
If you want to know more about this place, you can visit the official website here (the website is only available in Spanish).
Opening times: Wednesday to Sunday.
Spring time: from 10:00 to 19:00.
Summer times: from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 17:00 to 21:00.
Autumn and winter times: from 10:00 to 18:00.
Kids and pensioners: €2.00
The Buddhist temple, known as Stupa Benalmadena, is a beautiful building located a couple of minutes walk from the butterfly centre. I found it very odd to find a temple-like this one in Costa del Sol, however, I think it’s fascinating!
The temple was the idea of the great Buddhist Master from Bhutan, Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche, and the local government of Benalmadena approved and supported the construction of this amazing building.
Not only is the stupa beautiful from the outside, but inside too. Once you’re inside, it’s recommended walking around the Stupa in a clockwise direction, and many believe that wishes done near a Stupa may become true, so don’t forget to ask for your wish!
Outside the temple, there is a small souvenir shop where you can get traditional ceramic figures and interesting books to learn about Buddhism.
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm and 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Although the opening times may change according to the season.
Mariposario de Benalmádena
This butterfly park is a great place to visit with kids or friends. There are over 1,500 exotic butterflies from different parts of the world, flying around in between artificial waterfalls and stunning flowers.
The centre takes care of these butterflies and they are bred in captivity instead of being taken for the wild, and you can see how these butterflies are born.
It isn’t a very big place, so it won’t take you more than an hour to see it all. This is why I suggest you plan to visit other nearby places like the Buddist temple or Castillo de Colomares.
Opening times: Every day from 10 am to 7:30 pm.
General ticket: €10.00
Children ticket: € 8.50
Benalmadena Cable Car
If you’re up for an exciting experience, going on Benalmadena cable car, known as Teleférico de Benalmádena, is a great option.
The cable car stop is located next to the amusement park Tivoli World in Arroyo de la Miel.
I was a bit scared of going on the cable car, but I’m so glad I went. The cable car connects Benalmadena with Calamorro mountain, and as soon as you get in it, you’ll want to take pictures of the landscape (just be careful with putting your camera through the window!)
However, it gets even better once you reach the stop and go to the top of Calamorro, as you’ll enjoy beautiful views of Benalmadena, Fuengirola, Torremolinos and even a far view of Gibraltar and the coast of Africa.
Calamorro has still more things to offer; falconry displays, restaurants, a stargazing area, hiking trails and horse rides. For falconry displays, you need to visit Jardin de Las Aguilas (Garden of Eagles) which you’ll see as soon as you walk your way up to Calamorro.
The garden is dedicated to raising and protecting birds of prey such as eagles, owls, kites, vultures among other species.
Opening times: It varies depending on the month and season, check their availability here.
Prices: €16,90 adults
However, if you want to save money, book the tickets online to get them for €12,90 (adults) or €10,00 (kids).
Castillo de Bil Bil
Castillo de Bil Bil (Bil Bil castle), which was built to look like a castle or a defensive fortress, is located on Benalmadena’s promenade.
The castle has a Moorish architecture style and it’s beautifully painted in a sandy pink colour. The building is truly beautiful, but if you’re wondering what’s inside, it’s the Town Hall who owns the castle and the one who organises events.
It’s worth visiting because they normally have different things to do and see. Some of the activities include art exhibitions, concerts, conferences and much more.
During the summer, you can enjoy a walk in the promenade and see the local market, where you can buy handmade bags, crafts and many other things, next to the castle.
Opening times: Monday from 10 am to 1 pm and 5 pm to 9 pm.
Tuesday to Friday from 9 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 10 pm.
If you’re after a more authentic experience rather than tourist attractions, you need to visit Benalmadena pueblo where all the locals hang out.
There are plenty of bars and restaurants where you can have traditional dishes from Costa del Sol like pescaito frito (fried fish), espeto de sardinas (sardines), gazpacho (cold tomato soup). But the most fascinating thing is to enjoy the beautiful white houses with colourful flowers in the balconies or windows.
In Benalmadena pueblo, you can find Plaza de España, a small and pretty square with orange trees, restaurants and a fountain in the middle featuring Benalmadena’s symbol “La Niña” (the girl).
Also, this area is home of Benalmadena’s archaeological museum that includes important American and Colombian artisan collections.
Tips for visiting Benalmadena from a local
- If you are wondering “Is Benalmadena worth visiting?” It is indeed, but it’s better if you visit Benalmadena in early or late summer to avoid crowds. August is the busiest and most expensive month. At the same time, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Benalmadena during winter as many tourist attractions and beach bars aren’t open.
- Rent a car. Travelling by car is so much easier! There are many places that you can’t access by bus or train or times to travel are very limited. This is when having a car becomes so useful. Also, the roads are generally good, so you don’t need to worry if you aren’t very confident about driving.
- Going to Tivoli World isn’t worth it. It was a great place to visit as a kid 10 years ago, but now you can tell the amusement park is a bit old-fashioned. Instead, I would visit the water park Aqualand in Torremolinos. There are plenty of water attractions that are fun and have been recently added!
- Can you walk from Benalmadena to Torremolinos? Of course! Walk to Punta Gatuna viewpoint which is located between Torremolinos and Benalmadena and it’s perfect for watching the sunset. You’ll enjoy incredible beach and town views. Also, there are plenty of bars where you can stop and have tapas or a cheeky drink!
- Beaches in Benalmadena are very good so you don’t need to travel far or to another town. One of the best beaches is Playa Arroyo de La Miel because of its location and atmosphere. Another well-known beach is Playa de Benalnatura, but be aware that this is a nude beach!
Best Day Trips From Benalmadena
You can’t leave Benalmadena without visiting Malaga! Malaga is approximately 20 minutes drive from Benalmadena, but if you don’t drive, you can get the train (RENFE) from Benalmádena-Arroyo de la Miel station, which runs frequently.
There are plenty of things to do in Malaga in a day, but if you want to see Malaga’s main attractions, you must visit:
- Alcazaba de Málaga to learn about Malaga’s history and influences.
- Teatro Romano to contemplate the oldest monument in the city.
- Gibralfaro to get a stunning view of the city and amazing sunsets.
- Calle Larios to experience the atmosphere of the city and do some shopping.
- Muelle Uno to visit the port and have a relaxing walk.
- El Pimpi to enjoy delicious traditional tapas and flamenco shows.
Located only 26 minutes drive from Benalmadena, Mijas Pueblo is one of the most beautiful white towns in Costa del Sol.
It’s the perfect day trip from Benalmadena as it isn’t far and there are a couple of things to do in Mijas. Just picture yourself walking in a hilly white town with incredible views and beautiful hand made pottery on the balconies.
The town does not only have panoramic views of the coast, but great bars and restaurants to enjoy a traditional meal or some tapas.
If you are after a different experience and you don’t mind travelling a bit longer (approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes drive), Gibraltar is the place to go to!
However, if you’re concerned about how to get there since you don’t drive, you can always book a group day trip.
Gibraltar is unique in many ways – it belongs to the UK despite being located in the Spanish Peninsula, most locals are bilinguals (speak English and Spanish), it has influences from many cultures due to its position and this is reflected in the food and architecture.
Gibraltar has many things to offer – from exploring Top of The Rock and Gibraltar Nature Reserve to dolphin watching and relaxing on sandy beaches.
Read more about Gibraltar and the best things to do in Gibraltar in a day.
As you can see there’s much more than the beach and sun in Benalmadena. Also, if you would like to find out more about day trips to other near towns, this seven-day itinerary to Costa del Sol will help you plan and discover new places.
I hope you have a great time in Benalmadena, and if you have any questions send them to me at email@example.com or reach me out @creina.diary on Instagram. I am always happy to help and give advice on how to make the most of your time in my hometown.
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