Spain’s southernmost coastline, the Costa del Sol unfurls golden sands, glam marinas, and classic seaside resorts along around 100 miles (160 kilometers) of Mediterranean coast. It’s also a gateway to Andalucia’s whitewashed villages, mountains, and guidebook-worthy cities. Here are our tips for three days along the Costa del Sol.
Day 1: Sands, Sights, and Local Specialities
Most Costa del Sol visitors make straight for its beaches. From Mijas and Malaga to Nerja, you’ll find golden sweeps lined with shops, restaurants, whitewashed old towns, and yacht-filled marinas. Lounge on the sands, swim in the Mediterranean, or take a boat trip. In the afternoon, board a Malaga hop-on hop-off bus to see landmarks such as Gibralfaro Castle, the Alcazaba, and the Picasso Museum. Alternatively, join a Segway, bike, or walking tour or sample the city’s rich culinary scene with a tapas-tasting stroll. In the evening, take in a flamenco show, dive into one of the Costa’s chic bars or dance spots, or stroll along a palm-lined promenade.
Day 2: Cuisine, Culture, and Countryside
Today is perfect for delving deeper into the Costa del Sol’s culture, cuisine, and countryside. Chart the life of Malaga’s most celebrated son, Pablo Picasso, on a Picasso walking tour in the city. Foodies will enjoy a paella cooking class or tour of the wineries nestled in Andalucia’s hills, while spa lovers can indulge at Malaga’s opulent Arab baths. If you’re in the mood for something more active, take an off-road buggy ride or hike along the King’s Walkway (Caminito del Rey)—a spectacular cliffside path high above the Gaitanes Gorge near Malaga. Visit the pretty villages of Frigiliana and Nerja, the latter famous for its prehistoric caves; or explore Ronda, perched above a soaring gorge. Cap your day by enjoying a live show or some of the Costa’s legendary nightlife at its glitzy clubs and pubs.
Day 3: Day Trips
Devote your last day to a day trip deeper into Andalucia or even farther afield. In Andalucia, visit Granada to see the exquisite Alhambra palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; head for Cordoba to admire its UNESCO-listed Great Mosque; or take in the delights of Seville, Cadiz, or the sherry-making town and region of Jerez de la Frontera. Bring your passport for a day trip to Morocco, or cross the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangier and absorb the North African atmosphere of its old souk. Alternatively, travel to the British territory of Gibraltar to climb its Rock, meet its Barbary monkeys, and enjoy its duty-free bargains and British-style pubs.