The vibrant city of Malaga, famous resorts, glitzy Marbella and pretty white inland villages – the ‘Costa’ has so much to offer.
Join the jet set with glamorous coastline, luxury apartments, fashionable bars and restaurants, and stylish city life. With an endless supply of sun, Sangria and stunning beaches, the Costa del Sol is still the ultimate destination for anyone in search of the good life.
The Costa del Sol has been Spain’s most popular destination since the late 1950s when air travel made it accessible to the masses for the first time. Many loved it so much they never left. You will already know about the gorgeous climate, the endless rounds of golf, good food and of course the beaches, but look closer and you can still find traditional elements of Andalusian life and culture.
Much of its 200 km coastline is home to resorts like Torremolinos and Fuengirola which have now developed into busy tourist meccas with a permanent population of around 1.5 million. Local authorities have invested heavily in the streets and promenades and there are an amazing 23 blue flag beaches.
To the west is the ‘golden triangle’ of Marbella, Estepona and Benahavís. The area has a glamorous, upmarket reputation and there is much to recommend the area for those looking for some low-key sophistication.
These resorts are just a small part of this diverse region. Inland you’ll find countless traditional whitewashed villages set among the olive and lemon groves. Sit in a local square and sip cerveza, while you drink in the authentic Spanish atmosphere.
You’ll find a huge array of properties, from luxurious villas to cool apartments. The region also has excellent provision for your health and education needs. And did we mention the beaches? There are over 100km for you to explore!
Malaga province is located in southern Spain in the region of Andalucia, and is probably best known for its gorgeous beaches, particularly those along the Costa del Sol. This glamorous strip of coastline is similar to Southern California in climate and scenery, with warm weather throughout the year and a landscape comprising beaches, cliffs, estuaries, bays and dunes. If you fancy a taste of the high life consider buying in Marbella area, playground for the rich and famous; think expensive yachts, fashionable bars and restaurants, luxury apartments, and designer shops.
Malaga region is fast becoming the food hub of southern Spain, thanks in part to a varied landscape which provides all the conditions needed for virtually every type of produce. Restaurants in the area have access to an abundance of freshly caught seafood and excellent local produce including olive oil, wine, cheese, ham, and a huge array of fresh fruits and vegetables.
As with other parts of Spain, there are excellent transport links in the area, including Malaga airport, which provides affordable access to most parts of the world. Public transport in the province is plentiful and great value for money, with air-conditioned buses and trains running regularly.
Guide to towns on Costa Del Sol west (Malaga province)
Málaga city is not just the gateway to the Costa del Sol, it’s filled with art, historical sites, modern shops, beaches and some of the best food in the world.
This once shabby port city has undergone a reinvention in the last twenty years. With the opening of the Picasso Museum in 2003 (he was born in Málaga), there has been an influx of public money spent on a cultural expansion. From the urban street art of MAUS (Málaga Arte Urbano en el Soho) in Soho to the building of the new Centre Pompidou in the luxury Muelle Uno Porto, there’s a feast for eyes everywhere you turn.
The overspill is the modernisation of the infrastructure and an explosion of hospitality towards creative types – with high-end restaurants, vintage clothes shops, boutique hotels, roof terrace bars and a generally cosmopolitan atmosphere thriving well into the night.
Then there’s traditional Málaga. The Alcazaba is a Moorish fortress adjoining the ancient walls of the city. There are 15 beaches, all lined with Chiringuitos – traditional beachside eateries, grilling the morning’s catch on the sand. The locals are nicknamed boquerones (anchovies) because of the quantities they eat and there are many tapas bars, specialist ultramarinos (traditional grocery stores), street and covered markets selling the bountiful local produce. The clement year-round weather makes this a brilliant city for outdoor events. From street performers to grand city-wide festivals, there is a never a lack of activity.
Unlike some Spanish cities, Málaga does not wind down in summer, with over 1 million tourists a year and many of those in the heat of June – August. Expats can expect a lifestyle of parties, good food and multilingual chat for much of the year, with a particularly bustling summer.
With the rapid overhaul came higher property prices in Málaga’s city centre. Fortunately, there are interesting districts where you can still find affordable housing, for example, the university district, Teatinos, is popular among students and young families. The centre typically offers apartment living, while villas and townhouses are available in the suburbs.
Málaga has established a good reputation for shopping. The Calle Larios pedestrianised zone has hundreds of international high street stores whereas Muelle Uno has designer boutiques servicing the wealthy cruise ship dockers. The Málaga branch of El Corte Inglés is packed with Spanish fashion, homeware and a good supermarket. Many districts have local leisure facilities, banks and postal services.
Málaga airport has flight connections to over 60 countries worldwide. From the airport, you can reach the city via train (8 minutes), express bus service or taxi. The Renfe train service operates out of María Zambrano station and you can travel to pretty much anywhere in Spain. Málaga to Madrid is just two hours 45 minutes on the AVE fast train. You can also catch the local train from Málaga to Fuengirola and there are buses serving the city centre and suburbs.
Málaga is densely packed with medical practitioners in either clinics or private practice, seven of whom advertise English language services. There is a well respected Maternity Hospital, a nursing school and several hospital sites spread throughout the city.
Cost of Living
Housing in Málaga is cheaper than both nearby coastal resorts and most UK towns. The outdoor lifestyle makes leisure a lot cheaper too, eating out can be either very expensive or very cheap, depending on your budget.
Fuengirola has all the benefits of a big town together with some of the region’s best kept beaches. Being a working fishing town, the sea food is to die for as well.
A household name across Europe, Fuengirola is famed for its miles of beautifully tended beaches, a thriving nightlife and shopping to rival any of Spain’s major cities. Look a little closer and you’ll see that this is more than just another package holiday destination.
Step off the beach and walk through town and you’ll find fascinating historical sites and delightful parks. The old port, once the commercial centre of the town, is still the main supplier of fresh fish to Fuengirola – and you must try the espeto, sardines grilled on a skewer over an open fire on the beach, an Andalusian summer tradition. Climb the hill to the 10th century Moorish castle – long abandoned – it has recently been restored and now hosts festivals and concerts through the exciting summer months.
Today you’ll find a town which is cosmopolitan in character. It’s come a long way from its roots, but Fuengirola still retains important Spanish elements like the summer Feria, bustling squares and thriving street markets.
Swelling from several thousand in the 1960s to 72,000 permanent inhabitants today, a quarter of these come from abroad. Far from just being an English enclave of popular imagination, you’ll meet Irish, Swedes and the largest community of Finns outside of Scandinavia. The English-speaking population is now large enough to merit its own programme of cultural and social groups.
Should you tire of the sea… then shop. Fuengirola is a retail paradise with a truly mind-boggling array of outlets. From supermarkets and major Spanish department stores to designer outlets, quirky boutiques and second-hand shops, everything your heart desires can be found in Fuengirola. And don’t forget the thrice weekly street markets if you want to pick up a real bargain.
You’ll find much more in this thriving town; with three libraries, museums, theatres, cultural centres (including the only full English programme in Andalucia) and a zoo specialising in the breeding of endangered species.
Malaga airport is just 25 kilometres away and you can catch regular buses here and all around the Costa del Sol. The A7 motorway will take you speedily along the south coast, as will the C-1 commuter rail service which runs from the centre of town.
One of the chief draws for many people is the sheer range of property on offer. From apartments in one of the many seafront complexes, to town houses further into town and low-rise villas stretching from the coast further inland, you’ll find something to suit your taste and budget.
There are a number of public health clinics to choose from within town, including a 24-hour emergency department. The nearest hospital is a 25 minutes’ drive away in Marbella.
Cost of Living
The large range of shops means prices are competitive, so you’ll be able to live reasonably cheaply in Fuengirola, with costs similar to those in nearby Malaga.
Property to suit every budget, beautiful beaches, shopping and nightlife to rival the best in the Costa del Sol, Benalmadena is the ultimate sunshine destination.
Benalmadena is one of the Costa del Sol’s most popular resort towns for good reason. It comes with everything you might expect from this part of Spain: great weather all year round, access to a coastline packed with fabulous beaches and a marina to rival the glamour of Marbella further to the west.
Visit the Arabian style Puerto Marina, where you can wander (or berth, if you are lucky) among some jaw droppingly beautiful yachts, take a trip out to sea and get a glimpse of dolphins or just stop and enjoy the many restaurants, bars and shops. Continue along the Paseo Maritimo promenade that stretches the length of the resort all the way to Torremolinos.
Away from the coast, Benalmadena has much to keep you occupied, including an amusement park, aquariums and one of Spain’s most visited casinos. And if you want to get away from it all, this varied resort offers stunning sanctuary: take the cable car to the summit of the 769-metre Calamorro mountain, meditate in the monumental Buddhist stupa or stroll around the lake at Paloma Park along with the rabbits, peacocks who roam free. Benalmadena is so much more than just another resort.
The official number of inhabitants in Benalmadena is 67,000 and around a quarter of the people you will meet here will be foreigners, a third of whom are British.
Benalmadena is well known for its developments large and small; you’ll find affordable apartments in larger high rises or pricier penthouses overlooking the marina.
You’ll find two public clinics and a hospital in town – or more accurately in Arroyo de la Miel, the largely residential district immediately to the west.
Getting around isn’t a problem in Benalmadena. You’re just twenty minutes’ drive from the centre of Malaga and its Airport. Public transport is also extremely convenient, with a regular bus service and an urban railway which runs through town and connects to Malaga and Fuengirola every 20 minutes.
Benalmadena is a town that loves to shop, and you’ll find plenty to spend your money on, whatever your budget or taste. Most of the small shops are on the main street in Benalmadena centre and around the marina. You’ll also find a small shopping centre and a bustling street market in the car park of Tivoli World every Friday selling clothes, jewellery, shoes, toys and food.
Cost of Living
With the town catering heavily to tourists you’ll find prices a little higher than in some of the Costa del Sol’s quieter spots. But with easy access to out of town shopping you should easily be able to keep your monthly within budget.
Torremolinos is perfect for anyone looking for a well-established expat community, beautiful beaches and easy access to the Costa del Sol’s major attractions.
Visit Torremolinos and you might expect to find packs of party people, forests of high rises and roast dinners any day of the week, and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. But look a little closer and another side emerges, one where beaches are pristine, beautiful public parks are resplendent with magnolia and banana trees and there are even reminders of its former existence as a fishing village.
With its carefree, happy atmosphere Torremolinos appeals to visitors young and old, straight or gay, all brought here by the plentiful accommodation and infinite entertainments. But ask anyone who lives here all year round and they might point you in the direction of quieter residential areas like El Calvario with its fishermen’s’ cottages and unmissable seafood restaurants. Come with an open mind and look past the reputation and you’ll find a town that has survived the worst excesses of the tourist boom and emerged as something altogether more appealing.
As this busy stretch of the Costa del Sol has developed, Torremolinos has almost turned into an extension of nearby Malaga and merged with its tourism twin, Benalmadena. Despite this, with a permanent population of 70,000 people, it retains a proud and particular character all its own, one that’s characterized as much by its 75% Spanish population as it the crowds drawn here every summer.
There are more than just apartments to be found in Torremolinos (although there are a lot of those). Head to the west side of town and La Carihuela for more traditional Spanish townhouses and villas to suit all budgets and tastes
Calle San Miguel is the main shopping area, where you can buy everything from fresh fish to the latest fashions. Every type of sport and leisure interest is catered for in Torremolinos, including golf, tennis and water sports. Spend any time here and you’ll soon sniff out the best restaurants where you must try the local speciality pescaíto frito, or fried fish.
Torremolinos has a wide range of health care options including several public health clinics and the Hospital Marítimo. For more specialist care, the University Hospital in Malaga is just a few minutes’ drive and there are many private doctors and dentists to choose from.
Cost of Living
It might be a holiday mecca, but you will still find a very reasonable cost of living in Torremolinos, particularly if you avoid the obvious tourist traps. And with Malaga right next door you will have access to a range of bigger shops and markets in which to find bargains.
In the heart of this stunning region, Mijas offers the best of all worlds: thriving village life, the delights of the coast and the best nature southern Spain has to offer.
A traditional Andalucian ‘pueblo blanco’ where charming cobbled streets, whitewashed houses and hidden squares extend behind an ancient Moorish wall with a panorama to die for. On a good day in Mijas you’ll look out across the coastline below, all the way across to the coast of Africa.
You’ll find many of the landmarks that draw people to southern Spanish towns; a bullring, pretty churches and a host of local fiestas. It’s the perfect place to settle, particularly if you are looking for life beyond the beaches. It’s just 30 kilometres to cultured Malaga and minutes from a network of nature paths to explore along the mountainous ‘red trail’.
Mijas stands in relaxing contrast to the excitement of the resorts that are just a fifteen-minute drive away. You’ll find it a highly desirable location with great weather, an excellent community and easy access to the very best of the Costa del Sol.
Among the modest population of ten thousand, you’ll meet residents from all around the world. The expat population is so large that the Town Hall has set up a helpful Foreigner’s Department for non-Spanish speakers. Whether the people you meet are local or from further afield, you’ll find people in Mijas an approachable friendly bunch.
You’ll find several Spanish state schools in Mijas itself with a selection of private International schools close by, including St Anthony’s College on the road to Fuengirola.
For a modest sized town, there are a dizzying array of restaurants and tapas bars. The nightlife will suit you if you’re looking for something a bit more laid back than on the coastal resorts. During the day the town buzzes with a plethora of shops to explore selling the wares of many of the local and international artists with studios in the area.
Along with a health centre in Mijas village itself there is a recently inaugurated Specialized Treatment Centre called CARE in nearby Las Lagunas. You’ll find the nearest hospitals easily accessible in Marbella and Malaga.
If you are without your own transport there are regular services to and from Fuengirola bus station and four daily buses to take you into Málaga, all very reasonably priced. To get around the steeper parts of town you could always hail one of the popular donkey taxis!
Whether you are looking for a slice of authentic Spanish life in one of the town’s whitewashed cottages, a simple apartment in one of the many developments or a more upscale villa with a view, Mijas has something to offer.
Cost of Living
Mijas offers life within a traditional Spanish village, close to the coast, but without the hefty price tag of nearby Marbella. However, you might find it a little pricier for day to day essentials than some of the busier resorts nearby.
Mijas Costa is one of the most popular destinations in Spain, so come if you’re looking for a lively location plus all the comforts of home while bathed in glorious sunshine.
Covering twelve beaches in twelve kilometres, the first district along the Costa Mijas is the popular tourist town, Calahonda. Then moving East, Calypso, Riviera del Sol, Miraflores and Torrenueva then La Cala de Mijas — another destination filled with vibrant bars and restaurants. The coast hugs the rocky inland urbanizaciones (housing zones) of Los Claveles, El Chaparral, Los Farolas, El Faro, Calaburras, La Costa and La Ponderosa.
Marbella is just a 15 minutes’ drive away and the whitewashed inland pueblos of Mijas, Coín and Alhaurín el Grande are also closeby. The Parque Acuatico Mijas (Mijas Water Park) is a favourite with kids, with water slides, wave pools and play islands. In Fuengirola, you can visit Bioparc Fuengirola, a highly respected zoo whose enclosures are as close to the natural habitat of its animals as possible. There are bars, restaurants and chiringuitos (beachside eateries) panning most of the strip. Due to the high volume of tourists and foreign residents, there’s a wide selection of cuisines from around the world. El Zoco commercial centre in Calahonda and markets in Cala de Mijas are great for shoppers. The entire area is dotted with golf courses and there are riding, tennis, bowls, water sports and plenty of excursions to keep you busy when not on the links. A coastal boardwalk, part of the Senda litoral de Malaga (Malaga Coastal path), connects all of the beaches for walkers.
There are plenty of brand new, off-plot apartments in a serviced building or if you want more privacy, you might prefer an apartment in a gated community. Most of the region is built up with modern apartment blocks, although in Calahonda, there are also townhouses, villas and timeshares for sale.
Mijas Costa’s various districts are joined together by the A-7 coastal highway. A car is recommended if you want to get out and explore but not essential if you want to live near the beach and are happy to walk short distances in the heat. It’s serviced by Malaga and Gibraltar Airports and there are transfers and taxis from both available year round. Public transport in Mijas is limited to the bus service but both the 220 and 320 services will take you between Malaga, Marbella and Fuengirola. The AP-7 road has a toll charge.
There are hospitals in both Marbella and Fuengirola; Calahonda and Cala de Mijas are the best local spots to find general practitioners and chemists.
The Eastern stretch of the Costa del Sol is generally less expensive in terms of housing.
Most restaurants offer an affordable 3 course menú del día. Flights are run by budget airlines. Public transport is lower than in other European countries. It’s very easy to spend less here than in most parts of Europe.
With its cosmopolitan confidence and an unbeatable climate, Marbella has been Spain’s most desirable resort for over 50 years. Marbella might be chic but it’s not exclusively for the wealthy.
Loved for its glamour, golf and a golden mile of hotels, clubs and casinos, Marbella is popular for good reason; sheltered by a coastal mountain range, you’ll be basking in a microclimate which provides an average annual temperature of 18°c and enjoys amazing views of the sea and mountains.
And there is still plenty of the city’s original beauty to be discovered in the old town. Pass through spotless alleys, fancy shops and classic Spanish churches to find the soul of old Marbella, Plaza de los Naranjos. On hot summer nights, it turns into a buzzing open air restaurant: just sit back and drink in the atmosphere.
Even by the standards of the Costa del Sol you’ll be mixing with an incredible array of nationalities. 40,000 of the 142,000 strong population hail from 127 different countries with a British majority. Together they are known as ‘Marbelleros’.
Beyond the sea (16 miles of beach and four marinas), the golf courses (15) and the restaurants (600), there is one more thing Marbella is known for: shopping. There are countless designer clothes and jewellery shops for you to peruse along with a giant mall, hypermarkets, specialty food shops, accessory shops, interiors…you won’t run out of places to spend your money!
Marbella has a reliable bus service taking you along the A7 motorway which connects you with the closest airport at Malaga and all the towns along the Costa del Sol.
You’ll find plentiful property, ranging from expensive to the astronomical along the city’s golden mile, with its luxurious villas and estates. But don’t despair more affordable apartments are available in developments along the coast and into the mountain areas.
If four rounds of golf followed by a five-course lunch and forty winks on the beach isn’t enough to keep you at the peak of physical fitness, you will find access to health care very straightforward. The region’s main resource, the Costa del Sol hospital is situated just out of town and is one of the best equipped in Spain. In addition, there are private hospitals, specialist clinics and numerous alternative therapies to choose from.
Cost of Living
As you might expect, Marbella is a little on the expensive side compared to some of the neighbouring resorts. But the abundance of retail outlets will help keep the price of your weekly shop down.
Puerto Banus is Marbella’s famous port, nicknamed the St Tropez of Andalucia, it’s a Mecca for the rich and famous and is home to one of the largest luxury shopping centres in Spain.
José Banús was a property developer who built Puerto Banus to look like a traditional Andalusian village and marina. The grand opening party in 1970 had a guest list like the whos-who of international influence, with attendees such as film director Roman Polanski, Playboy’s Hugh Hefner, and Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco.
Today, the modern 915 berth marina is home to the super yachts of the uber-wealthy. Rife with celebrities, the streets swell with luxury cars, expensive fashion boutiques and exclusive restaurants. Visitors flock to the Puerto Banús beach clubs. All day bars serve cocktails and champagne to bronzing bathers lolling on the sun loungers along the sand.
To the west of the marina is Mistral Beach, with a club and chiringuitos serving traditional seafood. On the Nueva Andalucia side is the Blue Flag beach of Playa de Levante (or Puerto Banus beach) which is home to Water Sports Banus and the Levante Beach Club. A short drive away is Nagueles Beach, home to the Marbella Club Hotel, the Puente Romano Tennis Club and chef Dani García’s Michelin star restaurant.
Puerto Banus is in the centre of the Costa del Golf and enthusiasts can enjoy the Monte Paraiso, Golf La Dama de Noche, Aloha Golf Club, Las Brisas Golf and the Las Naranjas Golf Clubs nearby.
Spaniards make up about 30% of the non-transient population. The other 70% is made up of British, Scandinavian, American and Arab residents.
The south side of the marina is flat and conveniently located within walking distance from the bustling shopping district. However, property on this side is scarce, and expensive, especially when offering unobstructed views over the water. You’ll find apartments in the main and occasionally luxury villas. To the north are mountainside residential areas with homes better suited to families. These are often better value for money, with prices related to security, shared facilities like tennis courts, heated pools, shops and restaurants, but also interior design features and terrace space.
Luxury boutiques selling everything from Christian Dior to Bang and Olufsen line the streets and in Antonio Banderas Square you’ll find an enormous El Corte Ingles department store, which incorporates the luxury hypermarket, Hipercor. There are lots of amenities catering to the international residents of this area, from Waitrose groceries to English speaking cosmetic dentists.
Malaga Airport is 60 kilometres away and you can get to Puerto Banus by taxi or (via Malaga city centre) bus. Driving is easy, as there’s a good road system. You can approach via the A-7 toll roador the N-340 coastal road — a longer but more scenic route. There’s an extensive bus network joining Puerto Banus to neighbouring towns and rural areas.
The Health Center San Pedro De Alcántara on Calle Príncipe de Asturias is an excellent place to seek out state healthcare. There are plentiful private medical facilities too, including Helicopter Hospital Health, a small hospital utilising helicopter emergency vehicles.
Cost of Living
The cost of living is high in Marbella, but wages can reflect this. House prices are similar to those in northern Europe, but utilities and transport costs remain low.
Pretty white houses, world class beaches and a sophisticated atmosphere make Estepona the destination for people who enjoy the finer things in life.
Estepona is a traditional fishing town turned resort with a distinctly Andalucian look and feel. Walk past whitewashed buildings festooned with stunning blue and pink flowers towards the sea front and take in life around one of the numerous chiringuitos (beach bars) serving fresh fish and paella.
Surrounded by the mountains of the Sierra Bermeja, Estepona has a pleasing micro-climate with around 325 days of sunshine a year. You’ll find the summers hot and dry and the winters pleasurably mild, and that means you’ll be able to make the most of the town’s two Blue Flag beaches. The most popular is Playa la Rada in the centre of town with its modern promenade where you’ll pass palm trees and exotic cacti along its 2.5 km length.
Life still revolves around the traditional square in the centre – the pretty Plaza de las Flores is always filled with people socialising on benches or the outdoor café.
With a population of around 70,000 you’ll find the town lively, but not overwhelmingly so. This is the place to be if you are seeking something more traditionally Spanish, but with all the sunny benefits the region has to offer.
Estepona is part of the ‘golden triangle’ that also includes beautiful Benahavís and glam Marbella. In the pretty old town you will find small apartments, while the more modern surrounding areas largely consist of newer apartment blocks. Housing extends along the coast with a number of complexes. And if you’re looking to create your own grand design, plots of land with building permission are also available.
Coming and going won’t be a problem, as you’ll be less than an hour’s drive in either direction from the airports of Malaga and Gibraltar. Estepona is connected to the surrounding region by the speedy AP-7 toll road or you can take your time and enjoy the coast along the A-7. If you’re without a car, a frequent service run from a modern bus station on the east side of town will connect you with the main towns and airports.
Estepona town is blissfully free of large shopping complexes but you will find a good range of small and medium sized shops in the town centre. There are also a number of markets worth investigating. Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in the traditional town market and on Sunday morning get down to the popular Mecadill del Puerto in the marina, an Aladdin’s cave of gifts, jewellery and crafts.
You’ll already feel better for moving to the sun, but Estepona has excellent provision for public health care, with a state run A&E unit, the ‘Ambulatorio’ in town and the region’s main hospital in nearby Marbella. In addition, there are a selection of private specialist doctors and complementary medical services.
Cost of Living
Rent and house prices are generally higher at the western end of the Costa del Sol, so expect to pay a little more for a meal out or your weekly shop than you would in the larger resorts to the west.
Move here for the stunning natural surroundings, beautiful beaches, world-class golf facilities and easy access to glitzy Marbella.
Nueva Andalucia is a leafy residential area of luxury villas and apartments located in southern Spain in the municipality of Marbella. The area enjoys a sub-tropical Mediterranean climate of hot summers and warm winters, with cooling breezes from the sea tempering the summer heat.
This exclusive area is highly sought after due to its spectacular views of the Mediterranean and the majestic Sierra de Ronda mountain range, not to mention its proximity to the beautiful beaches of the Costa del Sol. The amenities in the area are excellent – shops, bars and restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, casinos, Saturday markets, and golf clubs are all within walking distance.
With so many amazing facilities in close by, you could quite easily get by without ever having to leave the development, but with glitzy Marbella and historic San Pedro de Alcantara a mere 10 minute drive away, not to mention the numerous golf clubs in the area, there are plenty of reasons to venture further afield.
Speaking of golf – move here – and you will have four top golf courses right on your doorstep, all with stunning scenery, challenging courses and excellent facilities. Aloha Golf, Las Brisas, Los Naranjos all offer excellent views of the Sierra de Ronda, and Europe’s first 24 hour course, La Dama de Noche, allows you to play a midnight game thanks to its floodlit grounds – no wonder they called it ‘The Lady of the Night’!
Golf isn’t the only way to explore the great outdoors though – the Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja Natural Park is less than an hour away and has breath-taking views of the costa. This ‘red mountain’ takes its name from the iron rich rocks that give the area its spectacular russet colour.
There are lots of beaches to explore too; most of Nueva Andalucia’s own beaches are within easy walking distance, with many less than a 10-minute drive away including Puerto Banus. At ‘PB’s famously popular marina, you might spot a celebrity enjoying the sunshine on their luxury yacht. On a Saturday, you can enjoy the Nueva Andalucia Artisan Market – one of the largest flea markets on the Costa del Sol. Here you’ll find a wide variety of artisan goods, from hand-carved figurines, pottery, paintings, clothing, furniture, textiles, and antiques, not to mention spices and fresh local produce.
You’ll find property to suit every budget here, from luxurious poolside villas to modern apartments and contemporary townhouses.
Although there are buses that run from the town, there is no direct train connection, so having a car is advisable.
There are a number of private clinics in the area; for state healthcare Nueva Andalucia is served by the La Campana Clinic.
Cost of living
The cost of living in this area depends largely on lifestyle – utilities are generally very reasonably priced and the huge range of places to eat out means there is something to suit all budgets.
A traditional Andalusian mountain village with all the benefits you would expect of its proximity to upscale Marbella. Beautiful scenery, golf and gourmet food are on your doorstep.
For the lucky people who call it home, Benahavís has views out over the coastline between Marbella and Estepona. On a good day you can even see the African coast. Originally founded by Arab settlers in the 11th century, its situation offered a practical use as a lookout against frequent raids by pirates and invading forces.
Today the town has kept much of its rural charm, whilst adding golf courses, hotels and excellent restaurants which draw crowds from the more upmarket coastal towns. The charm of the old town and the natural beauty of the surrounding area has also proved to be an inspiration for the town’s artistic community.
Benahavís is a paradise for nature lovers, who can hike between the twin peaks and past riverbanks lined with chestnut and olive trees. It is a rugged, dramatic region where clean mountain air mingles with the sparkle of the always sunny ocean below.
You’ll find a warm welcome in this small community of 8,884 people, a quarter of who are from the UK. The expansion of golf and luxury accommodation has made it particularly popular with the wealthy who mingle with locals and the arty crowd.
Benahavís has expanded considerably in recent years to become one of the most highly desirable locations in the region. Prices are on the higher side, with properties which include apartments in stylish developments, traditional village houses and luxury villas with views of the mountains and sea.
There is some fierce competition on the Costa del Sol but golf lovers will enjoy some of the best courses in the region on their doorstep. The food is of gourmet standard, combining local delicacies with fresh fish and locally reared meat. You’ll also find a new supermarket in town.
As well as a local public health care centre and pharmacy, you’ll be served by the hospital in nearby Marbella and a much larger health centre opening in San Pedro a quarter of an hour away.
The mountain location means a less frequent bus service but this is a friendly town and you will find that locals often make runs to the airport. There are also a dedicated taxi service for the area to get you where you need to be.
Cost of Living
Benahavís gives you the chance of upscale living within reach of the Costa del Sol but without the hefty price tag of Marbella.
The perfect place for people in search of traditional Andalusian village life, this classic ‘pueblo blanco’ is rich in history, beauty and culture and within easy reach of the coast.
Named after Spain’s famous former governor Julius Caesar, who is said to have visited the nearby hot sulphurous springs, in Casares you’ll find a village with more history than much of the rest of the Costa del Sol. The ruined Moorish castle that sits atop a stack of ‘sugar cube’ houses points to its status as one of the final strongholds of the Moors. Caseres was also one of the few places to withstand the might of the Napoleonic army when they came calling. Today it mainly fends off the excesses of the tourist industry and immediately casts a spell on anyone lucky enough to find it.
In Casares you’ll find everything you’d expect in a ‘pueblo blanco’; a warren of streets with old whitewashed buildings lined with flowers, a square in the heart in which to sit and soak in the quiet atmosphere and stunning walks into the nature reserve of the Sierra Crestellina. It’s also home to delightful artisan shops, one of the most illustrious golf courses in the region and properties with views that stretch from the mountains all the way to the Gibraltar coast.
The village itself remains predominantly Spanish with around three thousand inhabitants. While there are some expats living within the village the majority are to be found in the surrounding countryside, with many more in the modern developments of nearby Casares Costa.
If you’re lucky you might be able to pick up one of the traditional white village houses, many of which are a century old. There are larger fincas and cortijos in the immediate area, some of which are undeveloped, others on the luxury scale that you’d expect in this desirable part of southern Spain.
Perhaps because of its undiscovered status, Casares isn’t exactly a retail mecca, but it does have several small village shops selling food and artisan products as well as a weekly street market. There are also some excellent restaurants and bars where you can happily sit eating, drinking and talking late into the night.
A car is fairly essential here, as there are only two daily buses to Estepona, one in the morning and one in the evening. The road to the coast takes fifteen minutes and leads through some unbelievably picturesque countryside.
For any conditions not treatable in Julius Caesar’s hot springs, you’ll find a public health clinic in the village along with several pharmacies. For anything more serious visit the hospital in Marbella or Estepona.
Cost of Living
This isn’t the cheapest part of the Costa del Sol as it’s just outside the ‘golden mile’. But it is perfectly possible to live within a budget if you make use of the larger supermarkets on the coast.
Alhaurin El Grande
Enjoy the authentic Andalusian lifestyle as it’s been for generations, with the Costa del Sol in easy reach, superb amenities and none of the urbanisations found in many similar towns.
While much of the Costa del Sol is well known for its modern developments and rowdy nightlife, the mountain town of Alhaurin El Grande is a reminder of thousands of years of rural Andalusian history. Nearby, forests contain traces of ancient Neolithic inhabitants and in the surrounding hills you will find Roman ruins. In town a Moorish archway takes you into the traditional Spanish Plaza. For all these reasons, this is a hotspot for settlers from overseas – and is the place that famed English travel writer Gerald Brennan finally laid his hat. And as he had dedicated his life to exploring Andalucia, you know that Alhaurin is something special.
The climate is another draw; the geography means you’re protected from the extremes of the summer heat and are equally comfortable in the winter. Outside the town you’ll find villas and fincas surrounded by land that is covered in olive, oak and pine trees with stunning views into the mountains or to the coast. You can spend a lifetime exploring this gorgeous natural habitat on foot, by bike and horseback. Or, if you’d prefer, take in a leisurely round of golf then watch the world go by in one of the town’s excellent tapas bars and restaurants.
Alhaurin is home to 25,000 people, with a good mix of local and expat inhabitants. The town itself is predominantly Spanish, while around half of the properties in the surroundings are internationally owned.
The town itself is very affordable, with apartments and houses to suit most budgets. Building was banned in the surrounding countryside in 2003 so you won’t find any sprawling urbanisations. This means more peace and quiet but also less property on the market.
Shopping is excellent with several supermarkets, a greengrocer selling fresh, local produce and street markets on Thursdays and Saturdays. To relax you’ll find plentiful bars, restaurants and sports clubs, including a golf course designed by Seve Ballesteros.
Alhaurin El Grande is connected to Malaga and the nearby towns and villages by bus. You’ll find transport links much improved thanks to new roads leading to Fuengirola and Marbella. The nearest beach is around a twenty minute drive.
You’ll find a state-run health centre in town along with a pharmacy and several private dentists. The nearest hospital is at the University of Malaga, twenty minutes in the car.
Cost of Living
One of the upsides of living away from the coastal resorts is that prices are a little lower, both for property and in the shops and restaurants.
Coin might be half an hour from the Costa del Sol but for many that will be the appeal of this quintessentially Andalusian town that comes with many of its own attractions.
At the foot of the Sierra de Mijas mountains and 30 kilometres inland from Malaga and Marbella, you’ll find Coin. Overlooking the Guadalhorce Valley, one of the most fertile areas in the south of Spain, it is still used extensively for agriculture. In the ‘town of the 300 orchards’ you have both traditional small-town Spanish life and access to amazing shops and world class facilities. And that’s before you’ve got anywhere near the coast or the surrounding pine forests with their enchanting streams and waterfalls.
If parts of town look a little familiar to some UK visitors, that’s because Coín was used as the set of the ill-fated BBC soap opera El Dorado. Today the town is more likely to appeal to expats who want to become a little more involved in the Spanish way of life. If you think that Coin is a little too far from the coast, spend a little time here and you begin to realise that it is in fact the perfect spot for a happy, healthy life.
The population of this small town is around 22,000, with 13% of those expats. This balance makes Coin a great place to come to if you’re interested in integrating into a genuine Andalusian community. Most of the new arrivals come here with this in mind, taking a conscious decision to be a little separate from the action on the coast.
In the centre of town you’ll find a mixture of apartments and townhouses, mostly occupied by Spanish families. There are urbanisations on the outskirts, with villas and a more typical expat community feel. And if you want complete isolation, consider a finca property, many of which have extensive land – perfect for small holdings.
A recently opened shopping centre has brought some of Spain’s biggest brands to Coin together with cafes, cinema, a high spec gym and an enticing spa. You’ll find all the usual supermarkets here, together with a massive second-hand market every Sunday, attracting visitors from far and wide.
You’re only 33 kilometres to the west of Malaga and 30 kilometres north from Marbella which is roughly a 30 minute drive. If you don’t have your own transport, buses connect you with the major towns and nearby villages.
Coin has its own medical centre with an emergency room which is open around the clock, along with several private dental practices. For anything else, you’re within easy reach of hospitals in Malaga and Marbella.
Cost of Living
This is a great option if you are looking for a lower cost alternative to the region’s upscale resorts and developments. Eating out is for the most part very reasonable and a good variety of shops means you won’t have to make lengthy journey out of town each week to buy your groceries.
Move to cosmopolitan Elviria to enjoy stylish bars and restaurants, a variety of outdoor activities and great schools. You’ll also find amazing views and properties finished to a high standard in this well-maintained, leafy community.
Elviria is a luxurious and sought-after coastal urbanisation located ten minutes away from the glamorous city of Marbella. With 320 days of sunshine a year and some of the finest beaches in Marbella, Elviria is popular with buyers looking to enjoy the outdoor life. This well-maintained, leafy community is popular among families, who are no doubt attracted by the abundance of green space, tranquil surroundings and safe environment.
Though this area is very peaceful, don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s boring or uneventful – with party town Marbella close by, you’ll find restaurants, shops, and bars galore, not to mention plenty of sporting activities such as golf, tennis, watersports, horse-riding, cycling and much more. Elviria’s beaches are some of the best on the Costa del Sol, with fine sand and all the facilities you need for a perfect day out. They are also full of life with stylish bars and restaurants, fashionable beach clubs and cafes nestled next to quaint local chiringuitos.
With breath-taking views everywhere, you look and an excellent range of local amenities on your doorstep, it’s no wonder Elviria is so popular with foreign buyers looking for their very own piece of the Costa del Sol.
With cosmopolitan Marbella close by, it’s not surprising that Elviria has a thriving international community. The area is popular with people from Northern Europe – with British expats and Swedes in particular, opting to settle here.
You’ll find some very luxurious property in Elviria, with the added bonus that prices are generally lower than those found in nearby Marbella. Many of the houses in this development have their own swimming pools and most apartment complexes and villas are accompanied by beautiful tropical gardens which provide plenty of shade.
Much of the property comes with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and mountains and most are finished to a very high standard. If you have deep pockets, you’ll find some very grand villas here – think panoramic views, swimming pools, tropical gardens and top of the range finishes with all the extras. Those with a smaller budget will still be able to find beautifully finished apartments in private, gated complexes.
Residents of Elviria have plenty of shops to choose from, including those from neighbouring El Rosario. There are supermarkets, Spanish boutiques and various gift shops. Hop in the car and major shopping centres are only a few minutes away. In around 20 minutes you can get to the world-renowned Puerto Banús shopping centre, where you’ll find luxury designer brands among popular high street favourites. Unwind with a spot of golf at Elviria’s Santa Maria Golf Club, an 18-hole course set amidst stunning natural scenery.
Buses run regularly and you’re only a 40-minute drive away from Malaga airport. A number of taxi companies operate in the area and if you drive, you’re well connected to the major coastal cities via the A7.
There are a number of English-speaking doctors in the areas surrounding Elviria, such as the Marbella Medical Services in Marbella. You’ll also find English-speaking doctors at nearby Fuengirola at the Clinica Quiron.
Cost of Living
Although this is an upmarket area, cost of living is generally still lower than the UK and other parts of Europe. The standard of living is very high, so you will certainly get value for money if you opt to buy here.
Conveniently close to Marbella, Sotogrande and Gibraltar, but with a cool, breezy charm of its own, Le Duquesa is one of the Costa del Sol’s best kept secrets.
Recently awarded a Blue Flag, La Duquesa is popular with both boat owners and tourists. During the day, boats bob about on crystal clear waters of the marina and behind them, the brilliant white of the apartments and commercial buildings set off the green palms lining the promenade. By night, up-lights cast a romantic glow over diners and pedestrians soaking in the atmosphere.
Flanked on either side by beaches: the Playa de las Gaviotas and Playa del Castillo to the west and Playa Sabinillas to the wast, the fishing villages of Sabinillas and Castillo de la Duquesa (named after its 1767 castle) offer beachside amenities and a character all of their own to explore.
Behind the port, La Duquesa Golf and Country Club has an 18 hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. The Alcaidesa Links overlook the Rock of Gibraltar with Heathland, Valderrama, Sotogrande, La Reserva, La Cañada and San Roque courses all well within an hour’s drive.
Unlike many spots on the Costa del Sol, La Duquesa is only really busy during the height of summer. The rest of the time it remains a stylish, authentic Spanish town. There is a community of expats made up from mostly British, Irish and Scandinavians.
Most urbanisations surround the golf course offering a mix of townhouses and apartments with community pools. Further inland there are villas with private gardens and pools, or you might prefer an apartment in the town centre itself.
The marina services cover moorings for boats of up to 20 metres, refuelling, washing facilities, satellite television, 24 hour security, electricity and water on a meter system.
Approximately 30 minutes drive away is Marbella’s Puerto Banus with the shopping areas of Puerto Banus marina, El Corte Inglés and Marina Banus. Just inland of Marbella is the enormous La Cañada shopping centre. There are plenty of shops, supermarkets and banks in the town itself too.
La Duquesa is around an hour’s drive from Malaga and 45 minutes drive from Gibraltar airports. It’s on the Estepona – La Linea (for Gibraltar) bus route.
There are many health care providers in the town, both public and private. The closest medical centre and dentist are both in Sabinillas, on the road San Luis de Sabinillas
Sotogrande is a discreet, enigmatic and leafy enclave for people seeking exclusivity, privacy and facilities well away from the throngs of busier resorts.
Sotogrande is the biggest privately owned residential development in Andalusia. This highly sought after urbanisation has some of the most expensive homes in Europe. It has attracted owners and visitors from the world stage, including royalty, world leaders, politicians and international artists. Its success is down to the modern, boundary-pushing architecture, high specification facilities and sense of privacy.
Based at the foothills of the Sierra Almenara mountains and surrounded by cork forests, it occupies 20 square kilometres of coastal land. There are several artificial lakes, one of which is a man made beach with a private beach club. Other beaches include Sotogrande Port Beach, Torreguadiaro Beach, Alcaidesa Beaches and Cala Sardinia Beach.
Founded in the early 1960’s by Joseph Rafael McMicking y Ynchausti and Mercedes Zobel de Ayala y Roxas, Sotogrande began with the purchase of five adjoining farmsteads. There the couples’ nephews Jaime and Enrique Zobel built the first houses in, what was then, a gated community.
There are 5 golf courses, including the Valderrama Golf Club, designed by Jaime Ortiz-Patiño and host to the 1997 Ryder Cup and the European Tour Volvo Masters. The busy marina is home to a sailing club, shops and restaurants. There are 6 polo fields, 2 tennis clubs, paddle courts, a riding stables, yoga, kayaking, windsurfing in addition to jet skiing lessons, hoverboards, electric bikes, paddleboards, longboards, Segways and scooters are available for rent and sale. Nearby excursions include the Alcornocales Natural Park, the rock of Gibraltar and Marbella is only a 30 minute drive.
This once gated community is now open for visitors, with a few hotels built around the main estate. However, it still attracts people who prefer to live in private tranquillity. The year-round population are an international crowd made mostly of professional northern Europeans and affluent families.
Sophisticated apartments and colourful townhouses mix with enormous luxury villas. The resort is made up of four main neighbourhoods – La Reserva de Sotogrande, Sotogrande Costa, Sotogrande Marina and Sotogrande Alto.
Pueblo Nuevo de Guadiaro is the main area for shops and restaurants but Torreguadiaro also offers a bustling centre. A concierge service exists to furnish residents with anything they might need including butlers, domestic staff, personal shoppers, drivers, personal trainers and private security. The pharmacy can be found in Plaza Blanca.
The concierge service offers support to those arriving by private jet or yacht. International flights will get you into Gibraltar International or Malaga Airports. Once you’ve arrived there are several private car hire firms.
Cost of Living
Sotogrande, although aimed at the globally affluent, isn’t considered as flashy as nearby Marbella. Although house prices and amenities are highly priced, eating well is relatively inexpensive.