The Costa del Sol has long been the destination of choice for thousands of holidaymakers every year.
With its beautiful long sandy beaches, stunning dramatic coastlines with view of the Mediterranean, cosmopolitan cities filled with culture and history and quaint little villages serving fresh local cuisine, it is the best place to go and relax away a couple of weeks.
And that is without even mentioning the weather. The region is lucky enough to enjoy almost 300 days of sunshine every year, and you can enjoy the heat of the summer combined with the soothing sea breeze. The city of Malaga itself is a stunning place, where you can enjoy castles and architecture that are hundreds of years old, go to the beach, and check out some of the great works of Picasso who was born in the area.
But don’t stop there, pick up your car hire in Malaga airport and get out exploring the surrounding areas of the Costa del Sol. Here are some of the top picks you cannot miss.
Going underground in Nerja
Nerja is a beautiful quaint little fishing village close to Malaga. The town itself is very Andalucian, with whitewashed houses and cobbled streets. There are many small shops selling crafts and delicacies and fantastic restaurants where you can try some amazingly fresh seafood and traditional dishes of the region.
Not to be missed is the Balcon de Europa, a balcony on the cliff that give some of the most breathtaking views of the sea.
You can also relax and watch the world go by in one of the various plazas, or visit the beautiful churches in the town.
But one of the most interesting reasons to visit sit just outside the town itself. The Nerja Caves network is an inspiring natural wonder with neanderthal rock paintings, and plenty of stalagmites and stalactites. It is a great way to escape the summer sun for a while in the coolness of the caves, and if you are lucky enough to visit at the right time, you might even catch the odd musical performance inside the caves.
Head inland to the Sierra de las Nieves
While the coast is fantastic, it is well worth taking the time to spend a day in the Sierra de las Nieves. It is a natural park not far from Marbella and is a place of beautiful contrasts. From the deepest gorge in Andalucia, to the highest peaks reaching over 2,000 meters into the sky the area is mostly uninhabited and is a great sport to reconnect with nature.
Believe it or not given the summer temperatures in this region, the mountain even has snow on it in the winter. The park itself is an exploration adventure of caves, sinkholes, cliffs and chasms.
See Spanish and Moorish culture converge in Granada
Another inland destination you must add to your bucket list is definitely Grenada. It is under two hours drive from Malaga but the sights you will see there are like no other in Spain, or indeed the world.
The city itself has a mixture of architecture influenced by many cultures and rulers throughout history. From the cathedral to the Moroccan style bazaars you can soak it all in, before heading to the jewel in the crown, the magnificent and beautifully preserved Alhambra palace.
It is highly recommended that you book your visit in advance, the palace is very popular and places can sell out.
Relax in luxury in Puerto Banus
With all that hiking and exploring, you should definitely plan in a little rest and relaxation. And where better to do it than in Puerto Banus, the playground of the wealthy, where you can be looked after, chill out in a classy beach bar, be waited on with the best gourmet dishes, and if you want, check out some of the upmarket boutiques and designer shops for a little retail therapy.
There is also a great nightlife here and a chance to check out the super yachts while sipping on an ice cold cocktail. A totally different vibe to the other trips, but well worth it nonetheless.