Coastal Towns of the Costa del Sol

Coastal Towns of the Costa del Sol


Since the end of the 1970s, the Costa del Sol (Sun Coast) on the Southern Mediterranean coast of Spain, has been a popular holiday destination for European tourists. In the late 70s and early 80s this region of Spain was almost entirely taken over by foreign business owners, Spanish style bars and restaurants became rare and British Pubs, Fish & Chip Shops and hastily constructed hotels became the norm. Over the last two decades most of the Costa del Sol has changed, much of it has been reclaimed by Spanish people, and foreign operated businesses are far less common. The Costa del Sol now offers a much more refined holiday experience than it did thirty years ago. The Costa del Sol comprises of several large coastal towns, and we will take a look at the main ones below.

Malaga

Malaga

flickr image by Barbara Müller-Walter

The original tourist town of the Costa del Sol and the site of the original airport which serviced this region. In many ways Malaga become the epitome of British pub culture during the 70s and 80s. This was predominantly due to the area known as the ‘Golden Mile’, a labyrinth of small, tightly packed streets which were home to hundreds of foreign owned bars and restaurants. As time went on this area become the home of criminals and con-men plying on unwary tourists. This situation ultimately forced the Spanish Government to close this area down entirely. Entrances were walled up and businesses closed down. This was the start of the clean-up of the Costa del Sol. Modern Malaga is now a much more refined city. Two kilometres of well-maintained beach forms the front, with many of the cheaply constructed hotels which originally lined it replaced by new, modern and luxurious hotels.

Benalmadena

Benalmadena

flickr image by Terry Wha

A little farther along the coast to the west of Malaga, Benalmadena suffered all of the problems which Malaga did during the 70s and 80s. Benalmadena was extremely popular with young holidaymakers, mostly due to the infamous Plaza Sol y Mar (sun and sea plaza), which came to be known as the ’24 Hour Square’. This small plaza, located on the coast road, was lined with bars and nightclubs, many of which would stay open all day round. The plaza is still the central entertainment area of Benalmadena but it has been cleaned up significantly, with Spanish run bars and discothèques replacing the old ones. The square now closes in the early hours of the morning. In the early 1990s the impressive Benalmadena Marina was constructed, which went on to win the award for most beautiful marina in the world for three years running. Shortly afterwards the entire promenade was reconstructed, and the marina and the promenade which can be followed all the way along the coast to Malaga, are now a stunning example of revitalized Spanish tourism.

Fuengirola

Sunset at Fuengirola

flikcr image by Lauren Tucker Photography

Although Fuengirola was also developed in a similar way to both Malaga and Benalmadena, it never became quite as commercialized. Fuengirola was more popular with families and older people, especially as a winter sun destination. The beach at Fuengirola is one of the widest on the Costa del Sol and the city is built back from the beach, giving the coast a much more uncluttered feel. Modern Fuengirola is still popular with older people, many of which head to Fuengirola for the winter months. Fuengirola was also one of the first coastal regions to become popular with golfers. Many excellent golf courses are close by, including the popular Valderrama Golf Club which is noted as having the finest fairways anywhere on the coast.

Marbella

Marbella

flickr image by marcp_dmoz

Marbella (and Puerto Banus which is close by) have always been an upmarket vacation destination. In many ways Marbella can be said to rival the French Riviera in terms of the experience it provides. Puerto Banus is the site of the original marina on the Costa del Sol, and is popular with the rich and famous. The marina area is lined with expensive cafes, boutique shops and bars.

In the last decade many European holidaymakers have rediscovered the Costa del Sol. The Spanish government has made a great effort to clean up the tarnished image which this region gained during the package holiday boom of the late 70s and early 80s.

Date posted: 23rd October, 2015

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