7 Reasons To Get Off Your Sunlounger And Explore Costa Del Sol

When you plan a holiday to Costa del Sol, you probably look forward to the famous three S’s: sun, sea and sangria. But with more and more people seeking something more from their summer holidays, we’re all starting to discover that there’s more to those Spanish resort towns than sand and sun loungers. I’m all for a chilled-out all-inclusive holiday, but I also like to explore the area around my hotel and soak up some local culture when I’m in vaycay mode. If you do too, I highly recommend Costa del Sol for the best of both worlds: amazing resorts and unique experiences.

I flew to Malaga with Jet2 to discover what the Spanish coast had to offer that doesn’t always make it into the holiday brochures. I hope I can inspire you to explore the local surroundings on your next holiday!

Things to do in Costa del Sol

Walk El Caminito del Rey

Caminito del Rey in Spain

El Caminito del Rey was once known as one of the most dangerous walks in the world. Pinned to the steep walls over the 100ft El Chorro gorge in Andalusia, the original path was just one metre wide and so old and crumbling that it was closed to the public a few years ago. The new boardwalks are much safer, but it’s still an awe-inspiring walk. The great thing is that as you walk, you can still see the old pathways beneath your feet – and the seriously scary bridges that replaced any fallen parts. Even today, a train trundles through the dramatic rock formations. Now that’s a train ride I’d like to take!

 

Eat mouthwatering Spanish cuisine

Best Spanish food in Costa del Sol

Where do I even start? I’ve always been a little disappointed by food in Spain, but Costa del Sol’s culinary scene left my tastebuds very happy (and my belly a little bigger, but calories don’t count on holiday). From locally-caught fish so fresh it was almost still writhing, salty Jamón Ibérico (Iberian ham), platters of aubergine drizzled with molasses, local goats cheese to salchichón de Málaga (which, heads up, is served as a tartar), all of the food we ate was tremendous. Look out for ‘migas’, a dish I had never previously come across. It’s a cheap recipe created years ago to use up stale bread, but it’s pretty yummy.

Try an olive oil tasting and tapas tour in Marbella or a walking food tour in Málaga.

 

Get arty in Málaga

Art centre Malaga

Since the opening of the Picasso Museum in 2003, the city of Málaga has heavily invested in turning itself into an arts and culture capital and now boasts over 30 museums. Aside from the famous artist’s collection, there’s also the Centre Pompidou, the first outside of Paris. The art centre, housed in a multicoloured glass cube on Málaga’s port, has a huge collection of contemporary art. In addition to all of this, there’s a growing street art scene in the Soho area.

Read my one day itinerary for Málaga

Search for Málaga tours

 

Visit Ronda, the white ‘City of Dreams’

Ronda Andalusia guide

I can’t believe Ronda isn’t splashed all over Instagram yet. This quietly magnificent city in Andalusia teeters in two halves high above a deep ravine, and its whitewashed buildings and tranquil streets make Ronda worth visiting for a day. Ronda is also home to the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain, and whatever your feelings are about the Spanish tradition, it’s an interesting place to visit. You can also go rock climbing on the deep gorge that divides the city – something for the bucket list!

Read more about Ronda in my next post

Search for Ronda tours

 

See animal conservation done right at Bioparc in Fuengirola

Things to do in Costa del Sol: responsible animal tourism at Bioparc

It’s a zoo, but not as we know it. The Bioparc not only makes for a fun day out where you can see and learn about lots of different animals, but works to protect the animals. The focus is on sustainability, specialised animal care and natural landscapes – a stark contrast to the old zoo that once stood in Bioparc’s place. They have crocodiles rescued from handbag and shoe factories, and chimpanzees rescued from the original, poorly run zoo which caged animals and didn’t look after them properly.

It’s slightly cheaper to buy your Bioparc ticket online

 

Indulge in world-class shopping

Things to do in Costa del Sol: best shopping

If you’re in Spain to shop, you won’t be disappointed. The main shopping destination in Costa del Sol is El Corte Inglis, a mammoth department store selling everything you can think of, from beauty products to sports equipment from over 1000 brands. We visited the Málaga store and had a great evening browsing designer labels, getting hand massages at the Jo Malone counter and enjoying a quality meal at one the the store’s exclusive dining outlets.

 

See the blue Smurf village!

Juzcar, blue surf town - Costa del Sol attractions

It’s technically no longer allowed to call itself the Smurf village, but that’s probably what Juzcar will always be known for. This little village was once indistinguishable from the area’s many white-washed towns. In 2011 however, all 250 residents were paid to temporarily paint their homes blue to promote the Smurfs movie. The town was chosen because they grow an abundance of mushrooms, Smurfs’ favourite treat. Juzcar subsequently enjoyed an influx of Smurf-loving tourists (I didn’t realise there were such die-hard fans!) and began to make money off their unique affiliation, so voted to keep the blue. Smart move.

Unfortunately we didn’t get to visit, but it’s now firmly on my bucket list.

Where to stay in Costa del Sol

Best hotels in Costa del Sol

There are so many hotels around Costa del Sol for every budget. If you’re feeling fancy, Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Resort Reserva del Higueron houses one of the best spas in Spain and a super slick rooftop infinity pool, tennis courts and Michelin star restaurant ‘Sollo’, by chef Diego Gallegos. The pools at the spa have a crazy jet circuit that once completed, equates to a full body massage. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

In Málaga, I recommend Vincci Seleccion Posada del Patio. This avant-garde style hotel in the city centre has beautiful, modern rooms, a fantastic breakfast buffet and rooftop pool.

If you’re holidaying in Torremolinos, Sol House Costa del Sol is right on the beachfront and has excellent facilities with an Ibiza vibe.

 


Search for all hotels in Costa del Sol

See more things to do in Costa del Sol

Travelling around Spain? I recommend the Lonely Planet guide books.

Check out the Costa del Sol tourism website for more inspiration.


Aside from all of these wonderful attractions and things to do in and around Costa del Sol, one of the things that struck me most about my visit was how warm and welcoming the locals were. Every single person we spoke to, from small restaurant owners to museum tour guides, were so passionate about the place they lived. It’s often the people that make a destination, and the people of Costa del Sol make it amazing.

This is a sponsored post but love for Costa del Sol is all mine.

All photographs aside from the Juzcar photograph were taken on my Olympus Pen E-PL7 .

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Costa del Sol guide: best things to do in and around Costa del Sol

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21 Comments

  1. February 12, 2018 / 8:13 am

    I could not do that walk!!! 😮 I mean it looks amazing and I bet it is awe inspiring, but gulp aha! Now the Picasso museum, Ronda and the smurf village, those look cool 😀 xo

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      February 13, 2018 / 9:58 am

      Haha yeah it’s definitely not for anyone afraid of heights! Costa del Sol really does have something for everyone luckily 🙂

  2. February 12, 2018 / 10:47 am

    Wow! El Caminito del Rey looks amazing! I am not sure that I would be brave enough to walk it but I would like to think so. The landscape is amazing. Love the idea of a Smurf village 🙂

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      February 13, 2018 / 9:57 am

      If you don’t like heights, it probably isn’t for you 🙂 Great experience though. I’m so gutted I didn’t get to see the Smurf village. I wonder if they’ll keep it blue for much longer?!

  3. February 12, 2018 / 4:32 pm

    Oh wow, looks like this is the place to go when you’re looking to escape the mid-winter grey in central and Northern Europe. A good mix of everything from nature, to art to a little indulgence sounds good to me right about now. Is it affordable?

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      February 13, 2018 / 9:56 am

      Actually, I totally forgot to mention that it IS very affordable in the blog post, oops! We had drinks in the city centre of Malaga and it was really reasonable, I was impressed!

  4. February 12, 2018 / 6:33 pm

    I’ve been doing the the Costa Del Sol for 27 years and I didn’t know one of the most dangerous walks was there! It’s such a cool part of the world. Katie x

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      February 13, 2018 / 9:56 am

      Well it’s not that dangerous any more but one of my group had tackled it before it was reinforced and I was very jealous! x

  5. February 13, 2018 / 8:56 am

    we went to Ronda when we visited last summer. the journey was scary! literally cliff edges under us! the views were impressive though!

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      February 13, 2018 / 9:55 am

      Haha yeah the drive there is a bit dodgy isn’t it?! So worth it though. Did you just spend the one day in Ronda?

  6. February 13, 2018 / 11:26 am

    I love the look of that bioparc! I find zoos quite depressing and want to see the animals properly cared for and in natural environments if I see them at all.

  7. February 13, 2018 / 7:17 pm

    I’ve been to Ronda nearly 17 years ago and loved it. I’m a big fan of Spain. Such a charming country.

  8. February 14, 2018 / 12:39 am

    An awesome list of things to see and do in the area. I am not much for the beach holidays so would absolutely head off exploring and some of the things in your post have been on my list for a while such as El Caminito del Rey!

  9. Veronica
    February 17, 2018 / 8:07 am

    Can’t wait to go to Ronda. We are going to be there in August. I’m not a big fan of heights so hoping the drive there will not be too scary.

  10. February 17, 2018 / 11:35 am

    I’ve visited this part of Spain so many times but never made it to the Caminito del Rey! I’ll love to walk it but would definitely be a case of facing my fears as I’m not great with heights! I’d never even heard of the Smurf village, that story is so funny 😀 (although I am visiting Chefchaouen (Morocco) in a couple of weeks and my primary motivation was because it’s blue!)

  11. February 17, 2018 / 12:13 pm

    I never knew Malaga was so arty! The food would be the best thing about this trip for me though <3

  12. February 17, 2018 / 12:43 pm

    Oh my!! This post gave me severe Spanish wanderlust <3 I lived in Spain for 4 years and I never got to visit the South! I've been regretting this more and more!

  13. Anisa
    February 17, 2018 / 9:02 pm

    I have not been to this part of Spain yet, but it looks lovely. I would really like to do that hike and enjoy the sangria and Spanish food.

  14. February 18, 2018 / 9:18 am

    Great article, I love going somewhere with a beautiful beach but also love exploring and its great to open people’s eyes to the other things there are to do. Also how cool is that surf town?!

  15. February 19, 2018 / 5:16 am

    Ahh I love Costa del Sol and definitely adding the Walk El Caminito del Rey to the bucket list! As well as
    Juzcar, I used to be obsessed with surfs when I was younger! hahaha Thanks for sharing <3

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