Where to Stay on the Costa del Sol: Best Towns and Resorts (Map included!)

Where to Stay on the Costa del Sol: Best Towns and Resorts (Map included!)
Image by Ken Yamaguchi via Flickr

People from all over Europe head to the Costa del Sol each year for its amazing summer weather and Spanish charm. If you venture beyond the main resort spots, you’ll uncover some real gems in Andalusia.

Choosing where to stay on the Costa del Sol can be a bit tricky with so many cities and towns around. Each place has its own vibe, offering something unique for those wanting a sunny escape in southern Spain.

While putting this guide together, I found some lovely hotels and apartments that I just had to share. I’ve sorted them based on the town they’re in. Check it out!

key takeaways

  • The best towns for beaches on the Costa del Sol are Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Marbella.
  • Marbella and Benalmadena are the best places for the nightlife.
  • Of course, Malaga is best for a culture trip.
Where to Stay on the Costa del Sol: Best Towns and Resorts (Map included!) where to stay on the costa del sol

Here are all your hotel options
in Málaga, Torremolinos and Marbella

Overview of the best places to stay on the Costa del Sol

where to stay on the costa del sol map

Malaga

Best place for a culture trip

Malaga is the largest city on the coast and, therefore, the gateway to the Costa del Sol. The city provides a unique experience in the region, offering travelers a modern and lively setting for their holidays. Malaga is also great if you’ve got a taste for boutique hotels!

It’s a great place if you’re interested in museums, historical monuments, and want easy access to great Andalusian cities like Seville, Cordoba, or Granada.

Where to Stay on the Costa del Sol: Best Towns and Resorts (Map included!)
Malaga, Image by North-South Centre Council of Europe via Flickr
cathedral of malaga
Malaga Cathedral, Image by Mike McBey via Flickr

Main attractions in Malaga:

  • The Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle
  • Picasso Museum
  • Centre Pompidou
  • Mercado Central
  • La Malagueta beach
  • Roman amphitheatre

Best Beach: Playa La Malagueta

However, it doesn’t have that small-town feel that some people enjoy on the Costa del Sol. But if you’re picking Malaga, it’s probably because you’re not looking for that.

Choose to stay here if:

TYPEACCOMMODATIONRATINGPRICE
LuxuryVincci Selección Posada del Patio4.5 / 5From € 304 / night
LuxuryGran Hotel Miramar GL4.5 / 5From € 280 / night
ApartmentChurchside RetreatFrom € 185 / night
ApartmentThe Golden YearsFrom € 157 / night
BudgetHotel Boutique Teatro Romano4.5 / 5From € 123 / night
Where to Stay on the Costa del Sol
Malaga, Image by Adrian Scottow via Flickr
the alcazaba in malaga
La Alcazaba de Malaga, Image by Trevor Huxham via Flickr

Nerja

Best town for pretty landscapes and nature

Nerja, with its stunning mountains in the background, is definitely one of my favorite towns on the Costa del Sol. This coastal village is full of outdoor activities to enjoy and happens to be one of the prettiest options on the Mediterranean coast. There’s lots to do in Nerja besides enjoying its natural beauty. For example, there’s the lovely town of Frigiliana, a favorite day trip destination for those visiting Nerja.

Best Beach: Playa de Maro

Main attractions in Nerja:

  • Balcon de Europa
  • Cascada de Maro
  • Caves of Nerja
Playa Burriana in Nerja, the place where to start to see a waterfall in Nerja
Nerja, Image by Ken Yamaguchi via Flickr
Best Towns and Resorts in the costa del sol (Map included!)
Nerja, Image by Antonio MM via Flickr

However, there’s one downside to Nerja—it lacks good public transportation. To make the most of exploring the area, having a car is essential.

Choose to stay here if:

  • You want a pretty resort town
  • You like the outdoors
  • You want some of the Marbella experience, but less expensive
  • You want to see lots of brits
  • You don’t mind renting a car
TYPEACCOMMODATIONRATINGPRICE
ApartmentVerano AzulFrom € 519 / night
ApartmentEarthly PleasuresFrom € 347 / night
BudgetNerja VG Hostal Boutique5 / 5From € 115 / night
MidrangeParador de Nerja4.5 / 5From € 199 / night
Nerja River Walk in the Rio Chillar
Hiking to one of Nerja’s Waterfall, Image by albertisimo via Instagram
Frigiliana, near Nerja
Frigiliana, Image by Ken Yamaguchi via Flickr

Marbella

Best place on the Costa del Sol for luxury

There’s no doubt about it – Marbella is the place you want to stay on the Costa del Sol. This location not only boasts the best beaches but is also the most glamorous resort on the South Coast of Spain.

Beach Beach : Playa de La Venus (It made the list of the top beaches in Andalusia.)

Main attractions in Marbella:

  • The Casco Antiguo (Old Town of Marbella)
  • Puerto Banus
  • Hiking la Concha
Best places to Stay on the Costa del Sol
Old Town of Marbella, Image by Eevi Alanissi via Flickr
church in marbella
Marbella, Image by Antonio via Flickr

However, the city, renowned for its beach clubs, nightlife, and luxury hotels, is mainly for the very wealthy. The best hotels there are astronomically expensive, but that’s to be expected when you offer some of the most luxurious amenities in all of Europe. It’s not the right place to stay if you’re on a budget to explore Andalusia, but you can still enjoy Marbella renting an apartment or doing some sightseeing.

Choose to stay here if:

  • You want the best of the best
  • You’d like to sunbath on the best beaches on the Costa del Sol
  • You like great restaurants, shopping and nightlife
  • You’re not on a budget
TYPEACCOMMODATIONRATINGPRICE
LuxuryMarbella Club Hotel4.5 / 5From € 1065 / night
LuxuryNobu Hotel Marbella4.5 / 5From € 890 / night
LuxuryLa Fonda Heritage Hotel4.5 / 5From € 518 / night
ApartmentCasa RosasFrom € 328 / night
ApartmentMarbella’s MagicFrom € 173 / night
best area costa del sol
Puerto Banus, Image by Olli365 via Flickr
Where to Stay on the Costa del Sol: Best Towns and Resorts (Map included!) where to stay on the costa del sol
Marbella Club Hotel, Image via Expedia

Torremolinos, Benalmádena and Fuengirola

Think of Torremolinos, Benalmádena, and Fuengirola as siblings. These three cities have a lot in common: they’re all super popular with tourists, especially the Brits, and you can easily catch a train to Malaga from any of them.

But here’s the cool part – each city has its own vibe, its own unique personality.

Torremolinos – For the best beaches

Torremolinos is undoubtedly the go-to spot on the Costa del Sol for a family trip. With better beaches than Benalmadena and fantastic hiking trails, the largest resort on the Costa del Sol has all the makings of a perfect family getaway.

Best Beach: Playa de la Carihuela

Main attractions in Torremolinos:

  • Playa La Carihuela
  • Calle San Miguel
  • Casa de los Navajas
  • Crocodile Park
  • Aqualand Torremolinos
Where to Stay on the Costa del Sol, spain, kitesurf
Image by David Gómez via Flickr
driving in torremolinos
Image by Xiquinho Silva via Flickr

Once just a quaint fishing village, Torremolinos decided to trade a bit of its Andalusian charm to transform into one of the most sought-after holiday destinations on the Costa del Sol.

Choose to stay here if:

  • It’s a family vacation.
  • You like watersports
  • You want to be able to go to Malaga easily
TYPEACCOMMODATIONRATINGPRICE
LuxuryHotel Riu Costa del Sol4 / 5From € 262 / night
ApartmentWave’s EmbraceFrom € 244 / night
ApartmentSol ModernistaFrom € 185 / night
MidrangeMelia Costa del Sol4.5 / 5From € 189 / night
fountain in torremolinos
Image by Nicolás Lope de Barrios via Flickr
towns on the costa del sol in spain
Image by Antonio MM via Flickr

Benalmádena – Best place for the nightlife

Now, when it comes to Benalmadena, it’s all about the nightlife and loads of things to do. This hip resort town is like the king of all-inclusive spots on the Costa del Sol. If you’re up for a quiet afternoon, head to the beautiful Benalmadena Pueblo.

Best Beach: Playa de Carvajal

Main attractions in Benalmadena:

  • Castillo de Bil Bil
  • Benalmadena Pueblo
  • Parque de la Paloma
  • Castillo Monumento Colomares
  • Butterfly Park of Benalmadena
hotels and places on the costa del sol
Image by MIkel DLM Fotografía via Flickr
cycling in benalmadena
Image by Antonio MM via Flickr

Choose to stay here if:

  • You want to be able to go to Malaga easily
  • You like watersports
  • You’re going on vacation with friends
  • You are a solo traveler and want a thriving nightlife scene
  • You don’t mind that it gets a bit noisy
TYPEACCOMMODATIONRATINGPRICE
LuxuryVincci Selección Aleysa5 / 5From € 525 / night
ApartmentBlue CrystalFrom € 246 / night
ApartmentA Piece Of MalagaFrom € 156 / night
MidrangeHotel Benalma Costa del Sol4 / 5From € 166 / night
parking near the beach in benalmadena
Image by Antonio MM via Flickr
marina in benalmadena
Image by Antonio MM via Flickr

Fuengirola – Best place for foodies

What’s Fuengirola like? Well, the beach is fantastic, and its little marina is pretty charming. You’ve got great restaurants and a lively nightlife scene here! And if you’re into upmarket shopping, nice restaurants, and bars, Fuengirola’s got you covered. ( Don’t miss out on one of the largest markets in the area—it’s a must-visit!)

Best Beach: Playa de San Francisco

Main attractions in Fuengirola:

  • Biopark
  • Fuengirola Street Market
beach in fuengirola, best place to stay
Image by Antonio MM via Flickr
beach in fuengirola
Image by Harry Bosch via Flickr

Fuengirola is conveniently close to Marbella in case you want a liffle glamour in your vacation. The town’s accommodation options are pretty solid, but be prepared for some noise around the bar areas at night.

Choose to stay here if:

  • You’re a foodie and love good tapas.
  • You want to be able to go to Malaga easily.
  • You plan on going on a shopping spree.
TYPEACCOMMODATIONRATINGPRICE
MidrangeOccidental Fuengirola4.5 / 5From € 150 / night
MidrangeBoutique Hotel Las Islas5 / 5From € 195 / night
ApartmentThe Aqua EscapeFrom € 449 / night
ApartmentSapphire SunsetFrom € 275 / night
best shopping costa del sol
Image by Michael Gaylard via Flickr
biopark in fuengirola
Image by Harry Bosch via Flickr

Estepona

The finest you can get, right after Marbella

Estepona, known as the “Garden of the Costa del Sol,” is like a floral paradise all year round. Unlike its loud neighbors Marbella and Puerto Banus, Estepona offers a different vibe. You come here for its Spanish character and to enjoy its charming Old Town, brimming with flowers.

Best Beach: Playa De La Rada

Main attractions in Estepona:

  • Centro Historico de Estepona
  • Plaza de las Flores
  • Playa del Cristo
  • Paseo Maritimo de Estepona
hotels in estepona
Image by Dave Pinter via Flickr
Where to Stay on the Costa del Sol: Best Towns and Resorts (Map included!)
Image by Emilio via Flickr

This town has long sandy beaches, cute old-town streets, lively bars and super friendly locals. It’s a totally different experience, away from the busy vibe of the rest of the Costa del Sol. But being further away from from everything, you might want to have a car.

Choose to stay here if:

  • You’re not on a budget
  • You want to stay in one of the prettiest town on the Costa del Sol
  • You are not here for the nightlife
  • You don’t mind renting a car
TYPEACCOMMODATIONRATINGPRICE
LuxuryKempinski Hotel Bahía Beach Resort4.5 / 5From € 670 / night
LuxuryLas Dunas Grand Luxury4 / 5From € 401 / night
ApartmentThe Beauty of the SolFrom € 150 / night
ApartmentLa Vida BlancaFrom € 147 / night
beach in estepona
Image by Lorenia via Flickr
palm tree and beach in estepona
Image by Lorenia via Flickr

Sotogrande

Best place for a quiet luxury resort

It’s like everything gets measured against Marbella. Sotogrande is known for being super exclusive, but it’s also classier and more relaxed. Sotogrande isn’t about being flashy, and that’s why people love it so much. It’s the perfect getaways in the Andalusian countryside!

Best Beach: Playa de Torreguadiaro

Main attractions in Sotogrande:

  • Polo Santa Maria
  • Golf Courses
  • Torreguadiaro Beach

Choose to stay here if:

  • You’re on a family holiday
  • You want a town on the quieter side
  • You’re on the hunt for a luxury resort
  • You like high-end amenities
TYPEACCOMMODATIONRATINGPRICE
LuxurySO/ Sotogrande Spa & Golf Resort4.5 / 5From € 328 / night
gibraltar seen from sotogrande
Image by gailhampshire via Flickr
sotogrande
Image by Jose Javier Martin Espartosa via Flickr

Rincón de la Victoria

Best town for a local spanish vibe

Rincón de la Victoria is quite popular among Spanish families, making it the go-to place on the Costa del Sol if you’re seeking an authentic Spanish vibe. It’s affordable and very close to Malaga, perfect if you want to visit the big city sometimes.

Main attractions in Rincón de la Victoria:

  • Cueva del Tesoro

However, it’s not as Instagram-worthy as some other resort towns on the Costa del Sol. Also, since it’s very local, don’t expect everything to be in English.

Choose to stay here if:

  • You want to be close to Malaga
  • You like a location with a great local vibe
  • You are on a budget
TYPEACCOMMODATIONRATINGPRICE
ApartmentLemonade In The ShadeFrom € 188 / night
BudgetAt Home in Malaga Stay5 / 5From € 89 / night
Rincón de la Victoria
Image by Antonio MM via Flickr
Rincón de la Victoria
Image by Antonio MM via Flickr

Tips and FAQ

Other towns on the Costa del Sol

Here are some towns I didn’t mention in this article because I wouldn’t exactly suggest them as places to stay on the Costa del Sol.

  • La Cala de Mijas : A cute inland town North of Marbella. But if you don’t want to stay by the sea, maybe you should consider other destinations in Andalusia.
  • Torrox Costa and Torre del Mar: For the same price range, I prefer Rincón de la Victoria, which is much closer to Málaga.
  • San Luis de Sabinillas: A small modern fishing village with a very large proportion of British and other Northern European expats.

Getting around the Costa del Sol

You can hop on a train along the coast from Malaga to Fuengirola, including a stop at Malaga Airport. Malaga also has high-speed trains to Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Madrid, and Barcelona.

Now, the main airport for the Costa del Sol is Malaga Airport (AGP), one of Spain’s busiest. Just catch the train I mentioned earlier to get into the city.

When it comes to ferry rides in southern Spain, most go to Algeria and Morocco. For Morocco, your best bet is the ferry from Tarifa (I did a whole post about doing a day trip to Tangier), or you can join organized tours from the Costa del Sol.