Capital city of the Costa Del Sol with almost 400sq km and 568,000 inhabitants. The beaches in Malaga are made from soft white sand but unlike neighbouring towns like Torremolinos and Fuengirola, there are no British cafes, Irish pubs or designer boutiques lining the promenade. Instead, Málaga has a traditionally Spanish paseo de marítimo with a number of traditional chiringuitos, tapas bars and seafood restaurants.
With extremely regular and affordable flights connecting much of Europe, it is surprising just how unspoilt Málaga has remained.
Málaga has many modern buildings, including the newly-opened outlet retail centre ‘Málaga Nostrum’, the Trade Fair and Convention Centre and the fabulous Calle Larios lined with designer stores - but it also retains its original authentic buildings too.
In the beautiful old town, lined with cobble streets, Málaga's rich history comes to life. The excellent Picasso Museum is one of the finest of its kind in Europe, while the Alcazabar and the 14th century Gibralfaro Castle tell a history of battle and glory. The beautiful Cathedral is surrounded by gardens, and there is a pretty cafe-lined square, a large park and horse-drawn carriage stations. The bus station and major train stations connect the city with much of the rest of Spain.
As a property investment, a typical accommodation to be found in Malaga City is likely to be in the form of an apartment or flat in the numerous apartment blocks that dot the skyline of the city and although a few expat communities are likely to be found, the population is predominantly Spanish, so if integration is what the buyer seeks, then Malaga City is the place to be.
Torremolinos is certainly one of the liveliest resorts in Europe and has become a popular gay resort as well as in recent years, added family-friendly attractions, traditional charm and a wider choice of investment opportunities.
With a population of 67,000 people and just a couple of kilometres from Málaga airport, Torremolinos is extremely accessible and boasts the coast's finest stretch of beach that runs the entire length of the resort which is lined with both Spanish and European bars, restaurants, chiringuitos and hotels. La Carihuela district is built around the old fishing village and is an authentic charming part of town. Here are some of the very best fish and seafood restaurants you are likely to find anywhere along the coast, with freshly caught fish every morning. At the eastern end of the beach (nearer to Málaga) is a winding route up to the town centre which boasts shops and bars and restaurants of all descriptions and is buzzing with activity day and night.
Torremolinos also boasts a number of excellent attractions. The Aquapark has the tallest waterslide in Europe and is a fabulous family day out. Next door is the Crocodile Park and just outside of town is the Plaza Mayor Shopping Centre and the Carrefour Superstore.
In between Torremolinos and Fuengirola lies Benalmádena. Home to 67,000 inhabitants, Benalmadena is divided into three sections; Benalmadena Costa, Benalmadena Pueblo and Arroyo de la Miel.
Benalmadena Costa has a golden beach stretching 20km and is made of 17 beaches, 3 of which have the Blue Flag and most offer water sports. The award-winning Puerto Marina harbour buzzes with activity day and night and has living and office space, plenty of restaurants including Pizza Hut and a number of bars and small boutiques, craft stores and gift shops. Kids of all ages will enjoy the fantastic Sealife Centre and crazy golf course.
Beyond this, the wide tree-lined streets are adorned with homes, bars, restaurants and shops. Aside from the plentiful late-night bars and clubs located on the 24-hour Square, the whole resort offers a family friendly atmosphere with water sports, child friendly hotels and many restaurants of different cultures.
There are many attractions in Benalmdadena including Tivoli World which is a must visit mini theme-park located in the heart of Benalmádena. Selwo Marina has performing dolphins, sealions, penguins and other animals and is located adjacent to the large Paloma Park where there are free roaming rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, roosters and peacocks. There is also a large pen with Emu’s, and a compound with Mountain Goats. Also the Teleférico cable car, taking passengers to the top of the 771 meter high Calamorro Mountain where there is a restaurant, picnic area and a falconry show.
A couple of kilometres inland from the coast and you will reach Benalmádena Pueblo, which is the original centre for the resort and is an authentic Spanish village, complete with quaint Andalusian townhouses, cobblestone streets and narrow alleys. The restaurants are predominantly Spanish and there is a quaint little square with four or five restaurants. The magnificent church bells are often heard ringing and the balcony offers spectacular views across the Mediterranean shoreline.
In between the Costa and Pueblo lies Arroyo de la Miel. This is a bustling town with many businesses and year round residents. The town is easily accessible from all parts of Benalmadena and is also host to the train station linking it to the bigger towns.
Perched 428 meters up between rugged mountains and the coast is Mijas, home to 7,500 residents. Mijas strikes just the right balance between tourist destination and permanent residence. It is particularly popular with older tourists and homebuyers due to the laid-back atmosphere of the town, together with the breath taking views. The steep and winding 2 km climb to Mijas takes you from the hustle of the coast to tranquil Spanish paradise. Cafés, bars, restaurants and gift shops adorn the square and donkeys line the streets waiting to take passengers around this quaint little town.
The old bullring is a must visit in Andalucia and there is the Mijas Wine Museum, with daily wine tastings and also the Casa Museo which is an enchanting experience where one can learn all about the town's Roman roots.
With Fuengirola just a short drive away, memorable nights out and hustle bustle is not far away.
Whilst parts of this town are still a little shabby, the atmosphere is intoxicating and the 76,000 inhabitants are a mixture of cultures. Where fast food British cafes are in abundance, they are equally matched by traditional tapas bars, chiringuitos, Irish pubs and Scandinavian bars and eateries too.
Easily accessible, Fuengirola is affordable and lively, the streets are clean, the people are friendly and the beach, with its wide promenade, is busy 10 months of the year. For a more traditional area of town, Los Boliches is built around the old fishing port, and offers a more relaxed atmosphere with its narrow streets, authentic bodegas and quaint bars.
Idyllic and charming, El Faro is best known locally for its iconic lighthouse, from where it gets its name. Perched on a jutting peninsula that is located a couple of kilometres west of Fuengirola, El Faro boasts some of the finest Mediterranean views found anywhere on the coast. The purpose of the lighthouse at El Faro is to warn boats of an impending rocky shoreline, it is here that the normal golden sands that characterise the Costa del Sol are broken with sharp rocks. On either side of the rocky section there are golden beaches and a couple of charming restaurants and small bars. On the other side of the roadway is made up of quiet residential streets with houses of all shapes and sizes.
La Cala de Mijas
There are plenty of affordable and desirable properties throughout this town and its outskirts, ranging from your typical new-build apartment to more traditional Spanish-style apartments and townhouses as well as luxurious detached villas. The town has its own supermarkets, weekly market, sports pitches, a lovely beach, great road access to either end of the Costa del Sol, plenty of bars and restaurants and all manner of shops, including a 24-hour pharmacy.
The large British and Irish community that live in La Cala de Mijas help make up the 24,000 inhabitants. This close-knit atmosphere gives the resort a village atmosphere. At the beach, the gentle shore and soft golden sands are ideal for families of all ages. Water sports are readily available, and the thriving promenade is lined with lovely restaurants, bars, cafés and shops.
In the hills of La Cala de Mijas are beautiful Andalucian villas and small communities offering peace and tranquillity and often great value for money
Riviera del Sol
In Riviera, there's a glorious beach, easy road access to Marbella and Fuengirola, sports facilities, exceptional golf courses and a nice selection of bars and restaurants. Riviera del Sol is small enough to be easily explored on foot. The beach, the tree-lined avenues and the perfect architecture make for a pretty combination that is pleasant to see. In the heart of the town is the new Riviera Plaza Commercial Centre, which forms its social and commercial hub with its many excellent cafes, restaurants, bars, shops and offices.
Calahonda is situated between Marbella and Fuengirola and is an area chiefly developed for tourism, with extensive apartment blocks and timeshare facilities stretching from the coast into the hills behind. Calahonda is a new area in terms of development and so has only one monument - a small Christian monument which, on a clear day you should be able to see the whole coastline, including Africa and Gibraltar. Calahonda is broken in two by the coastal road, and therefore has a beach-side area, which has a lovely long stretch of sandy beach and a number of pretty villas and urbanizations which back the beach area. There are a number of Chiringuitos although the busiest part of town for shopping, dining and entertainment, is located in the El Zoco Commercial Centre. There is also the excellent Club del Sol which features a gym, tennis, paddle, swimming pool and aerobics.
Cabopino is one of the most perfect expat resort areas. It boasts a number of nearby new-build developments that are close to the beach, close to the main coastal highway and close to Marbella. The presence of these affordable, high quality dwellings has attracted a large community of British, Irish and other northern European expats.
For families, the beautiful beach is a huge plus point. The beach here at Cabopino stretches for several kilometres and is extremely wide. There is a small port for smaller yachts and boats and there are fantastic restaurants that sit on the edge of the harbour. The harbour fishing trips and dolphin-watching excursions are popular with holidaymakers, and the Cabopino Golf course enjoys a dramatic location at the rear of the resort.
Just inland of Elviria, is a maze of perfectly manicured avenues and streets which are home to a number of plush villas and townhouses in addition to the more affordable apartment complexes. Even though Elviria does not have a hub so to speak, it has a pleasant laid-back atmosphere and it's peaceful and extremely safe. Just off from here is a commercial centre with large supermarket, plus a selection of shops, restaurants and bars, including a couple of friendly expat bars. There is a well-equipped sports centre complete with an all-weather multi purpose pitch. Equally impressive and accessible are Elviria's two tennis clubs – the Hofsass Tennis College and the El Casco Tennis Club. Slightly farther afield is the superb Río Real Golf Course, which boasts the distinction of being the very first golf course built on the Costa del Sol.
Down by the beach sits Elviria's most famous attraction – Nikki Beach. While advertised the world over as 'Marbella's Nikki Beach', it is actually located right here in Elviria, beside the equally famous and exclusive Don Carlos Hotel.
Although this town has become a popular word for playboys and Essex girls, Marbella remains a place that draws admiring glances from other resorts. An exclusive place for the rich and famous but also allows for the not so rich and famous to enjoy. Marbella is classy and laid-back and is Spain's centrepiece destination. Its delightful Paseo Marítimo takes in the entire length of the main town area, where palm trees, lavish hotels, charming cafes, traditional tapas bars and chilled-out chiringuitos line the road. There are shops, bars and clubs in abundance but Marbella was and still is a very Spanish town and can be split into two districts, the beach and the Old Town. With a bullring, a football stadium, a cinema complex, a BBQ park and a huge shopping mall on the outskirts of town, Marbella has it all.