Why go to Benalmadena?
For a trip back in time
Despite the influx of foreign residents and tourists, the oldest and highest part of the town, Benalmádena Pueblo, retains its typical Andalusian village feel. I love to peer through the heavy wooden doors of the white-washed houses and see shady interior patios adorned with brightly coloured geraniums and ceramics. From the town hall, walk up the ancient narrow streets to the large church where there are spectacular views down to the coast.
For its lively harbour
Built across several manmade islands housing luxury apartments, the award-winning marina, or Puerto Deportivo, is one of the most unusual on the coast. Its distinctive Moorish design and hundreds of pleasure boats bobbing around on the water make a good backdrop for your holiday snaps. The port is a hub for shops, bars and restaurants and if like authentic Italian cuisine, I’d recommend Da Fano – simply the best Italian food I’ve had anywhere… including Italy! The clubs cater to a mainly youngish Spanish crowd and go on well into the early hours. Friends tell me the interactive Sea Life centre is a must for kids who love the shark-infested underwater walk through.
To get a bird’s eye view
Take the 10-minute cable car journey up to the top of Mount Calamorro, the highest point on the coast, from the base station in Arroyo de la Miel. On a clear day you’ll have sweeping views from Malaga to Mijas Costa, plus you’ll see the coast of North Africa and the outline of Gibraltar in the distance. Take some binoculars if you can – and something warm if you’re heading up there in winter. The cable cars don’t run on windy days – be warned as you might have to walk down if the wind picks up!
For a fun-filled family day
The show and amusement park in Arroyo de la Miel is the largest family entertainment centre on the Costa del Sol with more than 300 rides and attractions. In the summer months, many national and international artists put on concerts in the outdoor auditorium here. In the winter Tivoli World is only open at weekends and in the height of summer from 4pm. The ‘SuperTivolino’, which is valid for 30 rides, is 12 euros.
For the animal attractions
Besides the Sea Life centre in the marina, Benalmádena has many animal-based attractions. My favourites include Selwo Marina, where you can check out the dolphins, penguins and sea lions, and Jardín de las Aguilas (Garden of the Eagles) where you get up close and personal with many magnificent birds of prey under the supervision of friendly experts.