Costa del Sol things to do - Our Expert's
Top 20

By George Prior, your Costa del Sol expert

I write for Monocle, OUT, SUR in English, The Independent, Time Out. Read more

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#1/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Best for Fun -
Expert overall rating:4.7 (out of 5)

Nestled among modern Marbella is the town's beautifully-preserved ancient heart.

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Valderrama Golf Course

Price guide: Expensive
#2/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

This is the yardstick by which all other golf courses in Europe are measured.

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Puerto Banús

Price guide: Free
#3/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Best for Posing -
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

This is one of Europe's most celebrated and glamorous leisure ports.

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Picasso Museum

Price guide: Budget
#4/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Best for Culture -
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

A world-class museum celebrating the city’s most famous son.

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Nerja Caves

Price guide: Budget
#5/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Best for History -
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

After the Alhambra, this is Andalucia's second most popular attraction.

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Selwo Adventure

Price guide: Expensive
#6/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Best for Families -
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

Meet animals from five continents as they roam this huge park in Estepona.

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Mistral Beach

Price guide: Free
#7/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Best for Watersports -
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

Cool, young families flock here for the beach bar and watersports.

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Frigiliana

Price guide: Free
#8/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Best for First-time visitors -
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

This is one of the best kept traditional white-washed villages in Spain.

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#9/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

Fast and furious fun at one of Europe’s most highly acclaimed polo pitches.

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La Rada

Price guide: Free
#10/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

One of the best beaches on the western Costa del Sol – with a Blue Flag to prove it!

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Burriana Beach

Price guide: Free
#11/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Best for Chilling out -
Expert overall rating:4.1 (out of 5)

Nerja’s longest, most famous and commercialised beach.

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The Axarquia

Price guide: Free
#12/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.1 (out of 5)

This is a wild and rugged region of fabulous white villages and spectacular scenery.

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#13/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.0 (out of 5)

This is quite rightly the most popular beach in town.

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#14/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.0 (out of 5)

This exclusive leisure port epitomises ‘Mediterranean chic'.

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Tivoli World

Price guide: Mid-range
#15/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:3.9 (out of 5)

Experience the Costa del Sol’s largest theme and attraction park.

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#16/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:3.9 (out of 5)

A diverse cross section of people make this town centre beach a dynamic day out.

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Sea Life

Price guide: Mid-range
#17/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:3.8 (out of 5)

See the sharks and feed the Stingrays at this marina attraction.

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Gibralfaro Castle

Price guide: Budget
#18/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:3.7 (out of 5)

This is a historical gem set above the old city, offering wonderful views.

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#19/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:3.5 (out of 5)

This is the city’s longest stretch of beach …and the locals’ favourite by miles.

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#20/20
expert-rated things to do in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:3.5 (out of 5)

A country park that’s a world away from the nearby ‘resorts’.

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Showing 20 results
Set focus

My over-riding advice would be don’t try and do everything in one trip. The Costa del Sol has been one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations for decades and has attractions - from cathedrals to clubs, museums to marinas, natural parks to nudist beaches, aquaparks to safari parks, golf courses to polo pitches - to suit practically everyone and every budget. If you try and do it all, it won’t feel like a holiday at all.

If you’re here for a week, for example, I’d do an attraction/activity/sight-seeing on one day, and spend the following day chilling out on the beach or by the pool. After all, the 325 days of sunshine and blue skies are why millions come here each year.

Despite being a cosmopolitan destination, Andalusians are rightly proud of their traditions and many places still close for siesta between 2-5pm, especially in the hot summer months. In addition, most of the more high-brow, cultural attractions will be closed on Sundays.

The Costa del Sol is 110 miles long and some of the best beaches, towns and attractions are spread out so I’d highly recommend hiring a car to get the most out of what there is on offer. Be warned though Spanish Police are now very strict on drink driving and there are frequent road blocks where they carry out spot checks.
 

How I’ve picked my things to do: 

While Simon Cowell et al might like to sunbathe on over-sized day beds in the hushed luxury of an exclusive beach club, those with young teenagers in tow would probably opt for a day at a fast and furious water park. Thankfully, the scope of things to do is enormous. But that scope means you need to know where to head.

I’ve selected a range of the best attractions and beaches in each area of the Costa del Sol that showcase that variety. For those with artistic, historic and cultural interests to those seeking adventure, sporting activities and parties, you’ll find something that tickles your fancy in the selection. While some are firmly in the Top Ten of everyone that visits, quite a few are personal favourites I’ve discovered only since living here, and I’ve experienced them all in the last 12 months with visiting family and friends.

Set focus

While Simon Cowell et al might like to sunbathe on over-sized day beds in the hushed luxury of an exclusive beach club, those with young teenagers in tow would probably opt for a day at a fast and furious water park. Thankfully, the scope of things to do is enormous. But that scope means you need to know where to head.

I’ve selected a range of the best attractions and beaches in each area of the Costa del Sol that showcase that variety. For those with artistic, historic and cultural interests to those seeking adventure, sporting activities and parties, you’ll find something that tickles your fancy in the selection. While some are firmly in the Top Ten of everyone that visits, quite a few are personal favourites I’ve discovered only since living here, and I’ve experienced them all in the last 12 months with visiting family and friends.