There’s really no getting around the fact that if you want to see everything the Costa del Sol has on offer – from white-washed villages to historic cities and chic harbours; from sandy beaches to wild, mountainous national parks - you’re going to need hire a car. Visit my Costa del Sol car hire page to find out more.
An easy way to zip between towns and beaches is by taxi. There are plenty of taxis in all of the major urban areas and they operate 24 hours a day. In small towns and villages, operating hours may vary. You can find taxis at the ranks, hail one on the street, or call one to collect you (numbers below). When taxis, which are all white in colour, are available, they show a sign that reads Libre on the windscreen or display a green light on the roof.
Compared to most countries, taxis are still reasonably cheap and all licensed cabs have a booklet displaying prices to destinations, or they are metered. There may be supplements for extra baggage, or if your journey is at night or on a national holiday, so I’d recommend checking the fare before you set off.
Although matters are improving with GPS, I’d suggest you have a vague idea of where you’re headed (an address or landmark, ideally) before you start as drivers tend to lack knowledge outside of their own towns.
Benalmadena: +34 952 441 545
Estepona: +34 952 802 900
Malaga: +34 952 176 030
Marbella: +34 952 823 535
Sotogrande: +34 629 463 438
Nerja: +34 952 524 519
Buses and coaches
The Costa del Sol is served well by bus and coach services. The network is extensive and, in my experience, extremely reliable and punctual, which is handy as it's the only form of public transport in the coast’s surrounding villages, such as Frigiliana, Mijas and Ronda.
The services are run by private companies, and Malaga, Fuengirola and Marbella are the largest hubs for buses and coaches along the coast. Malaga’s coach station (Paseo de los Tilos; +34 952 350 061; www.estabus.emtsam.es) serves all the cities, towns and villages in the province and a great many locations in Andalucia and indeed throughout Spain. From Fuengirola you can access the western side of the coast, including inland areas (see www.ctsa-portillo.es for timetables). Most tickets are purchased at a sales window if you’re going between towns or from the driver if it’s within the same municipality.
The bus sales windows are located in the main stations, or you can buy your ticket when getting on if you're not boarding at the station.
Malaga city tours
In my opinion, sightseeing bus tours are the best way to get an overall view of Malaga city and its landmarks. The hop on/hop off Bus Turístico de Malaga offers two different tours on open-topped, double-decker red buses, with audio guides in eight different languages. Tickets are valid for 24 hours and can be purchased online (www.malaga-tour.com), at sightseeing bus stops, in hotels and at news kiosks.
The lines are:
- Línea verde (Green Line): Coach station – Botanical Garden (Finca La Concepción).
- Línea roja (Red Line): Coach station – Post Office – Port – Paseo del Parque – La Malagueta beach – Bullring – Gibralfaro Castle – Santuario de la Victoria – Plaza de la Merced, Picasso’s Birthplace – Alcazaba – Cathedral – Alameda.
The local commuter trains (Line C1) that run from Malaga city to Fuengirola (via the airport, Torremolinos and Benalmadena), are clean, spacious, fast and extremely efficient. There’s at least one train in both directions every half an hour. You can be in Benalmadena from the airport in 15 minutes, for example. A single journey is 1.50 euros. Find the timetable here: www.renfe.com/viajeros/cercanias/malaga.
Line C2 from Malaga’s Maria Zambrano station will take you inland to villages including Alora and Pizarra.
The Malaga city Metro, which will cover 90 per cent of the urban area, is due to partially open at the end of 2011.