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Costa del Sol

MARBELLA

marbella1Marbella’s motto is A Way of Life and, certainly, this luxurious resort town seems to have it all and is, once again, rising to the fore as a favorite location with the rich and famous, as well as more ordinary folk who are willing to pay just a little bit extra for southern Spain’s answer to St Tropez. Marbella has it all, great beaches, a promenade for enjoying the traditional Spanish pastime of strolling with the family and meeting friends, and of course, there is serious shopping!

The main street boasts many of the big names that people would expect, Cartier, Bulgari, Loewe but Marbella also has a down to earth side, an air of individuality which can be best appreciated by exploring the back streets in the old part of town, often overlooked by visitors.
marbella2One of the prettiest places is the fabled ‘Orange Square’ which is located at the heart of the “Casco Antiguo” or Old Town.  It is home to the 16th century town hall and tourist office where you can pick up a detailed map and visitor information. This beautiful square is at the centre of a number of small, winding cobbled streets, many with quaint shops, cool chapels, elegant restaurants with flower filled courtyards and completely original tapas bars.

It is a wonderful place to explore and a great experience to just sit in one of the numerous bars with a glass of fino and some tapas and watch the world go by…

Marbella is well serviced by the local bus service which is inexpensive and normally reliable.  To the West of Marbella town lies the Golden Mile, home to some of the Costa del Sols most exclusive hotels, apartments and restaurants which leads to the famous Puerto Banus.

PUERTO BANUS

puerto banus1Puerto Banús is located 5 miles away from the old quarter of Marbella.

It was created in 1970 by Jose Banús, a Spanish businessman with interests in the Real Estate sector, all over the Costa del Sol. Beside the docks of Puerto Banús, a Mediterranean style village was built, giving the harbor it’s charming look. When wealthy tourists from all the western countries, started to come to spend their holidays in Marbella, more and more luxury apartments and villas were built on the surroundings of Puerto Banús.

puerto banus2

It is now one of the most famous landmarks of the Costa del Sol and the marina is full of  awe inspiring, state of the art power boats moored right alongside the quay, which is lined with expensive boutiques, restaurants and bars.

There is parking only for residents in Puerto Banus, (hence the number of Ferraris, Bentleys, Mercedes etc) so visitors can use the large underground car park outside the Port under Antonio Banderas Square. Here visitors will also find El Corte Ingles, the biggest department store chain in Spain. Puerto Banus still remains very much a place to see and be seen and is always worth a visit.  It has a very active night life with restaurants, clubs and bars that stay open until the early hours in the summer. Take your purse…

FUENGIROLA

fuengirola1Fuengirola is probably most famous for its five miles of sandy beaches, flanked by high-rise hotels and residential blocks of apartments with magnificent views of the Mediterranean and sweeping coastline. A recent landscaping drive by the local municipality has resulted in a wider promenade and plenty of palm trees, interspersed with colorful flower beds and additional seating. The beaches known as Boliches – Gaviotas and Torreblanca hold a European blue flag.

Fuengirola is particularly popular with Spanish nationals, many of whom own summer apartments here. There are also a considerable percentage of British and other nationalities with the result being an impressively wide variety of entertainment and restaurant choice, ranging from the Andalusian traditional tapas (bar snacks) and shellfish dishes to the British bangers and beans standard, together with Guinness on tap, many of which can be found in the restaurant street known as “Fish Alley”! fuengirola2

Follow the shopping baskets on Tuesdays and you will find yourself at the largest and liveliest street market on the coast. There is also a Saturday boot sale here with the predictably intriguing selection of items on sale.

There is certainly no shortage of things to do for holidaymakers in Fuengirola, ranging from such family fun activities as aqua park, a trip to the zoo and a host of sea sports to a leisurely sight seeing tour on a horse-drawn carriage, or by foot, particularly recommended for Fuengirola’s neighbour, Los Boliches which still reflects the ambience of a bygone era with narrow streets, neighbourhood shops and traditional white washed houses which once belonged to the local fishermen.

BENALMÁDENA

Benalmádena is made up of three different villages – in the hills is Benalmádena Pueblo, a beautiful Andalusian village of whitewashed houses and flowers covering the balconies in the narrow streets; closer to the coast is Arroyo de la Miel (stream of honey in English) a small, modern and fashionable town of shops and businesses, popular with tourists and along the coast Benalmádena Costa with a 9km long beach and a 2km long promenade. One of the highlights of Benalmádena Costa is the beautiful marina (puerto) with 1000 moorings and what many authorities have claimed to be the best marina in the world. It has a new shopping centre plus 200 shops, bars and restaurants and also a shipyard, sailing school, diving school, nautical school and a Sea Life Centre aquarium. There is something for everyone at Benalmádena Costa.
The main road through the town is the CN340 but which is now a little quieter with the heavy traffic using the motorway at the back of the town. The road runs parallel to the coast and the Paseo Maritimo (promenade) which features shops, bars and restaurants.  If it’s culture you are after the Castle Bil Bil is an Arabic building which houses exhibitions and concerts hosted by the Town Hall. The Municipal Precolumbian Museum was created in 1970 and is the only one of its kind in Spain. It houses archeological remains from the area and also from Mexico and Central America. The grounds are covered with marble tiles which come from a ship sunk in the 18th century.

About 1km inland is Arroyo de la Miel which has a railway station linking to the rest of the Costa including Malaga and also the Tivoli World amusement park (open only at weekends in the winter). On Fridays there is a huge open market in the Tivoli car park. Adjacent is the new Telecabina (cable car) which takes passengers 750m above sea level to Monte Calamorro where, on a clear day, you can see the Atlas Mountains in North Africa. This has a collection of birds of prey and demonstrations of their skills are held every day in addition to donkey rides for children and steep walkways cut into the rocky hillside with viewing points. If you visit here, be sure to wear comfortable, non slip shoes, particularly if you wish to explore one of the walking routes.

CABOPINO

cabopino1Only 12 km from Marbella and 14 km from Fuengirola, Cabopino has an attractive beach, relaxed atmosphere, a truly delightful harbour and a choice of international restaurants. Cabopino (Pine Cape) is probably the Coast’s best kept secret. Whereas so much of the coast is developed, the first thing that strikes you as you turn off the A7, is that the beautiful forest of pine trees comes right down to the sand dunes along the beach, in a conservation area.  An old fortified watchtower still stands proudly by the sand dunes alongside the beach. From its privileged position it is possible to see all along the coast to Marbella and Gibraltar and Africa beyond, a spectacular backdrop for a spectacular beach.

Cabopino is well sheltered and protected from the elements, and artificial reefs on either side of the beach keep the waves and wind at bay. Lifeguards – on duty throughout the summer – combined with the beach’s gentle slope into the sea, make Cabopino child-friendly and safe. The sand is well maintained, clean and of a superior quality to other beaches along the Costa del Sol, making Cabopino the ideal place for the child in all of us to build our very own sandcastle in the sun.  Chiringuitos (beachside bars and restaurants) are plentiful here and are renowned for their excellent quality. Costa del Sol residents come from far and wide to sample Cabopino’s specialty, good seafood at prices that won’t break the bank. cabopino2

Should you walk the whole length of the beach about a kilometer, westwards towards Marbella, there is also a nudist beach, so best not to be taken by surprise!

Cabopino Port is home to an exciting range of restaurants, with fine cuisine from all over the globe; a fun place to sit and watch the small boats bobbing, and the big power boats shining in the harbour.  Parking for the beach is easy and close to the beach.  There is a charge for parking in the port itself in the summer but many of the restaurants will refund a portion of this.

ELVIRIA

elviriaSituated between Marbella and Calahonda, Elviria has long been a popular holiday resort and is home to the famously decadent Nikki Beach! It has a relaxed yet fairly sophisticated ambience and is an extremely popular area during the summer. Whatever your age, no matter how diverse your interests, this particular area provides every possible answer; simply stunning beaches, excellent golf courses, tennis clubs and a choice of restaurants, something to suit every palate and pocket.

Elviria also boasts the internationally renowned Santa Maria Golf & Country Club, a challenging 18 hole golf course. There are several other golf courses in the near vicinity, including the lush Los Monteros greens, with sweeping views to the sea, and El Soto, high up in the hills behind Elviria.

The village of Elviria itself has a genuine heart, complete with town hall, post office, schools, bars, restaurants and shopping centers. It is situated just a few hundred metres from the Golden beach, along which you can walk to Los Monteros and on to Marbella to the west or the charming Puerto Cabopino to the east.