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Costa del Sol

Updated on April 6, 2013

Costa del Sol

Welcome to the Costa del Sol in southern Spain, a tourist magnet especially for northern Europeans who want to escape from their cold and wet homes and spend some time in the warmth and sunshine.

The Costa del Sol is one of the sunniest places in the whole of Europe, with an average 320 days of sunshine annually. During the months of June, July and August it is very rare for a cloudy sky to appear, much less for it to ever rain!

Recent world economic problems has negun to change the face of the Costa del Sol from its once crazy scramble by builders and developers to turn every spare scrap of open land into a new apartment complex into a more sedate tourist attraction as the bulldozers have mostly gone and the cranes, that once disfigured the skyline have all but been completely removed from an area that only a few short years ago boasted the worlds largest population of constructional cranes!

Places to Visit

There are many places to visit on the Costa del Sol particularly if you like to get off the beaten track and see some of the true beauty that is what makes up the "real" Spain and not the crazy high rise apartment blocks and hotels that hog the line along the many beaches.

Malaga city centre itself offers up some true gems of architectural miracle in the forms of el castile, the central cathedral, the old market area, as well as the famous Picasso Museum.

Just outside Malaga to the north of the city are the Botanical Gardens, an almost perfectly hidden treasure of nature less than a mile from the city limits!

The inland city of Granada houses one of the true jewels in the crown in the Alhambra, a walled castle that is an architectural masterpiece. Incidentally, if you vist Granada in the winter and fancy skiing, you can go to the Sierra Nevada ski resort, the southernmost in Europe boasting some of the best skiing outside of Austria. It fascinates people that they can ski in the morning and then take a two hour drive and be sunbathing on the beach in the afternoon!

Heading west along the inland route finds the town of Antequerra and the centre of this town is well worth a visit for the traditional Spanish tapas bars and way of life. To the south of this town is the white pueblo of Casabermeja with its locally famous white cemetery. I had to add this village as my own almond farm sits on the side of a mountain just to the north of Casabermeja!

Continuing west are the inland towns of Coín, Alhaurin el Grande, Monda and Ronda (another famous white pueblo) just north of Marbella.

If you keep going west, you'll come to Gibraltar and eventually leave the Costa del Sol behind as you approach the Atlantic coast (Costa del la Luz) and the popular surfer's town of Tarifa.

Beware of the Sun

The Costa del sol literally means coast of the sun and in the summer months visitors to this area should take great care with the sun. It not only gets very hot during the daytime, but with the sun overhead it is very strong and UV concentration is high, meaning it is very easy to get sunburn.

For this reason, you should not spend too much time lying in the sun, especially if you are more prone to burning. A high factor sun cream helps enormously, but even so, be sure to limit your daily exposure to the sun.

During the summer months, the beaches along the Costa del Sol can get very busy with not just foreign tourists but with mainly Spanish families who make the journey south to take advantage of the tourist facilities at this popular location. In fact, many Spanish families travel from the hot interior of the country to cool down on the Costa del Sol, as temperatures can be a few degrees lower on the coast than inland at this time of year!

On the otehr hand, in the winter months it is the other way around with the interior of the country having the coolest temperatures and the Costa del Sol generally having the highest winter temperatures in Europe, with the mercury rarely dropping into single figures on the celsius scale.

Fuengirola beach and its Overbuilt Front Line

Learn the Lingo!

This is aimed fairly and squarely at English ex-pats who make their homes in Spain on the Costa del Sol. Many do try and learn Spanish and know enough to get them by and some become fluent.

But many more don't try and I feel embarrassed for them when they are shouting in English at a Spanish shopkeeper and feeling indignant that he can't understand them! After all, whose country are we in?

So if you plan on spending some time here in Spain, or even coming on holiday for a week or two, it really helps to learn some basic Spanish words and phrases. You will be held in higher regard for trying even if you fumble the words and end up saying something ridiculous and giving the Spanish recipient a good laugh!

They will be much more disposed to help you than if you merely speak in English and expect them to understand you.

A lot of English tourists and ex-pats here on the Costa del Sol have come to expect that all the locals speak good English, which in the majority of cases is quite true. But there are still many that do not and they resent the English for their arrogance in not even attempting to say something in Spanish, even if it something as simple as ¡hola! or buenos dias. The English pride themselves on their good manners in saying please and thank you, so while por favor for please is not used all that much, gracias for thank you most definitely is!

A little effort is all it takes and will be repaid in spades when sitting in a bar and being able to ask for "dos cervezas, por favor" in stead of ignorantly shouting "Two beers garçon!" which is something I hear quite a lot of!

It doesn't take a lot to learn a few new words in the language of the country you intend to visit and those that make the effort are rewarded by warm smiles and welcoming gestures. Those that don't get cold glares and shaking heads and mutterings of "¡Guiris, coño!" (which I won't translate!)

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    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 

      4 years ago from Southern Spain

      Enjoyed this as I am living here at the moment in Fuengirola close to the beach and loving it !

    • Raul GT profile image

      Raul GT 

      7 years ago from Malaga

      Hi, just wanted to say that dread240 is not right. That could happen if you get to the white villages, where is normal they don´t speak english, and they don´t have to as you are visiting a rural village...but in the city or the Costa del Sol it is very easy to find english speaking people or even dutch.

      I know I know, last post was 2 years ago...but wanted to give my 2 cents ^^

    • honestway profile imageAUTHOR

      honestway 

      10 years ago from Spain

      Haha a housing estate much like Broadwater Farm in London. You go in but you never come out again...!

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      I used to hang around the Fuengirola/Mijas/Calahonda/Marbella area that is how I know your pueblo. And of course you cannot miss the cemetery overlooking the motorway everytime you pass by, once my grandmother confused it with a housing estate ... I suppose in a way she was right :-)

    • honestway profile imageAUTHOR

      honestway 

      10 years ago from Spain

      Hi Princessa, its unusual to find anyone who actually knows that pueblo, even here on the coast in Fuengirola! Casabermeja is surrounded by both almond and olive farms and if you pass by in late January the mountains are covered in the beautiful almond blossoms both pink and white.

      On a very still day, the scent that hangs in the air from those blossoms on my own farm is beautifully overpowering!

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      I remember once stopping in Casabermeja to buy polvorones, I'll make a point of visiting the almond farms next time I pass by :)

    • honestway profile imageAUTHOR

      honestway 

      10 years ago from Spain

      Only 30%? Lucky you don't live in California then. Latest statistic I heard for California was that Spanish is now the most commonly spoken language in that state with 51% of the people speaking it as their mother tongue!

      That aside, here in Spain, the majority of Spaniards speak English and often a third language as well, which makes many native English speakers look pretty stupid when they can't even manage a few words in a second language - and that of the country in which they have made their homes.

      In fact, most Europeans can speak English as their second language, which makes me wonder what our education system is thinking about when it does not make certain that all children leave school witha working knowledge of at least one spoken second language. Especially Spanish, as its the second most spoken language in the world.

      That's by country, not per head of population of course as Chinese is the No1 and probably one of the Indian languages comes in a close No2 as between those two countries, there are around 2 billion people. Staggering!

    • dread240 profile image

      dread240 

      10 years ago from virginia

      Can't help but agree on the entire debate of speaking the native language. I'm American, yet find myself HAVING to learn spanish to talk to 30% of the people I run into these days. I would absolutely never want to go to a place such as spain and and be stuck trying to find somebody to speak english, and I really don't know how they get by with that here and spanish

    • honestway profile imageAUTHOR

      honestway 

      10 years ago from Spain

      Yes you're right. Good manners and some self respect go a long way.

      That beach is completely public from where I was standing taking the shot on the pier at Torreblanca where I live all the way to the horizon!

      In fact I don't know of any private beaches along the huge stretch from Torremolinos to Fuengirola, although there are some further along the coast towards Marbella.

    • I love ... profile image

      I love ... 

      10 years ago

      It's not just about being fluent, it is really about manners. And it is not just ex-english, Terry.  I live in Australia and where I am the Japanese and Korean tourists are just the same - it happens everywhere. All it needs is manners.

      In your top photo, the huge building on the beach, is the beach private?

      cheers (Coaster)

    • honestway profile imageAUTHOR

      honestway 

      10 years ago from Spain

      Well said increaseurmileage! Nobody has to become fluent overnight, just learn a few basics that will make you understood.

    • increaseurmileage profile image

      increaseurmileage 

      10 years ago

      I agree with learning the language to get around. I expect it of immigrants to the US. I would have to expect it of myself if I were to move out of the country.

    • honestway profile imageAUTHOR

      honestway 

      10 years ago from Spain

      haha, you'll be more than welcome to drop in on me Lissie!

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      Jeeze - I am totally linguistically challenged - and even I learned enough spanish to get by while travelling for 6 months thru South America - un otra cervesa por favor - how hard is that LOL ! Love Spain - BTW thinking of planning my next trip to Europe around the people I have met on the internet who happen to live in interesting places - consider yourself warned!

    • honestway profile imageAUTHOR

      honestway 

      10 years ago from Spain

      Yep, it still amazes me how ignorant many English tourists can be here in Spain - as well as many who actually live here. How hard can it be to get a small pocket phrase book for these situations, or better still to learn a few words in Spanish.

      Many English ex-pats are just as bad - I know of some that have lived here over 10 years and still can't speak a work of Spanish!

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      Granada and Ronda are lovely -catching a bus between them which happened to go via the costa was "intersesting" an English family getting on and asking the bus drive r for "2 singles and 2 1/2's" would have made no sense in the US or Australia never mind Spain ! I don't blame the driver for not making an effort to understand the guy wanted 4 tickes (2 for kids) when he repeated the question word for word louder !

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