A Weekend in Costa Del Sol – With Tips and Recommendations
A Weekend in Costa Del Sol, Spain + A 3 Day Itinerary
Most people think of cheap drinks at the beach when you mention Costa del Sol in Spain. However, the coastline has so much more to offer. The fact is that the Malaga region is getting overcrowded and locals are suffering the negative effects of overtourism. For this reason, you should think about different things to do when you visit this beautiful part of Spain. In this article, you will get tips for spending a weekend in Costa del Sol off the beaten track.
I highly recommend booking your accommodation at a hotel and not AirBnB as the latter is the main reason that locals can’t afford to rent homes anymore. Rental prices have increased with hundreds of Euros a month only in the last three years.
AirBnB is also the main reason Spanish families get thrown out of the houses they have been renting for years. Many families struggle to find a new place to rent. The math is simple. A landlord can earn more on three months holiday rental than they earn on a whole year of long-term rental.
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How to get to Costa del Sol ?
Costa del Sol is on the Malaga coastline so the closest airport is Malaga Airport. There is a train line that goes between the airport and the coastal town Fuengirola or you can use the bus services further down the coast.
However, for any off the beaten track itinerary I would recommend renting a car. Especially when you are only staying a weekend. It will save you time, it will give you the opportunity to travel where the buses don’t go and additionally it gives you the freedom of going when you want to. This guide will require a car to get around.
I recommend booking a rental car from the airport online before your trip. Most rental services have pick-up service so you only look for a person with a sign when you exit the airport and they will guide you.
Note: In Spain, many petrol stations have a service person that will tank for you. Tell them the amount you want them to tank for. You can pay the person directly in cash or go in and pay by card when tanking is finished. Where there is no service person, you have to pay before you tank the petrol. At daytime, you can ask them for permission to fill up the tank. Most of the time they will approve it as long as you are not parked on a spot with easy drive-off access. In that case, they might ask you to move to a different spot to tank.
When is the best time to go to Costa del Sol ?
June to August get extremely crowdy, and temperatures can hit above 40 degrees Celsius, though they are normally around 30 degrees Celsius on the coast. August is the Spanish public holiday month so in addition to large numbers of international tourists there will be a lot of local tourists.
The winter months from November to March can be very nice and sunny with temperatures in the mid-20s or it can be heavy rainfalls. The rainfalls at Costa del Sol often flood the streets and no clothes are waterproof enough. If you are flexible to check the weather forecast, this can be a pleasant time to visit as long as it doesn’t rain.
The best time to travel for your weekend in Costa del Sol are the shoulder seasons between April to early June and September to October. At this time the weather is normally pleasant, it is possible to swim in the ocean and it is possible to go hiking. Best of all is that there are not many people around.
What to bring for a Weekend in Costa del Sol?
Depending on the time of year there are some essentials, in addition to clothes, you should bring for your trip.
- Insect Repellant
- Hiking boots or other comfortable shoes
- Small backpack for day trips
- Camera with extra batteries and charger
A 3 Day Costa Del Sol Itinerary
Day One | La Cala De Mijas
The first day you will have to pick up your rental car before going to your accommodation. I recommend staying in Benalmádena, Fuengirola or La Cala de Mijas as they are all strategically situated for the next days of adventures.
For dinner, I can recommend an amazing vegan restaurant in Fuengirola, La Libelula . Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or meat-eater, I am sure you will love the food there. I have never heard anyone complain or walk out of there without planning their next visit. The place has a cozy atmosphere that makes you feel a little bit at home. They only serve organic food made from scratch and have become completely plastic free. Staff is friendly and speak English and prices are economical for what you get. It gets quite busy in the weekends as it is a popular place among locals, so I recommend booking a table in advance.
The first night is perfect to take a stroll along the esplanade by the beach front, taking in the waves and sea breeze and maybe go for a drink in one of the many bars. La Cala de Mijas is the quietest of the three suggested towns, and not much is open until late.
Day Two | Barranco Blanco and Ojén
The Saturday, I suggest getting up early to enjoy the most of the day. Pack your daypack with swimwear, towel, water and some snack. It’s time to explore some off the beaten track places.
Barranco Blanco is a river walk about 30 minutes-drive from both Fuengirola and La Cala de Mijas. If you put “Barranco Blanco” into your GPS it will take you up past Coín and continue through the inland until you turn left into a dirt road.
There are signs that say you are not allowed to drive in there, but you will have to drive past and continue until you get to a dirt parking lot with space for approximately 7-10 cars. Leave your car there and continue the last hundred meters by foot.
Once you get to the next sign (on your right) showing photos of fauna and flora in the area, you take the little foot path to your right. You will meet the river in no time, surrounded by thick bamboo forest. From there you can continue up the river either by walking in the water to refresh yourself or by taking the path on the sides of the river. At some point you have to cross to the left side of the river.
Once you get to the first water pool you can choose to stay there or adventure to the more difficult parts of the hike. From this first pool you can either swim to the other side or walk alongside the steep rock wall on the side. If you opt for swimming, make sure you have waterproof bags for your valuables.
Continuing a few kilometers, you will get to a little waterfall. There are several places on the way to have some snacks.
This walk will take half a day to complete, and the rest of the day can be used to explore one of the lesser visited white villages. Start by driving to La Cala de Mijas to get on the A7 towards Marbella.
Ojén is an underrated white village set in the hillside above Marbella. Nonetheless, one with astounding views.
To get to Ojén, you will have to drive direction Marbella on the A7 and follow the signs to Ojén that take you up the mountain. It takes about half an hour from La Cala de Mijas. Once you get to the village you will see a large parking lot where you can leave your car.
Ojén is known for its lemons which color the village. The little church on the main square is decorated with flat, trimmed lemon trees covering the walls.
There are a few typical Spanish bars where you can get some lunch, but remember that they will only serve food during Spanish lunch hours. That means that they are most likely closed for food by 15:00. After kitchen closes, you might be lucky to get some cold tapas. Prices are not too stiff but most places don’t take card.
The village is perfect for a stroll and there are some interesting caves you can follow from the bottom towards the top of the village. Above the houses there is a small cave you can climb up to along a set of stairs. This place gives the best views over the village and the sea in the far end of the valley.
If you are up for it and have the time, there are some short hiking routes you can take from the village.
Day Three | Hike To El Torcal de Antequera
Before you wrap up your weekend on Costa del Sol make sure you pack your hiking boots, lunch pack and camera. Get ready to explore one of Europe’s most impressing rock formations an hour drive from the coast.
El Torcal de Antequera
El Torcal de Antequera is a must for anyone visiting the sunshine coast. It is a nature reserve where the rocks have eroded to become remarkable formations spread across an area of 17 square kilometers.
I recommend leaving early in the morning to be able to park. This is a popular spot for a Sunday stroll among the locals.
To get there, drive direction Sevilla on the A7 and you will see signs for Antequera and further to El Torcal (make sure you look out for the Indian on your right once you have descended the mountain – you’ll know it when you see him). Once you get to El Torcal you will see a big parking lot. You can park there for free. To get up to the start of the loop trek, you can either walk up the approximately 30-45 minutes trek on the left side of the road or take the shuttle bus. The bus only costs a few Euros and they only take coins.
Once you get to the top, there are two different loop trails you can choose between, one takes approximately half an hour and the other one takes an hour. However, if you take your time to really explore the unusual nature around you it will take much longer.
You will most likely meet a few mountain goats on the way and there are so many great places to sit down and have your lunch pack.
Remember to take all the rubbish you bring into the park out of the park unless you throw it in one of the bins provided by the Visitor Center.
Wrapping up the Weekend in Costa del Sol.
If you still have time after you have explored El Torcal, you can take a walk in the village of Antequera. It is close to the nature reserve on your way back towards the airport. If you are in time, you can get a tapa or a drink at any of the Spanish bars in the town.
Remember to fuel up the tank before you leave the rental car. In case you forget before you get to the airport area, there is a petrol station right there.
In case you don’t get time to have food before you go to the airport, Malaga Airport has several cafés and restaurants, though airport prices are never the most economical.
If you are looking for another interesting destination in Spain, we recommend you head to Ceuta – A Spanish City surrounded by Morocco. It makes for a great Day Trip as well. Check out this Ceuta Travel Itinerary for more details.
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Linn Haglund is an avid travel enthusiast who has spent the last five years living at Costa del Sol in the south of Spain. She has felt the negative effects of overtourism the area is suffering, especially in the summer months, first hand. For this reason, she has spent a lot of time exploring the surroundings to find off the beaten track places to escape the crowds. Linn created the travel blog Brainy Backpackers to help travellers think differently and travel more responsibly.