Things to do on the Costa del Sol :

Alcazaba Castle, Malaga - Plaza de la Aduana, Alcazabilla, Málaga. Free on Sundays but not expensive during the week. The Alcazaba or Moorish castle is in the centre of Malaga and close to the harbour.

Antequera - Inland is the city of Antequera, the city of art. It has many palaces and churches built during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. There must be around 30 churches and convents, many containing a treasure trove of art. The Municipal Museum is located in the Palace of Najera and is a must see. It includes the ephebe, a Roman statue in bronze of a nude youth. There are only 6 known ephebes in the world and the one in this museum is the best preserved. On top of the hill is the Alcazaba, the old castle and fortress. Beside it is the important church of the Real Colegiata de Santa Maria la Mayor. Just outside the city one can find a dolmen complex, which consists of megaliths. There is also a place called El Torcal, which contains rocks with dreamlike forms, caused by erosion. 

Aqualand, Torremolinos Aqualand is located only 10 minutes from the centre of Torremolinos. Aqualand is a place where you can spend a day having lots of fun with the best aquatic attractions one can ever imagine. Also, this year the park offers a new attraction: the “Boomerang” , plus relaxing green areas and 18-hole mini golf course. Not cheap but very good value. Get there early; the time goes quickly. www.aqualand.es

Benahavis - Close to San Pedro Alcantara is the beautiful white town of Benahavis. It is promoting itself as the gourmet capital of the Costa del Sol because it has about 20 restaurants. During weekends these restaurants fill up with people. Otherwise it is a very peaceful town. At the entrance to the town there is a cooking school. There are also golf courses and hotels.

Benalmádena’s cable car rises above a 700-metre slope in 12 minutes, reaching the Calamorro Peak, an exceptional natural viewpoint in the mountain range looming high above the Costa del Sol, in a scene of whitewash dotted with pine green. The place affords magnificent views stretching from the rugged eastern coast (to the left) to the Rock of Gibraltar and the namesake straits separating the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean (to the right). On clear days, you can even see the Rif Mountains, on the coast of Africa. Get the train to Benalmadena and it's just a short walk to the cable car.

Benalmadena Casino Torrequebrada Sala Fortuna Show - By the sea there is a four star hotel called the Hotel Torrequebrada, which has a casino where one can gamble. Of more interest is the Sala Fortuna show. The Sala Fortuna is a beautiful dining room designed to show spectacles, with a revolving stage, and a mezZanine with more tables. The show is the best that can be found in the Costa del Sol. One can have dinner and see the show afterwards, or one can just see the show. The phone no. for reservations is 952-446-000. 

Benalmadena Dolphinarium and Aquarium. A good afternoon trip for the kids. www.aquopolis.es

Benalmadena Pueblo - The old part of Benalmadena, on the mountainside beside the autovia, is Benalmadena Pueblo, a white town. It has a cooking school and a restaurant connected to the cooking school. There is also a Museo Arqueologico which contains many Pre-Columbian artefacts. The museum is located in a new building and the collection is very good and educational, donated to the city by a rich resident. The pueblo also has a little park containing a lookout point and a small church.

Benalmadena Puerto Marina - The city of Benalmadena has a large yacht harbor called Puerto Marina with a unique architecture for the apartment buildings located in the port, which reminds one of a fantasy. One can wander around the buildings and find many stores selling all sorts of consumer goods. There are also many good restaurants in this development.

Botanical Garden of La Concepcion in Malaga - This is located at the northern outskirts of the city at the Pedrizas (CN-331) roadway, Km 166. The hours are 10 am to 7:30 pm, closed on Monday. This botanical garden is more than a hundred years old now and contains more than 5,000 tropical and subtropical trees and plants. The gardens were started by one of the richest families in Malaga for their summer home. They kept collecting these trees and plants until they had this magnificent garden. Small groups of people are formed when they come and a young guide brings them around the gardens and explains all the different trees and plants. This is one of the most fascinating gardens in Europe. Women should wear flat shoes because the walkways in the garden are not paved, and since there is a lot of moisture and water around, the pathways may be slippery. The entrance fee for adults is 3.10€, 1.60€ for minors.

Car tour of the White Towns and Villages Andalucia is famous for its pueblos blancos (white towns and villages). Mijas, Frigiliana and Ronda have already been mentioned but there are many more. The latter 3 places are easily accessible by public transport but to do a tour of some of the others you need a car. Life is slow in the villages and things change slowly. In the bars you will often see only men, although they welcome women too: the local women don't generally frequent bars. Once you get off the major roads you will be rewarded with some excellent views but just occasionally the roads can be  tricky to negotiate and the views can sometimes be a little too stunning for those who suffer from vertigo.

Crocodile Park, Torremolinos,  Calle Cuba, 14. Situated in Torremolinos, the heart of the Costa del Sol, in Crocodile Park you will find yourself in front of prehistoric monsters which have miraculously survived 200 million years of evolution, carnivores which knew the dinosaurs and use the same cold, merciless hunting techniques. From a distance of less than 2 metres, you can wonder at the gigantic crocodiles by silently walking beside them, observing the secrets of one of the most fascinating creatures of this world.

Frigiliana is a lovely white village. Take a bus from Malaga to Nerja and then another short bus trip from there to Frigiliana or go by car. Take your time to explore the old part of the village and if you like a walk in the country ask where the river (= el rio) is. When you get to the river turn left upstream and you can get to a nice picnic area in about 1 hour. But you can carry on walking as long as you like. Frigiliana has been named the most picturesque village in Spain for many years in a government run contest. Every small plaza has a chapter of the town's history done in ceramic tile. As one see all the plazas, one understands the complete history of the town. During Moorish times many of the Moorish nobles lived in this town. This town is truly extremely charming and unforgettable. Many foreigners are now buying houses in the town. 

Fuengirola Zoo Fuengirola Zoo is well worth a visit and in July and August the Zoo is open until midnight for what it calls its "night time safari". Its near to the Bull Ring (Plaza de Toros). Very good value for money. The location is not far from downtown. This small zoo is one of the best in Europe. You do not see any iron bars in the exhibits, which all look very natural and usually you are separated from the animals with a thick glass pane. The animals seem almost touchable. The design of the zoo is really unique and the zoo is enjoyable by all age groups. There is a show in which many different animals are featured, with birds flying everywhere and animals appearing suddenly on the stage. 

Granada, the Alhambra : The Rough Guide to Spain rates this as Spains number one attraction. Get your tickets over the internet before you go or join an organised tour. This way you avoid a wait of a couple of hours for tickets. They only allow a certain number of people in at a time. Check out the Traveler Articles: Tickets Through Servicaixa and Alhambra Tickets if you're planning to visit on your own. Many local travel agencies have tours of Granada that include the Alhambra. Check with your hotel about these tours: www.alhambra-patronato.es and www. alhambradegranada.org/

Magic Palace, Torremolinos Next to Aqualand. The spectacular magic show by Oscar, Renzo & Mara is an unforgettable experience. These young entertainers are respected worldwide for their dynamical and original shows. Their talent and love for theatre and magic has lifted them to international stardom in a short time. You simply cannot miss this unique magic experience on the Costa del Sol !

Malaga Concerts in the Teatro Cervantes: classical and jazz. They also stage plays and a cinema festival but you need to have a good grasp of Spanish for those. The Teatro Cervantes has a full schedule that also includes flamenco dance concerts and concerts that feature Spanish and foreign singers.

Malaga Shopping Malaga is great for shopping but do remember that most of the shops close in the afternoon (from 1.30pm to 5.pm) but they are open till about 8pm at night. 

Malaga Tapas Bars and Restaurants Malaga  is a great place for tapas bars and restaurants. But Malaga is more typically Spanish than the other coastal resorts and most restaurants open at 8.30 pm for evening meals. For real Spanish atmosphere with your drinks and tapas try Pimpi in calle Granada; you will be glad you found it: it is quite a big place but the entrance is quite small, so you need to keep your eyes open. For vegetarian restaurants look on www.happycow.com

Marbella Shopping If you like shopping malls there is a good one in Marbella near the bus station, it's called La Cañada.

Markets Fuengirola has a market on Tuesdays and Torremolinos has one on Thursdays near the bull ring.

Mijas This is the closest of the white villages and it still has the feel of a real Spanish place despite the efforts of the property developers. Its a 15 minute trip by local bus from Fuengirola bus station. You get a really good view of the coast from the park near the bullring. There is plentiful parking because there is a large parking building (12 stories) in the town. Just follow directions as you enter the town. On top of the parking building is the tourism office, one of the best in the Costa del Sol. They have a young man who speaks English and he is very simpatico and friendly. Beside this office you can see the many burros that are part of the town's famous burro taxi fleet. You can take pictures of these burros. There is a nearby lookout point that has a little park and you can see below the coastline and the city of Fuengirola. There is also a little chapel in the grotto, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The town has many top quality stores and many good restaurants. This is a good place to buy leather jackets, but be sure to bargain with the Moroccan owners.  The town is so charming that when Robert Redford was younger, he decided to live in Mijas with his family for a year.

Nerja The small scale development of Nerja is very appealing and you should not miss the "Balcony of Europe". This is a beautiful place to sit on the benches in the little park adjacent to the balcony. The beaches here are quite small and intimate. Take a walk to the parador and you will have one of the best views from there. The parador has a beautiful garden and overlooks one of the beaches, and in the background are the mountains. The sight is especially beautiful during winter, when the mountain tops may be covered in snow. There are many stores in Nerja that are quite sophisticated and you can get quality merchandise, and many of these stores are on Calle Pintada.

Parador de Golf, Torremolinos/ Malaga The Paradors of Spain are upmarket hotels which have a particular character. Many are situated in old castles or other places of interest. Golf is the particular interest in this one. It is located very close to the beach on the border between Malaga and Torremolinos. This hotel is currently being remodeled and refurbished.

Picasso Birth Place, Malaga in Plaza de la Merced.

Picasso Museum, Malaga Not a museum really but an art gallery dedicated to the paintings of Picasso.

Plaza Mayor Get the train to Plaza Mayor and visit the multiscreen cinema with one film in English every week. The large shopping center has many shops and many restaurants and is very lively at night.  www.yelmocineplex.es

Ronda - Ronda is one of Andalucia's gems. You can get there by bus from most places on the coast but the best way is to get the bus to Algeciras and then go by train, a beautiful journey. You need to cross the bridge over the spectacular gorge to get to the old town (el casco antiguo). Call in at the tourist office near the bridge for a free map of the town. In the civil war they threw nuns over this bridge! Ronda is set on a high bluff overlooking the fields below and the views are incredible. The town includes a modern parador built on the edge of a cliff. There are historic churches and palaces (now museums) from the time of the Moors in the town. There is also one of the oldest bullfight rings in Spain in the center of town, and during one part of the year they celebrate the Goyescas, where the bullfighters dress in period costumes depicting times during the painter Goya's lifetime. Many celebrities have been enraptured by the town and Orson Welles was buried here, in the ranch of one of his bullfighter friends, Antonio Ordoñez. Not to be missed is the Palacio de Mondragon, which has many Mudejar features, and a beautiful garden overlooking the gorge. The municipal museum is located in this palace. Then there is the Church of Santa Maria de la Encarnacion, La Mayor, which has a beautiful retable. It was a mosque and was converted into a Catholic church. Across from this church is the City Hall, built in 1734.

Science Museum (Centro de Ciencia), Avenida Luís Buñuel nº 6
29011  MÁLAGA , Close to the Football Ground (Rosaleda). It's aimed at families with children and its all in Spanish but its good fun and the people there help you to take part. In any case it's mostly visual. And its FREE. Kids, make sure you take Dad; you always wanted to electrocute him, didn't you?   www.principia- malaga.com/

Sea Life, Benalmadena (by the Marina) A unique exhibition in Spain. Slither into the mysterious hidden depths of the sinister Serpents of the Sea! SEA LIFE Benalmadena is a unique magical marine experience on the Costa del Sol. Discover Reef sharks, journey through the Amazon and meet the friendly rays. Its a touchy feely place not very big but interesting and you can visit the marina at the same time.

Selwo Safari Park, Estepona - Safari style park with many animals and birds on view. It's easiest to get there by car but you don't drive through the safari park. You are driven in large trucks. Not cheap but it is a full day out. www.selwo.es

Seville - Andalucias first city has lots to offer and is a beautiful place to spend a day or two. In summer it can get unbearably hot but its just right in April. You can get there by bus or train from Malaga. Malaga Renfe (Main Line station, not the underground) is the name of the train station and the coach station is just round the corner. Going by car is not such a good idea; the traffic can be very hectic and parking is another problem in the centre.

Tivoli World, Benalmadena Tivoli World. It'll be an experience to enjoy a fantastic day out in an unique spot on the Costa del Sol . A world of magic to enjoy, with the whole family... You will enjoy exciting new rides, a large and varied program of shows in  different squares. Also Tivoli offers you a large range of bars and theme restaurants as you enjoy the mingle in the fabulous park environment. Excellent value for money: buy the Supertivolino armbands for the kids. There are plenty of rides for young children and adults too. www.tivolicostadelsol.com

Torremolinos Shopping - From Malaga, one can take the Cercanias train to Torremolinos. The station in Malaga is located beside the tall Correos postal building, going down the steps on the left side of the building. Torremolinos has the famous Calle San Miguel, which is one of Spain's best shopping streets. There are a dozen jewelry stores, where one can ask for a discount, and where a foreigner can buy tax free. There are many clothes stores and shoe stores, as well as stores selling souvenirs such as Lladro.

Walking along the coast or in the mountains There are quite a few books available in English detailing walks in the area. There are also quite a few websites with walks but these are mostly in Spanish. www.webmalaga.com will give you some ideas. Do a search for "senderos" (footpaths). There are some spectacular walking areas in Andalucia and there is a good network of long distance paths (senderos de Gran Recorrido or GR) and shorter walks (PR).