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The main reason people come to the Costa del Sol in Spain is for the beaches and golf courses.
And there’s no doubt that these are better and more plentiful than almost any holiday region in Europe.
But for the curious the Málaga Province has a world of choices for days out and activities.
You can descend into a gigantic cave that was forgotten for thousands of years, drive up to the mountains to scramble past fantastical karst rock formations and cross the Puente Nuevo into the dreamlike city of Ronda, which straddles a canyon 150 metres-deep.
In 2016 22 of the Costa del Sol’s beaches were awarded the Blue Flag.
This is the gold standard for hygiene and public facilities, so wherever you go you’ll always be close to a first-class beach.
The climate helps too, as the Costa del Sol has the longest beach season in Iberian Spain, with consistent warmth from as early as April through to late-October.
Even in the low season it’s normally sunny, and daily highs will graze the high-teens.
As for the very best ones? If you’d like peace and seclusion, then the shingle cove at Playa del Cañuelo near Nerja is for you.
If you need a bit more life then Torremolinos is just as good today as it was when the first tourists started arriving in the 50s.
Many holidaymakers find it impossible to resist the call of the Mediterranean and need to get out and paddle, windsurf and dive to their hearts’ content.
Fortunately there’s a water sports centre next to the beach at every resort in the Costa del Sol.
They’ll give you tuition and kit you out with all the gear for anything from jet skiing to parasailing.
There are also tourist ports dotted along the coast, the launch pad for white-knuckle powerboat rides or unforgettable whale and dolphin-spotting cruises.
Divers aren’t neglected either, with PADI-licensed centres in Torremolinos and Marbella.
As with much of Spain, the central market is such a focal point of daily life in Málaga that you have to see it for yourself.
Locals favour the stalls at Ataranzas for freshness, and because the prices are reasonable.
It’s also just a lovely building, with an elegant iron and glass canopy, Mudéjar arches and a magnificent stained-glass window.
Come to buy all the usual market produce, like fruit & veg, meat (both raw and cured), cheese, fresh bread and some local honey or sherry.
There are also bars where you can get a tapa to go with a cold glass of cruzcampo.
Malaga’s a great city to visit at any time of year, but in August it’s a little more special.
In medieval times it was one of the very last cities on the Iberian peninsula to return to Christian rule after the Islamic era.
Málaga was taken on 14 August 1487, and this event is commemorated by the week-long festival on the third week of August every year.
More than anything it gives you a good look at Andalusian culture, as toasts are made with fino (sherry), there are plenty of flamenco performances and there are daily bullfights at La Malagueta.
The streets of the city are lovely at this time too, decorated with flowers and paper lanterns.
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