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The Costa del Sol is Spain´s number one tourist destination, with most visitors now choosing to rent private accommodation, rather than buying a traditional package holiday. The proximity of Malaga International Airport (due for expansion in the next few years) and the airport at Gibraltar means that the entire coast is now easily accessible.
The most popular area is the western Costa del Sol, from Malaga to Gibraltar . This stretch of coastline includes the mass-market holiday havens of Benalmadena, Fuengirola and Torremolinos (once the Mediterranean capital of glitz in the 50s and 60s). In fact these areas are home to a multitude of shops, bars and restaurants. Benalmadena can also boast one of the most stunning and lively marinas in Europe , in addition to its quaint hillside pueblo.
A little further west, you will find the resorts of Mijas Costa, featuring La Cala de Mijas, Riviera del Sol and Calahonda.
The district of Marbella begins with the picturesque port of Cabopino , with its miles of sandy beaches and sheltered dunes, ideal for naturists and naturalists alike! A little further along the coast, you will find the growing area of Elviria, with its plethora of bars, restaurants and shops. Elviria is also home to some of the finest sandy beaches in Marbella and the imposing 5 star Don Carlos Hotel . If you venture a little inland at this point, prepare to be amazed by some of the very finest views in the Mediterranean….on a clear day in winter, you can clearly see the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada towering over the bay of Malaga and the blue seas below.
Travelling towards Marbella itself, you will pass the glamorous areas of El Rosario, Los Monteros and Torre Real, areas that are home to many of the world´s rich and famous, including the (clearly visible) beachfront villa belonging to Hollywood A-listers Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, and the huge country estate of Julio Iglesias.
The town of Marbella itself is a heady mix of traditional Spanish seaside town and sophisticated, cosmopolitan home to a multitude of nationalities. Tapas on the beach or shopping in Gucci? In Marbella , it´s possible to do both. The beaches are clean and inviting, the promenade is full of bars and restaurants, and the Old Quarter is an enchanting area of ancient walled streets, squares and churches. Don´t miss taking a coffee amidst the orange trees of Plaza de Los Naranjos.
At the other end of Marbella , you will find the Golden Mile, the road that links Marbella to the jet-set capital of Puerto Banus. The Golden Mile is home to several outrageous properties, not the least of which is the Palace belonging to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia . Modelled on Washington´s White House, the palace can accommodate hundreds of guests and staff. Look out for the sabre etched in the lawn of the property, prominently lit at night. You will know if the King is in residence... his fleet of aircraft will be parked on the tarmac at Malaga airport – look out for the gold-tipped wings, and his yacht will be moored in the harbour at Malaga – Puerto Banus is too small to accommodate it!
Above the town of Marbella is one of the most prestigious addresses in the area, Sierra Blanca, home to impressive villas and luxurious apartment projects.
Puerto Banus is a ´must-see´ with its eclectic mix of designer boutiques, luxury yachts, beautiful people and latest fashions. For car lovers, check out the harbour-front for the latest from Maserati, Rolls Royce, Ferrari and Lamborghini. By day or night, Puerto Banus offers something for everyone…..trendy shops and boutiques, lively bars and crazy discos.
West of Puerto Banus you will drive through San Pedro, an expanding Spanish village. Inland from here, you will find Nueva Andalucia, otherwise known as Golf Valley , with several world class golf courses, such as Las Brisas, Los Naranjos and La Quinta.
After San Pedro, you will enter the district of Estepona. This area is undergoing significant development. Already home to world-class hotels such as the Kempinski and Las Dunas, work is underway to build several superb golf courses and thousands of properties, taking in areas such as the picturesque post of La Duquesa, Manilva, Casares and Sabinillas.
Towards Gibraltar, you will find the port of Sotogrande , which often attracts the rich and famous for its slow pace of life, its legendary polo club and luxury properties with private moorings in the port.
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