Aerial view of the Costa del Sol and Marbella

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Travel Diary: Costa del Sol


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Spain’s sunshine coast does exactly what it says on the tin. Spoiling its visitors with 320 days of golden rays every year, it’s a haven for beach bums in search of sandy shores. Carefree escapes and laid-back living are all in a day’s work for this holiday haven, with a healthy dose of cultural heritage and natural beauty thrown in for good measure. Our sales team recently got to grips with the golden glow of the Costa del Sol, here’s what they got up to…

Exploring the Costa del Sol

Day 1 – The Golden Mile

The luxury marina and its resident yachts at Puerto Banus.

“After a short three hour plane journey, we arrived in Malaga ready to see what the Costa del Sol was all about. A quick hire-car pick up and we were off – hello sunshine coast! Starting with the crème de la crème, we arrived in Puerto Banus. Costa del Sol’s playground for the rich and famous and crowning glory of the ‘Golden Mile’, which stretches out for four miles from Marbella’s western edge.

Made up of a glamorous marina, buzzing bars and flashy cars – walking along Puerto Banus’s waterfront was certainly an eye-opening experience into how the other half live! Lines of luxury yachts were bobbing gently on the waves to our left, while to the right a whole host of high-end designer stores sprawled out as far as the eye could see. Dazzling whitewashed buildings ooze effortless elegance, a trait we soon saw mirrored across all of Andalucía – it certainly sets off those beautiful, blue skies!”

Marbella Old Town

The Old Town in Marbella

“A stone’s throw from picturesque Puerto Banus, lies the equally extravagant, but more modest Marbella. Backed by the beautiful Sierra Blanca Mountains, there’s a real honeypot of high-rise residencies, star-studded clubs and charming casco antiguo. We didn’t stray from the Old Town, because its narrow-lanes and floral works of art were just asking to be explored. Luxury designer shops became one-of-a-kind boutiques and bustling bars turned to tasty tapas restaurants. Making the most of the mouth-watering mini platefuls of food, we tucked into patatas bravas, calamares, albondigas and tortilla to name a few!

Once fed and watered (with the obligatory pitcher of Sangria), we wandered the beautiful backstreets and swoon-worthy squares. Pretty fountains, candy-coloured houses and walkways dripping in bougainvillea are just some of the quirks that make Marbella’s Old Town a must.”

Day 2 – Mijas

Traditional, whitewashed village of Mijas in the Costa del Sol

“No Andalucía adventure would be complete without visiting one of the iconic villages. Nestled 428m above Marbella’s golden shores, lies the mountainous, Moorish town of Mijas. A whitewashed wonder, this is where to come if you want a real taste of the region’s historical heritage. From a 16th-century grotto carved into a rock next to the Mirador del Compás, to the maze of bright white houses accessorized with fantastical flowers in every colour of the rainbow – the whole place is a feast for the eyes!

The atmosphere feels really authentic, and as fortune had it we visited on a Wednesday – when the weekly Flamenco dance takes place in the Plaza Virgen de la Pena. The flamboyant show is completely free and kicks off at 12 noon. In-between sampling local ice cream that could quite easily rival the Italian’s gelato (who knew the Spanish had such a penchant for the dessert?), we strolled the stunning streets and marvelled at traditional ceramic creations hanging masterfully from trademark white walls. As if all that wasn’t enough – the views from Mijas are truly magical!”

Classic Costa del Sol Cuisine

Espeto de sardinas

“It’d be criminal to come to the Costa del Sol and not sample the local delicacies. Day 2 was our chance, and we tucked into one of the most demanded specialities in Torre del Mar – espeto de sardinas. Cooked on skewers, the sardines are grilled over an open wood fire in a fishing boat on the beach front. Served with a lemon, there’s no need to stand on ceremony with this dish. It’s all hands on deck! Sardines down, we shared a seafood paella with homemade bread and lashings of Aioli. Delicious!”

Where we stayed

Villa Vanessa, Marbella

Traditional villa with a courtyard and private pool in Marbella

“Our home from home for the trip was the lovely Villa Vanessa. Sleeping 8 and situated in the heart of the Costa del Sol, it was an ideal base for our Andalucía adventures. Kitted out with all the essentials and holiday must-haves, it was a welcoming place to come back to after a long day of exploring. The private pool and spacious courtyard were the icing on the cake! Just 7km from Marbella’s main town, with restaurants and supermarkets within easy walking distance, this villa is sure to make your holiday hassle-free.”
View Villa Vanessa

If you’ve got Spain on the brain after reading about the James Villas’ team adventures, then make your holiday dreams a reality with a look at our villas in the Costa del Sol.

Emma Mackey

Emma Mackey is a Content Executive at James Villa Holidays.

To say I have an obsession with travel would be an understatement. Adventuring with my...

See all articles by Emma Mackey

See all articles by Emma Mackey


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