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Holidaying on the Costa del Sol like a local

People often ask us how to have a true Spanish experience on their next holiday. Staying in a holiday rental is a good start, as you have a home-from-home and can cook, relax and enjoy the amazing weather in comfort from day one. We will also supply you with an information pack with recommendations of the best places to visit near your holiday rental, as well as supermarkets, banks and practicalities of living in Spain, so you feel right at home.

Here are a few tips from our holiday rental advisors, who all live and work here on the Costa del Sol, on how to really holiday like a local this year.

Enjoy the perfect beach day – Spanish summers are all about the beach and Spanish families typically camp out all day long, bringing amazing amounts of supplies to make their stay comfortable. After a lazy breakfast in your holiday rental, gather your towels, snacks, cooler, sun cream, beach chairs and parasols and set up to be there until the sun goes down. Check out our tips for visiting the beach for more info.

Join the crowds at an event – The Spanish love to do everything en masse and so heading along to an event is a great way to feel at home and join in the fun. Whether you choose a traditional feria or a concert you will have an amazing experience and see how the Spanish party!

Hire a car or choose your location wisely – Public transport options are limited here on the Costa del Sol. If you want to explore the area, visit the nearby tourist attractions and fill your time with activities, you don’t want to be stuck waiting for buses. Hiring a car is a good option, which will make you feel like a local and give you total freedom. However, if you’d rather not hire a car, then base yourself in one of the towns along the train line from Malaga to Fuengirola. This makes travelling a lot easier, and the towns themselves have plenty to see and do on foot.

Make the most of the amazing Spanish foodThe Costa del Sol is a foodie’s paradise, with a huge range of wonderful restaurants and tapas bars. The produce is fresh, delicious and excellent value and new gourmet markets are springing up along the coast. For the full experience, make sure you go to a chiringuito or beach restaurant for lunch and enjoy fresh seafood grilled over a wood fire (espeto), a selection of fried fish such as boquerones al limon, calamares and cazon en adobo and try a paella. Lunches here are long and leisurely and paellas normally take about 45 minutes to come, so snack on the fish and salad first and only order a paella for 2 people, even in a group of 5 or more, so you can all enjoy a selection. Try a tapas crawl one evening, moving between places and ordering a few dishes to share in each. This will allow you to sample lots of amazing food and find your favourite dishes and places for the rest of the holiday.

We hope you have an amazing holiday here on the Costa del Sol and that these tips help you have an authentic experience that you’ll never forget. Browse our collection of holiday homes and book online. There are still a few properties available for this summer, but they are booking up fast. Please contact us with your requirements for a last minute summer break and we can send you a shortlist.

Walking Holidays on the Costa del Sol

wanderer-455338_1280Did you know that the Costa del Sol is a great place to walk? It’s a big part of the culture to “pasear” or stroll down your local seaside promenade, particularly on a Sunday before or after lunch. Estepona, Marbella and Fuengirola are great places to get involved in this lovely tradition and there are loads of great options if you love walking.

There are two great walking events taking place in Marbella in October where you can walk as a group, meet new people and have a great time. The first is the Neon Night Marbella a charity walk taking place on October 3rd, walking from the Hard Rock Café in Puerto Banus at 9pm and following an easy 3km walk, dressed in neon kits. It’s a fun, sociable, fundraising walk and suitable for all ages and abilities. Tickets to take part are 10€ and all funds raised will be donated to children’s charities.

The second walking event is Marbella 4Days Walking from 8-11 October. This is a great challenge which people travel from all over Europe to undertake. It costs just 40€ to take part in all 4 days or 12.50€ if you want to just do one or two days. The challenge is to walk routes of 20 or 30 km per day around Marbella for 4 days, a real achievement, a great way to see Marbella and also meet likeminded people and enjoy fun activities. Families and kids can also take part in two, shorter 6km routes on 10th and 11th October, which is a great way for all the family to get involved in walking.

If these events don’t fit with your schedule, then we can recommend the hiking in the countryside just inland from the coast. The picturesque village of Mijas Pueblo has wonderful hiking routes around the back of the village, which are rated by difficulty level and can be done on your own by following the signs or by joining one of the guided weekly walks which the Town Hall puts on. These walks take place each Saturday, leaving from the tourist office at 9am and taking various routes which normally last around 3 hours. Check out the walking programme here.

There are excellent walks around Istan, Ojen and Ronda to name a few, and there are several good companies offering private, guided walks and tours to ensure everything goes smoothly. There are also a few hiking groups you can join, such as the group which does weekly walks around Manilva every Sunday.

For those people who really want to push themselves there are two amazing options. One is the newly opened Caminito del Rey, a trail along a gorge which is not for the faint hearted or vertigo sufferers, but something which is a real experience. Please note you need to book a slot to do this as the numbers are strictly limited. You can find all the info and how to book the Caminito del Rey here.

But the biggest challenge has to be walking (also climbing in places) La Concha, the iconic mountain just behind Marbella. There is a hike from the Refugio de Juanar just outside Marbella which is approximately a 5 hour round trip and a distance of 11km. This is a challenging hike and not something that should be completed without adequate supplies or in bad weather. Here’s a good description of the route.

Whichever route you choose, we can provide great holiday rental properties where you can rest your weary feet and relax. We have properties very close to the hikes, or within the main towns so you can head out each day and do different routes. Marbella is probably the best base if you want to try several different routes, with Istan, Ojen and of course La Concha nearby to tackle. This stunning Marbella 3 bedroom apartment in a brilliant central location within walking distance of the beach is a great luxury option including a Jacuzzi bath to ease any aches and pains. Check out the options and let us know where you’d like to base yourselves and we can find you a great rental property.

Top shopping destinations on the Costa del Sol

Costa del Sol Shopping

Shopping has always been one of the most exciting activities for tourists all around the world and the Costa del Sol also offers its holiday-makers a great variety of shopping destinations, starting with giant malls and ending in luxurious boutiques, with just about everything you could wish for.

El Corte Ingles in Puerto Banus, is a perfect place to start, as it’s probably the best – known and loved store in Spain, which is famous for a huge range and the high level quality of its products. Anything you can think of will be found here, from 3D TV to Channel’s latest bag.  As if that wasn’t enough reasons to go shopping, we have managed to arrange a free HomeCareontheWeb El Corte Ingles discount card for all our guests and owners, which entitles you to great savings. Make sure you ask for it on arrival.

Another shopping heaven to visit if you’re on holiday in Marbella is La Cañada Commercial Park, with about 150 different shops, an excellent food court, cinema, hypermarket and free parking.

For those who prefer more expensive and deluxe brands, we recommend a shopping street right in the port of Banus, which is known for an amazing variety of top class boutiques, like “Channel”, “Dolce&Gabanna”, “Michael Kors”, “Burberry” and “Louis Vuitton”.

A more family-friendly place to visit is Myramar shopping centre in Fuengirola. Including a number of brilliant stores, Myramar offers a free parking, a couple of outstanding cafes and restaurants, a 12 screen Multi Cinema Complex, and a children’s play area and is an absolute must for families renting in Fuengirola. It also has your home treats such as Primark and Costa Coffee!

Plaza Mayor is a small shopping village not far from Malaga airport, which is definitely worth going to, as it has a huge bowling and entertainment center, IMAX cinema, several clubs, bars and restaurants, Health and Fitness Complex and more than 25 shops. 

Overall, the Costa del Sol is a perfect choice for shopping, so whatever you wish to buy when you’re on holiday – everything is under the sun!

Christmas in and around Marbella

Every year at Christmas, amazing lights go on in Marbella, the Old Town shimmers and pretty bauble lights line the main shopping street. The days still stay sunny and relatively warm, but nights get chilly, so if you are travelling here at this time of year, make sure you bring layers so you can wrap up and be cozy.

In the Alameda Park a Santa’s Grotto usually is set up for the kids by the Town Hall and is free for kids to go along and get a present from Father Christmas.

You can also see a traditional nativity scene known as a “Belen” in the same square.  There is a tour of 11 of these nativity scenes through the old town, which is a festive way to explore the pretty old part of Marbella. A map can often be found in the Christmas programme that gets released by the Town Hall. There are also 6 nativity scenes and a Santa’s Grotto in San Pedro, and the map is in the same programme.

During the Christmas period there are many Christmas markets in aid of charity and of course many religious ceremonies throughout the period. There are also many concerts in churches, events and town squares and the traditions of the many different nationalities which call the Costa del Sol home are represented.

There are a few Christmas events organised for the kids, but because the main day for them is the 6th January, when the Three Kings bring their presents, these tend to take place after Christmas day itself.

Local Markets along the Costa del Sol

If you enjoy a stroll around the market or car boot sale, then the Costa del Sol will have you spoilt for choice. Every day of the week you will find a different street market or car boot sale with an array of bargains to consider!

There is something quite fun about visiting the local markets and boot sales with friends or family in the lovely weather, and you will see just about everything from fresh produce to furniture, clothes and jewellery for sale. So while you are on holiday on the Costa del Sol, take a day to browse the authentic markets, enjoy some R&R and find some Spanish souvenirs to remember.

If you rent long term on the Costa del Sol, there may be bits and pieces you need like various household items, garden furniture, and decorative items which can be found new at markets for excellent prices compared to shops. Markets can also be a great place to buy unusual, nice gifts for family and friends without breaking the bank.

Here are some of the markets and car boot sales held regularly from Estepona to Marbella:

  • Sabinillas General market – On the east Esplanade every Friday in the morning selling clothing, shoes, fruit and vegetables and much more.
  • Estepona Marina market – In the port every Sunday from 10:00-14:00pm. The market sells fresh fruit and vegetables and also has stalls selling general goods including gifts, leather, shoes, sunglasses, music, jewellery, souvenirs, arts & crafts.
  • Estepona Town market – Avenida Juan Carlos every Wednesday from 10:00-14:00pm. Traditional Spanish market selling clothes, food, and household wares.
  • San Pedro street market – Held near the Central Plaza every Thursday from 9:00-14.00pm. A great place to bag a bargain.
  • Nueva Andalucia street market – Located near the bullring every Saturday from 9:00-14:00pm. Another great market for bargain hunters.
  • Marbella weekly market – On Mondays at the Recinto Ferial de Arroyo Primero in the Las Albarizas area from 9:00-14:00pm. Selling flowers, clothes, household items, shoes, handbags and jewellery.
  • La Cala de Mijas – Has two markets a week, every Wednesday and Saturday. Both are held at the fair ground from 10:00-15:00pm. This market sells clothes, fruit and vegetables, table clothes, T/shirts, shoes, sweets, flowers and much more,
  • Fuengirola General Market – This large market is held on Tuesdays at the Fair Ground and sells the full range of items from food  to footwear.
  • Fuengirola Flea market – Again held at the Fair Ground, this ever popular market is on Saturday mornings and if you can’t find what you are looking for here, you won’t find it anywhere! Stalls have everything… including kitchen sinks!

Flamenco deemed intangible heritage

Flamenco got a well deserved boost in November by being named as an intangible heritage by a UNESCO intergovernmental committee. They have added it to their Urgent Safeguarding List and the Representative List which shows just how important they feel it is to the World’s culture and I must agree.

Flamenco is a passionate, exciting, raw dance which represents the Spanish spirit brilliantly and you can watch fantastic flamenco shows all over Spain. I must say that I am surprised that they felt the need to include it on the Urgent Safeguarding list, as it is alive and well everywhere I have ever visited in Spain. Every local fiesta features flamenco dancing and men and women of all ages dress up in the traditional gear and dance all day and night. There are also lots of flamenco classes and it seems standard for children to learn at least the basics.

Seville and Jerez claim to be the birthplace of flamenco and there are some fantastic clubs to watch it in. But even in Marbella there’s a very authentic little place called Ana Maria Flamenco in the Old Town which puts on twice nightly shows  throughout the year. There is also a highly regarded extravaganza in the Torrequebrada Hotel in Benalmadena. We have a list of flamenco shows, restaurants, golf courses and much more in our Marbella Guide which you can download from our website for free with contact details for all of the places to go and things to see in the area.