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Home » A ranking of Costa del Sol towns and cities

A RANKING OF COSTA DEL SOL TOWNS AND CITIES

From the exciting capital of Malaga down to small hillside towns with rural and picturesque charm, the Costa del Sol is replete with an incredible array of towns and cities, each with something amazing to offer visitors. You can enjoy so much of what this beautiful part of the southern Spanish coast has to offer when staying at Costa del Sol resorts.

Views of Nerja beaches from the Balcony of Europe in Nerja Costa del Sol

To help you make your holiday plans, we have analysed the 20 most populated towns and cities on the Costa del Sol, comparing these special locations against each other. The good news is that you really can’t go wrong with where you choose to visit as each one has its own fantastic attributes.

Read on to discover what the facts say, however, and see how different locations compare when it comes to the likes of attractions, restaurants, sunny days per year and happiness.

Key findings

• Malaga is the Costa del Sol’s number one location, according to the data.
• Torremolinos, Fuengirola, Marbella, and Benalmádena all finished in the top five.
• The locations with the most restaurants and attractions are Malaga, Marbella, and Fuengirola.
• Torremolinos is the happiest place on the Costa del Sol.
• Torremolinos and Malaga have the most sunny days on the Costa del Sol.

Infographic best towns cities costa del spain

Top towns and cities on the Costa del Sol

RankingLocationRestaurantsAttractionsInstagram hashtagsHappiness Index scoreSunny days per yearUK search volumeTotal score
1Malaga2,2969818,602,21288.5304110,000119
2Torremolinos677176809,19988.8930427,100106
3Fuengirola9813081,111,14687.9829818,10099
4Marbella12144786,211,89984.7629260,50094
5Benalmádena725294649,78687.983013,60091
6Estepona451246739,55381.0129218,10078
7Mijas387150547,70985.8529612,10077
8Nerja308144625,70376.0530218,10076
9Rincón de la Victoria16531132,60386.9830388071
10Torrox16921103,13378.933022,40057
11Frigiliana4930160,89773.883024,40056
11San Pedro de Alcántara1955577,26584.762921,30056
13Vélez-Málaga9021146,78383.6530211053
14Algarrobo283597,23585.1330248052
15Alhaurín de la Torre842595,31882.8130132047
16Manilva1342873,15279.362883,60041
17Alhaurín el Grande592566,68880.8929848040
18Coín541725,94479.7329659031
19Casares342086,30978.912901,30028
20Ojén2197,94577.7529326015
Malaga cityscape with bullring and harbor

Where is the best place for restaurants on the Costa del Sol?

The Costa del Sol is renowned for its incredible cuisine, especially when it comes to its seafood. There are so many great locations across this coastal paradise, but according to the data, Malaga has the most choice for a meal out on the Costa del Sol.

Malaga has the biggest selection of restaurants compared to other towns and cities, finishing above other wonderful locations such as Marbella in second place and Fuengirola in third. The top-rated restaurant in Malaga, according to TripAdvisor, is El Rincón de Esmeralda, a lovely little spot on one of the city’s side streets known for its amazing Mediterranean food and charming atmosphere.

What location has the most attractions on the Costa del Sol?

There are so many top attractions to see on the Costa del Sol, whether it’s a picturesque beach or a Moorish fortress. Malaga boasts the highest number of attractions, however, with visitors being truly spoiled for choice when it comes to things to see and do. Top attractions to look forward to visiting include the historic Alcazaba fortress, Gibralfaro Castle, and Roman theatre, as well as the fascinating Picasso Museum and beautiful Malaga Cathedral.

What is the sunniest place on the Costa del Sol?

The Costa del Sol is known for its wonderful weather and glorious sunshine. But what’s the sunniest location on the Costa del Sol? Torremolinos and Malaga come out on top in this category, with 304 sunny days per year. It’s all very close between the locations, however, all boasting an incredible amount of sunshine for visitors to take advantage of. If it’s fun in the sun you want for your next holiday, you can’t go wrong with the Costa del Sol.

Which Costa del Sol location is the happiest?

It’s hard not to be happy when you call the Costa del Sol home, but according to Spain’s happiness index, the brilliant beachside town of Torremolinos is the happiest place of them all. All the towns and cities scored great happiness scores, however, with popular destinations like Malaga, Fuengirola, and Benalmádena being other standout locations.

Costa del Sol Holiday couple walking in white village

Which town or city is the most popular on Instagram?

Malaga is the king when it comes to Instagram, with more people posting hashtags about this location than any other. This might be partly down to Malaga’s size, but it also speaks to its popularity. The same is true for other top Instagram destinations on the Costa del Sol, with Marbella and Fuengirola also proving very popular on the platform.

Where on the Costa del Sol get’s the most online interest?

The Costa del Sol is incredibly popular but nowhere generates more interest online than Malaga. The capital city is searched for online nearly twice as much as the next most popular location – Marbella. Torremolinos and Fuengirola also spark plenty of interest, as does the coastal resort of Nerja with its famously spectacular seafront promenade – the ‘Balcony of Europe’.

ALSO READ: Ultimate family guide to the Costa del Sol

5 amazing towns and cities on the Costa del Sol

Malaga Costa del Sol marina harbor boats lighthouse

Malaga

Beyond its 16 sunny beaches, the capital of the Costa del Sol, on the shores of the Mediterranean, boasts a lively atmosphere, numerous tapas bars, and exciting neighbourhoods.

The historic port city of Malaga has been transformed and modernised in recent years while still tipping a cap to the city’s centuries of history. With the most restaurants, attractions, and the joint-most sunny days per year, Malaga is a must-visit destination, and it is certainly a place you should look to visit on your holiday.

Our study also revealed that the city receives the most Instagram hashtags, and more people search for this destination online than anywhere else on the Costa del Sol, highlighting its immense popularity.

Costa del Sol Spain gastronomy grilled fish

Torremolinos

With its natural seaside beauty, Torremolinos is the perfect place to relax on golden beaches or savour the delicious gastronomy it is famed for.

The town has become a place of pilgrimage for lovers of top-quality cooking, and with hundreds of restaurants, there are plenty of places where you can try world-class cuisine and traditional dishes, such as its special fried fish (also known as ‘pescaito’ frito).

The town isn’t just renowned for its restaurants and food; there are some stunning beaches where you can relax or enjoy one of the many water sports that are on offer. Playa de la Carihuela is the longest beach in Torremolinos, and it is a jewel in its crown, but there are other beaches, such as the lively Los Alamos or the enchanting Playamar.

With all this food, the amazing beaches, its variety of attractions, and the fact it has the joint-most sunny days on the Costa del Sol, it is no surprise that Torremolinos has the highest Happiness Index score in our study.

Costa del Sol Fuengirola City beach and port aerial panoramic view

Fuengirola

Fuengirola is certainly one of the very best destinations to visit on the Costa del Sol, boasting hundreds of restaurants and attractions. This coastal gem radiates fun beach vibes and plenty of charm.

Blending history and seaside serenity, visitors will love exploring all that the town has to offer. From the cobblestone streets of Fuengirola’s old town that are adorned with pretty flowers to the lively beachfront promenade, where sun-soaked relaxation and water sports await.

One of the happiest places on the Costa del Sol with nearly 300 days of sunshine per year, you can’t go wrong with making Fuengirola a key part of your holiday.

Costa del Sol Marbella houses with tropical plants and flowers

Marbella

Marbella is one of the most famous locations on the Costa del Sol, becoming almost synonymous with fun in the sun. There are scores of restaurants in Marbella, hundreds of things to see and do, and 292 sunny days per year.

The Sierra Blanca Mountains provide the perfect backdrop as you go about a day on the beach, having a refreshing beverage at one of the seaside bars or strolling along the glamorous marina towards upmarket restaurants.

You can look forward to a wonderful mixture of old and new in Marbella as visitors can also enjoy a walk in the past in the historic old town. Here, you will find picture-perfect whitewashed buildings, flower-draped balconies, and 15th-century churches.

Costa del Sol Benalmadena Harbor Marina by night

Benalmádena

Located on the Costa del Sol’s sparkling shores in Benalmádena, you will find whitewashed houses overlooking the sea and a picturesque landscape of narrow streets and plazas.

There are lively tapas bars and beachfront chiringuitos waiting to be found, allowing you to savour delicious Spanish cuisine. The atmosphere is always buzzing at its marina, where a dazzling nightlife meets a thriving yachting scene.

Our study revealed that Benalmádena is one of the happiest locations on the Costa del Sol, and it’s easy to see why, with 301 sunny days per year and countless fun activities to enjoy. From the thrills of Tivoli World amusement park to the scenic cable car rides to Mount Calamorro’s panoramic summit, Benalmádena is never dull.

Methodology

We started by selecting the top 20 most populated towns and cities on the Costa del Sol. We then awarded each location points from 1-20 based on how well they performed against each other in the following categories:

• Number of restaurants and attractions (source: TripAdvisor)
• Number of sunny days per year and happiness index score (source: Sonneil)
• Instagram hashtags
• Search volume (source: SEMrush)

The scores for each category were tallied up to form a total score and the final rankings.

Wyndham Grand Costa del Sol Pool view

Visiting the Costa del Sol

If you want to experience the Costa del Sol yourself and discover some of the amazing locations discussed above, we would love to welcome you to Wyndham Costa del Sol , home to Wyndham Grand and Ramada Hotel & Suites with self-catering Costa del Sol apartments and suites to suit all tastes and budgets, all with access to top-notch hotel facilities.

For more tips, guides, and advice, visit our blog.