After crossing a dense mountain range, known as "Los Montes", on a softly descending slope overlooking the Mediterranean Sea emerges Malaga, a cosmopolitan and millennial city that is the capital and heart of the Costa del Sol. With more than 600,000 inhabitants and a growing economy in full development, Malaga is known by the well-deserved qualification of "Southern Europe’s Capital". Malaga, immortalised as the "City of Paradise" by the Nobel Prize winner Aleixandre, has become an important tourism centre, an international meeting place, and the economic capital of Andalusia. Less than two hours by road from Seville and five from Madrid, Malaga is connected with the most important cities of the world through its international airport. The arrival in Malaga late last year of the high-speed AVE train marked a milestone in the flow of travel to the Costa del Sol.
The province of Malaga covers an area of 7,276 square kilometers and boasts more than 160 kilometers of coastline. Along this fantastic area, you will be able to find everything from ample sandy beaches to the most amazing leisure ports. Although few in number, stunning cliffs tincture the coasts of Malaga with an exotic air.
The climate is a critical factor for this region. Majestically embraced by the Montes de Malaga, both the town and the Costa del Sol enjoy mild temperatures during the winter, while the soft breeze from the sea results in near-perfect climate conditions during the summer. The average annual temperature is around 18º centigrade; registering the highest temperatures in August with approximately 30ºC while the lowest, hovering 12ºC, is recorded during January. With reference to the temperature of the sea, the average during winter is 14,9ºC and during summer, it comes to 21,5ºC. This region enjoys almost all year round a very pleasant and benign climate and on very few occasions, temperatures become unbearable. It is estimated that there is an average of 320 sunny days each year.
According to the last census, the population in the province of Malaga exceeds 1,500,000 inhabitants. There is a constant demographic growth directly related to the service sector, mainly tourism. The capital city, with 630,000 inhabitants in their own rights, is the second largest city in Andalusia after Seville. 4 However, 300,000 foreign residents, mainly British, German, Dutch and Scandinavian, who have chosen the Costa del Sol as their second residence, should be added to the above figure. Thus, Malaga would be ranked first in total population in the Andalusian region. In this respect it is interesting to point out that, according to studies carried out by specialised firms, almost 90percent of the real estate developments built along the coast are monopolised by foreign buyers, one third being British and the remaining from other European nations and Arab investors. The territorial and administrative organisation of Malaga, as well as that of the rest of the Andalusian Autonomous Community, is divided in regions (comarcas). These natural groups of villages concentrate around the most important village, which acts as head of the region. There are five regions in total, with Antequera, Coin, Marbella, Ronda and Velez-Malaga as the leaders. All of these great villages and regions of the province of Malaga represent a culturally diverse territory, limitless in its variety and multicoloured.
The Junta de Andalusia, through its Environment Agency (AMA), manages important natural reserves, which cover 17percent of the Andalusian territory. The new Andalusian legislation has increased the area of these natural reserves and at the same time has created different legal protection forms. For this reason, AMA is carrying out a series of projects to enforce this new legislation and thus improve both attention and services in these natural areas.
Top tourist attractions sites
The Costa del Sol is currently a large central tourist area, which acts as point of arrival and at the same time a departure gateway for visitors towards other nearby shoreline communities and the interior of Andalusia. At the same time, the coast of Malaga is clearly divided in two different regions: the eastern, where residential tourism is clearly dominant, and the western region, featuring an overwhelming hotel infrastructure. We would like to point out that the residential segment is experiencing accelerated growth. The western Costa del Sol is practically a lineal town stretching from Malaga city to the village of Manilva bordering with the province of Cadiz. Starting from Malaga city, we observe that the type of tourism varies according to the region: Torremolinos displays a diversified hotel offer, being the most important of the region regarding the number of beds; Benalmádena, featuring a highly developed coastline; Fuengirola, registering a preponderance of middle class and family tourism, while we find a vigorous presence of elite tourism in Mijas Costa, which takes the lead especially in the western part of Marbella. In Estepona and Manilva, most of the urbanizations follow a similar line to that 5 of Marbella’s, medium high, although only very few reach the coast’s highest standard, which is Marbella’s world-famous “Golden Mile”. However, in the eastern area, the process has schematically gone into the opposite direction to that of the western sector: For a long time residential tourism has seen a gradual development, yet only now – showing no reduction in the development find an increase in hotel capacity together with an increment in the offer of all sorts of services.
Nevertheless, the tourist offer of the eastern Costa del Sol is still very different from the western sector. Its main attractions are extensive beaches, more open and less crowded, and the permanency of intense fishing and agricultural activities. On the eastern Costa del Sol, tourism also varies as the distance from Malaga increases. The first tourist resort is Rincon de la Victoria with a silvery beach three kilometers long refreshed by the calmness of a scarcely profound blue sea. From here, you can drive to Macharaviaya, a typical and very picturesque Andalusian village. The next resort is Torre del Mar, the coastal strip of Velez-Malaga, with four kilometers of sun-splashed sandy beaches. Algarrobo, a village that has preserved its Arabic layout, is not far away. Torrox, also featuring its traditional design, is one of the villages that has registered the major progress in the area. The last stop along the Malaga coast is Nerja with its cave as the top tourist attraction and its impressive watchtower overlooking the Mediterranean known as “Europe’s Balcony”.
Hotel establishments and apartments
A near-perfect climate and amazing ample beaches are no doubt a necessary requirement, but obviously not the only ones, for the development and upkeep of an important tourist segment. To accomplish this, you should create a wide network of lodging sites with the most diversified range of essential services that may guarantee the visitors a pleasant and comfortable stay during their holidays. The Costa del Sol provides one of the most significant hotel selections in Spain, in terms of both the number and the quality of the services rendered. We would like to point out the fact that almost all hotel establishments in the province are above three stars. At the same time, Malaga is the second province in Spain with reference to the number of five star hotels, representing 75percent of the total in Andalusia. This type of establishments is known for the quality and diversity of the services offered to their guests. Heated pools, outdoor swimming pool, sauna, massage, hairdressers, discos, game rooms, tennis courts, squash, golf links and other services are offered to the customer in order to ensure leisure and relaxation. Taking into account significant investments carried out over the last few years to modernise existing hotels and construct new ones, and considering that this segment is 6 focused on three star hotels or higher, we can offer a panoramic description of the province of Malaga. Thus, the selection is formed by medium-high quality hotels, in correspondence with the current trends of the sector, which move towards high quality tourism rendering services in accordance with its category.