The sun shines brightly on families in Costa del Sol
There are plenty of options within Costa del Sol for families to explore. Head to Torremolinos for its nine-kilometre Blue Flag beach and attractions like Mundomar, plus spacious parks like the Parque La Bateria.
Next door to Torremolinos is upmarket Benalmadena, which has around a dozen beaches, houses a charming old town and an assortment of rollercoasters and old-fashioned funfair rides at Tivoli World.
You’ll have your pick of go-kart tracks, theme parks and outdoor adventures like hiking and journeys through natural caves, plus more relaxed getaways in quieter resorts like Estepona dotted along the coast. Estepona’s coastline has 17 beaches for the family to choose from, plus a glass-domed botanical gardens full of orchids and bamboo, and the Selwo Aventura safari-style park.
Costa del Sol caters to everyone
Andalusian cuisine dishes up all the joys of Spain’s iconic flavours, but fussy eaters will take comfort in the wide range of international eats in Costa del Sol. Families have vast meal choices at both restaurants and the region’s crazy array of family-friendly hotels, where kids’ clubs and bustling pool scenes come standard.
With all the building blocks for a sun-drenched getaway, Costa del Sol is the definitive Mediterranean holiday spot for making family memories that will last a lifetime. And, with average flight times of just three hours, the whole family can be soaking up the Costa del Sol sun in no time.
Play parks with wildlife on the side
There are some beautiful parks to take children to in Costa del Sol.
Torremolinos’ Parque La Bateria has play areas and a tower to scale, and Molino de Inca Botanical Gardens boast an old mill and ponds full of fish.
But the green space that’s raved about is Parque de la Paloma, or Dove Park, in the centre of Benalmadena. Covering 200,000 square metres, the selling point for kids is the wild animals – rabbits, guinea pigs, peacocks, parrots and chickens all roam freely for them to pet.
You can also spot donkeys, pelicans, emus, goats, plus plenty of ducks and turtles at the large central lake. And everyone will be in awe of the almost four-metre cacti in the cactus garden.
Cool them down and wear them out
Of the three main waterparks and lots of smaller ones to choose from in Costa del Sol, Aqualand Torremolinos wins the award for being the biggest and best.
Just a five-minute drive from town, it has 15 slides for kids and 19 more you can have a go on, if you dare. The 22-metre high Kamikaze slide might have you doubting yourself at the top, so instead try the enclosed twister or rapids on a dinghy. Splash together in the wavepool or have a game of minigolf.
If you’re staying west of Torremolinos you could head to one of the eight Costa Water Park inflatable courses instead. Fun for kids and grown-ups, try to get as far as you can, or just whizz down the slides into the sea.
Magical ancient caves
The Cuevas de Nerja network of caves and walkways runs for five kilometres underneath Nerja, with the most significant finds open to the public.
They include the world’s largest stalagmite at 32 metres high and 13 metres at its widest point. The museum tells of the caves’ formation five million years ago and how they acted as a dwelling up until the Bronze Age, as well as housing hyenas at times.
Coloured lighting highlight the magnificent natural wonders and certain chambers occasionally host orchestral concerts and theatre productions.
Not only will the kids love the 15-minute cable car ride from Benalmadena up to the peak of Mount Calamorro, but they’ll also be fascinated by the bird of prey displays at the top.
The Garden of the Eagles has 160 different species, including golden eagle, bald eagle and griffon vulture, and holds a falconry exhibition with some of the graceful birds twice daily during summer.
You can also see the Bay of Malaga and all the way across to the African coastline line from the 771-metre-high summit.
Animals of all shapes and sizes
If you have some mini animal lovers in your household, Costa del Sol animal park options include everything from insects to the Big Five.
See 1,500 fluttering butterflies at Butterfly Park in Benalmadena among Thai-themed waterfalls and tropical plants. You can also see butterflies hatching in the nursery as well as hunt for eggs and caterpillars among the foliage.
But if it’s safari-style animals you want, head to Estepona’s Selwo Aventura. Explore the vast park with a guide by foot or in an all-terrain vehicle to see white rhinos, lions, elephants, giraffes and more. Then let the kids loose on the adventure area with ziplines, hanging bridges and trampolines.
Other popular holidays in Spain
Spain has many Costas along its warm Mediterranean coast for you to choose from for your family holiday. You could try Costa Brava, Costa Dorada, Costa Blanca, or one of the Spanish Balearics Islands or Canary Islands.
If you’ve chosen a family holiday to Costa del Sol, take a look at our Costa del Sol travel guide for more information on how to plan your perfect family holiday in the Spanish sun. And some of our top family hotels are listed below.
Right by the beach, the spacious Club Hotel Riu Costa Del Sol has three pools, three restaurants, kids' clubs and heaps of entertainment. Two outdoor pools, an indoor pool and a kids' splash playground make up the grounds of this super-sized hotel. There's a RiuLand Kids' Club available for little ones aged four to 12, while you can escape to the spa. A buffet restaurant plus two a la carte spots with Italian and Andalusian food will please even the fussiest eaters.
The Holiday Village Costa Del Sol more than suits with a beach club featuring a wave pool and slides, a ball pool fun house, clown academy and wizard workshops, plus excellent kids' clubs, shows and activities.The crazy-big Beach Club is a massive hit with families, featuring giant lagoon pools, tube slides and a wave pool. The kids' clubs here are top notch, suited for newborns all the way to teenagers, and come ready with activities like art sessions and DJ lessons. At night, energy levels stay high with live shows, karaoke, kids' entertainment, bingo and bars and pubs.
This hotel's on-site waterpark, array of sporting activities and an entertainment team will keep all the family smiling. At Globales Playa Estepona's full-blown waterpark, you can expect everything from tube and freefall slides and a spray park, plus other low key pools for more laid-back types. A kids' club is available for little ones aged five to 12, plus there are outdoor activities like football, archery and tennis. Night-time sees professional shows, live music and a mini disco, all of which are supremely family-friendly.