If you're heading to the Costa del Sol for a sun-soaked getaway, it goes without saying that you'll more than likely be spending your fair share of time on the beach. However, if all of that beach life gets a little too much for you, there is a wide range of other activities to occupy all types of travellers in the Costa del Sol.
Docks in Costa del Sol
First built in the 11th century by the Hammudid dynasty, the Alcazaba is a fortress located in Malaga that stands in a well-preserved state today. In the 15th century, it was seized from Moorish control by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who claimed it for the Spanish crown. It is open to the public all-year-round for a nominal fee and is free on Sundays after 2pm.
Malaga is also home to a number of exquisite art galleries, showcasing some of the finest artwork from Spain, Europe and beyond. As the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, the city has an excellent museum dedicated to its most famous son, but also boasts the Contemporary Art Museum and the Centre Pompidou.
Those who've had their fill of the beach but not of water can head to Aqualand in Torremolinos. This waterpark is the largest on the Costa del Sol and is located a mere five-minute drive from the city itself. Inside, you'll find a variety of rides and attractions for all the family, including the death-defying Kamikaze. With a drop of 22 metres it's one of the highest water slides in Europe!
Selwo Aventura is a safari park with a difference. This huge expanse of land features more than 2,000 animals from all over the world, including Bengal tigers, elephants, white rhinoceroses, lions and giraffes, in as close to their natural habitat as possible. Tours take place on foot and in all-terrain vehicles, and there are also zip-lines and camel rides on offer too. It's great fun for all the family.
In search of a more relaxed pastime? Then Parque de la Paloma, a 200,000 square metre area in the middle of Benalmadena, might just be the place for you. This peaceful landscape is centred around a large artificial lake teeming with turtles, ducks and other wildlife and makes for a very pleasant stroll. Children's play areas and picnic sites are dotted around the park.
Scattered throughout the Andalusian hills, which provide a breath-taking backdrop to the Costa del Sol, you'll find a handful of quaint little towns and villages. These whitewashed hamlets are a great places to escape the tourist trail and unwind with a delicious coffee or plate of tapas.
Not only do these tranquil towns often offer the best and most authentic tapas to be found in the region, they also come at a significantly reduced price than on the coast.
This impressive bridge is located roughly one hour inland from Marbella and spans the 120-metre stretch of the Guadalevin River. Built around the turn of the 19th century, the bridge is an outstanding feat of engineering and comes with a dark history – the central chamber at its middle was used as a dungeon on several occasions, including during the Spanish Civil War, when prisoners taken by both sides were said to be thrown to their deaths on the rocks below.
Situated near to the town of Nerja, these awe-inspiring caves run for approximately three miles underground and feature some remarkable icicle formations, including the largest specimen in the world. Measuring 13 metres by 7 metres at its base, the formation stretches for an incredible 32m into the air. This natural phenomenon has to be seen to be believed.
Widely considered to be the most dangerous path in Europe, the Caminito del Rey clings to the jarringly steep walls of the El Chorro gorge about an hour inland from Malaga. It earned its reputation after claiming some lives. In the wake of these tragedies, the walkway was closed for more than a decade while extensive repairs were undertaken – in early 2015, it reopened to the public. Not one for those who suffer from vertigo!