When planning your vacation to Costa del Sol, you want to get the most out of it, but it might be hard to know which towns and villages to add to your itinerary with 150 kilometers of coastline stretching from La Linea to Nerja.
There are a whole lot of pretty white villages in Costa del Sol that deserve your attention, but where do you even start?
After being based on the sunny coast of Spain over the last decade, I’ve uncovered the whole region from popular holiday spots to hidden gems. Thus, to make it easy for you, I’ve mapped out the best towns in Costa del Sol in this post so that you can start planning your Andalucia itinerary.
There’s nothing like spending hot summer days at the beach, but if you visit Costa del Sol in the winter, you should surely spend your time discovering the towns and villages.
So, with no further ado, let’s dive into the most enchanting Costa del Sol villages and towns.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of those links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Pretty towns and villages in Costa del Sol
For decades, Mijas Pueblo has been one of the most famous villages Costa del Sol can count for. Perched on the hillside of Sierra de Mijas overlooking the coast of Fuengirola and Mijas Costa.
Besides being exceptionally pretty, there are many things to do in Mijas Pueblo and you can easily spend a day or longer.
Walk the narrow streets where whitewashed walls are decorated with colorful pot plants, shop for souvenirs, stroll along the viewpoints, or take a hike up to the Ermita overlooking the village.
There are also many museums you can visit or you can make your own Chocolate at Mijas Chocolate Factory. For active travelers, Mijas Pueblo is the perfect base for hiking with multiple trails starting in the village. There is no wonder why this is one of the most visited villages in costa del Sol.
Another one of the most visited villages in Costa del Sol is Frigiliana. Also a stunningly beautiful hillside village overlooking Nerja’s coastline.
The whole village is remarkably beautifully decorated and well-kept. Small tourist shops make for perfect stops to catch your breath as you wander up the steep hills and the terraced stops house bars and restaurants with sweeping views.
Frigiliana is perfectly situated for hikers and outdoor lovers with Rio Higueron being the main attraction.
Nestled in the hills of Sierra Blanca, beautifully cascading down a green hill, Ojén is surely one of the best villages in Costa del Sol. Yet, the whitewashed “village of Lemons” doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves.
Situated only a 15-minute drive from the coast, it’s one of the best day trips from Marbella. Ojén wears its nickname with pride as you can see lemon trees cascading out from near every property as you climb the steep, cobbled streets.
Even the church on the main square has taken to the lemon decorations and trimmed lemon trees flat on the church wall to make them resemble live paintings.
Ojén also houses a series of caves and by walking to the upper part of the village, you can climb the stairs to a cave with epic views of the valley below.
Istán is a lovely little village in the lush Sierra Blanca, surrounded by freshwater springs and rivers. Popular among hikers, the little village offers a taste of rural Andalusian village life with quaint bars and restaurants where you can fuel up.
Narrow cobblestoned streets take you through cozy squares and to lovely views of the green valley below. The old washing place is also worth seeing.
Besides the hiking trails, Rio Verde to Charco del Canalón being particularly popular in the summer months, you can take a detour to Istan Lake which is for sure one of the most beautiful lakes in Andalucia.
La Cala de Mijas
One of the cutest villages in Costa del Sol that sits right on the beach is La Cala de Mijas. Being part of the same municipality as Mijas Pueblo, the little town is less frequented as a day trip but is rather a base for expats or people owning vacation property (especially British!)
the village itself is slowly expanding towards the inland, but the most charming part is the center on the coast with quaint bars and cute shops.
Among the most popular things to do in La Cala de Mijas is to relax on the beach, enjoy the beach bars, and walk along the promenade that takes you all the way to Cabopino and beyond.
One of the Costa del Sol towns that have it all is Benalmádena. Splendid beaches, a quaint old town, a cable car to sweeping coastal views, and lovely hiking routes. It is a great town near Malaga Airport for those who want to stay near the capital.
Among the best things to do in Benalmádena is to head out on a boat tour to go dolphin watching or rent a paddleboard to uncover the coastline.
The adventurous might also find it fun to walk up to Minas de la Trinidad where you can walk into the caves with a headlamp at your own risk.
However, the most stunning tourist attraction in Benalmádena is surely Colomares Castle, the fairytale monumental castle sitting on the hillside overlooking the coast.
When looking for the best towns in Costa del Sol, look no further than Estepona. The beautiful town has long lived in the shade of Marbella, but in my opinion, it’s got a lot more charm.
Wander the cobbled streets among colored potplants, have coffee on quaint squares, and take a stroll along the promenade. The beaches in Estepona are also great.
There are more things to do in Estepona, though. Explore the museums to uncover ancient archaeological finds or walk the Ruta de Los Murales to see the 60 murals displayed throughout the town.
Fuengirola is one of the most popular expat towns in Costa del Sol. Featuring a nice stretch of urban beaches, lively nightlife, great shopping, and an abundance of restaurants and bars, there is enough to keep you occupied for a few days.
But Fuengirola has so much more than that. Sohail Castle sits on a hilltop at the west of the town overlooking the beach and you find the ruins of Finca del Secretario are just some of the things to do in Fuengirola.
Take a day trip from Fuengirola to Mijas Pueblo for exceptional views and wander around the whitewashed village.
Nerja is surely one of the best towns Costa del Sol has to show for. Boasting exceptional beaches right off the enchanting tourist town, Nerja makes the perfect vacation spot. Among Nerja’s best beaches, you find Burriana Beach, Calahonda Beach, and Torrecilla Beach.
There are plenty of things to do in Nerja beyond the beaches too. In the summer months, go on a boat trip, go scuba diving, or paddleboarding along the Maro coast where you can explore secluded beaches and a waterfall cascading into the sea.
In the winter months, take advantage of the exceptional hiking trails in the mountains sheltering the coastline. But the biggest attraction yet, are the Nerja Caves. A series of impressive cave chambers of stalagmites and stalactites are situated within a 10-minute bus ride from the beach.
If you’re looking for a Costa del Sol village with romanticized hilltop views without the usual crowds, Casares is your place.
Clinging to the hillside with one of the best castles near Malaga perched on the top of the hill, Casares is one of the most picturesque Costa del Sol villages you’ll encounter.
Only 25 minutes inland from Estepona’s coastline, you can walk the narrow cobblestoned hilly streets, enjoy majestic views from above the village, or hit the hiking trails around the little settlement.
Among the top things to see in Casares are the castle ruins, Ermita de la Vera Cruz, and the Iglesia de la Encarnación. If you want to explore some hidden gems in Andalucia, there are some cool villages nearby like the Museum Village, Genalguacil.
Reflections on Costa del Sol villages and towns
As you can see, there are a whole lot of epic towns and villages in Costa del Sol worthy of your attention. A good way to visit several of them is by a Costa del Sol road trip.
This gives you the flexibility to spend as long as you want in each town as well as going to the most remote villages that aren’t that well connected with the cities in Andalucia.
Now that you are ready to map out where to go, get ready to walk through picturesque whitewashed houses where green plants cascade from colorful pots on the walls, have coffee with locals on quaint squares with sea views, and uncover Moorish remains.