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  • Writer's pictureKrista the Explorer

8 Beautiful Coastal Towns Near Málaga You Can Easily Drive To

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The Costa del Sol is one of the most visited coastlines in Europe. Its near perfect annual weather, incredible food scene, and the almost unlimited number of beaches are just some of the things that attract visitors all year round. The Province of Málaga is filled with unique places to visit, from the historic centre of Málaga itself to inland white villages that are all easily accessible by car. If you’re the type of person who prefers to stay along the coast though, there are a number of beautiful coastal towns near Málaga to drive to as well.

Renting a Car In Málaga

A VW T-Roc in golden yellow parked in front of castle.
VW T-Roc

There are a lot of options when it comes to car hires in Málaga, with the majority of companies based around Málaga airport. We went with Helle Hollis who have been operating in Málaga for decades and are a trusted rental company among visitors. They offer a free shuttle service to their main office, are open 24/7 for pickup and drop off, and have a much smaller insurance and fuel deposit than nearby competitors. You can even use their Fuengirola office at no extra cost.

Blue VW Cabriolet with roof down next to the beach.
VW Cabriolet

During our week-long adventure exploring the Costa del Sol we rented an automatic VW T-Roc and then changed to the VW Cabriolet so we could enjoy the nice weather while driving. Both are great vehicles to drive with modern features inside and plenty of space for luggage. If you’re taking your rental inland there may be some rough terrain so I would recommend using the VW T-Roc for those types of journeys. Helle Hollis have both manual and automatic vehicles available to rent so you can choose the one that suits you the best.

8 Beautiful Coastal Towns Near Málaga

With Málaga as your base you’re almost spoiled for choice when it comes to coastal towns along the Costa del Sol. Whether you drive east or west you’ll come across a number of unique towns that each have something a little different to offer. Some of the best beach towns in Andalucía can be found near Málaga so make sure you get out and explore the coastline as much as possible - there’s a lot to discover!

1. Nerja

A small beach below the cliffs in Nerja.
Playa de la Calahonda

Nerja is easily one of the most beautiful coastal towns near Málaga to drive to. As well as its dramatic beaches below the cliffs and the popular viewpoint known as Balcón de Europa, Nerja is famous for its quaint old town and enormous cave complex that stretches for almost 5km. It’s very easy to plan a day trip to Nerja, but in the off season it’s especially nice with significantly less tourists, although the water may be too cold for some people.

While you’re in Nerja, I would recommend at least a half-day trip to nearby Frigiliana - an inland white village that consistently ranks as the most beautiful village in all of Andalucía. The village is nestled in the hills so bring some good walking shoes and some sunscreen.

2. Rincón de la Victoria

A small shrine built into the cliff along coastline.
Rincón de la Victoria

Located between Málaga and Nerja is Rincón de la Victoria. This small town is very popular for its beaches during the summer months making it nearly impossible to park if you don’t arrive early in the morning. That being said, an alternative to spending time at the beach is to walk along the beautiful coastal route that sits between Playa Cala del Moral and Playa del Rincón de la Victoria. If you’re looking for places close to Málaga with impeccable beaches though, then Rincón de la Victoria is a nice option.

3. Torremolinos

View of Torremolinos coastline from a park.
View from Parque de la Batería

One of the best beach towns near Málaga is Torremolinos. There are plenty of things to do in Torremolinos to keep you busy for a day or more which is why so many people choose to base themselves here. The old town is easily accessible from the waterfront and offers a wider selection of places to eat as well as some unique attractions to see as well. If you have the time, taking a short drive to the Jardín Botánico Molino de Inca is a must-do in Torremolinos and a nice retreat from the busy town centre.

4. Benalmádena

Narrow street in Benalmádena old town with white buildings.
Benalmádena old town

Once a small fishing town, Benalmádena is now a tourist hotspot along the Costa del Sol. Despite its flourishing tourism industry the old town still retains much of its original charm and is beautiful to walk through. The big draw to Benalmádena though is its coastline with beaches such as Playa Arroyo de la Miel or Playa de Carvajal being some of the best in southern Spain. Don’t forget to check out Castillo Monumento Colomares and the Stupa of Enlightenment which are two unique places to visit near Málaga that are easy to drive to.

5. Fuengirola

A rocky beach area along the coast of Fuengirola.

Fuengirola is a beautiful coastal town near Málaga with a history that predates the Romans. There are some great family-friendly activities to do in Fuengirola and it’s only a short drive from Benalmádena and Torremolinos so you can easily see at least two of these popular destinations in one day if you’re short on time. Other than the old town and its beaches, I would recommend visiting Castillo Sohail which has ample free parking spaces beneath it. On the outskirts of Fuengirola sits Yacimiento Arqueologico Romano which is an incredible archaeological site that needs to be on any history oriented itinerary.

6. Marbella

Plaza in the old town of Marbella during the summer.
Marbella old town

A major coastal town along the Costa del Sol that can’t be missed is Marbella. This is where all of the celebrities and wealthy people like to frequent. If you really want to get a feel for the luxurious lifestyle in Marbella then you’ll want to stop by Puerto Banús. It’s a lovely area to walk around, especially at sunset, but don’t forget to visit Marbella’s old town as well.

The old town is where you’ll find a lot of boutique shops and locally run restaurants, as well as thousands of years worth of history to explore. The narrow streets here are magical, and during the Christmas period there’s a beautiful light display in one of the main plazas that’s nice to experience.

7. Estepona

Small plaza in Estepona's old town with decorative flowers.
Plaza de las Flores

One of the most beautiful coastal towns near Málaga has to be Estepona. It takes around an hour to drive here from Málaga’s city centre and sits halfway between Marbella and Gibraltar. Compared to other coastal towns in the Costa del Sol, Estepona offers a more tranquil setting despite its popularity with foreign visitors. It’s one of the less touristy beach towns in Spain but still has a lot to offer in terms of attractions.

When we visited the waterfront was getting a complete overhaul and is set to become completely pedestrianized which will be incredible in the summer months. During the off season I would recommend exploring all that the old town has to offer and if you choose to spend more than a day here you can visit some nearby villages in Málaga too that are slightly more inland.

8. Manilva

A quite beach with a palm tree along the coastline of Manilva.
La Duquesa

Sitting a short drive west of Estepona is the unspoilt town of Manilva. It sits along the border of the Province of Cádiz and is often overlooked by tourists as it takes over an hour to drive to from Málaga. La Duquesa is one of my favourite areas here which boasts a beautiful castle and archaeological museum as well as a stunning beach just next to it with plenty of parking spaces. Castillo de la Duquesa is perfect to visit at sunset when there are less people around and you don’t have to fight for a place to park. From Manilva you can also visit other white villages in Málaga such as Casares and Gaucín.

There are many more nice villages near Málaga to visit, but if you want to stay along the coast then these are some of the top places to drive to. During the summer season it’s important to arrive early in the morning to secure a parking spot as well as a place on the beach if that’s what you’re planning to do. In the off season however you’ll find a lot less tourists in the areas around Málaga so parking shouldn’t be an issue - unless it’s a hot and sunny weekend!

What do you think about these beautiful coastal towns near Málaga? If you have any questions about visiting the Province of Málaga or about renting a car in Málaga please get in touch by either leaving me a message below or reaching out via email or Instagram where you can also follow along with my travels for more helpful tips.


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