Made up of coastal towns and villages along the Malaga coastline, the Costa del Sol means “Coast of the Sun” and it lives up to its reputation. Lying between the lesser-known regions of Costa de la Luz and the Costa Tropical, it has grown from a collection of small fishing settlements into one of the most renowned holiday destinations in the world.
Malaga was a prosperous and commercial industrial centre for the main part of the 19th century, but suffered an economic downturn in the 1880s and 1890s that led to the end of the iron industry and the decline of the trade and textile industry.
The depressed agricultural sector meant a decline in livestock as well, and a Phylloxera epidemic wiped out the major crops including the grape Vinis vinifera used by the wine industry which devastated the wine trade.
In 1887 a group of influential Malaga businessmen saw the potential of tourism improving the economy and at the beginning of the 20th century the beach at Banos del Carmen was developed. In 1928 the golf course at Torremolinos opened, but the Spanish Civil War and World War Two disrupted the tourism plans.
When the Marquis of Ivanrey, Ricardo Somani, moved to Marbella after World War Two the area became popular with his rich friends and in 1943 he bought a country estate between Marbella and San Pedro called El Rodeo. He subsequently built the resort Venta y Albergues and this was the beginning of Marbella’s tourism trade.
In 1954, his nephew Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Lagenburg bought another estate, Finca Santa Margarita which became the Marbella Club. The club transformed Marbella into a holiday destination for the rich and famous.
In the 1950s, Torremolinos was a popular holiday resort for international film stars and the Hotel la Roca opened in 1942 with the Hotel Paz Espada opening in 1959. The popularity of Torremolinos had a domino effect, and hotels sprung up everywhere. The name Costa del Sol was created to encourage foreign visitors to come to the Malaga coastline with its Mediterranean climate.
Tourism boomed between 1959 and 1974 and today millions of tourists now visit Costa del Sol every year arriving at the airports of Malaga, Granada and Gibraltar.
Food on Costa del Sol is influenced by Spanish, Jewish and Arabic traditions that are prevalent in Andalusia and pride themselves on seafood. The most popular fish dish is pescaito frito.
The cold soup gazpacho is also well received along with tortillas. Cold Spanish omelettes made from potatoes and served with a glass of sherry or Malaga wine goes down extremely well. Spanish residents and visitors alike love the Tapas tour (Ir de Tapas) which goes from bar to bar that offer a free tapa when you order a drink. A typical breakfast food is hot fried dough pastries known as churros, which are dipped in either café con leche or hot chocolate.