Costa del Sol’s best location? 6 tips to pick Benalmadena
A top-notch Mediterranean resort town in its own right, Benalmadena has the added advantage of what’s arguably the best location on the Costa del Sol.
“Great location! Close to everything!” You will see variations on this catchy advertising slogan all over if you’re googling around for a hotel or an Airbnb apartment to stay on a vacation trip. That’s a big selling point, of course, since being in a spot from where it’s easy to get to the places you need is hugely convenient.
But what if we apply the “close to everything” concept not just to a hotel, but to a larger entity, such as a borough or a town? That factor is sure to be high on your priority list if, for instance, you’re researching this or that town as an option for a possible move.
So, it’s not surprising that questions on this topic keep popping up all the time in connection with Benalmadena. How close is it to X? How long of a drive is it to Y? Is it easy to get to Z? Some say it’s the best location in Costa del Sol – what makes it convenient?
All perfectly valid and fully understandable questions. And that’s why we decided to distill them into a brief guide, in the form of a Q & A, to help you make up your own mind.
Q: How close is a major international airport and is it easy to get to it?
A: Being close to airport, Benalmadena scores high on both counts. The Malaga-Costa del Sol airport is roughly 11 miles away. From Benalmadena’s train station in Arroyo de la Miel, its midtown section, it’s only a 20-minute ride on the local train. At the airport, the train stops within easy walking distance from the main terminal.
Is the trip expensive? About $2.20 one way. And from the Malaga airport, you can hop and a plane and reach different parts of Spain — or a European country of your choice — in less than three hours in most cases.
Q: Efficient train service is a must for a ‘best location’ — is it available?
A: The train system in Spain is generally convenient, efficient and affordable, and the Malaga region is no exception. The local rail service here, which is called “Cercanias,” runs along the Costa del Sol coast connecting a series of key sites and towns. Those include the Mario Zambrano rail hub with its high-speed trains, the international airport, the sprawling Plaza Mayor mall, and the towns of Torremolinos, Benalmadena and Fuengirola.
But what about Costa Del Sol’s famous Marbella, some may wonder. Doesn’t it have a direct rail link to Malaga? Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The coastal train line goes only as far as Fuengirola. Marbella is about 20 miles further down west along the shoreline. For many folks in Benalmadena the availability of the train service is a big reason why they think its best location moniker is well deserved.
Q: Is there a big city nearby that offers a wide variety of cultural and entertainment offerings?
A: Yes, there is, and it’s another reason why the ‘best location’ label is not really surprising.
Malaga, the capital of the Malaga province — and the Costa del Sol it encompasses — has been winning accolades as a thriving city that combines rich historical and cultural heritage with all the attractions and amenities of a modern city. Forbes Magazine, for instance, gave it top ranking in its selection of world’s best alternative capital cities.
And it takes only about 30 minutes to get to downtown Malaga from Benalmadena — by train or by car. There’s also a bus service which is convenient (and cheap), but it may take a little longer.
For a New Yorker, the Benalmadena to Malaga trip may be roughly comparable to getting from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Wall Street.
A quick reminder: Malaga is also the site of a major railroad station where bullet trains will whisk you to key cities in Spain. You can reach Madrid, for instance, in under three hours.
Q: Are there any fun places to visit by car within, let’s say, a 30-mile radius?
A: Besides Malaga, Benalmadena is located within an easy driving range of several popular destinations that offer a wide array of attractions and things to do. The famous Marbella is about a 27-mile drive westward along a fantastically scenic highway that runs along the shore. On the way, you will pass the delightful towns of Fuengirola and La Cala de Mijas with great beaches and a variety of culinary delights. Getting to Mijas Pueblo, with its stunning views and charming atmosphere of Andalusia’s famed “while villages,” is roughly a 20-minute drive.
Going east toward Malaga, you will drive straight through Torremolinos with lots of fun things to do there.
Q: If we extend the radius to a manageable 90-mile drive – any worthwhile places to visit?
A: The roads are great, and the drives are usually fast and easy. Even on a day trip, if you like, there is no problem going on a family outing to visit such amazing destinations as Ronda, Estepona, Gibraltar, Granada or Nerja. Each one deserves an extensive write-up of its own as a must-visit destination.
Q: What about shopping – any good choices nearby?
A: There are lots of options to choose from. Beyond the essential shopping that can be easily done locally, the area offers a fantastic array of choices for every taste and budget, including premier malls and premium department stores, such as El Corte Ingles. And in keeping with Benalmadena’s best location reputation, you don’t have to travel far to get there. By train or by car, in many cases half an hour will be all the time you need to get to a shopping venue of your choice.
One more thing. Those who like browsing for hidden gems at antique flea markets won’t be disappointed: mercadillos, local street or flea markets, are held several times a week in various nearby locations.