Situated between Malaga and Nerja, this section is much less known (as west of Málaga area) and as such is quieter and less developed.
Popular resorts on the eastern Costa del Sol include Competa, Torre del Mar, Torrox and Nerja. Here you’ll find beautiful classic Spanish towns where life is quieter and the mountain scenery very impressive. Close by you have the Sierra Nevada mountains, where you can ski from late October to April.
The region is fast becoming the food hub of southern Spain, thanks in part to a varied landscape which provides all the conditions needed for virtually every type of produce. Restaurants in the area have access to an abundance of freshly caught seafood and excellent local produce including olive oil, wine, cheese, ham, and a huge array of fresh fruits and vegetables.
As with other parts of Spain, there are excellent transport links in the area, including Malaga airport, which provides affordable access to most parts of the world. Public transport in the province is plentiful and great value for money, with air-conditioned buses and trains running regularly.
Guide to towns on Costa del Sol East (Malaga province)
Experience life in a thriving multinational community surrounded by outstanding natural beauty in a town which is one of the jewels of the eastern Costa del Sol.
Competa is a typical Andalucian mountain town with an extraordinary history and culture that continues to the present day. Just walk the streets of this flower lined pueblo blanco and life in the town over the centuries is revealed through a series of mosaics. Traditions like the Night of Wine continue to this day – a great excuse (if one was needed) to drink Competa’s famous sweet wine and dance to the heart pumping flamenco music.
You’ll discover a town which has developed gracefully from its agricultural roots into a haven for expats who are attracted by the laid-back lifestyle, friendly community and stunning surroundings. The sea is just 20 kilometres away and in the other direction you’ll discover the Sierras de Tejeda, a natural paradise which is home to Spanish ibex and golden eagles. You could easily spend a lifetime exploring the surrounding almond and olive groves and dipping your toes in streams of cool running mountain water.
Among the local population, or Competenos, you’ll meet people from Britain, Denmark, Holland and Germany. The permanent population of this busy working village is around 3,500 and together they make a balanced and integrated community.
In the old town you’ll find traditional whitewashed houses which can be seen from miles around and are known as the Pearl of the Axarquia. The outskirts are home to many more modern villas with views across the coast and into the mountains. And if you’d really like to start from scratch there are fincas (farmhouses with land) in the surrounding hills.
For a small rural town, Competa has an excellent range of modern facilities including numerous bars and restaurants, a variety of traditional shops, banks and other small businesses. You won’t want to miss the Saturday market for fresh local fish, meat and vegetables.
Competa is around an hour from Malaga and its airport, a route you’ll find easily accessible via bus or car along the fast-moving A-7. The nearest beach on the Costa del Sol is a 30-minute drive.
You’ll find a health clinic in the village, with some doctors who speak English. For the nearest hospital you’ll need to visit Velez Malaga, around 40 minutes away.
Cost of Living
This area of Spain has long been a reasonable place to live, and so it remains. Bear in mind that Competa is a small Spanish town with no large supermarkets, so costs may be a little higher than the larger cities and resorts along the coast.
A classic Spanish seaside resort, Nerja is a town with much to discover. Hidden coves, unspoiled streets and ancient hideaways, this is a little different from the rest of the Costa del Sol.
Step out onto the Balcón de Europa (the ‘balcony of Europe’) at sunset and you will discover perhaps the greatest view in the Costa del Sol, a stunning panorama of cobalt-blue sea, a multitude of beaches and coves below with the jaw dropping Sierra Almijara mountains rising to the east. Small wonder that so many people fall in love with beautiful Nerja.
Unlike many of the region’s former fishing villages, Nerja has kept its charm and a strong sense of what attracted people in the first place. You won’t find too many concrete high rises here. In the old town the winding streets are filled with flowers tumbling from iron balconies on pretty whitewashed houses which remain virtually unchanged.
Make your way down to the coast and explore delightful honey coloured coves and small sandy beaches. Head out of town and you’ll find one of the world’s most extraordinary ancient cave systems, lined with Palaeolithic cave paintings and thought to be one of most extensive underground networks in Europe.
Nerja has expanded via a series of urbanisations to accommodate 21,000 people, a third of whom are from abroad. The town maintains a local atmosphere, with a friendly ‘Andaluz’ feel, which is especially lively on market days and Fiestas.
The main public health medical centre is on the road into Nerja, with an emergency room open 24/7. If you have a more serious need, then the nearest fully equipped hospital is half an hour away in Velez Malaga.
Although not part of the wider region’s transport network, Nerja has its own regular bus routes that will get you to Malaga and to the surrounding towns and villages including Frigiliana, Almuñécar and as far afield as Granada, Córdoba and Seville. The nearest airport is an hour away by road in Malaga.
Make your way to the main square, Plaza de España, to find a multitude of boutiques and eateries. Nerja has all the usual Spanish supermarkets as well as some shops stocking English brands. For exercise, the town has an excellent stadium with tennis courts and swimming pool. And you’ll find all the usual water-based activities down by the coast.
Nerja has three parts; the old town with older, traditional houses; new developments with larger villas and bungalows on the outskirts and Burriana with views of the sea along a wide sandy beach. There are also spacious apartments to be found with enviable views near the Balcón de Europa.
Cost of living
You’ll find it possible to live very reasonably in Nerja. The large variety of shops, cafes and restaurants mean that even on a modest budget you’ll be able to enjoy going out regularly – and it’s certainly a cheaper option than some of the more famous resorts west of Malaga.
On the ‘Route of Sun and Wine’, but still one of the quieter resorts in the Costa del Sol, Torrox has breezy summers and mild winters.
Torrox Pueblo is a traditional town on the steep slopes of the Sierra Almijara mountains. It was a wealthy settlement under Moorish rule due to its role in the silk trade; much of the grand medieval whitewashed buildings stem from that period. It lies four kilometres inland of the Torrox Costa, an international tourist centre and promenade (paseo) of bars and restaurants alongside a sandy beach. The paseo comes alive at night with tourists, mostly from Northern Spain, Germany and the UK socialising. There are street entertainers and market stalls open until the early hours. Then finally, Torrox Park is a quiet, modern urbanization that fills the space between the town and the coast.
The Sierra Almijara mountains are part of a vast natural park that attracts hikers, climbers and hunters — with a sector sequestered as a game reserve. The Nerja Caves showrooms and accessible caves show just a taste of the five-kilometre underground network of caverns and sinkholes. Since the caves opened to the public in 1960, they have been the location for the annual ‘Festival de Música y Danza’ in addition to a venue for one-off concert performances. For the even more adventurous, the Sierra Nevada Mountain ski resorts are close enough for a day trip.
If you prefer to stay local, there are plenty of traditional restaurants in the Pueblo with specialities such as locally made wine, grilled sardines, garlic soup with grapes and sweet churros — doughnut like sticks to dip in chocolate sauce. On the last Sunday before Christmas Torrox celebrates its Festival of Migas. Migas is a dish made from fried breadcrumbs, green peppers and chorizo. Thousands of visitors attend every year for a feast of wine, music and dancing.
Even though many expats have made Torrox their home, it still maintains its authentic Spanish feel. First discovered by Germans tourists and later by the British, both have strong expat communities. It’s generally considered more laid back, family friendly place than the more Western towns on this coast.
Torrox area is one of the most affordable villages on the Costa del Sol. Along the Costa you’ll find apartments with rental potential, more apartments and villas inland in the urbanisations, and in the town itself, old-fashioned terraced townhouses.
Much of the local amenities can be found on either the coastal promenade or within the Torrox Pueblo. There are banks, post offices, car parks, petrol stations and public gyms within walking distance from either of these centres. There are supermarkets in Torrox Costa and Torrox Pueblo.
Torrox is situated off the N-340 coast road and the AP-7 motorway is just 40 minutes drive from Malaga airport. A bus service runs from Malaga city centre to Torrox Pueblo and a regular service runs between the town and the coast.
Torrox has two health centres: one located on the coast and another inland in the village. There are also three private clinics with English and German speaking doctors on the coast. There are several dental clinics and a hospital in nearby Axarquia.
Cost of Living
If you eat Spanish produce, run a small car and eat locally, day to day living is much cheaper than in Northern Europe.
Move to Sayalonga, a tranquil gem on the beautiful ‘Route of Sun and Wine’ to enjoy a peaceful way of life in absolutely stunning surroundings.
This picturesque whitewashed hillside village lies around 30 minutes inland off the Costa del Sol town of El Morche. Nestled in the Axarquia region, Sayalonga forms part of the beautiful ‘Route of Sun and Wine’, a 55-kilometre route which traverses the coastal and inland areas of wine production.
The name Sayalonga is derived from the latin for ‘long cloak’, and is said to have been named by the Romans, who noticed the way this hillside village resembled a piece of clothing that had been hung over a ridge to dry in the sun.
Naturally, with the village set into the hillside in this way you can expect some pretty dramatic views of the surrounding countryside and nearby coast. Not only this, but the village itself is filled with historical sites.
The village has a population of around 1,200 mainly Spanish residents. There is a small international community here and locals are said to be very friendly. With a busy programme of festivals and fiestas, you will have plenty of opportunities to make friends.
Property here comprises a mix of modern and rustic country houses and villas, but you can also find town houses and commercial properties on offer.
Everything you need for daily life can be found in the village, with shops, a small supermarket, several banks, a chemist, post office and a garage. For a bigger shop, head to Velez Malaga, which is roughly 30 minutes away.
Buses run regularly to Malaga and you are well-connected by road. The A-7207 runs through the town, which will take you directly to the AP-7 toll highway and also connects to the free N340 coastal road.
There is a doctors surgery and pharmacy. The Hospital Comarcal Axarquia is just over 20 minutes away in Torre del Mar.
Cost of Living
Property prices are very reasonable and living costs are generally low in this area.
There are few better places to experience a traditional Spanish village than Frigiliana, with its international community of people dedicated to enjoying the best of the Andalusian lifestyle.
Frigilana has been voted Spain’s most beautiful village and it’s clear why. Nestling in the foothills of the Sierra de Tejeda, its spotless streets lead you past whitewashed, flower bedecked houses to a ruined Moorish castle and panoramic views of the Costa del Sol. That’s if you make it that far and aren’t sidetracked by one of the 60 cafes, bars and restaurants tucked away in side streets and hidden terraces. This is a small village you can spend a lifetime getting to know.
The village’s immediate surroundings are equally beguiling: leave town and follow Rio Higueron, or the nearby Rio Chillar where you can spend long lazy days hiking, horse-riding or simply picnicking. If the beach is more your thing then head for Nerja, particularly the coves around the cliffs of Maro, which offer some of the bluest and most transparent waters on the Malaga coast.
In Frigiliana you are just as likely to hear English, Dutch or Swedish spoken on the streets as you are Spanish. In this cosmopolitan community of 3,000 people, around a third are drawn from 20 different countries. This is nothing new however and the annual Festival of the Three Cultures celebrates the Christian, Muslim and Jewish traditions that have long co-existed in Frigiliana.
You won’t be alone in wanting to move here and as a result there are perhaps fewer bargains to be found. The more expensive properties can be found in the older Morisco-Mudejarneighbourhood at the top of the village, while the townhouses and apartments of the more modern lower half are a little cheaper. You can also investigate the local surroundings for villas and fincas(farm houses).
Frigilana’s reputation as an unspoiled pueblo blanco (white village) means you won’t find any large supermarkets. However there are greengrocers, a bakery and numerous interesting independent shops. The village hosts a market every Thursday and Sunday, a great place to buy local produce, speciality foods and clothing. For exercise you’ll also find a large sports pavilion and municipal swimming pool.
It is a 10 minute drive down winding roads to Nerja’s beaches. If you don’t fancy the drive a cheap, regular bus service will take you there and to other locations around the Costa del Sol. You’ll find the nearest airport under an hour’s drive away in Malaga.
There’s a health centre and chemist in the village but if you need more specialist care then the nearest fully equipped hospital is a 30 minute drive in Velez Malaga.
Cost of Living
The Costa del Sol has long been a reasonable place to live, and so it remains. But with no large supermarkets in Frigiliana, costs may be a little higher than the larger cities and resorts along the coast.
Torre del Mar
Torre del Mar is a family friendly seaside town with an international melting pot of residents built along a long sandy beach front.
Originally a Phoenician and then later a Roman village built around the mouth of the river Velez, Torre del Mar was a successful trading port for fishing and agriculture for centuries. From 1796-1991 it was a major sugar producing area with a working mill and sugar factory that is now an industrial heritage site, museum and exhibition centre. It also served as a bastion against naval attack; there are no less than 5 watchtowers of Moorish descent standing tall today.
These days most people come for the beach. A 4 kilometre stretch of straight, palm-lined, pale sand that offers everything a family could need. There is disabled access, a children’s playground, fitness areas, a wide range of chiringuitos, water sports facilities, deckchair hire and lifeguards.
It is complemented by the Paseo Maritimo beachside promenade, which stretches all the way to the marina at Caleta de Velez. This walkway is brimming with restaurants, cocktail bars, market stalls and unique shops. Behind it, in the summer, a night market operates until the early hours and a row of clubs and bars on El Copo plays music into the small hours.
The Weekend Beach Festival starts in early July. This contemporary music festival draws crowds of up to 40,000 revellers to the town. For those that want to get away, the rural beaches of Chilches and Benagalbon are tucked behind craggy rocks. Caleta de Velez has a fish market and boasts a host of traditional seafood restaurants. The Baviera golf course is well known for its beautiful views and shoppers can find international high street stores in El Ingenio Shopping Centre. Explorers might appreciate trips to Malaga, Nerja, Torrox and the town of Velez-Malaga.
This is still a Spanish town, attracting Spanish tourism. However, it has become popular with northern Europeans, especially with Germans and British families.
There are several different districts within Torre del Mar: El Tomillar and the Jardines del Rocío are all close to the beach and amenities whereas El Capitan and Los Toscanos are further out along the river. You will find apartments in abundance in all of the areas. Those willing to part with more might opt for a townhouse, villa or duplex.
The Paseo de Larios and the Avenida de Andalucia are where you’ll find the majority of shops. El Ingenio Shopping Centre is one of the largest in Malaga and there is a police station as well as high street banks, pharmacies and hairdressers in town.
The ALSA Bus Company runs local services around the town and into Velez-Malaga, La Herradura, Granada, Molina, Orgiva, El Palo and Torre de Benalgalbon. Malaga Airport – which is the closest international airport, is a 40 minute drive or just over an hour by bus.
There are several hospital outposts, medical centres and private healthcare providers in Torre del Mar, most of which are adjacent to the N-340 route that runs through the centre of town. The Hospital Comarcal Axarquia is in the north east urbanisation of El Tomillar.
Cost of Living
If you are happy to eat fresh, locally-grown seasonal produce, source Spanish brands at the supermarket and eat and drink with the locals, you can live considerably well for very little. Property in East Malaga is relatively low in price when compared with the western Costa del Sol.
Steeped in Spanish history and culture, Velez-Malaga is a traditional city away from, but close enough to, the vibrant, cosmopolitan Costa del Sol and Malaga city.
Velez-Malaga, known locally as Velez, is an ancient market city. With Phoenician, Roman and Carthaginian heritage sites intact and both baroque and Mudejar architecture dominating the city centre, there’s a whole scope of Spanish history to see in one place.
Despite being so close to the popular Costa del Sol resorts of Torre del Mar and Caleta de Velez, it has avoided the trappings of tourism. It remains an Spanish authentic city built on the agricultural processing, of crops grown nearby including sugarcane, olives and muscatel grapes, used to make the famous Malaga wines.
A medieval wall once encircled the old town, protected by the Moorish Fortress of Velez-Malaga; parts of both still stand. The Chapel of Our Lady of the Remedies is a typical 17th-century whitewashed church. Biennial Palace and Casa de Cervantes – where the writer Miguel de Cervantes is rumoured to have stayed – are examples of wealthy manor homes. The CAC Vélez-Málaga Centre for Contemporary Art is run from a beautifully restored religious school.
There is a thriving flamenco scene with monthly events run by Peña Flamenca Niño de Vélez. Among the many fiestas, the Royal San Miguel festival stands out for its range of activities, concerts and food. The beaches at Caleta de Velez and Torre del Mar cater for a lively, international crowd and offer great cafes and restaurants, a promenade, a marina and water sports facilities. Golfers can pay to play at Baviera Golf course.
The residents here are predominantly Spanish natives. There is a small Romanian settlement and a few international emigrants. Its popularity is increasing among northern Europeans expatriates.
There is a push to regenerate the old town in Velez-Malaga with the mayor offering flexibility for renovators. Here you’ll find traditional villas and restored apartments. In the surrounding urbanisations of Cruz Cordero, El Limonar, Real Bajo and Alborán there are more modern villas and apartments. Those willing to head out of town may find the occasional townhouse dotted in the hills.
This is a town suited to everyday living. It has everything you might need to get by. There is a regular Thursday market while those craving a modern shopping centre can travel to El Ingenio in Torre del Mar.
There is an airport for leisure flights in Velez-Malaga called Airport Axarquia but international flights depart from Malaga (a 40-minute drive away) or Granada (an hour and half away). From Malaga you can get a bus or taxi. Bus services run to Torre del Mar, Vinuela and Nerja.
There are several medical centres in the town where you can register, visit a GP and even get out of hours health services. Comarcal Axarquía is the closest general hospital which lies on the outskirts of Torre del Mar.
Cost of Living
The cost of living is considerably cheaper in Velez-Malaga than in most of the Costa del Sol coastal resorts. The town’s real estate is great value and the cost of eating and drinking is lower.
Canillas de Aceituno
Canillas de Aceituno offers a traditional, quiet life away from the crowds of the Costa del Sol, ideal for walkers or people who just want to enjoy the truly stunning scenery.
In the foothills of the tallest mountain in the Axarquia and with the Sierra Tejeda National Park on your doorstep, the village of Canillas de Aceituno is part of a magical landscape of forests, rivers and rocky peaks. Take a walk through the narrow whitewashed streets to the Mirador Blas Infante, a viewpoint offering panoramic views over La Vinuela reservoir and out towards the Mediterranean coast.
This gorgeous Moorish village offers a relaxed Andalusian lifestyle in an integrated international community of people who regularly come together for festivals such as Dia de Morcilla otherwise known as Black Pudding Day.
Canillas de Aceituno has a population of around 1,700 inhabitants, 20% of those drawn to the area from abroad. The village has a reputation for being friendly and welcoming to all comers.
You will find traditional whitewashed village houses of varying sizes and at reasonable prices. If you’re looking for something bigger or more luxurious there are many villas to be found in the surrounding countryside.
There are restaurants and bars to be found in the village along with shops which serve your basic needs. The municipal swimming pool is particularly popular during the summer and doubles as a live music venue.
This is a mountain village, so roads are minor and windy. It takes about an hour to reach Malaga and 30 minutes to the coast at Torre del Mar. If you are without your own transport, there are regular bus services to the nearest large town of Velez Malaga.
The village has its own public health clinic, pharmacy and private dentist, with the nearest hospital 30 minutes away in Velez Malaga. Why not visit the local spring, whose waters are said to prevent a variety of ailments.
Cost of Living
This area of Spain has long been a reasonable place to live and so it remains. While Canillas de Aceituno has some shops, they are fairly limited and prices may be a little higher than the larger cities and resorts along the coast.
Move to this sought-after village to enjoy an authentic Spanish lifestyle in a breathtaking natural setting.
This scenic whitewashed village lies around an hour inland to the northeast of Malaga, and sits at the foot of the majestic Sierra de Tejeda mountains. Offering stunning views of the mountains and Lake Vinuela, this tranquil hamlet offers traditional Spanish living in a breathtaking natural setting.
Stroll the immaculate narrow streets of this picturesque village to discover character and history around every corner; from Moorish mosaics to whitewashed orange trees: the village is full of delightful and surprising features. With no through traffic, you are also guaranteed plenty of peace and quiet here.
Alcaucin has kept its cultural traditions alive, including the esparto grass handicrafts that the village is known for. Located on the Olive Oil and Mountains Route, the village also celebrates a unique local gastronomy, which includes honey and cod omelette, roast sweet potato, chestnuts, dishes based on a savoury porridge and endless seafood dishes which are accompanied by the local wine of choice – a sweet and moreish muscatel.
For nature lovers, Alcaucin is within walking distance of the breathtaking Natural Park of Sierra de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama. You might spot a badger or a bobcat, mountain goats, weasels and a variety of birds including nightingales, skylarks, warblers, linnets and redstarts.
Alcaucin has a majority Spanish community, with a smaller community of international residents including British expats. The village regularly comes together to take part in festivals and fiestas, such as the annual Chestnut Festival, which sees people from all over Malaga consume vast quantities of chestnuts to a backdrop of live music and dancing.
Take your pick from rustic fincas and country houses, townhouses or contemporary villas and apartments. There are also commercial opportunities available in this area, with many properties offering stunning views of the nearby Sierra de Tejeda mountains.
Everything you need can be found in the village, including a supermarket, cafes, bars and restaurants, bakery, a gym and playground.
Alcaucin has a bus station, which offers services to various destinations around the region, but a car is still recommended. The city of Malaga and its airport is around an hour’s drive away, while the beaches of the coast are a 30 minute drive.
The village has its own public medical centre and pharmacy; the nearest hospital is around 30 minutes away in Torre del Mar.
Cost of Living
This is a sought-after village, so property prices are a little higher than other inland areas. However, you’ll still find some great bargains, especially when compared to the more expensive coastal areas.