Short Guide to the Costa del Sol for Long Termers

The Costa del Sol has suffered an amazing amount of bad press over recent years with one thing and another, so just thought we at The Sara Service would take some time to remind everyone of the good points, and advantages of living on the sunny Costa del Sol!

This is now the time of year that various beach bars/restaurants etc are having a revamp ready for the Summer, I love this time of year as it seems like the coast is coming back to life again. 

The winter has its pluses too though as you can park anywhere, go for lovely walks along the beach, get into the restaurants which are too busy in the Summer and catch up with friends old and new and just generally rest after the busy summer season.

There are many things to do for families along the coast which sometimes get forgotten – Selwo Safari Park is a great day out, to see all these animals living not far from Puerto Banus is an experience in itself!!  Tivoli World in Benalmadena is a fabulous afternoon/evening activity for those with children – along the lines of Chessington World of Adventures but smaller and with a Spanish twist!!  There is a smaller park for the little ones, and then for older children scarier rides available – also there are regular shows featured – flamenco dancing/Country Western also check timetables for show times of special features (usually an enactment of a Disney film).  The park is very reasonable as entry alone is around 6 Euros, and then you can purchase a band for approximately 12 euros which entitles you to the majority of the rides available – there are also many eating places available on site. 

From the Marbella area, you can drive easily to Gibraltar in under an hour – although it may be nearly as long waiting to cross the border (don’t forget your passport)!!  Here you can explore the pedestrianized Main Street with many tax free shops to tempt – also any products missed from the UK can normally be purchased if not in Main Street at Morrison’s superstore.   There are various tours available to take you up to the top of the rock where you can explore the caves, see the monkeys and learn some of the history of this island.

Further on is the city of Algeciras – from here you can take the ferry or hydrofoil over to Morocco which takes around 45 minutes.  For those who are interested there is also a Primark store so great for purchasing some bargains! 

Jerez with its airport – many budget airlines fly into here so maybe worth checking on the flight prices – is another major city.  There is a fabulous zoo here, and also you can plan into your visit seeing the Andalucian horses dancing!!  Also there is the race track here – something to do with cars – Grand Prix etc!!!  (sorry am no help here!)

There are many smaller towns this way – one I have personally visited is Arcos de la Frontera – a lovely village with very narrow streets and cosy little restaurants – I visited here at Xmas and it is well worth it.

From the Costa del Sol you can drive to Portugal in under 6 hours – very strange to drive across a bridge and all of a sudden loose an hour!!  Also immediately I noticed a difference in the driving – everyone keeps to the speed limit and is very courteous – unlike our friends on the Costa!

Another advantage to living on the Costa del Sol is its proximity to the beautiful city of Granada with the Alzambra Palace and its cosmopolitan city centre.  A little further on of course is Sierra Nevada which can be visited in a day (for the very keen skiers) leave first thing in the morning and in under 2 hours you can be on the slopes – what more could you want.  Sierra Nevada is well run and has many different types/styles/priced accommodations – personally I would recommend staying a short drive from the resort and driving in every day – although secretly would love to stay in the heart of the village in the 5* Melia hotel!

Like everywhere sometimes you have to take a step back to appreciate where you live and the advantages of being over here.  There are several schools to choose from – to suit those parents who wish their children to remain in the English system – or very good state Spanish schools for those that wish their children to integrate into the society here and also become fluent in the local language.  Very often you see parents asking their children to ask for something or how to say something in Spanish – children are free to grow here and express themselves which surely must be a bonus.

In the summer we look forward to picnic days on the beach – the children go off fishing on the rocks until they get hungry – so you can enjoy a wonderful day out for the price of a sunbed and parasol (approx. 7 Euros) and may even get a fish for dinner!!!
This winter the weather has been extremely mild and Marbella Paseo at the weekend has been a hive of activity – roller blades, scooters, bikes or just simply strolling – a lovely ambience and a great day out.

There is so much more I could write and will do over the coming months – to keep everyone updated with new and up and coming events or ideas – or reasons to come to the Costa del Sol.

This has been a therapeutic exercise to help me appreciate the fantastic place we live, the many friends we have made here of all nationalities, the opportunities available to us  – and how lucky we are to reside in a place that is still under 3 hours flight away from the place I still call home!!!

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