5 Aside: Planning A Spain Golf Trip to the Costa del Sol
1. Costa del Sol is more like Costa del Golf! Most travelers that visit Spain build their trip around visits to the country’s capital city of Madrid and mighty coastal city of Barcelona. However, golf travelers will definitely want to start with a stay along the Andalusian Coast in the southwest, and built their itinerary from there. The “Costa del Sol,” as the region is called, is not only know for its endless sunny weather but also for it’s golf. 100s of courses stretch from Malaga to Gibraltar and finding quality golf at a variety of price points to fill any length itinerary is easy to do. With that said, it’s the bucket-list golf that makes the area special. Head southwest from Marbella towards the resort area of Sotogrande and you will find the best concentration of championship golf in not only Spain but, perhaps, in all of Europe. Ryder Cup-host Valderrama and 2023 Solheim Cup-host Finca Cortesin stand out, but a host of other worthy additions to your itinerary are nearby.
2. Consider where to stay. The Costa del Sol is a popular vacation destination for European travelers and the area offers a great mix of fascinating old Mediterranean towns and beach resorts. Here are some important considerations when choosing a place to stay:
- Is golf the primary focus? – It you are planning a golf-only trip and want to stay as close to as much great golf as possible, then you’ll want to stay somewhere southwest of Marbella between Estepona and Sotogrande. There are some luxurious 5-star resort-style options with golf on-site, or you could consider something that offers more value along the coast or near the the Sotogrande Harbor. Within 20 minutes you will find no fewer than a half-dozen world-renowned championship courses.
- Do you want things to do away from the course? – If so, and you don’t mind a 45-minute drive to the areas best courses, then a stay in or near the lively city of Marbella is a great option. If you fancy the beach or pool, then there are some great 4- and 5-star resort options along the Golden Mile southwest of the city. A little closer to town, Puerto Banus offers the best night life in the area with casinos and ultra-swanky night clubs. My recommendation, though, would be to stay near the cobblestone streets of Old Town, which are lined with shops, restaurants, churches that offer an authentic taste of Old Spain.
3. Choose your dates wisely. A few considerations:
- Weather: While the weather is relatively warm year-around, March – May and September – November are the peak golf seasons when the sun almost always shines but temperatures stay in or near the 60s. The winter months are still a decent option, well above freezing, while the summers are sunny but can get pretty hot in the afternoons – which is good for beachgoers but not so much for golf.
- Crowds/Rates: Speaking of beachgoers, they absolutely flock to the area in the summers and hotel availability is tight and rates are sky-high. Simply put, golfers should avoid the summer from June – August if at all possible.
4. Embrace the scenic drivers. If your schedule allows for it, make sure to build in several days to explore the stunning beauty that Andalusia has to offer. Head south towards the world-renowned surfing town of Tarifa and you will experience something akin to California’s Pacific Coast Highway. Alternatively, the drive north is equally inspiring. Mountainous roads pass whitewashed villages and eventually lead to Ronda, one of the most dramatic towns you will ever see atop a rocky mountain plateau.
5. Other Considerations.
- Arrival/Departure – You’ll likely want to arrive/depart in and out of Malaga, which is the hub of the region located about 45 minutes northeast from Marbella. A host of flights arrival daily from most of Western Europe, while a handful of flights inbound from the US are slowly being added. You can also arrive into Malaga via train, either from the popular city of Seville (a popular addition to an Andalusian itinerary) or via high-speed train from Madrid>Barcelona. Train travel times run about 3 hours from Malaga to Madrid and another 3 hours all the way up to Barcelona.
- Transportation – It’s an easy area to navigate with well-kept roads, so a self-drive vehicle is a decent option that provides plenty of flexibility. Alternatively, for a golf-heavy itinerary, airport and golf transfers may be all that is necessary. I’d recommend at least a day or two with for a guided sightseeing tour to check all of the boxes.
- Caddies/Carts – With undulating terrain that is sometimes severe, a cart is a near necessity a most of the top courses in the Costa del Sol region. Because of this, caddies are not as common as you might find in other parts of the world (Ireland and Scotland, for example) although they are an option at the top clubs.