getting around on the Costa del Sol
It's quite easy to get around the Costa del Sol as the A-7 (old N-340) ties the coast together from one end to the other. The AP-7 is a toll motorway running slightly further inland. This makes traveling by car especially easy. Only during rush hours and peak months - June to August - and important holidays, does this road suffer tail backs in certain, key areas. Usually around Malaga city, around Fuengirola and around Puerto Banus.
Rush hour on the A-7 is mostly concentrated from Málaga capital to just beyond Marbella and some of the jam can be avoided by taking the AP-7 "Autopista del Sol" motorway between Fuengirola and Marbella and then after Marbella heading to Estepona. It takes place during the early hours of the morning from at least 7:00 a.m. to around 10:00 a.m. and picks up again during the start and finish of the Spanish lunch hour (2:00 to 5:00) - although it is not nearly so heavy then - and when work lets out, around 8:00 in the evening.
During the summer months the main motorways are especially clogged in the evenings on the weekends, when locals working in Málaga city and other areas along the coast flood to the beaches and then all try to return from around 7:30 p.m. onwards. This is especially a problem on Sunday evenings. August is the all around most difficult time on local roads as the coast is full of both foreigners and nationals from across the country who have come to the beach for holiday.
The major international car rental companies have offices in most Andalucian cities and at the major airports such as Malaga Airport. However the smaller local car rental companies tend to be less expensive. You may be approached at airports by representatives of local car hire companies, most of whom are reputable. If you're a visitor, it's advisable to reserve a rental car before arriving, particularly during peak periods.
The coast is only connected by train from Málaga city to Fuengirola. If you want to visit Málaga city, Torremolinos, Benalmádena or Fuengirla without the hassle of looking for parking in these crowded places, park your car or rental vehicle at Plaza Mayor and take the train. It's inexpensive, convenient and, at some points, scenic. The train does stop at the airport.
The bus offers a way around the Costa del Sol. Every town and city has a municipal network of busses providing transportation to the public. In larger towns you can visit the bus station for information about inter-municipal services - and busses to other parts of Spain. At travel agencies you can often sign up for organized bus trips that will take you to many points along the Costa del Sol and from the Costa to other parts of Andalucia. Of special interest are free trips that take you to mountain villages and wineries. The only catch is that you must listen to sales spiels from local artisans, for example.
Every town and city on the Costa also has a taxi service. These services are controlled and monitored by the local town hall, which means that service varies from one town to the next. Some towns, for instance, suffer from a shortage of taxis, which means long waits must be endured during peak times and especially during the summer months.
By motor scooter
Motor scooters are a very popular form of transportation on the Costa del Sol. However, if you decide to take this route, do beware that accident statistics are high. Also, you are required to have a license to drive one and it is mandatory to wear a helmet. Regardless of what you see locals doing on their motor scooters, do be advised that Costa del Sol municipalities frequently run campaigns designed to get everyone in line. This has local police out and about scouting for drivers that are disregarding traffic laws, and handing out tickets on the spot.
The best areas to travel by bike along the Costa del Sol are the beachside promenades. In many towns, such as Torremolinos and Fuengirola, these promenades now have a special bike lane reserved for this type of travel. Outside the promenades you will see the occasional biker, but beware that roads are not especially safe for bikers. This is especially true of the larger roads. News of bikers being seriously injured or killed is not at all uncommon in Spain, and the Costa del Sol's busier roads surely make their contribution to statistics. Biking is prohibited on main motorways such as the N-340 and the A-7.
For those who like to get around on foot, the Costa del Sol does provide interesting options. First of all, getting around town is probably easiest on foot as parking is so difficult. Second, some coastal municipalities are beginning to link their beachside promenades so that you can walk from one town to the next - along the beach. This is the case from Benalmádena to Torremolinos, for example. In Fuengirola you can also walk from one end of town eastwards to Los Boliches and Torreblanca as well. Finally, because coastal towns tend to grow in a tight, packed-together manner, typical of Spanish towns, you can easily get out in the countryside to enjoy walking in natural settings. This is an especially nice option on Eastern Costa del Sol. The tourist office for the town of Torrox-Costa, for example, provides numerous suggestions for local walking excursions - some of which take you through the back countryside to see beautiful vineyards.