The Spanish Costa Del Sol on the Mediterranean Sea in southern Spain is a very popular Summer vacation area, with great hotel resorts, ample beaches, and fun entertainment and nightlife.
Among the many adjacent towns that compose the coastal strip, Torremolinos and Fuengirola always compete for visitors. Both have their own charm, great family attractions, and a nice and lively vibe in the holiday season. Which of the two should you choose for your next family vacation?
Torremolinos is a vibrant resort town known for its sandy beaches, lively nightlife, and family-oriented theme parks. Fuengirola is a quieter town with a more relaxed atmosphere and a focus on outdoor activities. It has a beautiful long beach, a picturesque marina, and an exotic animals zoo.
Both Torremolinos and Fuengirola have a population of around 70K. In the 1950s and 60s, Torremolinos was a favorite destination of European celebrities. Nowadays, it remains a popular tourist spot. It’s also known for its water parks, including Aqualand Torremolinos and Aquapark. The beaches are gorgeous and people love walking on the large promenade next to the sea.
Fuengirola is a charming town that sits right along a long, sandy beach. It has a picturesque marina and a great beachfront promenade. A 10th-century fortress overlooks the town. It feels like a small Spanish town, and activities for children are easily accessible within the town.
Both towns feature pleasant beaches and beautiful seafront walking. Trains and buses run along the entire Costa del Sol giving you great options for day trips to other locations such as Malaga.
Table of Contents
What travelers say
- Fuengirola’s long seafront is welcoming and great for walking. There are many shops along the way, and the best restaurants in the town are found along the promenade.
- For day trips, Fuengirola is a better starting point because of the town’s location along the beach. The train station is also right near the beach.
- Fuengirola offers more opportunities for shopping than Torremolinos. On Tuesdays, you can check out the local market filled with fresh goods.
- Fuengirola is only a quick train ride away from Torremolinos.
- Families like staying in Fuengirola because the Bioparc Zoo, Selwo Aventura animal park, and the Miramar Shopping Center are great for kids.
- The old town center of Torremolinos has a traditional Spanish feel with its narrow pedestrian streets lined with small local shops.
- Walking to the beach is easier in Fuengirola because the town is flat. In Torremolinos, the return from the beach to where you’re staying takes a short climb.
- Torremolinos hosts a large number of American, British, and European visitors, which takes away a bit of the Spanish vibe, but gives it a more international feel.
- Torremolinos has very nice beaches. If you are looking for the party scene, Playa de los Alamos has lively chiringuitos right on the sand and lively evening entertainment.
- Fuengirola’s main beach is also impressive, really wide with beautiful white sand.
You can easily travel between Torremolinos, Fuengirola, and Benalmádena as the train and bus routes run along the entire coast. The train is probably the more convenient and quicker option of the two.
From Malaga, you can easily get to Torremolinos and Fuengirola by train, and towns along the coast are fun to explore on day trips. There are more than 15 stops to get off and wander around in.
From the airport in Malaga, the C1 train picks you up right at the terminal and brings you directly down the coast to the town where you are staying. A convenient option if you don’t wish to rent a car.
The local buses in Fuengirola allow you to easily bounce around the town and visit places like the Bioparc Zoo, the Miramar Shopping Center, and the northern stretch of the beach.
Vibe & people
From Malaga to Marbella, the towns attract many European visitors which creates a bit of a touristy vibe. The residential areas are calmer and quieter with more locals in the restaurants and bars.
One fun feature of visiting either town is the good mix of people you will encounter from many parts of Europe or even the world. It gives tourists a really welcoming feel. In the summer, the buzzing nightlife brings them all together to enjoy the excitement.
In the off-season, many shops and restaurants are closed and don’t open again until the spring. You’ll still get lots of sunshine, however.
Torremolinos is a bustling town during the summer. It’s closely linked to Malaga and has a real Spanish vibe. Outside of the town center, it’s calm and quiet. You need to hike up steps or hills to reach the train station to get around.
The La Carihuela neighborhood is a favorite part of the beachfront for Dutch and English visitors. From April to May many British and German tourists come to soak up the sun.
The Spanish population arrives during the summertime. The residents of Malaga come to relax in their vacation homes, and the locals are big fans of the Torremolinos beaches.
Torremolinos is also known for being a gay-friendly town and couples choose this destination for partying in July and August.
Fuengirola has large beaches with good sporting facilities. Most of Fuengirola is flat and accessible easily on foot, making it easier for families to hit the beach and go on day trips.
The residents of the town are warm and friendly. During winter, the main squares tend to be a bit quieter. It’s a good time to explore the area without the crowds. Be aware that many restaurants are closed in the off-season.
In the summer months, the town center is always full of action. If you are looking for something quieter, the Los Boliches suburb is a good place to stay.
Things to see and do
Along the coast from Fuengirola to Torremolinos, there is a wide variety of beach activities available. Inland from the coast, you can find golf courses, water parks, and a cable car ride.
The main family attractions in Fuengirola are the waterpark in Mijas and the Bioparc Zoo. In Benalmádena, you can visit the Selwo Marina and in Torremolinos, the unique Crocodile Park.
The beachfront in Torremolinos is one of the best in the Costa del Sol, and its vibrant nightlife is full of energy.
The best feature of the town is the lively promenade that runs along the coast to Benalmádena. There are loads of shops, cafes, and restaurants that you can stop at along the way.
The main street in Torremolinos is called Calle San Miguel. It’s fun to walk from there to the marina in Benalmádena and then enjoy a bit of nature at the Parque de la Paloma nearby.
La Carihuela Beach is laid back and very popular with the young and old. The northern part is an old fishing village with traditional Spanish seafood. On the other end, it’s more geared towards English tourists.
The Playa del Bajondillo area in Torremolinos gives you the feeling of staying at an exclusive Spanish resort.
If your family enjoys adventurous activities, you can head to Aqualand Torremolinos, a large water park with slides, pools, and other attractions.
The Crocodile Park just outside of the town’s center exhibits dozens of different species of crocodiles and alligators for close-up observation.
For a more peaceful moment, you can explore the Molino de Inca Botanical Garden and the Parque La Bateria, which offer tranquil green spaces for picnics and walks.
Animal lovers flock to the Sea Life Center zoo in close-by Benalmadena. There, another exciting experience is to take the cable car to the top of the mountain for spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea and the Costa del Sol.
The Selwo Marina is right off the seafront in Benelmádena and features entertaining dolphin shows and educates visitors on aquatic life. Exhibits include penguins and animals from the Amazon.
The Paseo Marìtimo of Fuengirola is the most attractive part of the town, and unlike Torremolinos, is inside the town. The train station is near all the restaurants and bars. Chiringuitos line the promenade along the beaches.
Along the beach, you and the family can easily sign-up for water sports such as jet skiing and parasailing. At the Marina, you can also rent a boat or take a fishing trip.
The Bioparc Fuengirola contains a diverse number of animals from tropical climates, split up into 4 different regions of the world. It’s not as large as some zoos but it’s great for an afternoon with the family.
Castillo Sohail is a remarkable castle to explore in Fuengirola. It was built in the 10th century to defend the coastline. Daytime tours are available and the views of the sea and the town are incredible.
The Los Boliches neighborhood offers a slightly different atmosphere, with fewer touristy attractions. Many locals live in this area and the beaches have a spectacular view of the Andalucian mountains in the background.
Besides the beach, families can explore Fuengirola’s beautiful parks and gardens, such as the Parque del Castillo, which offers stunning views of the coast, and the Finca Del Secretario Botanical Garden.
There are also several hiking trails that wind through the hills and countryside around Fuengirola. Families can also organize cycling or horse riding days.
If you are seeking a quieter beach, just below the Hotel Monaque Fuengirola Park is the Torreblanca neighborhood. There are only a few shops and bars in that area.
Salón Variétés Theater is a great place to enjoy some live productions. It’s the only English-speaking theatre in Costa del Sol.
Sould Park is an amusement park near the entrance to the port, great for young children. The beach nearby is shallow with many activities for kids.
Food & nightlife
In the upper part of Torremolinos is San Miguel Square, a good choice for dining out. It’s near the train station and has many cafes and bars. The tapas bars near the center are great for a night out as well.
If you’re looking for fun. Playa de los Alamos is where the action is. It’s loaded with late-night beach bars, live music, and entertainment. It gets pretty crowded here at night.
Playa El Bajondillo showcases the best restaurants in the area including a few Michelin-rated ones as well.
Along the promenade near La Carihuela Beach, you will find Spanish traditional seafood restaurants and chiringuitos serving typical Andalucian dishes.
For after-dinner fun, the beach bars near the Benalmádena marina have a vibrant nightlife. Music and shows run from midnight until the early morning hours.
What locals call “fish alley” is Calle Moncayo in Fuengirola. It’s a busy pedestrian tourist area near the beach with bars and restaurants and many dining options.
Plaza de Los Chinorros is near the church square, here you can find more authentic Spanish restaurants with tapas, without the traffic. Dine at taverns like Volapié, Lizzarran, or MO by Picoteo. The areas and restaurants get quite busy, especially at night.
At the “La Galeria” gourmet food market, you can indulge in different types of food and still sit together at the same table – adults get to try the local tapas while children can have pizza and other kids’ favorites.
Calle San Miguel is the busiest shopping street in Torremolinos. There are plenty of stores and it’s a great place to take a stroll and window shop.
Thursdays on the fairgrounds, check out the market selling a variety of things from vegetables to clothing, even household appliances. Sundays, you’ll find mostly second-hand goods, antiques, and collectible items.
The Miramar Centro Comercial is Fuengirola’s best option for shopping, located right near the port, There are other small boutique stores nearby as well.
Near the church square, you can find a few nice stores as well. On Tuesdays, you can roam around the open-air market here with fruits, vegetables, and clothing.
Sol Torremolinos – Don Marco is right on Bajondillo Beach. It has a wonderful outdoor pool and the rooms offer impressive beach views.
Medplaya Hotel Pez Espada is close to the town and has large beachfront garden areas and two outdoor swimming pools. It’s decorated with a cool retro style. The hotel gets good feedback for family vacations
Melia Costa del Sol is an affordable hotel across the street from the beach, overlooking the sea. It offers comfortable rooms with balcony views. It’s in a convenient location, and travelers often praise the good breakfast and buffet-style dinner.
The Beach Club in Torremolinos is great if you have children because right nearby are a shopping mall, a go-kart track, and a cinema playing English films. The bus comes every 30 minutes, and the beach is only a 10-minute walk away.
The Leonardo Hotel Fuengirola Costa del Sol is right across the street from the beach and is close to the main part of the town. Next to the hotel are a number of activities for the kids to enjoy. The staff is very helpful.
Pyr Fuengirola apartments is an affordable choice with a good pool area for relaxing. While some travelers complain about the lack of live entertainment, shops, bars, and restaurants are nearby, and the beach is right across the street.
The Hotel Monarque Fuengirola Park is outside of the main part of town. It has beautiful indoor and outdoor pools and lots of garden spaces to relax in. With live entertainment day and night, it’s a great option for families.
From Torremolinos, you can take a short train ride to neighboring Malaga, a larger city and the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. There you can explore the many museums and galleries, the 11th Century Alcazaba fortress, and the impressive Cathedral.
Malaga also has a nice waterfront and marina, and lots of great restaurants and bars around the Larios pedestrian areas. Many offer local tapas and flamenco shows.
You can also take a day to the charming village of Mijas Pueblo, sitting on a hilltop and offering stunning views of the coastline. It has narrow streets and alleys with white-washed houses and a traditional Bullring.
From Fuengirola, you can take a trip to the stunning mountain village of Ronda with its spectacular views, the Puente Nuevo bridge, and the Alameda del Tajo Park.
You might also want to visit the historic town of Antequera with its Alcazaba fortress.
From Fuengirola, you can catch a bus or train to the Benalmádena marina. You can also take the ferry service there, which takes about 45 minutes.
You can also get to the cable car in Benalmádena by train from the Fuengirola station. From the top of the mountain walk it’s a nice walk downhill to Paloma Park. Then it’s easy from there to catch a bus back to town on the main road.