Costa del Sol or Costa Brava?

04 May 2023 By Emily Burman

Struggling to choose between Costa del Sol and Costa Brava? These two Spanish Costas both offer a holiday full of sun, sand and relaxation. But there are a few differences to look out for when deciding where to spend your next holiday.

Whether you desire a bit of peace and quiet or you’re seeking an action-packed family holiday, keep reading to find out if Costa del Sol or Costa Brava ticks all the right boxes. Or, just go straight to our comparison section to find out where to go at a glance!

Costa del Sol

Nerja beach in Costa del Sol Spain

You’ll find the region of Costa del Sol in the far south of Spain. Featuring white-washed buildings, superyacht-filled marinas and beautiful beaches, it’s the ultimate holiday destination for couples, families and groups of friends looking for a good time.

From glamorous Marbella to beachy Estepona, there’s no shortage of resort towns in Costa del Sol. With a variety of all inclusive and family hotels, this is a popular region for holidaymakers of all sorts – you’re sure to find just what you’re looking for in this southern hotspot! 

Flight time:

2hr 50 mins                                                                        

Best time to go:

The best time to visit Costa del Sol for maximum sun and heat is from June to late September. With 325 days of sunshine a year, Costa del Sol reaches a sizzling 32°C in August – the hottest time of the year. Being further south, Costa del Sol gets a little hotter than Costa Brava over the summer, but there’s an onshore wind to keep you cool.

Things to do in Costa del Sol:

Castillo de Gibralfaro Malaga Costa del Sol Spain

You might want to write a list of all the things you can do in Costa del Sol – there’s so much to choose from! Aside from its bustling nightlife, Malaga boasts days full of sightseeing and unforgettable experiences. Head to Castillo de Gibralfaro for hilltop views over the city or take a boat tour through the magical Caves of Nerja.

In Estepona, walk through charming cobblestone streets and explore botanical gardens filled with orchids. If you’re in Marbella, strolls through Old Town and walks by the yacht-filled Puerto Banus are a must – just don’t forget your camera.

Beautiful beaches in Costa del Sol:

Burriana beach in Nerja Costa del Sol

Famous for its pristine beaches, Costa del Sol has many sandy spots to choose from. Families will love Burriana Beach in Nerja, home to shops, restaurants, and a wide promenade. Take part in thrilling water sports and beach volleyball for a fun-filled day under the sun.

If you fancy bit of celeb-spotting, make a beeline for Playa Nageueles Beach in Marbella. This mile-long stretch of golden sand is a favourite with the jet-setting crowd – spot superyachts sailing by from the comfort of your sunbed. It’s also ideal for couples and families with kids, with calm, shallow waters that are perfect for a cooling dip.

Best areas in Costa del Sol:

Puerto Banus Marina in Marbella Costa del Sol

Compared to Costa Brava, Costa del Sol has more choice when it comes to resorts – these large, vibrant resort towns are what keep travellers visiting year after year. From party weekenders in Malaga to relaxing stays in Estepona, there’s a dream destination ready and waiting!

Estepona – Filled with family hotels and beachside tapas bars, Estepona has never lost its Hispanic charm, so if you’re eager to go somewhere steeped in Spanish heritage, this is the place for you.

Malaga – Known for its vibrant nightlife, Malaga is an exciting place for groups of friends but it’s also a firm favourite with families. From clifftop castles to action-packed beaches, find your holiday spot in this bustling beachside city.

Marbella – Glamour awaits in Marbella. With 5 star resorts and superyacht-filled marinas, this luxurious part of Costa del Sol is ideal for romantic couples’ holidays – or for groups of mates looking to live the high life.

Where to stay in Costa del Sol:

Ikos Andalusia hotel in Estepona Costa del Sol

For a luxury stay, Ikos Andalusia has you covered. From lagoon-style pools and premium all inclusive dining to fun-packed clubs for kids, this high-end hotel promises an outstanding 5 star experience.

The Iberostar Costa del Sol is a great option for families. Featuring a children’s playground, a luxury spa with a whirlpool and a large freshwater pool, little ones and grown-ups alike can look forward to a complete holiday at this highly rated beachside hotel.

Costa Brava

Cami de Ronda in Costa Brava Spain

Located in north-eastern Spain, Costa Brava boasts traditional charm with cobblestone streets and secluded beaches. If you’re looking for a quiet getaway, consider taking your holiday here rather than Costa del Sol. That said, there’s still a decent night out to be had, and the area has easy links to the bright lights of Barcelona.

Less built up than Costa del Sol, Costa Brava is the better option if you prefer things laid back and local. Enjoy picturesque walks by the beach, relaxing days by the pool, and restaurants offering up the freshest local seafood.

Flight time:

2hr 5mins

Best time to go to Costa Brava:

If you’re a sun-seeker, visit Costa Brava in July for heavenly highs of 29°C. It might be slightly hotter further south in Costa del Sol, but you’ll find the sea warmer in Costa Brava due to its distance from the Atlantic Ocean.

Beautiful beaches in Costa Brava:

Santa Christina beach in Lloret De Mar Costa Brava

One thing these two Spanish Costas have in common – breathtaking beaches! It’s hard to choose between these regions based on their sandy shores, but Costa Brava’s selection of Blue Flag beaches is impressive to say the least.

If you’re in Calella, head to Platja del Canadell for a quiet beach spot backed by charming buildings and tree-lined hills. And don’t miss a day at Platja de Santa Christina in Lloret de Mar where you’ll find a long strip of golden sand and see-through waters – perfect for snorkelling.

Nightlife in Costa Brava:

Lloret De Mar evening Costa Brava

Costa Brava is known for its buzzy nightlife and award-winning restaurants. After spending the day on the beach, it’s easy to make late-night plans for those balmy summer nights.

Head to Lloret de Mar for some of the best nightlife in the area. From busy bars to big clubs, this town is a paradise for friends and couples looking to party until the early morning.

Best areas in Costa Brava:

Calella coastline in Costa Brava Spain

Though not as famous as Costa del Sol’s hotspots, Costa Brava has a selection of resort towns dotted along the Catalonian coast. It’s all about quality over quantity here – there are some exceptionally beautiful places to stay, plus, the city of Barcelona is just an hour’s drive up the coast!

Lloret de Mar – This small town on the Costa Brava coast is home to a Blue Flag beach and some of Spain’s most vibrant nightlife. Experience fun water sports during the day, and hang out in the town’s restaurants, clubs and bars at night.

Pinedar de Mar – A little further south, you’ll find Pinedar de Mar, known for its white sand beach and fine selection of bars and restaurants. Take in the beautiful surroundings, stroll along the boardwalk, and enjoy a plateful of paella by the sea.

Santa Susanna – Just a short distance from Pinedar de Mar, Santa Susanna is a nature lovers dream. With a trio of beautiful beaches, this rural part of Costa del Sol is made for adventurers, with dozens of amazing walking and cycling trails.

Calella – An upmarket part of Costa Brava, Calella boasts luxury resorts and endless Spanish charm. With magnificent beaches and lines of white-washed, colourful buildings, holidays here are magical.

Where to stay in Costa Brava:

Alegria Mar Mediterranea hotel in Santa Susanna Costa Brava

For those on a budget, the adults-only Gran Hotel Flamingo is just 150m from the beach in Lloret de Mar and boasts a shimmering outdoor pool. Enjoy all inclusive dining, a state-of-art-gym, and a private rooftop club.

In Santa Susanna, Alegeria Mar Mediterranea sits on a prime beachfront location. Look forward to stylish rooms, an outdoor pool and a premium spa.

Costa del Sol or Costa Brava?

Beach in Malaga Costa del Sol Spain

It’s comparison time! Which of these captivating Costas will emerge the winner?

Best for families:

Winner: Costa del Sol

You’ll find endless ways to entertain the kids in Costa del Sol. With a wide choice of family-friendly hotels, there are places to stay with kids’ clubs, shallow children’s pool and even water parks. You can still enjoy an outstanding family holiday in Costa Brava, but it’s more suitable for older kids who can go off and explore, and for little ones on their first holiday.

Best for younger couples:

Winner: Costa del Sol

Younger couples looking to combine relaxation with action-packed days out will find that there’s a lot more for them in Costa del Sol. This area of coastal Spain has an impressive choice of adults-only hotels and an wide selection of bars and restaurants for romantic date nights.

Best for older couples:

Winner: Costa Brava

Older couples looking to relax will find Costa Brava more suitable. With scenic walking and cycling trails, as well as quiet beaches, this Costa is all about uninterrupted holidays in beautiful natural surroundings. Opt for June or September when the crowds are light and the sun offers plenty of heat.

Best for beaches:

Winner: Costa del Sol

This is a hard one. However, Costa del Sol has a much larger variety of beaches than Costa Brava, so it just takes the edge. You’ll find long strips of soft sand, water sports of all kinds, and plenty of shops, bars and restaurants lining the beaches. There are also quieter parts of the region away from the hustle and bustle – you may even find a hotel with its very own private beach.

Best for budget holidays:

Winner: Costa Brava

You’ll find plenty of  budget-friendly hotels in Costa Brava. Being less built-up for tourism, it’s easy to find 4 star hotels by the beach for incredible prices. You can find budget hotels in Costa del Sol too; however, we’d recommend avoiding Marbella, as hotels and beaches here can be pricey – head to Malaga instead.

Best for luxury:

Winner: Costa del Sol

With a location like Marbella, this one’s a no-brainer. Whether you’re kicking back at your high-end hotel in the hills, or enjoying a fancy night out in Puerto Banus, you’ll feel like royalty at every turn in Costa del Sol. It’s also the perfect honeymoon destination, with romantic, adults-only hotels offering large suites and private pools.

Best for peace and quiet:

Winner: Costa Brava

Laid back holidays with picturesque views more your thing? Costa Brava wins out here – the area’s natural beauty and secluded beaches are unrivalled.  Some areas are quieter than others – we recommend skipping Lloret De Mar and staying in Santa Susanna or Calella.

Best for day outs and activities:

Winner: Costa del Sol

Based on quantity, there’s more to do in Costa del Sol. You’ll find historic landmarks, water parks and beautiful beaches with water sports and beach bars. And while you can find these things in Costa Brava, there’s no arguing the choice on offer in Costa del Sol.

Best for nightlife:


We couldn’t choose between these two areas for their incredible nightlife. If you’re looking for a party holiday in Costa del Sol, the towns of Malaga and Marbella are where it’s at. If you’re holidaying in Costa Brava, look no further than Lloret de Mar for non-stop nights on the town.

Best overall:


We simply couldn’t choose between Costa del Sol and Costa Brava! These two beautiful parts of Spain are both worth visiting for different reasons. It all depends on the type of holiday you’re after but if your vacation vibes are lounging on the beach and sizzling under the Spanish sun, you need to visit both at least once!

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