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Benalmádena is located in the heart of the Costa del Sol and has evolved through rapid expansion to become one of Spain’s most sought-after tourist destinations – both for the Spaniards and the northern Europeans.
Benalmádena combines a modern, coastal, touristic appeal with a traditional Spanish village charm. The municipality consists of three main urban areas: Benalmádena Pueblo (the original village); Benalmádena Costa (the touristic beach resort) and Arroyo de la Miel (once an entirely separate village). The region has been subject to an unprecedented urban expansion over the last decade and so the three parts of the town now stand almost seamlessly as one.
The area has acquired an international character through the many nationalities that have settled here particularly over the past ten to fifteen years. Yet, despite the overview assumption of an apparent urban sprawl, the districts of the villages have managed to retain many of their traditional features. A visit to see the lovely pueblo located on the hill testifies this point and it can be seen that residents have taken care to harness the charming characteristics of old.
Towering over all is the gold-topped, iconic landmark of what is a Buddhist temple: The Enlightenment Stupa. Visible from along the coast, this visually striking monument is the highest stupa in the western world, standing at a mighty 108 feet (33m) tall.
The coast is edged with long sandy beaches as far as the eye can see, dotted aplenty with small beach bars and restaurants that attract both tourists and locals alike, especially at weekends.
Centrally on the coast is the award-winning design of Benalmádena marina which is home to many luxury pleasure yachts that are moored to bob in amongst architectural islands of residential properties. Commercial entertainment venues such as Sea Life Centre can also be found in this area.
As might be expected of such a tourist resort, major hotel chains dominate the coastal areas and provide countless offers to tourists. However, an overnight stay at one of the charming independent guesthouses provides a pleasant experience, particularly in the pueblo and village.
For families with children, a visit to one of the city’s large water parks, Selwo Marina and Sealife Aquarium is not to be missed. Another popular attraction is Tivoli World, which with its family appeal and entertainment provides an alternative to a day on the beach.
The Teleferico cable car also begins in the area of Tivoli World and the air-borne people-carriers ferry the curious to the top of Monte Calamorro. Here, panoramic vistas over the Mediterranean can be enjoyed, with views of the mountains of the Sierra Nevada in the east, to Gibraltar in the west. On a clear day, the coastline of Morocco can also be seen. The cable car certainly provides a truly breathtaking experience that cannot be found anywhere else along the Costa del Sol.
After dusk Benalmádena Costa really comes to life, particularly during the summer season. The enormous variety of restaurants, bars and clubs is of the largest on the Costa del Sol and provide a vast array of culinary options to choose from.
For those wanting an evening at a different type of table, there is a casino in Torrequebrada – a district on the border to Fuengirola. Named after the watchtower Torre Quebrada, many say the tower is worth a visit in itself.