Benalmadena or Torremolinos – which one should you choose?
If you’re looking for a quick answer from a local expert, you have come to the right place!
I am a local resident of Costa del Sol, and have been living near Benalmadena since 2020. I am very familiar with both cities as I spent much time exploring them.
Let’s skip to the chase, as you probably want your answer immediately, right?
The short answer to your question: I recommend Benalmadena over Torremolinos, for the reason I outline in detail in this article.
Feel free to skip to the section that interests you the most.
Quick Guide to Help You Decide
Benalmadena and Torremolinos are right next to each other, so there isn’t that much of a difference in terms of travel connections, distance to the airport or weather conditions.
Here is a short reference guide for a recommended destination for specific travel needs:
- Solo Travelers – both destinations
- Family trip – Benalmadena
- Romantic Break – Benalmadena
- Party Animals – Torremolinos
- Off Season Destination – Benalmadena
- Best Beaches – Torremolinos
- Foodie Trip – Benalmadena
- Retail Therapy – Benalmadena
Benalmadena or Torremolinos: City Overview
If you want to get familiar with what each city feels like, here is a short first-glance overview.
Benalmadena: Destination That Has it All
I would describe Benalmadena as a family-friendly coastal town, with a large British expat population. Compared to some of the other cities of Costa del Sol, it can feel a little touristy and less authentic.
On the other hand, Benalmadena ticks many traveler boxes.
You’ve got lovely sandy beaches for soaking in the sunshine, plenty of seaside restaurants, a beautiful old-fashioned Andalusian village up in the hills, and plenty of attractions to keep you busy for a week.
If you’re staying in Benalmadena, you can easily walk to nearby Torremolinos or take a train to Malaga for a day trip. Benalmadena has all the facilities you need for the perfect holiday in the sun.
If I had to pick some downsides, I would say the beaches are not as extensive as in Torremolinos.
Torremolinos: The Gay Capital of Costa del Sol
Torremolinos rose to popularity in the 70s when the city started developing the coastline areas, and cheap hotels emerged everywhere. I have very fond memories of Torremolinos as my very first beach holiday was just here.
Torremolinos has rebranded itself in recent years as the ‘Gay capital of Costa del Sol’ and I can confirm that if you stroll in the city in the summer, you feel like you’ve just entered a Pride parade that lasts for months.
Torremolinos las a long stretch of sandy beaches lined with restaurants and shops on the other side of the road. The old town is up on the hill; unfortunately, I don’t have much nice to say about it.
The whole city feels like urban planning gone wild.
There are old unkept buildings sandwiched between modern developments, crumbling balconies on old apartment blocks, uneven roads full of holes, benches that have been painted last time in the 80s and a very high concentration of old hotels.
I would not normally notice these things, but as I live in Fuengirola I can see how wildly different the cities are. Torremolinos makes a lot of money from tourism, yet none of that seems to have been invested into keeping the city clean and well maintained.
I think of Torremolinos as a cheap all-inclusive hotel stay place. Most of the hotels in the city are very old and have never been adequately refurbished, so if you want to take a time machine to the 80s, this would be your place to stay.
I spent a lot of time trying to get to know and like Torremolinos a bit more, but I’m yet to find something worth praising.
Benalmadena or Torremolinos: Location
Both Benalmadena and Torremolinos are very close to Malaga Airport, and a drive or taxi journey will take about 15 minutes.
The cities are right next to each other, so you can walk from Benalmadena to Torremolinos very easily, if you’re around Benalmadena Marina it’s just a short walk.
Both cities are also on the C-1 local train connection between Fuengirola and Malaga. You can get to Malaga very easily and cheaply in about 30 minutes. The same train also stops at the airport.
Here are some detailed transport guides I’ve written that you might find useful:
Distance from Benalmadena to Torremolinos
Benalmadena and Torremolinos are right next to each other, so the distance between the cities depends on where you’re measuring from as both cities are very spread out. Here are some examples:
- Benalmadena Marina to Torremolinos old town – 4.7 km
- start of Benalmadena to start of Torremolinos – 4.4 km
- Benalmadena Pueblo to Torremolinos beach – 7km
- Arroyo de la Miel to Torremolinos old town – 4.8 km
Distance from Torremolinos to Benalmadena
There isn’t much distance between Torremolinos and Benalmadena as the cities are right next to each other on Costa del Sol. Here are some distance examples for popular locations in both cities:
- Torremolinos old town to Benalmadena Marina – 4.7 km
- start of Torremolinos to start of Benalmadena – 4.4 km
- Torremolinos beach to Benalmadena Pueblo – 7km
- Torremolinos old town to Arroyo de la Miel – 4.8 km
Benalmadena or Torremolinos: Activities Available
This is another holiday must-have where Benalmadena scores top points – just compare yourself!
Things To Do in Benalmadena
- Visit Benalmadena Pueblo – the pretty old village up in the hills.
- Visit the Buddhist Temple with stunning views near the village.
- Stroll among the butterflies at Benalmadena Butterfly Park.
- Book a boat trip from Benalmadena Marina
- Visit Paloma Park and their extensive cactus collection
- Visit Castillo Colomares – the castle monument of Christopher Columbus
- Take a walk in Jardines de Muro and enjoy the views
- Visit the Bil Bil Castle
- Visit Sea Life Benalmadena with your kids
- Enjoy a day at the beach
- Take a trip with the cable car
- Plan a day trip to Malaga by train or bus
Things To Do in Torremolinos
- Visit Molino de Inca Botanical Garden
- Take a stroll in Battery Park
- Spend a day by the sea
- Visit Casa de los Navajas
- Plan a day trip to Malaga by train or bus
Benalmadena or Torremolinos: Beaches
Both destinations have over 300 sunny days per year, so you’re guaranteed good weather even if you want to visit in the middle of the winter.
So where do you find the best beaches?
If you want to be able to walk to the beach from your hotel or accommodation, you have better options in Torremolinos.
Simply because the beach is right across the road from most hotels and all of it is accessible on foot. The beaches are pretty vast too, with plenty of room even in high season.
Benalmadena covers a large coastal area, and even though it officially has 10km of beaches, most of them are not accessible simply by walking from the town.
The most popular beach – Carvajal Beach – is shared with the town of Fuengirola and gets very busy in the summer. It’s easily accessible from the motorway, but parking is pretty limited. You can’t walk there from the town, it’s pretty far – at least 1 hour walk from Benalmadena.
From the urban beaches, Playa de Santa Ana is very popular, although with limited capacity. It’s a short stroll away from Benalmadena Marina and has plenty of restaurants and facilities to choose from.
The other option is Playa Bill Bill, also accessible from the coastal promenade. The last urban beach, which is also accessible from the town is Playa Arroyo de la Miel (named after the old center of Benalmadena further up the hill).
The beaches in Torremolinos are vast, stretching from one end of the town to the next.
Closest to the borders with Benalmadena, you will find Playa de la Carihuela. If you walk a bit further, you will get to the long uninterrupted stretch of beach consisting of Playa del Bajondillo, Playa la Caracola, which further continues with another long stretch of beach – Playa de Playamar and Playa de los Alamos.
You certainly won’t struggle to find plenty of space for sunbathing and swimming, even in the middle of the summer.
As I mentioned earlier, I would choose Torremolinos beaches ahead of Benalmadena beaches, as they are much larger, more spacious and closer to accommodation options and restaurants and shops.
Benalmadena or Torremolinos: Prices
I think both cities are very similar in terms of prices.
Perhaps when in comes to accommodation, Torremolinos seems to have a higher concentration of all-inclusive cheap hotel deals compared to Benalmadena, but you will also find more luxurious hotels.
Prices of food, clothing, or dining in a restaurant is very comparable.
Benalmadena or Torremolinos: Restaurants
This is a hard one to comment on as I consider both destinations pretty touristy.
Still, from experience, you would get better dining options in Benalmadena, especially more inland and in Benalmadena Pueblo.
I found a few great restaurant options there, and there is one local’s favourite also by the coastline – it’s called Yucca’s and has the best sea views!
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Admittedly, I haven’t spent much time dining in and around Torremolinos and when I’m in the town, I usually end up at the nearest cafe grabbing a small bocadillo (sandwich).
Benalmadena or Torremolinos: Accomodation
So where do you find the best hotels or apartments for your trip?
Benalmadena offers more variety in places to stay, even an authentic white-washed village with stunning sea views.
In Torremolinos, the options are pretty limited to a selection of hotels by the coastline or cheaper small apartments in the center of the town.
Accomodation in Benalmadena
In Benalmadena, you have three areas where you could consider staying in:
Benalmadena Costa: this is the coastal area around the main promenade, which stretches for miles.
Benalmadena is quite spread out around the coastline, so even if the map says the hotel or apartment is in Benalmadena Costa, it may be closer to the borders of Fuengirola or Torremolinos, and quite far off from the center of the town.
Many hotels are just across the street from the highway, with not much around them.
Apartment selection is pretty limited in these areas, and those available have very high prices as most come with a sea view.
Arroyo de la Miel: this is the center of the town, just up the hill from the coastal area. It’s mostly comprised of old houses, cafes, restaurants, shops and small squares.
The hotels in this area are usually in the lower price categories, and you will also find cheaper apartments here as they are further away from the coast.
Benalmadena Pueblo: the old village of Benalmadena is further away from the main city, and you can’t get there by walking. It is higher up in the hills, offering stunning panoramic coastline views.
The village is a great place to find holiday homes with sea views, pool and even small boutique hotels. It’s much more quiet and authentic compared to the coastal areas.
Even if you stay in the village, you can get to the beach in less than 10 minutes by car.
Accomodation in Torremolinos
Torremolinos also covers a vast area by the coastline, with a very high concentration of hotels all around the coastline.
You will find options for every budget in here, and unlike in Benalmadena, all the hotels have direct access to the beach – all you need to do is cross the road.
There is an old town of Torremolinos close to the train station, but it’s just a maze of old crumbling streets, tapas bars, restaurants, clubs, cafes and touristy shops. If you’re looking for good deals on accommodation, you’re very likely to find those in here, further away from the coastline.
If you’re staying in the center, you can get to the coastline very easily taking the stairway from the main square.
If you’re looking for a good deal on all all-inclusive resort close to the sea, you’re more likely to find it in Torremolinos.
Benalmadena or Torremolinos: Seasonal Guide
As I mentioned earlier, both cities are blessed with sunny weather all year round.
During the high season, from June to September, the prices of accommodation are at their highest and you will struggle finding a free sunchair on the beach if you don’t get there in the morning hours.
The shoulder season in May and October to November is much more pleasant time to visit, with plenty of sunshine around and much less people around.
If you’re looking for a winter destination break, I recommend Benalmadena and the months of April (Semana Santa – Easter celebrations), May, October to November, when you still have very decent weather.
The most rainy parts of the year are usually January to March.
Benalmadena or Torremolinos: Nightlife
Benalmadena is often considered the family holiday destination, while Torremolinos is more of a party town.
That is a general perception, but in reality, Torremolinos gets a lot of older generation holidaymakers and is popular with British visitors. Benalmadena on the other hand, is also very popular with younger couples and stag dos and hen parties.
If you’re looking for great bars and a nightlife scene, I think both towns have plenty to offer, with Torremolinos being perhaps a better option for younger crowds.
Benalmadena or Torremolinos: Day Trips
It would be a shame to visit Southern Spain without seeing what it offers – and the best way to do that is to plan a day trip!
There are several local companies offering day trips from both Benalmadena and Torremolinos.
These day trips usually have several stops along Costa del Sol, so both of the destinations are cover, and the last stop is in Malaga. After that, the bus will head to the direction of your final destination.
In the section below, I have linked the most popular local tours which stop in both cities.
If you prefer to drive and plan your own trip, I have detailed instructions for the same destinations – the articles are linked in the next section.
Day Tours from Benalmadena or Torremolinos
Caminito del Rey Tour – must see! Most popular natural attraction in the district of Malaga.
Full Day Trip to Gibraltar – cheapest day trip for only 29 eur! Does not include guided tour.
Full Day Trip to Ronda & Setenil de las Bodegas – full day trip for a great price (29 euro), doesn’t include a guided tour.
Day Trip to Caves of Nerja and Frigilliana – visit the spectacular caves and the ‘prettiest white village in Andalusia’
Full Day Trip to Granada – cheapest option only 29 eur, does not include guided tour
Full Day Trip to Granada with Alhambra Tour – see the spectacular Nasrid Palaces with skip the line tickets and tour guide.
Day Trip To Morocco with Ferry Crossing – if you fancy something out of the ordinary!
Plan Your Day Trip from Benalmadena or Torremolinos
Benalmadena or Torremolinos: Frequent Questions
Here are some of the most frequent questions about visiting Benalmaden and Torremolinos.
Is Torremolinos Tacky?
Yes! (sorry Torremolinos). I find it very tacky and compared to the other destinations on Costa del Sol, it is very much neglected and run down.
Is Benalmadena Tacky?
Yes and no.
The coastal areas (Benalmadena Costa) can be pretty tacky, but there are also pretty parts of the town, like the Benalmadena Pueblo further up the hills.
You will also find beautiful places around the coastline, the Benalmadena Marina is pretty cool. Compared to towns like Torremolinos, Benalmadena is pretty decent and doesn’t feel as tacky as you would expect.
Is Benalmadena or Torremolinos better for families?
I would recommend Benalmadena for families, it’s more child friendly and there is much more to do and see. If you’re on a tight budget, though, you might consider Torremolinos instead, as they have a better selection of all-inclusive resorts near the sea and also cheaper apartments.
Is Torremolinos or Benalmadena Better for Nightlife?
My vote would go for Torremolinos, it’s known as the gay party capital of Costa del Sol, and in general, there is much more activity in the summer months.
Can You Walk Along the Beach from Benalmadena to Torremolinos?
Yes, you can walk from Benalmadena to Torremolinos, I’ve done that myself!
As you get to Benalmadena Marina, it takes just 10 minutes to cross the borders to Torremolinos.
The coastal promenade continues without interruption, so you can enjoy a super long walk along the coastline with plenty of stops for refreshments.
What Town is Between Benalmadena and Torremolinos?
Between Benalmadena and Torremolinos, you will find an area called Carihuela, which is actually under Torremolinos city borders.
It’s a relatively peaceful part of Torremolinos with nice stretch of beach, few restaurants and accommodation options.
I hope this article exhausted all your questions about planning your trip to Costa del Sol. If there is something specific you want to ask, feel free to leave a comment below, and I will be happy to help.
Thank you for reading!
Southern Spain Travel Planning Guide
Is it safe to drive in Spain?
YES! The roads in Southern Spain are generally in very good condition, with modern highways connecting the biggest cities. To rent a car, I highly recommend Discover Cars, which will get you the best deals on your car rental for your trip.
WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO DRIVE?
WHERE SHOULD I BOOK MY ACCOMMODATION?
BOOKING.COM — I have been using booking.com for all my trips in Spain and abroad, and have never had any negative experiences. Their reviews are very accurate and you get the best deals even on apartments, not just hotels.
ARE THERE LUGGAGE STORE OPTIONS IN THE CITIES?
YES — If you would like to leave your luggage behind to explore the city on your last day, before heading to the airport, you can use Radical Storage service, which lets you book luggage storage options in almost all the destinations in Southern Spain.
DO I NEED TO BUY A LOCAL SIM CARD FOR THIS TRIP?
YES – You can, of course, use your own card if you have roaming data available. If you want to avoid surprising extra charges from your operator, you can use a service like Airalo, where you can buy digital packs for e-sim cards, avoiding the hassle of sourcing local physical sim cards and extra roaming charges anywhere you go.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links – if you decide to book using one of the links, I will earn a small commission that helps me run this site. This is at no extra cost to you.