Benalmadena on Costa del Sol, in the autonomous Spanish region of Andalusia, is not just a popular holiday destination, but also a great day trip destination.
Thanks to its gorgeous coastline and a charming white-washed old town, it gives you the best of both worlds if you want to explore a pretty coastal town near Malaga.
If you’re planning to visit Benalmadena on a day trip and wonder what to do there, this article offers you a one-day itinerary that will allow you to explore the highlights at a leisure pace.
One Day Itinerary for Benalmadena
Here is what you can cover on a one-day trip to Benalmadena:
- Morning: The old town and Castillo Colomares
- Lunch: Lime & Lemon
- Afternoon: Mariposario, Buddhist Temple & Coastline
- Evening: dinner or drinks at Yuca’s Mare
Morning: The Old Town & Castillo Colomares
The old town of Benalmadena stretches up in the hills above the coastal area.
It’s well connected to the rest of the destinations on Costa del Sol and Malaga with a train and bus network. The train station is located just at the entrance to the old town.
It’s the best starting point for exploring Benalmadena.
For the second stop in the morning – Castillo Colomares is technically still part of Benalmadena, however, it’s a drive away from the old town. You can also alternatively take a short taxi drive. There are no bus connections right to the monument as far as I know.
Benalmadena Old Town (Pueblo)
time required: 1 hour
Benalmadena Pueblo feels like a completely different town compared to the coastal district.
It maintains much of the original charm of an old Andalusian village and if you visit outside of the main season, you will see mostly locals sipping their morning coffee.
Situated at 250m high hills, it offers spectacular views of the coastline and in my opinion far better option to enjoy the views than taking the Cable Car.
Start your walk at the main village square and head down south through the small cobbled streets until you find a nice spot to stop for a coffee break.
Most of the restaurants and establishments are in and around Plaza de Espana (map location here), with most dining options available at Av. de Chorillo.
Beware of the traffic, as even on the smallest streets there are still cars passing by.
For more photos from the old town check this post.
Castillo Colomares (Colomares Monument)
time required: 30 mins to 1 hour
Towering over the surrounding nature and blending perfectly with the buildings nearby, it’s nearly impossible to spot the Castillo Colomares until you get closer.
Once you do, you realise it’s not a castle, but a monument dedicated to no other than Christopher Columbus.
What’s his connection to this part of Spain and this place?
‘It was Spain and Andalusia in particular who starred in that discovery that undoubtedly changed the world, for the better according to some and for the worse according to others.’ as the author of the monument says in the brief history of its making.
Castillo de Colomares tells a story of the discovery of the new world and was built between 197 and 1994 by Dr. D. Esteban Martín. As the author explains, the hero of the story, sailor Colon was part of the expedition of Columbus funded heavily by the Catholic Monarchs in Spain.
It features three ships that were part of the exploration, and you will also find here the smallest chapel in the world. Now that’s something!
Castillo de Colomares took years to build and features a blend of different architectural styles. To me, it reminded me of the old-fashioned Italian castles, complete with beautiful gardens.
For more information and details check this post.
Opening hours: 10am to 6pm in the winter, and up to 9pm in the summer months
Ticket costs & booking: tickets cost 3 euros per person and can be bought by the entrance
Lunch: Lime & Lemon
As you approach lunchtime, you can head down to the coastal area and find a seat at Lime & Lemon. It’s right by the main road close to the sea and has the best tapas in town (at least for me!)
They specialize in bite-sized tapas but also have a selection of main dishes, salads and a few burgers. Set in lovely bright premises near the roundabout, just a few minutes’ walk from Bil Bil Castle, you wouldn’t give this place a second glance from outside if you wouldn’t know what treasures hide inside.
The menu was so original and creative that I had a hard time choosing just a few items to try. They even have a tapas selection of desserts, a real treat for someone who likes sweet!
The dishes are very reasonably priced and they also have a very good selection of wines and cocktails (even a dedicated range of ‘Instagram Cocktails’ if that’s your thing!).
Menu: check on the website
Reservations: essential mainly for dinner service – 0034 951817476
Afternoon: Mariposario, Budha Temple & The Coastline
For the afternoon, you can continue after your lunch by exploring the coastline of Benalmadena.
In the late afternoon, finish your trip by heading back up to the hills for the views next to the Buddhist temple and watching some butterflies in Mariposario.
Mariposario: The Butterfly Park
time required: 30 mins to 1 hour
Mariposario de Benalmadena is the largest space in Europe dedicated solely to butterflies and it is truly impressive.
The sheer number of butterflies you will see as soon as you enter is breathtaking.
They buzz around looking like they just hit rush hour on the highway and you are not sure where to look first – admire the plants, try to see one of them land on flowers or follow the sound of the waterfalls coming from the back of the greenhouse.
Even though the place is not huge, it’s certainly worth the trip and it was a lot of fun for adults, not just kids.
They have a small cafe with seating outside and a small souvenir shop on the premises.
For more photos and details check this post.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 8.30pm
Tickets: 10 euros per person for adults, kids and seniors 8.50 euros. You can also book the tickets online, they are valid 1 hour after purchase.
Buddhist Temple (Stupa of Enlightenment Benalmádena)
time required: 20 mins
The large Buddhist temple is located by the main road just outside of Benalmadena Pueblo, right next to the Butterfly Park.
It was built as a Buddhist monument to peace, prosperity, and harmony and as the ideal place for reflection and meditation. It’s open every day except Monday till 6 pm, with a siesta break between 2 pm and 4 pm.
There is a viewing platform right next to it with some of the best coastal views around (best to enjoy at sunset time).
time required: 2 hours
The promenade stroll is one of my favourite things to do whether in Benalmadena or elsewhere.
The promenade is lined with small shops and restaurants, so you can take a break to enjoy the sea views. In the summer, you might get annoyed by the number of street sellers spreading their fake goods on the pavements, but that’s just one of the realities of a popular holiday destination.
The majority of the restaurants on the promenade are Chiringuitos, and the food quality is pretty bad and most of them are also quite overpriced.
If you’re looking for a better dining experience, you will have to head away from the coastline – see the tip for the evening meal below.
If you want to explore more in Benalmadena Costa, there is a pretty unique Marina a short walk away, where you will also find Sea Life Benalmadena.
Evening: Yuca’s Mare for Dinner or Drinks
Yuca’s is not exactly a walking distance from town – you will have to drive there or take a short taxi ride, but it’s well worth it!
Yucas combines three different concepts in one place – a more luxurious Yucas Mare Restaurant on ground floor, Yucas Cafe & Bar on the first floor and the newly reopened beach bar called Mar de Copas (Sea of Cups). Each of these has its own menu, but they all share one thing in common – gorgeous sea views all around.
The restaurant menu is a bit on the expensive side, but both the cafe and the beach bar have less fancy and more affordable dining options. It offers a very wide variety of fish dishes, with a good selection of meat dishes and also a few vegetarian options.
For more pictures and details check here.
Opening hours: 9am to 11.30pm
That concludes my one-day tour of Benalmadena!
Hope you enjoyed these tips and if you fancy exploring more, check the articles below for more inspiration on what to do and see in Benalmadena!