Liz and her husband have visited Spain many times. Using their experiences they want to help others explore and enjoy the Costa del Sol.
Why Visit Torremolinos?
Spain's southern coast, Costa del Sol, translates as Coast of the Sun. With its mild winters and hot summers, the area has a year-round appeal to holidaymakers. Most fly into the airport on the outskirts of Malaga, the coastal region's main city. Located 5 miles west of the airport, Torremolinos is the most easily accessible resort in the area.
We stayed here on a late winter/early spring break. Our previous five visits to the Costa del Sol had covered different locations along the coast. On this occasion, we were looking for a relaxing break with minimum travel. Torremolinos came top of the list for its proximity to the airport and a good deal in a high-quality beachside hotel.
A Brief History of Torremolinos
Evidence has been found of a settlement in the area going back to the Stone Age. Modern Torremolinos derives its name 'Tower of the Mills' from a watchtower and mills to grind wheat. Over the years the mills were destroyed and rebuilt but declined in the 1920s and Torremolinos became a small fishing village. The last remaining mill is Molina de Inca, which is preserved in the Jardin Botanico.
Tourism on the Costa del Sol developed from the late 1950s. Torremolinos grew quickly as one of the first holiday resorts in the area and hosted celebrities of the era; Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner, Marlon Brando, Orson Welles, and Frank Sinatra. The growing package holiday industry combined with the opening up of Spain to mass tourism brought an influx of visitors in the years that followed. Hotels were rapidly built to keep up with demand.
The era of mass development has left a legacy of concrete blocks, which are not particularly scenic. But it has left visitors with a wide range of accommodation options. Many of the older hotels have been refurbished and updated to offer good quality modern rooms and facilities. Torremolinos continues to evolve as a major tourist resort on the Costa del Sol.
Our Top 10 Places to Visit in and Near Torremolinos
Here is our list of suggestions of where to go. The first 7 are in Torremolinos. I have included a note about trains as the last 3 are within easy reach of Torremolinos, on the train route.
- Paseo de la Maritimo
- The Old Town
- Casa de los Navajas
- The Market
- Ermita de San Miguel
- Molino de Inca Jardin Botanico
- Parque de la Bateria
1. Paseo Maritimo
Sun, sand, and sea characterize Torremolinos and the surrounding area for many tourists. Coming from a landlocked area of The UK, we really appreciate the coastline and the warm climate. So, our first trip out from our beachside hotel was a walk along the Paseo Maritimo, southwest into the center of Torremolinos.
Paseo Maritimo stretches the length of Torremolinos and beyond in both directions. The wide pedestrian walkway is separated from the sandy beach by a low wall, which doubles as a bench for weary walkers. National flags flutter in the breeze. Clusters of palm trees break up the landscape along with beachside bars. The beach is decorated with sand sculptures. Even in late winter/early spring sunbathing on the beach is possible.
On another occasion, walking in the opposite direction, northeast from our hotel we headed out of town. Hotels lining the road, which runs behind the walkway were more spread out. Clusters of palm trees forming oases of shade increased in number. It was easy to find a quiet beachside bar for refreshment in the low season. Relaxing walks along Paseo Maritimo are highly recommended.
2. The Old Town
Much of the small fishing village of Torremolinos has been swamped by tourist developments since the 1950s. But it is still possible to find elements of the past. If you walk along Paseo Maritimo towards the center and head up Camino de la Playa, you can catch glimpses of what Torremolinos looked like in days gone by, before the tourist invasion. Whitewashed walls decorated with plants hark back to a past era. Even here, shops geared towards tourists abound. Once in the center it is harder to spot elements of the old Torremolinos.
3. Casa de los Navajas
Our walk towards the center of Torremolinos took us past Playa del Bajondillo. Set back into the hill on our right, we could not fail to notice Casa de los Navajas. Intrigued by its Moorish and palatial look, we decided to explore further.
Our arrival coincided with the opening time and we were surprised to find that admission was free. It turned out to be a more recent addition to Torremolinos than we had expected, having been completed in 1926.
Climbing the steps past the ornate gardens, it soon became clear why the Luque-Navajas family had chosen this spot. Its elevated location gives excellent sea views. The living quarters are on the lower floor, with terraces and towers for the view. One room was set out for civil weddings.
The Luque-Navajas family made their fortune from sugarcane plantations in the Malaga area. Casa de los Navajas has elements that mimic the Alhambra in Granada. Ornate tiles in the neo-Mudejar style are much in evidence in this small palace both inside and outside.
Owned since 2000 by the city council, Casa de los Navajas has been renovated. Furnishings are sparse, but of special interest is an ornate wooden table and a framed intricate image of a tree on the wall behind. Do not miss the secluded inner courtyard with a water feature to the rear of the property.
Dwarfed by the modern structures on either side, Casa de los Navajas has done well to retain its sea views.
4. The Market
Browsing local markets is part of the tourist experience for us. The Costa del Sol has at least one outdoor market in a different location every day of the week. Stalls sell a range of products from fresh fruit and vegetables, local products to clothing, shoes, toys, and hardware.
The market comes to Torremolinos on Thursdays between 9 am and 2 pm. It is located on the eastern edge of the town on the fairground. We shared a taxi with other guests from our hotel. After working our way through the throng of market-goers and viewing the stalls, we found that the area itself had more to offer, as several notable town buildings were located here.
Nearby Places of Interest
The area near the market is set in pine forests, which separate the town from the motorway, which runs parallel with the coast. There are sports facilities here and notable town buildings.
The fountain and the national flag in the center of the nearby roundabout are worth noting. The care put into developing this area reflects its importance in Torremolinos.
Palacio San Miguel
Near the market is Torremolinos Sports Village, with sports fields, an athletics track, an Olympic swimming pool and other facilities. The grandiose Palacio San Miguel houses a gym as well as a versatile sports venue with a grandstand. Futsai, basketball, handball, and volleyball can be played here in front of spectators.
With a capacity of over 7,000 people, this is one of the largest concert venues in Andalucia. The Auditorium Municipal Principe de Asturias is located in the Plaza de Espana, next to the sports village. It hosts music concerts, ballet, theatre, and all types of cultural events.
Plaza de Toros
The subject of bullfighting is an emotive one. But its importance as a Spanish tradition can not be denied. Although I have no desire to be a spectator at an event, when we stumbled upon the arena by accident, whilst visiting the market, I was intrigued enough to take a look. We found an open door and sneaked inside.
5. Ermita de San Miguel
The pine forest surrounding the sport and market area of Torremolinos shields the motorway to the west. Camino de los Pinares is a pleasant walk along the edge of town, with Pinar de los Manantiales, literally 'pine forest of the springs' to the left. It was from here that the springs provided the power for the mills in Torremolinos. Heading northeast you pass visitor attractions on the right; Crocodile Park and Aqualand, a water park. Ermita de San Miguel is half a mile from Palacio San Miguel.
San Miguel is the patron saint of Torremolinos. The hermitage, Ermita de San Miguel was first built near the highest place in Torremolinos, the cliff of El Bajoncillo, in 1718. The current building dates back to 1896. Like many other towns in Spain, Torremolinos hosts festivities to celebrate its patron saint. These take place around 29th September, the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel. The feria starts with a 'Romeria', a pilgrimage of decorated carts pulled by horses or oxen, accompanied by traditionally dressed people to Ermita de San Miguel on the Sunday morning.
6. Molino de Inca Jardin Botanico
A 3-minute walk further along Camino de los Pinares brings you to the botanical gardens and site of the last remaining mill in Torremolinos, Molino de Inca. The mill has been restored and includes a museum about the mill industry with working models. Another building on the site houses the King's Reservoir.
The springs in this area form an ideal setting for the gardens, which host more than 1000 plant species, including 150 varieties of palm. The combination of water features and well-laid out paths make these gardens a very pleasant destination. Classical sculptures of the Four Seasons are positioned in a circle by a water feature to represent the circular movement of time.
There are several viewpoints on the higher levels. There is also a maze for anyone who wants to try to find their way into the middle. Toilet facilities are available near the entrance.
We enjoyed exploring the Japanese Garden within Jardin Botanico. The area has been planted with shrubs and trees found in the land of the rising sun. These have been arranged around water features, which are home to some turtles.
Opening times vary throughout the year. The gardens are closed on Mondays and for a period from 14:00, reopening later in the day.
For a nominal fee (we paid 3 Euros each) a visit to this tropical oasis on the edge of Torremolinos is highly recommended.
7. Parque de la Bateria
Parque de la Bateria in south west Torremolinos is next to Montemar Alto station and overlooking La Carihuela and the sea. This well-laid out park of over 18 acres has a network of footpaths, fountains, and over 1,000 trees. It is a pleasant spot to relax. There are toilet facilities here. Refreshments are from vending machines.
The manmade lake in the park covers an area of over 2 acres. Boats are available for hire and there is a fountain feature at one end. When we visited in March the water level was low. But, in high season I can imagine it is quite an attraction.
The Observation Tower
Climb the steps of the nearly 50 feet observation tower. There are panoramic views over La Carihuela, a district of Torremolinos, and out to sea. In the other direction, you can see the park, surrounding area, and the hills inland.