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Recommendations for home base in Costa del Sol (Family of 4 + gma)

Hi - Every time I plan a trip to Europe I have so valued the recommendations I get on this forum so looking for some help on our next trip.

I was last in Spain in 2005 and looking to bring my Family this March (which includes 2 kids ages almost 12 & 8) and my mother who is 65. My children attend a Spanish immersion school and would say my son is pretty fluent which is one reason I'm choosing Spain. My kids are also great travelers and are good walking for long periods of time. My mother is an avid traveler who has been to Europe many times.

I want to figure out the best home base for us to stay in the Andalucía area. I was leaning towards somewhere on the Costa del Sol so we could be near the ocean (maybe Marbella) but open to recommendations. We plan to do day trips to Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba, & Gibraltar. I prefer not to rent a car so would love a great location to stay where transportation would be easy to these locations (since I'm traveling with kids). We will have 9 days (including travel).

If you have any recommendations we should consider I greatly appreciate it! It'll help guide my way as I continue my research.


Posted by
24059 posts

Andalucia is large. I don't think there's anywhere on the coast from which all your desired locations are practical daytrips. For that matter, there's nowhere I'd recommend as a single base for your trip.

The fact is that the top three destinations in the region (Seville, Cordoba and Granada) are not on the coast. When planning multiple daytrips by public transportation over a wide area in different directions, I think it's essential to choose a base that has rail service. Trains tend to be faster than buses, and the express trains (AVE, etc.) connecting Seville, Cordoba and Granada are quite fast.

Marbella doesn't have rail service, so if you stay there, every side trip will have to begin with a bus ride either to Malaga or to Fuengirola, which is on a commuter-rail (slow) line to Malaga. In either case, you're probably looking at close to an hour just to get to Malaga. If you must have a base on the coast (it will be too cold to swim in March), I think the big city of Malaga would be a much more convenient choice than a small resort town, because you'd at least avoid the need to travel to Malaga before heading elsewhere. There are probably enough sights in Malaga to keep you occupied for a couple of days, which would leave you needing to travel out of town only 5 times within the seven days you'll actually have available in Spain.

My other concern is that the time you have available is short for just Seville, Cordoba and Granada even if you move around rather than trying to see them all from one base. Gibraltar is challenging by public transportation and would rank much lower for most of us, I believe. (I haven't ever bothered to go to Gibraltar myself.)

Seville and Cordoba are close enough that you can visit one from the other (though overnight stays are recommended). Seville is much larger and takes more time to see, so it would be the best base for that part of Andalucia. Granada really calls for a minimum of two nights spent there, and quite a few of us thought three nights were well justified.

Posted by
5 posts


Thank you so much for your quick response. I appreciate your suggestions. Maybe I'll look at 2-3 different places to split our time (couple nights in the Sevilla and/or Granada) and end in Malaga so the kids can see the ocean. I had Gibraltar on my list as I had been there in 2005 and thought the kids would enjoy it with the monkeys etc. I remember it being a unique experience :-) .

Really appreciate all your detail as this helps me focus on where to stay as I continue to plan our trip. Thanks!