Guide to Spain’s Costa del Sol as Etihad launches flights to Malaga
Along the southern Mediterranean coast of Spain in the autonomous region of Andalusia, the Costa del Sol consists of 103 towns and villages and has an ever-changing coastline that includes beaches, cliffs, estuaries, bays and dunes. Once home to a series of small fishing villages, the area has grown into a world-famous tourist destination over the past 60 years.
Who can visit the Costa del Sol?
Spain has reopened its borders to travelers from the United Arab Emirates. All vaccinated visitors can enter the country, which recognizes Sinopharm, Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. Travelers must present a vaccination certificate proving that their final dose was administered at least 14 days before travel.
Unvaccinated travelers from the United Arab Emirates are also allowed to enter Spain, provided they present a negative PCR test or proof of recovery from the disease. All visitors are required to complete a health check form and obtain a QR code which must be presented upon arrival in Spain.
Spain is on the Abu Dhabi Green List, which means travelers do not need to self-quarantine upon their return to the UAE capital.
Which airlines fly to the Costa del Sol?
Etihad is launching flights to Malaga on Friday, making the Costa del Sol immediately accessible to travelers from the United Arab Emirates. Bi-weekly flights will run on Wednesdays and Fridays until Wednesday September 15th. One-way service is direct, with a flight time from Abu Dhabi to Malaga of just under eight hours. The return flight includes a one and a half hour stopover in Madrid.
The Costa del Sol is also easily accessible from Madrid and Barcelona, and Emirates serves both Spanish cities.
Is Spain Safe?
Almost 50% of the Spanish population has received two doses of the vaccine and it is expected that 70% of the population will be vaccinated within the next month.
At present, there are limited restrictions in the country. Restaurants are currently open until midnight and nightclubs until 2 am. Face masks should be worn in confined spaces.
What can I see and do on the Costa del Sol?
From glitzy Marbella to festive Torremolinos, via Malaga steeped in history and a multitude of charming but lesser-known towns and villages, there is something for everyone on the Costa del Sol. There are endless stretches of beach, numerous parks, excellent shopping opportunities, and the hearty cuisine and hospitality of Spain.
“We have an incredible gastronomic offer,” explains Henrique Oliveira, Sales Director of Puente Romano Beach Resort and Hotel Nobu in Marbella. “In Spain, we spend the day eating. It’s a very social experience. And the prices are amazing for people coming from UAE.
Jose Puebla, member of the Costa del Sol Tourism Forum, says: “Our gastronomy in Spain is very similar to Arab cuisine. This is important, especially when traveling with children. There are also many other connections and similarities between our cultures, from the way we speak to our togetherness. “
The Costa del Sol is also safe, tolerant and very accustomed to welcoming travelers from the Middle East.
In the early 1940s, Marbella was still a quiet farming town with a population of less than 9,000. Spanish aristocrat Ricardo Soriano, Marquis of Ivanrey, is credited with popularizing the city, having settled there in 1943 and introduced the region to his rich and famous friends.
Soriano’s nephew, Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe, fell in love with Marbella so much that he transformed an old farmhouse into the now famous Marbella Club. By the 1960s, well-known faces had become a staple of the seaside town, from Audrey Hepburn and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, to Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant, Laurence Olivier and Teddy Kennedy. .
Marbella has retained its glitzy appeal. It has long attracted Saudi, Emirati, and Kuwaiti royalty, and its famous residents include Antonio Banderas, Dolph Lundgren, and Lord Alan Sugar of The apprentice. The area has 11 golf courses, three marinas and a high concentration of luxury hotels and world-class restaurants.
The city is also home to the King Abdul Aziz Mosque, funded by Saudi Arabia in 1981.
Part of its appeal, then and now, is that Marbella sits in the shadow of the 1,215-meter-high La Concha mountain, which in addition to contributing to the breathtaking views of the region, creates a unique microclimate, giving Marbella some of the best weather in southern Europe.
For today’s visitors, La Concha offers fantastic hiking opportunities, as well as panoramic views of Gibraltar, North Africa and the interior of Spain.
Malaga, capital of the Costa del Sol and birthplace of Pablo Picasso, offers a strong cultural orientation, with many museums and cultural institutions dedicated to the artist. The city is also home to 11th-century fortresses, an ancient Roman theater, and superb examples of Gothic and 19th-century architecture.
“I think what sets the Costa del Sol apart from other destinations is the culture it offers,” says Oliveira. “It’s not just the sea and the sand. If you go inland you have all these beautiful places with an Arab influence. The Arabs had been there for about 800 years and left an amazing legacy, of which the second most visited monument in Spain, the Alhambra in Granada, so the Costa del Sol and Andalusia as a whole are not limited to the coast.