Benalmadena vs Torremolinos: How to Choose Between the Two

Benalmadena and Torremolinos are two of Spain‘s superstar coastal resorts. On the surface, they’re pretty similar. Both boast a sun-soaked town centre, endless sandy stretches and fabulous food. They’re both situated along the Costa del Sol, with easy access to Malaga Airport. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that’s where the differences end. In an ideal world you could visit both but if you’ve only got time to visit one of these destinations, take a look at our handy comparison guide to Benalmadena and Torremolinos.

How to Choose Between the Two

Overview – Torremolinos or Benalmadena?

Benalmadena is an upmarket coastal resort located 20 km from Malaga. It covers an area of around 30 kilometres and stretches from the Sierra de Mijas down to the Mediterranean coastline. It’s one of Costa del Sol’s most popular tourist destinations, rich in beautiful beaches, theme parks and shops.

Torremolinos is around a 10-minute drive northeast of Benalmadena. Once best-known for its appearance in the Monty Python “Travel Agent Sketch”, Torremolinos was one of the first towns in the whole of Spain to open up to international mass tourism. It’s since shirked this package holiday reputation and is now beloved by both locals and tourists for its low-key and laidback Andalusian vibe.

Things to Do

Torremolinos

Torremolinos has plenty to keep tourists occupied beyond beaches. The town has a lovely old town, known as casco antigua. It’s where you’ll find the town’s oldest sights, such as the Church of Buen Consejo, the Casa de los Navajas and the Torre de los Molinos, built in 1300 AD. The Cultural Centre Pablo Ruiz Picasso is well worth a visit too.

Keen golfers can tee up at the Parador del Golf, Andalusia’s oldest golf course. This par 72 18-hole course encompasses sand dunes, palms, mimosas, eucalyptus and pines, with two holes running along the edge of the sea. The course opened in the 1920s under the direction and design of renowned British architect Tom Simpson.

For family fun, kids love Aqualand Torremolinos, which is teeming with water rides and slides, rollercoasters, rapids, wave pools, jacuzzis and the highest kamikaze in Europe. The Crocodile Park is the only one of its kind in Europe, home to more than 200 of crocs, including the largest in Europe. Gran Parco, also known as Big Daddy, measures a whopping five metres and weighs over 600 kg.

The Parque La Bateria is the perfect spot to while away an hour or two. Spanning around 74,000 sq. m., the park features a huge lake, cycling paths, running circuits and a children’s playground.  If that’s not green-fingered enough for you, there’s the Jardin Botanico Molino de Inca. Home to more than a thousand plant species, the site houses a 15,500 sq. m. garden, a historic house and an ancient mill.

Benalmadena Torremolinos
Editorial credit: Pabkov / Shutterstock.com
Benalmadena

Benalmadena also has an old town, though most will agree that it’s not as pretty as Torremolinos. The port is really the beating heart of the town and it’s brimming with bustling restaurants, shops and bars. It’s where you’ll find sights like Sea life Beanalmadena, which is home to over 5,000 marine species from across the globe.

When it comes to traditional attractions and sights, Benalmadena has the upper hand. The eye-popping Castillo de Colomares, built in the late 1980s, is the largest monument in the world dedicated to Christopher Columbus. It also houses the world’s smallest church, which measures just 1.96 sq. metres. Stupa Benalmadena, the Buddhist Temple, is the tallest stupa in Europe too. And little ones will love the Mariposario de Benalmadena, a butterfly park exhibiting over 1,500 exotic butterflies. Those with a head for heights should check out the Benalmadena Cable Car too, which offers the best views of the Costa del Sol.

The Parque de la Paloma is one of the region’s most beautiful parks, with plenty of picnic areas, terraces, bike trails and a duck pond. Just next door to the park is Selwo Marina, home to penguins, dolphins and sea lions.

Benalmadena Torremolinos

Food and Drink

Torremolinos

You’ll find a huge range of dining options in Torremolinos, from fast food to fine dining. Quality varies significantly, so it’s worth researching the best restaurants in advance. For seafood and shellfish, Restaurante Juan is an excellent option, as is Restaurante Mejor con Reserva. El Bodegon, in Calle de San Miguel, serves up fantastic french-inspired dishes and is one of the town’s oldest restaurants. For authentic Spanish cuisine, you’ll find chiringuitos and waterfront restaurants like La Reserva de Antonia.

Torremolinos has a lively nightlife too, with a particularly strong LGBTQ+ scene. The town became a popular LGBTQ+ hotspot under General Franco and its reputation has flourished since. The town is famous for its wide variety of gay bars and clubs, LGBTQ+ hotels and saunas, mostly concentrated around the Plaza La Nogalera.

Benalmadena Torremolinos
Benalmadena

As one of the most cosmopolitan areas along the Costa del Sol, Benalmadena offers a wider range of international restaurants than most towns in Andalusia. British bars and Irish pubs are not an uncommon sight, particularly along the Puerto Marina. You’ll find most fast food noodles, kebabs and burgers along the Plaza Sol y Mar, though there are a few hidden gems. It’s worth researching ahead to find the best local restaurants in the area. For traditional chiringuitos, head to the beachfront.  For authentic local dishes, Restaurant Carnival is unbeatable. One of the longest-established Spanish restaurants in the town, it offers sparkling service and an extensive seafood menu.

Like Torremolinos, Benalmadena has a lively nightlife with a multitude of nightclubs and late-night bars. The largest nightclubs are on the coastal road, but for a more sophisticated scene, it’s best to head to the Marina.

Benalmadena Torremolinos

Beaches

Torremolinos

Torremolinos boasts a superb seven-kilometre shoreline, separated into four beautiful blonde beaches. Playa El Bajondillo is the town’s most central beach and is easily accessible from the casco antigua. It’s a 1,100-metre stretch lined with beach bars, shops and chirringuitos, beach bars serving up grilled sardines and other fish seasoned with lemon and salt. Playa la Carihuel is the westernmost beach in Torremolinos, accessible from the promenade. The Playamar, also known as Playa El Retiro, is the best-equipped beach. It’s popular with tourists looking for an energetic trip to the beach – parasailing, paddleboarding and kayaking trips are all available here. Finally, there’s the Play Los Alamos. This is the most secluded beach in the area, ideal for those looking to avoid the crowds. But antisocial types should make sure they leave before sunset. Come evening, it’s brimming with partygoers and locals heading out for a night at one of its many waterfront nightclubs.

Benalmadena

At 10 km, Benalmadena has a slightly longer coastline than Torremolinos. There’s a wide variety of beaches to choose from here too. Carvajal Beach is probably the busiest and best beach for families. Close to shops and restaurants, it’s also recently been awarded a European Blue Flag. Malapesquera Beach is another popular spot, due to its central location. Locals tend to head to La Morera Beach, a lively and loud sandy stretch offering a slice of real Andalucian beach life. There’s even a small cove and nudist beach at Benalnatura for enthusiastic naturists.

Hotels

Torremolinos

The liveliest place to stay in Torremolinos is around the Calle las Mercedes. It’s where you’ll find most of the town’s hostels and budget-friendly hotels. El Bajondillo Beach is also home to a handful of three and four-star hotels, some offering package deals. Those looking for something a little more upmarket won’t feel short-changed either, with luxury offerings like the Essence Hotel Boutique by Don Paquito, Medplaya Hotel Pez Espada and the Melia Costa del Sol. There’s also a wide range of self-catering accommodation peppered across town.

Benalmadena

Benalmadena offers a huge range of hotels, with more luxurious resort-style hotels to choose from than neighbouring Torremolinos. Popular five-star hotels include Vincci Seleccion, Hotel Spa Benalmadena Palace and the Palladium Hotel Costa del Sol. Cash-strapped travellers will also find a wide range of local hotels and hostels, offering a cheap night’s sleep. Most of the high-rise hotels line the coast, while around the old town you’ll find modern apartment buildings. There’s a good range of apartments to rent too.

For the best rates in Benalmadena and Torremolinos, check out our latest deals. 

When to visit

Both Torremolinos and Benalmadena have a warm, Mediterranean climate with high temperatures all year round. July is the driest and hottest month of the year, with an average of 14 hours of sunshine and temperatures tipping past 35°C. If you struggle with the heat (and the crowds) the best time to visit either town is in Spring, went the flowers start to bloom, or in early autumn, when the children are back at school the temperatures are pleasantly warm.
Allie D'Almo

Allie is a passionate traveller with a hearty interest in great food and stories. She likes to travel slowly, particularly to underrated and underloved places. She’s lived in Italy and is now based in London, where she spends most of her time either plotting her next trip or writing about her last one.

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