When film stars such as Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner, Marlon Brando, Orson Welles and Frank Sinatra roamed its streets in the 1950s and 60s, Torremolinos was still just a seaside district of the city of Malaga that attracted tourists seeking a more secluded location while at the same time being just as cosmopolitan as the city itself. More than half a century later, Torremolinos still retains the charm that drew those screen legends to it and, what is more, it has become one of the leading tourist destinations on the Costa del Sol.
Torremolinos is one of the economic drivers of the province, thanks in part to the tourism industry and the activity generated by the Costa del Sol Conference and Exhibition Centre. What is more, it is a city that achieves the perfect match of its local population with its tourists, as every year there are many who decide to settle there permanently to enjoy its many comforts and a lifestyle by the sea. One need look no further than the figure of 2,000 UK nationals who have chosen Torremolinos as their permanent place of residence. If you opt to escape to this seaside town that is just a short hop from Malaga (10 kilometres), you may the next one to decide to stay.
MUST-SEE SIGHTS IN TORREMOLINOS
MONUMENTS AND BUILDINGS
The Plaza de la Costa del Sol and Calle San Miguel are two places you have to see if you want to get to know Torremolinos. The square at the heart of the town is a cultural hotspot and is fully pedestrianised - you can see numerous exhibitions and performances there at street level. Calle San Miguel is an immense shop window where you can find all the souvenirs of Torremolinos you will want to take back with you.
A tour of the historical heritage of the town could start with the Pimental Tower or the Torre de los Molinos that gives the town its name. It was built by the Muslim Nazaries around 1300 as part of the defensive fortifications of the Kingdom of Granada and today is a listed building.
The Casa de las Navajas is another of the monuments that make Torremolinos a special place. This is a palace whose interior is inspired by the Alhambra of Granada. Since it was renovated and re-opened in 2014, it has become one of the most popular sights among tourists and is listed a historically significant building. Nearby and located close to the sea is the Monumento a las Playas...
Visitors can continue their tour with the sculpture entitled "El Rapto de Europa", the stature of Picasso and the "Monumento al Turista". From there, you should move on to see the churches of San Miguel and La Virgen del Carmen, the Hotel Pez Espada (Swordfish Hotel) and the former Railway Workers Orphans School, now home to the Pablo Ruiz Picasso Cultural Centre. To round off your tour, Torremolinos also offers its visitors a slice of its history and tradition with the quarter known as
El Barrio del Calvario, where every Thursday the popular flea market is held among the white houses and narrow streets, where time it seems has stood still.
Torremolinos is one of the most easily accessible towns on the Costa del Sol, with connections by land, sea and air. To get there by car from Málaga, we recommend taking the MA-21, then continuing on the N-340 towards Av. de los Manantiales in Torremolinos. It will take you about 25 minutes, depending on the traffic. Another option is taking either the A-7 motorway or the AP-7 paid motorway.
If you’re taking public transport, there’s a train line (C1), which takes 20 minutes with trains running every 20 minutes. If you choose to go by bus, there are nine direct buses from Málaga that cover the 13 kilómetros distance in about 15-18 minutes.
The Parque de la Batería is Torremolinos's great green space. Opened in 2007 and extending over 74,000 square metres, it is an important part of the town thanks to its densely wooded area, its views of the coastline and a spectacular lake, on which boating is permitted. The park is criss-crossed by paths, trails and cycle paths.
The quality of Torremolinos's beaches is one of its major attractions that have made it internationally famous. One way to reach the beaches is by passing through the seaside district of La Carihuela, whose restaurant-lined promenade leads to the beaches of Bajondillo and Playamar. As well as lying in the sun, you can also avail of the many services on offer to enjoy kitesurfing, ""paddle surf"" (a kind of tennis) or you can take a boat and do some sports fishing.
You can really enjoy yourself in style in Torremolinos. Among its most popular attractions is the leading water park on the Costa del Sol: Aqualand is one of the top tourist attractions especially for families and teens on account of its numerous rides that are constantly being renewed and upgraded. Adjacent to it is the Cocodrilos Park, where you see no fewer than 260 of these magnificent reptiles.
For those who want to explore the charms of Torremolinos nightlife, you can check out the beach bar chiringuitos in Los Alamos and Playamar or hit the bars and discos of La Nogalera, one of Europe's leading "gay friendly" tourism centres.
Another important date to enjoy Torremolinos are the “Fish an Fresh” days to celebrate the local gastronomy Pescaito Frito at special prices.
June also sees Torremolinos's Gay Pride festival (or as the locals would have it, Pride Gay) that brings hundreds of tourists and features performances by leading Spanish and international artists.
Other outstanding events are Carnival and the Rockin" Race Festival in February, the Día de los Verdiales in Abril, and theCertamen de la Canción Española - dedicated to Spanish folk singing - in November.
The romería de San Miguel is the lead-up to the Feria de Torremolinos. It takes place in September, and in it the patron saint of the town is paraded from the town centre to the shrine of Los Pinares with hundreds of the faithful following it on foot, on horseback or in wagons that are decorated with garlands for the occasion.
July is another good time to visit Torremolinos, as this coincides with the festivities in honour of the Virgen del Carmen. The Honorary Mayoress of Torremolinos visits the streets of the fishing quarter and then takes a boat to bless the waters along the coastline.
The popular fervour and devotion are also apparent some months before, in spring, with the processions of Semana Santa - Holy Week.
Another of the great attractions of Torremolinos is its gastronomy. Sardines on skewers, known as "espetos" charcoal grilled in the open air, and tasty deep-fried "pescaito frito" are two of the local specialties. The restaurants, bars and chiringuitos of La Carihuela and El Bajondillo are authentic temples of traditional culinary art in which we can try coquinas, paella, and fish soup, fish baked in salt and many more traditional Mediterranean dishes...
The earliest human settlements in Torremolinos are 150,000 years old, as attested by skulls and other findings in the caves of El Tesoro, Los Tejones, El Encanto and Tapada (some of them no longer existing). Neolithic evidence from a Mesopotamian civilisation has also been found. They might have got interested in the natural resources and the mild weather of the region.
The Romans built a road that linked Torremolinos to Málaga and Cádiz. After that, they set up three fish salting factories. During construction work in a square in town, a small cemetery from this period was unearthed.
In the days of Al-Andalus, the Moors made use of the water from Los Manantiales, building numerous mills along its course. Between the thirteenth and the fourteenth centuries, they began to build a fortified tower at the far end of San Miguel Street, to repel enemy attacks from the sea. The tower and the mills – "torre" and "molinos" in Spanish – gave the village its name.
Soon after they conquered Málaga, the Catholic Monarchs granted the city the exploitation rights for the water springs in Torremolinos. The decision was ratified by Joanna of Castile in 1511. This resulted in the Arab mills falling into disuse due to water scarcity.
Meanwhile, the privateer attacks would not stop. The engineer of the Royal Army suggested having a castle built in Torremolinos. Work began in 1770, on the site now occupied by the Santa Clara Hotel. The fort included cavalry and infantry barracks, private apartments, a chapel and a warehouse. The artillery included six cannons. The building was a military base until 1830, when it was converted to police headquarters and then transferred to private hands. The ruins of the old fort can still be seen.
In the first two decades of the twentieth century, the population of Málaga grew significantly and water resources were scarce. In 1923, two projects got under way to carry water from Málaga to Torremolinos. The initiative ended up turning Torremolinos into a district of the capital city.
At the turn of the century, a British man, Sir George Langworthy, arrived in Torremolinos. Having acquired the Santa Clara Castle, he rehabilitated it and opened it to the public as a hotel and residence in 1930. It was one of the first tourist resorts on the Costa del Sol. He was followed by Carlota Alessandri, whose Cortijo de la Cucazorra became the Montemar Parador. In the next decade, an iconic hotel, La Roca, and an emblematic banquet hall, El Remo, opened in La Carihuela.
The first luxury hotel was the Pez Espada, which began to operate in 1959. It strengthened Torremolinos"s position as a leading tourist resort. In the 1960s, the town offered 32 properties to holidaymakers already, totalling some 10,000 beds. In the summer, it got filled with film stars, artists, politicians, businessmen and tycoons.
It was only in 1988 that Torremolinos was granted independence from Málaga by the Andalusian Government. From a quiet village that had developed out of a watchtower and a few mills, it had come all the way and become a glitzy international tourist destination.
One of Torremolinos’s main attractions is its cuisine, with the open-fire sardine skewers “espeto de sardinas” and the tasty “pescaíto frito” fried being its main specialities. The restaurants, bars and beach bars (“chiringuitos”) in La Carihuela and El Bajondillo are authentic culinary temples. You’ll find coquinas, paella, seafood soup (sopa de mariscos), salted fish (pescado a la sal), and other authentic Mediterranean dishes on their menus.
- Coastal area
- Near the airport
- Inhabitants (+50,000)