Replete with beaches, fishing villages, sandy coves and, lately, golf courses, Spain's southern coast -- the Costa del Sol, or coast of the sun -- has long attracted travelers seeking sun for nearly all year long in a Mediterranean environment. Located in the Andalusia region, these coastal towns and villages are within easy driving distance of one another and within day-trip driving distance of some of Spain's great historical Moorish treasures, such as the Alhambra in Granada. Keeping in mind the diverse interests of travelers, we have included some fly-drive packages that allow you to pace yourself, along with a mix of all-inclusive, independent and/or guided tours. For more details on the region, visit Spain's Tourism site (www.spain.info)
Expedia (tel. 800/EXPEDIA; www.expedia.com) has a deal for a hotel that centers on thalassotherapy (sea water therapy) and wellness. Book the Hotel Selenza Thalasso & Wellness, which is located near the beach in Malaga, available from $115 per night for stays until December 26; some blackout dates apply.
European Destinations (tel. 877/267-2247; www.europeandestinations.com) offers flexible and customizable trips around the world. There are a few available for towns in Costa del Sol -- Benalmadena, Estopona, Fuengirola, Mijas, Torremolinos, for example -- that offer five nights' accommodations and roundtrip airfare from $735. Mijas a small Spanish village with a working bullring, among other attractions, offers just ten hotels to choose from with this package. Prices start from $735 for Los Angeles, $775 from New York City, and include international roundtrip airfare, six-day car rental (surrounding cities are within 20-150 miles), five nights' accommodations, hotel taxes and daily breakfast. Prices posted for this trip reflect the best travel rates for November through March. Or look to Marbella, a popular resort town on the coast -- packages are also available from the same price points for the same basic travel period.
If those are too sleepy for you, hit the cities of Malaga, Grenada, Cordoba, Seville and Ronda with this deal that includes airfare, car rental, daily breakfast (if offered by hotel), and eight nights' accommodations, priced from $979 for travel November-March from York City.
Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) offers something unique: an 11-day Madrid, Cordoba, Seville and Costa del Sol trip by rail. Priced from $1,449, the trip takes you on a high-speed train (on first or standard class, at your choosing) with reserved seats for an independent experience that includes your choice of hotels for nine nights, round-trip airfare from New York to Madrid, breakfast daily, and transportation, good for April 2007 departures.
A sunnier, more immediate trip, the South of Spain Vacation, is priced from $1,299 for winter 2007 departures. The package includes roundtrip airfare from New York City to Malaga, located in the heart of Andalusia. It's an eleven-day trip that includes all 18 meals, nine nights of accommodations, airline fuel surcharges up to $180, all transfers, entrance fees and sightseeing, English speaking hosts and an air-conditioned bus. The January 13 departure is sold out, but February 10, 24 and March 10 and 17 show availability.
Iberia Air (tel. 800/772-4642; www.iberia.com) is running a deal on airfare to destinations in Spain including Malaga, if you book as soon as possible, travel by December 31, and depart from Miami or New York. All other departure cities carry a travel deadline of November 30. You can fly roundtrip from New York to Madrid from $449, and fly from Dallas to Malaga starting from $605. A five-day minimum stay is required and taxes and fees are not included.
If you're feeling lucky, you might be able to find a last-minute low fare from Trekkers Travel (tel. 800/626-0466; www.trekkerstravel.com), which offers wholesale prices for airfare and other travel services. You can view a spreadsheet-like list of special fares from various U.S. cities to places such as Malaga, priced from $437 roundtrip during low season from New York, $458 from Boston, $524 from Chicago, $665 from Denver and $612 Los Angeles. The company recommends you call to find out if there is availability; Trekkers also occasionally gets offers that it does not post on the web site for last minute travel when airlines have unsold seats; call them to inquire.
Tourcrafters (tel. 800/621-2259; www.tourcrafters.com) has an all-inclusive Costa del Sol special that's slightly shorter than Gate 1's. Priced from $1,115 for travel through March 31, 2007 and surcharges for holiday travel, the package covers roundtrip airfare from New York or Boston to Malaga, seven-day car rental, seven-nights accommodations at Hotel Costa del Sol in Mjias, and buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, beer, soft drinks, etc. Add-on fares from cities such as Philadelphia ($40), Atlanta or Chicago ($50) and L.A. ($200) are possible.
Talk with fellow travelers on the Spain Message Boards.