The Costa Tropical is a picturesque stretch of coastline nestled between the Costa del Sol and the Costa de Almería in southern Spain. With a laid-back vibe, sub-tropical climate, beautiful beaches and impressive mountainous landscape, the Costa Tropical presents an exciting, unique and affordable retirement alternative to the likes of the Costa del Sol and the Costa Blanca.
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With influences from the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs, the lovely town of Almuñécar is rich in history. Today, the town is a thriving fishing port with excellent seafood restaurants where you can sample the daily catch, or head to the daily farmers market for other local delicacies.
Almuñécar has retained much of its authenticity. Wander through the winding maze of the cobblestoned Old Town (‘Casco Antiguo’) and marvel at the traditional whitewashed buildings and quaint cafes, bars and boutiques.
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There’s also a spectacular botanical garden with hundreds of exotic plants and trees that is overlooked by the majestic San Miguel Castle.
Almuñécar’s location is what really makes it a fantastic retirement destination. It sits just 25 minutes east of the popular town of Nerja and one hour from Málaga, making it an ideal base to explore both the Costa Tropical and the Costa del Sol. And, if you’re a fan of skiing, you’d be only 75 minutes from the ski slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Property prices are far more affordable than in much of the Costa del Sol. You can find one- and two-bedroom apartments for as little as €60,000 in Almuñécar, whereas in nearby Nerja you’d need around €150,000. In Almuñécar, a budget of €150,000-€200,000 would present you with a good selection of townhouses. Villas and country houses tend to start around €300,000.
Salobreña is truly beautiful. Characterised by classic whitewashed façades framed by vibrant pink flowers, it is no wonder the town has earned the nickname of the ‘jewel of the Costa Tropical’. There are no high-rise developments or mass tourism, and in many ways is one of Spain’s secret coastal havens.
This pretty town, perched atop a giant rock and surrounded by lush sugarcane plantations, is smaller than Almuñécar but still boasts six sandy beaches and an impressive Moorish castle.
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It is worth noting that due to the town’s positioning, there are some rather steep streets and lots of stairs leading up to the Old Town. However, if you can make the climb, the views out towards the glistening Mediterranean are something special. If not, the new town lies at the foot of the hill by the sea and is much more accessible.
There is plenty to keep active retirees busy, including tennis, golf, fishing and watersports. The town is lively all-year round with concerts, theatre shows and even a cinema.
Living in Salobreña would put you just 45 minutes from Granada and 20 minutes from the ski resorts in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Property is a little more expensive than in Almuñécar, however, compared to other popular retirement destinations in Spain, it is still very good value. You can find semi-detached houses and village houses from around €150,000. Larger properties with swimming pools tend to start from €300,000.
Located in the heart of the Costa Tropical, Motril is the largest town on the coast with a population of 66,000. It would particularly suit those looking to retire somewhere with excellent amenities and a bigger town feel.
This bustling seaside town has brilliant shopping, several markets and a plethora of bars and restaurants, ranging from more traditional tapas and flamenco bars to those serving international cuisines. You’ll also find a theatre, cinema, a wetland reserve and a golf course (The Los Moriscos Golf Resort) – one of the few on this stretch of coast. What’s more, there is an attractive marina where you can take day trips to Morocco.
Once the centre of the Spanish rum industry, there are several museums dedicated to sugar cane and rum, including the factory where Francisco Montero Martín, who made the alcoholic beverage popular in Spain, began manufacturing the drink in 1963.
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After you’ve explored the town on land, head to the beach where you can go diving in the warm waters and marvel at one of the most beautiful sea floors on the Andalusian coastline. There are even three nudist beaches if that’s your thing!
In terms of property, Motril is the cheapest – you can find small apartments and older village houses for as little as €30,000, however, many will require a bit of TLC. Up your budget to between €50,000 and €100,000 and you can find some lovely modern apartments. Larger townhouses start from around €100,000 with detached houses from €250,000.