By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: We'd like to visit Spain during February and March. We'd want an apartment/hotel central to stores and restaurants and good walking with things to see. Could you please recommend something in Torremolinos, Malaga, Benalmadena? We also are wondering about the weather. Any information you have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

A: Meshed in the rich history of Andalusia, this southern part of the Iberian Peninsula brims with rich coastal living, seaside villages and exotic Mediterranean style cuisine. The sunny tropical climate makes this area along the Costa del Sol or "Sun Coast" a desirable vacation spot year round. The rugged mountains serve as a buffer and shield the coast from the northern climates of Europe, resulting in averge annual water temperatures of 18 Celsius. Swimmers take note! Grab the beach blankets and remember the suntan lotion. Your proposed homebase is at a perfect junction. Sandwiched between the eastern Granadan coast and the Costa de la Luz west, Costa del Sol is smack between what geographers describe as "where the Atlantic Ocean Meets the Mediterranean."

Approximately 219 km west from Malaga lies the historic city of Seville and northward is Cordoba (187 km) while east you can roam through the craggy Sierra Almijara reaching heights of up to 2,000 metres. In Malaga, which is the capital of Costa del Sol, be sure to add Pablo Picasso's house, the Villalcazar Palace and the Roman theater to your sightseeing list. Twelve kilometres from the capital lies Torremolinos, a lively tourist town which the Spanish Tourism Board reports has experienced phenomenal growth in the last few years.

A seafood lovers' bastion, the fishermen's district of La Carihuela is known for its "pescaito frito" (mixed fried fish). Each weekend throughout Spain, you'll find merchants display their wares at a local flea market. Any collectors' dream, the stands overflow with intricately woven baskets, handpainted pottery and antiques of every description.

For accommodation information, bookmark the Association of Rural Hotels of Andalusia (AHRA), and check back to the Tourist Parador Hotels ( on lodging details. For the latter, you might find the site is under but do try to return later. Another web site that came across my computer screen is calling itself "the international leader in vacation rentals" covering 15 European countries.

When I plugged in Spain and narrowed the search to Costa del Sol, a hefty list of 259 properties popped up. Alternatively, you might wish to consider contacting hotels directly for off-season rates or visit your nearest travel agent. The Spanish National Tourist Office has a list of tour operators it can forward you. You can request free travel brochures from the Spanish Tourist Office which is located at 2 Bloor Street West, Suite 3402, Toronto Ontario M4W 3E2 tel: 416.961.3131 or visit


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