The scoop on Spanish property styles… for prospective buyers on the Costa del Sol

So, you’ve chosen Spain as the place to buy property over Greece or Dubai. Good pick. You’ve even narrowed down location, and it doesn’t get much better than the Costa del Sol. Great choice. But, now you are faced with decisions over what type of Spanish property to buy. Get yourself a coffee and read on. We’ve put together a guide of the types and styles of property you can find on the Costa del Sol to help you decide on everything from architecture to placement.

Property definitions vary from that of the UK, so get used to seeing housing terminology such as villas, semi-detached villas, linked bungalows, linked duplex, and apartments. As well as style of property, you’ll need to decide whether you want to be beachside or up in the hills.

Other considerations include: Do you want a property close to amenities or are you looking for a remote hideaway? Are the extra security and communal amenities of a development important to you? Are you looking for a traditional family home or a contemporary penthouse? These are the questions you will need to ask yourself in order to find the right type of property in just the right place for you. Doing your research is imperative.

A bit about the area and how the Costa del Sol has developed

The Costa del Sol stretches 175 kilometres from Manilva in the west to Nerja in the east. There are over 100 locations in the region. Popular locations include Casares, Estepona, Benahavis, San Pedro de Alcántara, Marbella (Golden Mile and Marbella East), Sotogrande, Puerto Banús and Nueva Andalucía, to name but a few.

Spanish properties developed across the Costa del Sol following the Second World War. After the war, the Marquis of Ivanrey, Ricardo Soriano, and his nephew, Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe, bought country estates around the village of Marbella. There were only around 900 homes in Marbella back then, but this high-brow interest began to lay the foundations for the Costa del Sol’s first resorts, El Rodeo in 1943 and Marbella Club in 1954.

The luxury resorts began to attract the big Hollywood stars like Grace Kelly and Marlon Brando. These resorts paved the way for the many luxury developments that make the Costa del Sol what it is today.

In 1968 Malaga-Costa del Sol International Airport introduced its first passenger terminal. Since then, package holidaymakers have been arriving in droves from northern Europe. This influx, and the growth in Spaniards seeking second homes by the sea, drove the rapid development of the skyscraper apartment blocks between Malaga and Marbella. Former fishing villages became the resort towns of first Torremolinos, then Benalmádena, Fuengirola, and Mijas.

In 1970, visionary property developer José Banús, cut the red ribbon at Puerto Banús in a lavish ceremony attended by a host of jet-setting stars, including film director Roman Polanski, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and Prince Rainer and Princess Grace of Monaco. Banús’s development at the marina combined typical Andalucían property features with a modern aesthetic. The development delivered exactly what was intended – a glamourous playground for Marbella’s international elite. Since then many luxury developments have been established in the locality.

Relaxed planning laws and a corrupt municipal management in the 1990s saw urban planning around Marbella get out of control. The misuse of regulations between 1990 and 2006 were detrimental to many property buyers during that time, particularly those who bought off-plan. Planning controls in Marbella are now very strict. Because of the complicated history of planning regulations here, it is always best to seek expert advice before committing to a purchase.

The property styles of the Costa del Sol

The picture most conjure up when thinking of Spain are of the gorgeous sunny beaches and pretty pueblos blancos (whitewashed villages). There are many properties (new and old) along the Costa del Sol that reflect this typical Andalucían style.

Most of the luxury properties for sale are situated in prestigious urbanisations, with private communal gardens, swimming pools and security. Many of the luxurious developments have additional facilities, such as gyms, restaurants, and social clubs, and some are part of golf course complexes.

Many properties from an era gone by have been renovated, and brought up to date, so don’t be put off looking at older developments. The area’s rich history and mix of cultures are reflected in its architectural styles, which encompass Renaissance, Baroque, Moorish and Castillan.


There are a wide range of apartment styles on the Costa del Sol, from fairly basic and small flats situated in high-rise apartment blocks to magnificent, contemporary low-rise beachside apartments. The former work well as holiday apartments, and there are many with communal pools, close to the heart of Marbella, the beach and all of the amenities the area has to offer. At the top end of the market, you’ll find apartments of all persuasions, from those in traditional Andalucían architectural styles to state-of-the-art modern apartments with private hot tubs and pools.

Duplex apartments

Duplex apartments offer more space, and are effectively apartments over two floors, connected by an inner staircase. As with apartments, there are a wide range of styles from simple, traditional flats to ultra-modern specimens in blocks or low-rise developments.


In keeping with the pretty pueblo-blanco theme, there are many developments on the Costa del Sol made up of Mediterranean-style townhouses. Many of these developments attract families, and have amenities and schools close by.


Almost all of the luxury developments with blocks of apartments offer penthouses and duplex penthouses. As you would expect they are more luxurious and have additional features than neighbouring apartments. More often than not, they offer extended balconies and fabulous views.


Villas in many of the newer developments are very contemporary with modern architecture, state-of-the-art features and infinity pools, but there are still many new builds that honour Mediterranean-style architecture too. Villas range from family-sized residences to spectacular palatial estates with double-figured bedrooms. There are beachfront gems, as well as those in elevated positions offering breathtaking sea views. If money is no object you can find some of the most exclusive villas in the world in this region.

Some villas are sold fully furnished, and interiors vary significantly according to the tastes of the previous owners. What we do know is that anything is possible here, so if you have your heart set on something specific, keep searching as you will almost certainly find what you are looking for.

Some of the latest developments due for completion in 2018 are out of this world.

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