Camping has never been more popular, as an affordable, fun and flexible holiday - especially in places with reliably good weather. The sun-drenched southern Spanish coast has any number of excellent campsites (campings in Spanish), with swimming pools, supermarkets, restaurants and a range of activities - and, of course, superb beaches just a few minutes away. Here's our pick of the best campsites on the Costa del Sol:
1. Camping La Buganvilla, Marbella - 2nd category
On the mountainside of a main Costa del Sol road, this large campsite with about 300 pitches has a footbridge to reach the sea nearby (600m). Pine trees offer ample shade and a cool environment for campers; eight wood cabins in various sizes, plus six "bengali" square-framed tents, are also available. The facilities include bar, restaurant and supermarket; a swimming pool, lounge with books and free WIFI, and also a TV room showing children's films in the afternoon. More energetic and creative activities for younger campers in summertime include games in the pool, treasure hunts, handicrafts and storytelling.
Carretera N340, Km 188,8, 29600 Marbella, Malaga; +34 952 83 19 73.
2. Camping Naturista Almanat, Almayate - 1st Category
This is an extremely well-appointed naturist resort between Almayate and Torre del Mar, with around 170 pitches for tents and campervans plus nine cabins in a shady pine forest next to the sea. As well as the beach restaurant and snack bar, there's a barbeque area with picnic benches by the playground, so the kids will be kept happy while you're cooking up their sausages. For pampering, or being energetic if you prefer, there's a jacuzzi and sauna, two swimming pools - indoor (heated) and outdoor - a gym, basketball court, football pitch, and mini-golf, plus a cinema.
N-340, 29749 Almayate, Malaga; +34 952 55 64 62; Almanat.es.
3. Camping Caravaning Marbella Playa - 1st Category
On the sea side of the national coast road, this large campsite, with around 400 pitches and 20 cabins, is very close to a beautiful white sand beach. Surrounded by pine trees, it has good children's facilities, with a pool, table tennis and tennis courts, plus entertainment in English during the summer; there's also a supermarket, restaurant and pizzeria on site. For shoppers and clubbers, this campsite is within easy reach of both Puerto Banus and Marbella; glamorous beach club Nikki Beach, which has been revamped for 2014 with a new pool, is five minutes away.
Carretera Nacional 340, 8, 29600 Marbella, Malaga; +34 952 83 39 98; Campingmarbella.com.
4. Camping El Pino, Torrox - 2nd Category
This large campsite, close to the delightful seaside town of Nerja in the Axarquia region, has over 400 pitches and around 50 pretty green and white-painted wood cabins with front porches. Arranged in terraces on various levels, among avocado and other tropical trees, it has a swimming pool, bar, outdoor café, restaurant, supermarket and laundrette; it's also equipped for disabled visitors. Other facilities include a children's pool and playground, an outdoor fitness area, barbeques, petanque and free WIFI. The beach is 800m away.
Urb. Torrox Park, Calle Cervantes, 1, 29793 Torrox Costa, Malaga; +34 952 53 00 06; Campingelpino.com.
5. Cabopino Camping, Marbella - 2nd Category
This campsite is set in a pine forest, on the mountain side of the road, close to both Marbella and Fuengirola. It's a ten-minute walk to the beach (250m) and marina, and there are two pools (one indoor, open all year round). They have 250 sites for tents and campervans, as well as 60 wooden cabins for two to eight people; there's WIFI throughout the campsite. Activities include pilates, taichi and archery, plus there's a Mini-Club for children in summer. As well as the restaurant and supermarket, a large shopping centre is less than 2 km away. Be aware that this campsite is very popular with young people from all over the continent, and can be noisy in summer.
N-340, 7, 29602 Marbella, Malaga; +34 952 83 43 73; Campingcabopino.com.
Like our pick of the best campsites on the Costa del Sol, but looking for a soft, sensibly priced bed for the night? Check out a few of our favourite cheap hotels.
Alternatively, if you're looking for a cheap rental car for your holiday on the Costa del Sol, get in touch to find out what Espacar can offer you.