Mediterranean Motorway Malaga: A-7 versus AP-7

Mediterranean Motorway on the Costa del SolGetting by car from Malaga airport to any of the resorts of the western Costa del Sol, there are basically two ways of travelling the Mediterranean Motorway, either along its toll free motorway (A-7) or the toll road (AP-7). We´ll have a look at advantages and disadvantages of both, as well as prices depending on season.

The Mediterranean motorway AP-7 (E-15) in the province of Malaga has a length of 105 km and consists of two segments: Malaga-Estepona and Estepona-Guadiaro. This toll road runs almost parallel to the old coastal road N-340 and A-7.

Mediterranean Motorway Malaga A-7 versus AP-7

The A-7 is a very busy highway and with high density, due to the fact of being located directly on the coast and linking all coastal municipalities. Since in many sections the A-7 is actually the old national road, there are many areas with just two lanes and narrow curves that force to slow down to 80 km / h.

Another major drawback is the driving quality; there are numerous exits from housing developments with a very short or no acceleration lane, and often the driver of the right lane is forced to sudden braking due to reckless incorporations. This applies especially to the section between Fuengirola and Marbella which we personally don´t consider a very relaxing stretch to drive; while the section Estepona – Guadiaro has a large number of roundabouts and also presents sections with limitations in speed of 80 km / h.

In the AP-7 obviously these disadvantages do not exist. The driver can enjoy a much more fluid and pleasant journey to the Costa del Sol municipalities. However, both by distance and by travel time, there is no significant difference between the two motorways.

Mediterranean Motorway AP-7, Costa del Sol

Streetview of AP-7 at the height of Marbella Golf Club

On the other hand, stress-free travel and without congestions on the AP-7 has its price which varies considerably depending on the season and leads many drivers to continue opting for the A-7; especially in summer it is completely saturated by a huge number of vehicles.
In the AP-7 apply two types of rates: The normal rate is applied in the months of October to May, except Easter; the special rate is applied in the months of June, July, August and September and Easter.

Let’s have a look at the prices:
Airport to Marbella: Normal rate: 4.50€; Special rate: 7.30€
Airport to Estepona: Normal rate: 7.55€; Special rate: 12.25€
Airport to Manilva: Normal rate: 8.50€; Special rate: 13.80€

As you can see, the more expensive section is towards Marbella; this toll road begins before reaching Fuengirola and has a length of 30 km. This section is the one that corresponds on the A-7 / N-340 to the most difficult and congested stretch on the Costa del Sol.

So, although a somewhat higher disbursement in summer, if you prefer a stress-free driving, we recommend taking during high season the AP-7 towards Marbella.

Mediterranean Motorway A-7 / N-340, Costa del Sol

Street view N-340 at the height of Sabinillas, western Costa del Sol

After this popular municipality begins to de-congest traffic a little more towards the western Costa del Sol and especially after Estepona the landscape begins to be more scenic, with sections of the old N-340 travelling along the sea and less housing Developments to give your eyes a treat with the landscape and the nearby Rock of Gibraltar.

39 Responses to Mediterranean Motorway Malaga: A-7 versus AP-7

  1. Imogen Jones says:

    Hi,
    We are travelling from Malaga airport to Estepona this summer, the plan is to take the toll road. Are there any service stations along the way/places to take a break?
    Thanks
    Imogen

  2. Thomas McCue says:

    Hi,I may be going to Gibraltar using the AP7.I have a car hired from yourselves,do I pay cash at the tolls or is it charged to the car rental.
    Regards Thomas McCue

  3. Jeffrey Lynn says:

    Good day, My name is Jeffrey. I will be in Malaga, arriving at the Renfe AVE station on May 25th, 2017 with my wife & cousin. We would like the cost of a car rental from May 25 until May 31st, and to leave the car at the Malaga airport around 8 am. We will be driving from Malaga to Tarifa to get to Tangiers on Friday May 26 or Saturday May 27th. Van you tell me if those days are good for the ferry, which day is better.
    Best regards,

    Jeffrey Lynn

  4. KAsh says:

    Hi
    We are driving from Malaga to Granada in early April, and then to Benalmadena on the same day (at 6-7pm). Visiting from UK and with little experience of driving on the right what would your recommendation be regarding choice of roads plus any other useful advice.

  5. Jodie Vessey says:

    Hi, please can someone give me directions from Estepona to Malaga airport and back via the AP7 toll road.
    Thanks

  6. Jim says:

    Can tolls be paid using VISA?

  7. Mike says:

    I see road work going on at the A7P around the Altos de Marbella service station. Are they making an exit there? It is right by the hospital and I hear a new motocross bike track?

    Regards

    Mike

    • Hello Mike! By now we cannot tell you what the road work is about, as we couldn’t find any related notice; yet about the planned moto cross circuit, the mayor of Marbella, José Bernal, has nullified by decree the circuit construction project due to many protests of the neighbours.
      Kind regards!

      • Mike says:

        Thanks for that info on the circuit. I am a regular visitor to Los Altos de Los Monteros and was wondering if the people there would have complained.

        It would have been good to have a facility for motocross though. Another location perhaps in the future.

        Thanks.

        • Thank you Mike, you are most welcome! As far as we understood, it’s a resident’s area and of course they prefer to have some peace and not the sound of motorbikes in the closeby hills ;).
          Ps. Please remember to book with your client login in combination with the discount code HELLOFAN.

          Best regards!

  8. nejat uygur says:

    hihihi

    i m travelling from malaga to tarifa in october . how much would i pay if i used the ap7
    highway ?

    best regards
    nejat

  9. Gabriela Lo says:

    Hello,
    we will be staying at Miraflores Beach and Country Club Resort in last week of August to 1st wee of September. We will be renting a car from malaga Airport. I would like to know the tolls cost
    – from Airport to the resort?
    – from resort to Tarifa?
    – from resort to Seville?
    – from Seville to Tarifa?
    – would AP7,AP4 and AP46 the only toll roads we will be using for the above trips?

    your advises would be greatly appreciated.
    thanks,
    Gabriela

  10. Mary Kelly says:

    We will be driving a motorhome through France and into Spain,later this year. Our final destination is South of Estepona. We had intended to drive the coastal road ( A7) through Spain, however”we’ve read some distrubing reports of ” carjacking” and distraction thefts on the A7. These incidents seem to be more prevalant around Barcelona. Is there an alternative route we can take that avoids going near Barcelona?

    • Hello Mary!
      Basically there are two main routes to the south, one along the A-7 (Autovía del Mediterráneo) passing by Barcelona and the other along The E-5 /E-902 (Autovía del Sur) passing by Madrid.

      It´s true there are many reports about deliberate puncturing of the tyre, which is usually done by a motorcyclist when the car is stopped at traffic lights, followed by a distraction theft.

      Yet these usually happen in town and the car has to stop at a traffic light for instance.

      Thus the easiest way to circumvent this is to stay directly on the AP-7 (toll motorway) and just pass by Barcelona.

      Please find attached a link to Google Maps. Kind regards!

      https://goo.gl/maps/6R2Qx

  11. Sanjay says:

    I have gone thru’ this excellent article. Can you also guide us in travel from Barcelona.

    We are four of a family and will be travelling from Barcelona to Alicante (halt for one night) to Malaga (or Granada, we are yet to decide). We are from India and accustomed to driving on left hand side, hence which will be easier route?

    • Hello Sanjay, thank you very much for your feedback!

      The full route from Barcelona to Malaga is a bit over 1000 km. We have attached a couple of links to Google maps where you can view it.

      Going from Barcelona via Alicante to Granada and then Malaga https://goo.gl/maps/KfRV0:
      You stay mainly on the AP-7/ E-15 (toll road) until Puerto Lumbreras, from where you will take the national motorway to Granada which partly becomes national road. From Granada to Malaga you drive again on the motorway.

      Going from Barcelona via Alicante to Malaga:
      https://goo.gl/maps/RpyO2
      You can either travel the same route as above or take the coastal route via Almeria and stay all the way on the E-15; this route is slightly longer(about 30 km to Malaga) but it might be easier for you to travel as you just have to keep driving on the same Highway.

      We hope this information is useful for you, best regards & have a good trip!

  12. Dara says:

    Thanks for this article, very useful. Can you tell me a bit about the hills on this route please. I would like to book a holiday to stay in Estepona but the person I am travelling with, who will be driving, has really very bad fear of heights to the point where he can’t drive along a road that has a drop off on one side even if he’s not in the lane next to the drop. He looked at the map and saw the AP-7 and A-7 run through mountain areas and has said it will not work for him. Please can you tell me whether these roads are flat with no drops?

    • Hello Dara!
      Taking into account your description, it will not be possible for your friend to drive along the AP-7, as there are several strips running through mountainous area (with fantastic views, by the way).
      So the only possibility for him would be driving along the old national road N-340 with runs along the coast (partly the A-7).
      Otherwise you could use public transport or a private transfer.
      Kind regards!

  13. Sandra says:

    we are going to La Cala golf resort in July for three weeks and hiring a car from you – i have read some really disturbing things about how dangerous the A7 road is – i have a fear of motorways in britain and this sounds so much worse!!! I’ve also heard that the toll road is also very dangerous because everyone drives so fast on them. our son in law is receiving the car from you from malaga airpot and my husband and i are arriving at malaga train station – what is the safest thing for us to do as we will have 2 small children with us? do we get a taxi, or a train to Fuengirola and then a taxi – if we do the latter do we miss the most dangerous part of the A7? will a taxi driver take the toll road if we ask and pay for it? I am very stressed and now wanting to cancel my holiday – please help!!

    • Hi Sandra,

      Don’t worry, you have nothing to fear about. It’s true that there are some accident blackspots through the A7, but since maximum speed was reduced to 80 km/h accidents are much less common (and much less serious too). On the other way, the AP7 is a very secure toll road. It is in perfect condition, just stay on the right lane and drive around 80-110 km/h.

      The good side is that La Cala Golf Resort is located near the start of the A7 ‘bad part’, so you will only have to drive through it during 3-5 minutes. In your case, taking the AP7 toll is not really useful, because the first exit is a too far, so you would have to get into the A7 again to get back.

      I think you should consider these options:
      1.- Getting a transfer from the Train Station to La Cala Resort: https://www.malagacar.com/information/malaga-airport-transfers.html (Choose Malaga Centre to La Cala de Mijas – Approx. Cost: 70€)
      2.- Travel with you son in law (you will need to carry/hire the appropriate seats for your children).
      3.- I would discard the train/taxi option, I’m not pretty sure that public taxis can provide 2 child seats.

      I hope you find this information useful.

      Regards,
      MalagaCar.com

      • Sandra says:

        Thank you so much, i am now waiting for a quote for a transfer car. Can you please tell me what the road is like going from la cala beach/town to la cala hotel resort? is it safe and safe to drive at night/ is it like the A7? do we need a car or is there public transport or taxis as we will want to go to the beach during the day and restaurants at night. thank you

        • Hi Sandra, well, the road between La Cala Beach and the Golf Resort is smaller, it only has 1 lane per direction (A7 has 3 lanes per direction until the exit of Miramar-Fuengirola, then it has a 2 lanes per direction).

          The road isn’t very well-lighted in some sections, but overall it is OK and you will be just 10 minutes away from the beach. Here is the route: https://goo.gl/maps/u6t5Q

          PS: Bringing/hiring a GPS wouldn’t be a bad idea, although once you get there for the first time you will know how to get back again without problems.
          About public transport: You can always get a taxi to get back to the hotel (you won’t find any buses during the night).

          Regards,
          MalagaCar.com

  14. Melissa says:

    Hi! My sister and I will be going to Spain in 2 weeks (beginning of November) and would like to rent a car to drive along the Mediterranean Sea. I am looking for information about which road (AP7 vs A7) for the best views. We are from the inland US and would really like to see as much coast as possible. Although the AP7 with its tolls and less stress is tempting, I’m wondering if the views are very good from there? If we are looking for a drive with great views of the sea, would it be better for us to drive A7? Thank you very much for any info you can give!

    • Hi Melissa,

      Well, the A7 runs along the coast, so you will enjoy some nice views from there, on the other hand, it can be stressful sometimes and dangerous in some points. There are also some speed radars on this road, so please do not exceed the limit of 80 km/h.

      The AP7 also provides some nice inland landscapes from a higher perspective and a more pleasant driving.

      I would choose the AP7 for the first trip, and then would take the A7 for the return trip (so you would drive on the lane closest to the coast).

      Regards,
      MalagaCar.com

  15. Pamela and Stuart Sadler says:

    Always use Malagacar.com and wouldn`t use another company as they are always punctual with airport pick up and their staff are always friendly and effecient and speak very good english. Their cars are clean new and beautifully maintained.

    Pamela and Stuart Sadler.

  16. Alan Jones says:

    You have highlighted the single journey tolls – but most journeys are return. Thus the cost of a return trip from the airport to Marbella is almost 15 euro ! Very few people will pay this on a regular basis. The AP-7 is grossly underutilised. The A-7 is over-used and at times dangerous, with the consequent cost in journey times, pollution and the high cost of any accidents. I suggest organisations like Malagacar should campaign strongly for the tolls to be reduced at all times of the year. The summer increase simply exploits tourists. In the end, if many more people were to use the AP-7, the total toll revenue might actually increase !

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