Getting 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.
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.
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.