Spain is my mediterranean Europe achilles heel. It might not be the prettiest of countries; it’s a little rough around the edges; the sea is often bracing, rather than the turquoise of it’s neighbours. But I love the people. And the ‘family-first’. And the food. And the climate. It’s fun and friendly and relaxed. Visit Malaga for all of these things. Plus – if visiting for longer – it’s surrounded by the wonderful Andalucian countryside. Sigh.
3 THINGS YOU REALLY CAN NOT MISS:
GIBRALFARO CASTLE | well-worth the walk up to the top for both spectacular views of Malaga and the preserved Castillo itself, which dates back to 11th century Muslim design. Also check out: lovely sun trap La Odisea at the bottom of the climb.
PLAZA DE LA CONSTITUTION | this visit was just before Christmas, and the main square that sits at the heart of Malaga’s bustling shopping streets was lit up and looked magical. It’s a good place to use to orientate yourself in this compact yet energetic little city.
LO GUENO | what a find. Spain is fantastic, because you can nibble constantly on delicious tapas and drinking is enjoyed as part of life, not a binge-session. This all ages local hangout ended up being the perfect spot to while away an entire afternoon – sit at the bar; I can’t vouch for the connected restaurant.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
BODEGA BAR EL PIMPI | I was hesitant that this was an LP tourist spot, but having arrived from London on Friday night at 1am this place right opposite our airbnb was jam-packed with locals until close at about 3am.
PASEO PARQUE | Malaga’s main artery flows in along Avenida de Andalucia and continues through this waterfront park. Walk alongside buildings of note such as the Town Hall and lovely orange groves. Also check out: Antigua Casa de Guardia on the main Avenida for barrels of local wine.
CATEDRAL DE LA ENCARNACION DE MALAGA | everything in this city is so accessible on foot that you won’t be able to miss this towering renaissance cathedral: be sure to pop inside as it’s pretty impressive.
3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:
OVER-ORDERING | you might pick up that I’m clutching at straws here! In short: GO TO MALAGA. Everything is very cheap, and the smaller options for as little as €1 or €2 are generally more than enough.
PLAZA DE TOROS | this wasn’t open in December as the season runs April to September, and wouldn’t be a live event I’d rush to despite some admitted curiosity. I’m sure the atmosphere would be incredible but it doesn’t justify the bull baiting.
DUAL ENTRY | another minor point, but it’s a bit bizarre that the Alcazaba – a palacial fortification right next to the castle – isn’t linked to Gibralfaro itself, so you might want to pick one over the other.
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
EASTER | my grandparents used to live in Benalmadena so we visited Malaga a lot as children, and the Semana Santa processions are quite unlike anything you’ve ever witnessed before: sombre, magical, eerie, moving.
AND KNOW THIS: Pablo Picasso was born here and for fans his museum houses over 200 works.