Malaga - Undiscovered Gem of the Costa de Sol!

The historic coastal city of Malaga is, for most guests at our villa, the gateway to Andalucia. Many who arrive at Malaga airport each year are tempted to speed past the city’s bleak western outskirts, returning only on the day of their flight home. Yet we feel that Malaga makes for a wonderful day out, particularly as it is only 25 minutes by train from our luxury Andalucia villa!

Malaga Parque, Andalucia

Those who do take the time out of their villa holiday to explore Malaga are seduced by its vibrant character and down-to-earth charm. This relaxed city, with its excellent year-round climate and friendly people, is an excellent place to experience authentic Andalucian culture, without embellishments designed only for tourists. A city where the summer is more a state of mind than a time of year!

Malaga’s principal assets are situated to the east of the city centre. The elegant tree-lined boulevard of the Avenida de Andalucia leads eastwards into the gorgeous Paseo del Parque. This beautiful stretch of tropical greenery divides the port on the one side from the atmospheric historic quarter on the other. Tall palms and other exotic species collected from all over the world grow enthusiastically in Malaga’s benign climate and create a tranquil oasis in which adults can relax and children play. You can also pick up a horsedrawn carriage ride here. Benches decorated with typical Andalucian tiles are provided for rest.

bar in Malaga

Behind the Paseo del Parque is the historic quarter of the city – a rambling area of narrow Andalucian streets, fascinating shops and enticing tapas bars, not to mention the impressive Cathedral. A lot of money has been spent on the city in recent years, and the historic quarter has been one of the main beneficiaries of this. Many of the old buildings have now been sympathetically restored and the area is an excellent place to wander, while sampling exquisite jamon and the fine sweet wines of Malaga in some of the ancient bars. Malaga’s covered Mercado Central is also well worth a visit, where you can pick up delicious fresh fish, spices, luxuriant fruits and vegetables, and the first class cured jamones and chorizos beloved of every native of Andalucia. Bring some back to the villa to enjoy your own home-made tapas on the terrace! Children will love the gorgeous cakes, chocolates and ice-creams at the Cafeteria Lepanto on the pedestrianised Calle Larios – a wonderful place to sit and watch the world go by!

The crowning glory of this area is now the Picasso Museum, opened in 2003 and set in the restored Renaissance Palacio de Buenavista. Picasso always wished for his works to be shown in the city of his birth and you can see more than 150 of them here, donated by the artist’s daughter-in-law and grandson. The collection (the third largest Picasso collection in the world) spans the length of his career and shows not only Cubist works but many other styles as well.

At the end of the Paseo del Parque is the bullring, where Andalucia’s most famous bullfighters can be seen in action during the August Feria. Dominating this part of the city is the imposing Alcazaba fortress, begun by the Romans and extended by the Moors. Those who climb up through the beautiful terraced gardens are rewarded by stunning views over the bay of Malaga. A further walk brings you to the Gibralfaro castle, where a drink on the terrace of the Parador hotel is a great way to recover from your walk!

From the bullring you can head down to the nearby beach, and amble along the palm-fringed boulevard known as the Paseo Maritimo Pablo Picasso. This eastern part of Malaga is known as La Malagüeta and is home to the most expensive real estate in the city. There are many elegant old villas, smart cafés and bars. Continuing east we reach the beachside suburbs of Pedregalejo and El Palo (take a taxi here!), once the old fisherman’s quarter but now very sought-after as well! This are area is very popular with Malaga’s student population by night and the bars and restaurants are busy here all year round. El Palo beach is the location of perhaps the most enjoyable restaurant in Spain, El Tintero (read our review!) -  a paradise for lovers of fresh fish and seafood!

Malagüeños (natives of Malaga) adore the summer months and throw themselves into the summer lifestyle with gusto. The enjoyment reaches a climax with the August feria, where the city celebrates for two weeks by nights and by day. Visitors will notice the shops selling the exuberant gypsy dresses that Andalucian women often wear at Feria time. Small children are also extravagantly decked out in traditional Andalucian dress. The beach bars are busy into the early hours. But spending time in Malaga will lighten a work-weary heart at any time of year. Malagüeños seem to carry the summer spirit with them all year round. Guests at our holiday villa in Andalucia will certainly love their visit to Malaga!