If you haven't yet booked your summer holiday for 2018 it isn't too late! This year, Lee and I left it last minute and ended up snapping up a great last minute deal for a babymoon in Tenerife. Sometimes it is actually worth leaving aspects of holiday booking until the last minute because the deals can be unexpectedly good. Especially at a time where the impending doom of Brexit is clearly driving prices skywards, and a mere long weekend in Europe can cost a kings ransom.
Back in September 2017, we booked a fairly last minute trip to Malaga with a couple of good friends for 4 nights. I had visited Malaga previously during some more stressful points in life, where due to various circumstances I hadn't really been able to fully appreciate this wonderful city. What I did know though, was that I was sure I wanted to go back without the emotional baggage, and visit a city that had still managed somehow to get under my skin.
So along with Lee, John and Zaina I ventured back to a lovely apartment in the centre of the city to rediscover what Malaga had to offer. Malaga is a great balance of lovely beaches, fantastic night life, good food, good shopping, plenty of culture/history and still pretty Spanish (for the snobs among you - myself included - it isn't overrun with Brits on tour).
By way of a small guide, here are some of my stand out landmarks/places (in no particular order) worth a visit/explore in Malaga based on both this trip and previous:
HotelCastillo de Santa Catalina - This beautiful hotel was the backdrop to a wedding I was lucky enough to attend in 2014 on my first visit and is located in the exclusive El Limonar area of Málaga, 250 yards from La Caleta beach. It offers stunning views over the sea, port and surrounding hills. Built in 1932, this building has held onto much of its historic charm and the grounds are beautiful. A real feast for the eyes and only just over a mile from the city centre.
La Terraza, Alcazaba Premium Hostel Málaga - This rooftop bar situated near to the Alcazaba of Malaga and the Teatro Romano offers fantastic views of both of these landmarks as well as lovely views over the rooftops and streets of Malaga, providing ample opportunity for people watching. Not to mention, they serve up a mean cocktail on a hot day!
Alcazaba of Malaga - On my first trip to Malaga, a friend and I attempted to make it to the top of the hill in the grounds of this castle only to give up due to the heat. This time I was determined to reach the top on a similarly hot day. And boy was it worth it! The grounds and ruins of this castle are well worth exploring and the amazing views of the Marina, port and the bull ring. There are sensibly placed cafes throughout the climb should you need to collapse in the shade with a drink momentarily but this is a great way to take in some history, get some sun, put in a bit of an uphill workout and see the city from above.
Playa de la Malagueta - One of many reclaimed beaches in Malaga. If you fancy a laze on a lovely sandy beach or a refreshing swim in the sea, this is definitely one of the beaches I would recommend. Clean and not overly crowded (but we may have got lucky because it was September rather than peak holiday season).
Chiringuitos - These cafes can be found at pretty frequent intervals along Malaga's beaches, and are a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere in which to grab a paella, some fresh sardines, or even just a Tinto de Verano con limón (effectively a Sangria), a sweet but refreshing summer drink which always goes down way too easily! On this trip we stopped at Chiringuito Caleta Playa (on the beach next to Playa de Malagueta) for a yummy paella and drinks with a sea view.
Calle Larios - Malaga's premium shopping street is an impressive site. Lined with a combination of very smart high street and designer shops even those who aren't into shopping can appreciate a wander along this street and the welcome shade from the summer sun under the shades overhead. Walking along it you can understand why it is the most expensive street to live on in Malaga. A perfect spot for people watching.
Restaurante Amador at Hotel Villa Guadalupe - Located in the luxurious residential neighbourhood of El Atabal (around 10 minutes by car from the city centre), this hotel and restaurant are well worth a visit. Speaking as someone who has both stayed in the hotel and eaten in the restaurant I can wholeheartedly recommend this place. The views over the city make a beautiful setting for a delicious meal and the service is fantastic. I don't agree with my parents on everything, but I can see why they always make it their mission to visit this place every time they visit Malaga. Not a cheap restaurant but affordable for a nice treat and a great way to end our holiday!
Puerto de Malaga - Day or night, the port in Malaga is a thriving hub of shops, bars and restaurants and a promenade prime for people watching or having a good gawp at the cruise ships and celebrity yachts coming in to dock. You can also hire a segway or take in a dose of culture and art at the Centre Pompidou Malaga, a gallery described as "The Centre Pompidou's seaside outpost". I have enjoyed several great meals both during the day and at night at various bars and restaurants along this stretch so would thoroughly recommend it as a place to while away an evening date, or a lazy summer afternoon.
Gran Hotel Miramar - Used as a field hospital during the Spanish Civil War, this hotel has quite a history. Back in the 1970's when my mother lived in Malaga, this hotel was was not in use (it closed its doors in 1967 until 1987 when it became Malaga's Palace of Justice for twenty years). More recently it has undergone an incredible transformation, and in 2016 re-opened as a hotel. It really is a wonder to behold. The design and architecture alone is stunning, and for those of us who don't have the budget to stay in the lap of luxury, its nice to have a wonder and pretend, even just for a moment.
Museo Carmen Thyssen - This gallery in the centre of Malaga is a great place to while away a few hours and soak up some some more culture. On a rare rainy April day I found this to be the perfect consolation and prime distraction from some rubbish weather.
So there you have it, a few of my recommended things to do in Malaga. I still have many reasons to return myself, such as the Picasso Museum, the stunning Malaga Cathedral, the Teatro Romana, or the Collection of Saint Petersburg (the Russian Museum) housed within in a former Tobacco factory, but with so much to see, I simply haven't managed to fit it all in yet!
I'm confident that this is a city which could adapt to most travellers' needs. Whether your priorities are delicious food, a thriving nightlife, a laze on the beach, some ancient history, a bit of classic and modern art or just the chance to wander in the sun and people watch, this place has all of those things and more. I think I may have just talked myself back into another visit! That's next summer's holiday sorted then!