Malaga is a hugely popular destination among Brits in the Costa del Sol sunshine …
The fiesta and fun loving city of Málaga is the gateway to the glittering Costa del Sol, a fabulous holiday playground of over three hundred beaches, terrific nightlife, superb watersports and some of Europe’s most challenging golf courses. Holiday with the jet set amongst the luxurious yachts in Puerto Banus or stroll sun-drenched Moorish castles and whitewashed villages, overflowing with the heady scent of citrus fruits.
Weather in Málaga
Sheltered by hills and high mountains, Spain’s southernmost coast enjoys a Mediterranean micro climate, yielding typically hot summers when temperatures rarely fall below 30°C and very mild winters when daily highs can reach around 20°C. This protected position limits the region’s rainfall and results in the Costa del Sol’s enviable record of over 320 days of sunshine a year.
Málaga holiday resorts
The bustling resort of Torremolinos is one of the Costa del Sol’s most famous holiday names. The resort stretches along 9 kilometres of sandy beach, its promenade lined by high rise hotels, shops and international restaurants. A vast selection of bars, discos and nightclubs make this an ideal resort for those seeking lively nightlife although a glimpse of a more traditional Spain can still be seen in the harbour quarter and the fish restaurants of La Carihuela.
The Benalmádena Costa stretches along the coast road from Torremolinos and has something for everyone with an authentic old town, large shopping centre, mini golf amusements and broad sandy beaches fringed with an attractive promenade. A great holiday spot for families, Benalmádena also boasts a vibrant night scene with discos, pubs and clubs to rival those of Torremolinos.
Lively Fuengirola boasts pubs, clubs and discos as well as a typical Andalucían old quarter with labyrinthine streets filled with cafés and tapas bars. The glorious 7 kilometre stretch of beach is flanked by a picturesque palm lined promenade and beautiful harbour and in the busy town centre there’s a large open-air market with a waterpark, amusement park and zoo all close by.
The upmarket resort of Marbella is a favourite spot of many celebrities and boasts some of the finest hotels on the Costa del Sol. Surrounded by sandy beaches and some of the area’s most exclusive golf courses, Marbella’s busy centre offers great boutique shopping plus a traditional old town area of cobbled lanes and alleyways brimming with tapas bars, restaurants and clubs. The jet set marina of Puerto Banus is also close by.
Family fun in Málaga
For a good family beach in Málaga try the Playa Caleta offering sunbeds, parasols, watersports and plenty of chiringuitos or beach bars. The beach is within easy walking distance of the town and bordered by the Pablo Picasso seafront promenade. The busy Playa de la Malagueta is one of the closest beaches to the city and a great spot from which to watch the firework displays of the annual August fiesta.
The Tivoli World Amusement Park in Benalmádena is the largest amusement park on the coast with more than 40 rides and attractions including thrilling white knuckle free fall towers and roller coasters plus carousels, big wheels, children’s shows and musical entertainment for all ages. The park is open daily throughout the summer from 18.00 – 02.00, entrance cost €6 per person, children under 1m tall free of charge. During the winter opening is restricted to weekends only from 12.00 – 20.00
Take the Benalmádena cable car (Teleférico) up to the top of Monte Calamorro (800m) from where there are great views over the coast and the Sierra Nevada. At the summit there are donkey rides, birds of prey sanctuary, horse dressage displays and walking and cycling trails back down the mountainside for the more energetic. The cable car terminus lies right next to Tivoli World in Arroyo de la Miel and the service operates daily from 11.00 – 17.00 (July & August 11.00 – 24.00 but closed betweeen15.00 -18.00), cost €12.50 return per adult, €9 return per child 3 – 7yrs. The Teleférico is part of the Selwo group with reduced cost tickets available for entry to all three attractions; Selwo Adventure Park, Selwo Marina and the Teleférico.
The Selwo Adventure Park lies between Estepona and San Pedro and offers safari style tours of the nature park where over 2,000 animals from across 5 continents live in semi wild conditions. You can explore the hills in 4×4 jeeps or by foot using overhead walkways and suspended bridges plus there’s an aviary, camel rides and overnight safari lodges. The park opens daily during the summer from 10.00 – 18.00 or 20.00, cost €22.50 per adult, €15.50 per child 3 – 7yrs. Reduced cost tickets are available for entry to all three of the Selwo group’s attractions; Selwo Adventure Park, Selwo Marina and the Benalmádena Teleférico.
Water parks are always a great idea to keep the kids cool. Two of the best are the Parque Acuatico Mijas on the outskirts of Fuengirola with labyrinth slides, water chutes, kamikaze runs, wave pools, an adventure river with raft slides, shows and aqua aerobics classes. The Aquapark in Torremolinos also offers thrills and spills with plenty of water rides, slides and even sea lion shows.
The Sea Life Aquarium Benalmádena lies next to the marina and displays marine life from around the world including sea horses, sea serpents, feeding displays, recreated Amazonia with piranhas and a turtle and shark reef. The Aquarium is open daily from 10.00.
The province of Andalucía yields a huge number and variety of natural caves. Visit the famous caves of Nerja with their fantastic stalagmites and stalactites or the fascinating prehistoric paintings in the caves of La Pileta near Ronda. Also in the Sierra de Ronda guide assistance is required if you wish to tour around the El Cueva del Gato, the Cave of the Cat – a series of huge caverns and lakes carved out by the force of an underground river.
Out & about in Málaga
From Málaga airport line 19 buses run every 25/30 minutes to the centre of Málaga where they terminate at the Paseo del Parque. Catch the 19 bus from outside the Terminal 1 arrivals hall, cost €1 per person one way and journey time 20 minutes approx. There is also a bus service from the airport direct to Marbella departing at 06.15, 08.00, 10.15, 12.00, 13.45, 15.30, 17.15, 19.30, 21.15 and 23.00, journey time 45 minutes approx. The Marbella buses are operated by Portillo and also depart from outside the Terminal 1 arrivals hall, cost €4.03 per person one way.
Trains run from Málaga airport to the centre of Málaga every 30 minutes from 06.59 to 23.59, cost €1.20 per person one way and also to Fuengirola every 30 minutes from 05.44 to 22.44, cost €1.85 per person one way.
Taxis from Málaga airport are plentiful although queues can be lengthy during the summer months. For journeys from the airport expect to pay approx €15 – 20 to the centre of Málaga, €10 – 15 to Torremolinos, €15 – 25 to Benalmádena, €25 – 35 to Fuengirola, €50 – 65 to Marbella, €80 – 95 to Estepona, €130 – 160 approx to Algeciras. Car hire companies with airport collection facilities inside the Terminal 2 building include Avis, Centauro, Coral Rent a Car, Crown-Auriga, Europcar, Goldcar Europa, Helle-Hollis, Hertz, National Atesa-Alamo and Record. Book online or call beforehand to arrange reservations and pick ups.
Approximate distances from Málaga Airport are as follows:-
Benalmádena 20 kilometres
Cordoba 135 kilometres
Estepona 70 kilometres
Fuengirola 25 kilometres
Gibraltar 100 kilometres
Granada 90 kilometres
Málaga 8 kilometres
Marbella 50 kilometres
Nerja 55 kilometres
Seville 160 kilometres
Torremolinos 15 kilometres
The inner city of Málaga lies just behind the harbour, one of Spain’s busiest ports. Popular visits include the cathedral, bullring, Picasso’s birthplace, the Picasso Museum and a walk up the hill to the Gibralfaro castle, Alcazaba fortress and Roman amphitheatre for panoramic views over the city. The Paseo del Parque promenade leads down to the harbour and Málaga’s most popular beach La Malagueta is also within an easy walk of the city centre.
For a glimpse of Spain’s Moorish past, visit at least one city on the Costa del Sol’s ‘Golden Triangle’. Granada’s fabulous Alhambra, nestled against the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada is a jewel of Moorish design and one of the most popular excursions from the holiday beach resorts. Cordoba’s superb Mezquita or mosque was at one time the second largest in the Muslim world whilst Seville’s mighty Cathedral and Giralda still dominates the city and remains one of Spain’s most famous sights.
More than just ‘The Rock’, Gibraltar is Britain’s little slice of the Med in Gibraltar where you’ll still have to cross the border at La Linea (remember to take your passport!). An official ‘Rock Tour’ will show you St Michael’s Cave, the Barbary apes den, Moorish Castle, Siege Tunnels and City Under Siege exhibition.
To experience a typically whitewashed Andalucían village, visit the charming resort of Mijas Pueblo, famed for its donkey taxis and clinging to the mountainside amidst pine forests and breathtaking views across to the Mediterranean. Picturesque Ronda is perched high in the rugged mountains of the Serrania de Ronda and is renowned as the site of one of Spain’s oldest bullrings built around 1785. Around the cobbled streets of Nerja to the east of Málaga the famous promenade known as the ‘Balcony of Europe’ runs along the cliff edge.
Málaga sports scene
One of the world’s most famous centres for golf, an irresistible combination of almost constant sunshine and challenging courses attracts golfers of all calibres to the Costa del Sol. Over 60 courses are clustered on the Costa del Sol, mostly concentrated around the Marbella and Sotogrande areas including such famous names as Valderrama, host of the Ryder Cup and World Championships, San Roque, Alcaidesa Links, La Duquesa, Los Arqueros, Las Brisas, Marbella Golf & Country Club and Torrequebrada.
As you’d expect, the watersports facilities on the Costa del Sol are excellent. You’ll find windsurfing, jet-skiing, water skiing, parasailing and surfing in all the major resorts. Strong winds at Tarifa make it popular for the latest sport of kitesurfing and there’s also a cable ski and wakeboarding lake at San Pedro near Marbella that is ideal for learners or those wishing to improve their water skiing.
Top scuba diving sites to the east of Málaga include the sheltered waters of the marine reserve in Almuñecar including spots such as Marine Del Este, La Herradura and Cerro Gordo. For more experienced divers there’s reef diving off Tarifa and excellent wreck diving around Gibraltar.
The Benalmádena cable car or Teleférico will carry passengers and mountain bikes on the 15-minute journey to the summit of Monte Calamorro, at 800m the highest point on the Málaga coast. From here there are cycling trails for a thrilling ride back down the mountainside. The Teleférico is part of the Selwo group and the cable car terminus lies right next to Benalmádena Tivoli World in Arroyo de la Miel. The service operates daily from 11.00 – 17.00 (July & August 11.00 – 24.00 but closed betweeen15.00 -18.00), cost €7 one way per person, bike included.
The province of Andalucía yields a huge number and variety of natural caves, some of these open to the public but others just a little off the beaten track and ideal for the sports of caving and pot holing. Chasm GESM in the Sierra de Tolox at 1,090 metres deep, is the largest in Spain, the third largest in the world and still awaits exploration by the most adventurous and experienced.
Málaga shopping & dining
In Málaga try the shops around Calle Marques de Larios, Calle Nueva, Plaza de la Constitución and Calle de Granada for shoes and clothes including big name high street fashion shops such as Zara and Mango. Other good shopping centres include Málaga Plaza, Larios Centre and Avenida Andalucía for El Corte Inglés department store.
Trendy Puerto Banus is the place to see and be seen as the international jet-set moor their luxurious yachts in the marina. Stroll a designer label heaven of Escada, Gucci, Versace, Louis Feraud and Charles Jourdan or simply people watch from one of the many waterfront brasseries.
Large department stores, trendy boutiques and traditional shops all form part of Marbella’s central shopping district with the star-spangled restaurants of the ‘Golden Mile’ perfect for more celebrity spotting. Other shopping spots include La Cañada mall just outside Marbella and the winding streets of the old town where leather, jewellery and craft stalls sit side by side with traditional restaurants and tapas bars.
Central Torremolinos brims with tourist shops, large department stores and international restaurants lining the beachfront offering holidaymakers limitless dining choices in over 250 restaurants and cafés. Nearby in Benalmádena’s Plaza Solymar the Benalmar shopping centre also features a multi screen cinema complex showing English language films.
Fish and seafood feature heavily within the Andalucían cuisine. In Málaga seafood fans should head east towards the beaches of Pedregalejo and El Palo, both of which offer unique character and fresh tapas of boquerones and chanquetas (anchovies), sardines and squid. In Torremolinos try the traditional fishing village of La Carihuela and in Marbella the restaurants of the marina area – some of the best for fresh fish. Typical Andalucían cuisine includes dishes such as cold gazpacho soup, ajo blanco, (clear, cold soup of garlic, almonds and grapes), cazuela (clam and noodle soup), deep fried fish, polvorones (shortbread) and one of the region’s top exports, jerez (sherry) in its many varieties; fino (clear and dry), manzanilla, amontillado, palo cortado and olorosa (dark and golden).
Spanish nightlife starts late with many clubs opening from 11pm onwards and the partying continuing till way past dawn. In Málaga there are allegedly more bars per square metre than anywhere else in Europe and the narrow side streets and back alleys around Marques de Larios, Plaza de la Constitución and Calle de Granada are crammed with tapas bars, bodegas, wine bars, discos and nightclubs.
For the true spirit of Andalucía, a flamenco evening of spontaneous song, dance and guitar showmanship reveals the passionate rhythms of southern Spain whilst Málaga’s Cervantes theatre offers a full schedule of classical music complemented by pop concerts staged in the city’s bullring or sports arenas.
What’s new in Málaga
One of the latest of the many exclusive resorts to be developed on the Costa del Sol is The Village at Estepona’s Valle Romano. With a strong slant towards sporting facilities, the complex offers access to an 18-hole PGA standard golf course, tennis courts, spas, state-of-the-art gym, football academy and affiliations with a number of major football clubs including Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, Celtic, Newcastle United and West Ham United.
One of Málaga’s most famous sons is Pablo Picasso, born at Plaza de la Merced 15, his birthplace now housing the Foundation Picasso. Both the Foundation and the Museo Picasso Málaga continue to be two of Málaga’s most visited attractions.
Hollywood film star Antonio Banderas was also born in Málaga and with actress wife Melanie Griffith, spends his time at their family homes in both Los Angeles and Marbella. He is also keen to use his native town of Málaga in his own film productions too with ‘The Way of The English’ recently both cast and filmed here.