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Ever since we started exploring Europe, I’ve wanted to find a place that had the unique combination of warm weather, beaches, hiking, and castles.
Luckily we didn’t have to look for long. That place, my friends, is Malaga, Spain.
When we arrived in Malaga, we were immediately greeted by sunshine, oceanside views, and of course, that famous Andalusian friendliness and hospitality.
Our Airbnb host thoughtfully left helpful little notes all over the apartment anticipating our every need. (“extra blankets in here, just in case you get chilly”, “an extra heater in case you need it”, “bought some groceries for you since you’re getting in late”, “here are some guidebooks to the best restaurants and sights in Malaga”).
He even went as a far as doing a full survey at the end of our stay to make sure everything was perfect and took notes on how to improve the next guests’ stay. I was impressed.
Everywhere we went, people were super kind, smiling, and friendly. No wonder, it’s pretty hard to get grumpy when you live in a place with views like these:
Especially when you can sit by the seaside, watch the sunset while eating freshly caught fish grilled on an open flame (called “Espetos” in Spanish):
Add a spritz of lime, some tapas, a pitcher of Sangria and you’re in heaven.
Fun fact: Did you know that Malaga was also once known as “Malaka” which means “salt” because of the popularity of salting fish near the harbour? *singing* “the more you know!”.
After our seaside lunch, we explored some of the many exceptional sights Malaga had to offer:
Even though Malaga has a youthful, beach-resort vibe to it, it’s actually one of the world’s oldest cities, with nearly 3 thousand years of history! And what better way to complete your first history lesson than by going to La Alcazaba, the Moorish palace that sits at the foot of Mount Gibralfaro.
Marvelling at the exceptional ocean views, you can wander around the gardens in peace and quiet.
Castillo de Gibralfaro
Hiking up from La Alcazaba, leads up to Gibralfaro castle, with more brilliant views and historical architecture:
Since we are big fans of hiking, we enjoyed this 45-minute relatively steep walk up the hill, but you can also take a cab or bus up and walk down instead. Wanderer was a big fan of the latter, but I felt it was too easy and “cheating.”
As usual, when we disagree on something travel-related my rule is to make fun of Wanderer until he gives in (“who’s acting like a little princess? You are. Yes you are.”), I’m glad he eventually did because I felt like the views at the top were the perfect reward for our workout:
When we came back down from the castle, we strolled along the beach, which thankfully wasn’t crowded at all.
The water was a bit too cold for swimming, but we loved sitting on the sand and enjoying the perfect weather and people watching. Apparently, Malaga is one of the best places in Europe to escape from the winter, with a mild December to February temperature of 17 degrees C or 63 degrees F, and a comfortable, never sweltering temperature of 25 degrees C or 77-degree F.
No wonder it’s the 2nd second most populated city in Andalucia with 570,000 people.
Parque de Málaga
As you walk along the beach toward the marina, you’ll also pass through a palm tree lined walking path. Wander down the path, take a look to your right and you’ll notice all sorts of beautiful ornate statues and fountains.
This was the perfect place to relax, enjoy a moment of tranquility, and escape from the cars, tourists, and the general hustle and bustle of the main street.
Having been to enough churches, we weren’t super enamoured with the idea of going to another one. But this church had a somewhat interesting backstory.
Known as “La Manquita” (The One-Armed Lady), this church got this weird name because it’s missing a second tower so it looks a bit asymmetrical.
Supposedly, the funds for the tower were donated to the American Revolutionary War or used for road-building within Malaga so the church was left “one handed”.
I like the “donated” to the American war explanation better. Once again, America’s influence is everywhere, even in this weird looking church. But yeah, it’s a nice church. If you’re into churches, go visit it, but if you’re not missing much by skipping it.
This market wins for the prettiest stained-glass window we’d ever seen.
So of course, we immediately ruined it by taking this super dorky selfie right outside:
Once inside, you’ll notice that this isn’t so much of a ready-to-eat food market as a fresh grocery for cooking type of market. So we mainly just went for the architecture and people watching.
For all the Picasso groupies out there, there is one and only one reason to come to Malaga:
To visit Picassos’s birthplace.
In the Picasso Museum you’ll find 230 of the famous artists’ work, donated by his family members. What’s really interesting (and compared to other museums in Europe with Picassos’s works) is that they were created during his younger years and you’ll get a glimpse into how his developed his style and evolved his artistic skills over time.
We enjoyed our time in Malaga because of it’s relaxing vibe, and just like the other cities in Spain, it was relatively easy on the wallet, compared to the rest of western Europe.
Here’s how much we spent in Malaga:
|Cost in USD/couple
|Cost in CAD/couple
|Malaga was surprisingly affordable for a beachy destination. I suspect maybe it's upstaged by the more popular Seville.
|$16 CAD ($10 for eating out, $6 for groceries)
|We spent almost no money on food in Malaga because we were still sick from Madrid and subsisting on mostly crackers and soup. I suspect your stomach actually shrinks after food poisoning, so there wasn't much we could fit in there.
|Transportation consisted of the train ticket from Madrid which only cost us 45 Euros for 2 people because I managed to catch an early bird special. Other than that the city was very walkable so spread over the cost of 4 days the cost was minimal.
|Entertainment consisted of the entry to Gibralfaro, which is only 3.5 Euros per person.
|You could easily spend much more than us, but we didn't end up blowing much money on Malaga because a) we were still too sick to eat much and b) there were many free entertainment options like the beach and hiking. Overall, Malaga is a pretty budget friendly destination–probably the least expensive one we've been to in Andalusia.
What do you think? Have you ever been to Malaga?
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