Costa del Sol, Malaga

Sue Ostler wrote about London night life for our bestselling book, Holiday Goddess Handbag Guide. This is her take on the Costa del Sol.

When a girlfriend said, “let’s go to Spain for a summer break”, I said, “yes please!” When she said we were going to Malaga, the gateway to the Costa del Sol in Andalulicia and a well known seaport, I was curious, because on one hand, most people go through Malaga to get somewhere else right – somewhere better?

On the other hand, I spent most of my twenties head banging to the Pixies who sang about Andalusia, which as it turns out, has nothing to do with the place Andalucia. Hmmm, curiouser and curiouser! I turned to research; many travel websites say that Malaga is one of the most popular destinations in the world to visit and home to excellent weather and beaches. Upon visiting it I found that it’s a long way from that – don’t get me wrong, it is pretty, but not nearly so glamorous as its neighbors Marabella and Torremolino dotted along the stretch of Andalucian coastline like big shiny gemstones, but…

Luckily for this Holiday Goddess, Malaga has something different to offer besides Spanish beach glamour. It’s got music. It’s got soul. It’s got rock bars. It’s got fantastically friendly people. And it isn’t jammed to the rafters with rip-roaring British tourists – this in my mind made it the perfect seaside holiday. And to be fair, the beaches are fine, they just don’t have life changing capacities of the other more showy Costa del Sol beaches, but, with the sun shining down brightly as one lies for hours and bakes flaccid British bodies a toffee shade of brown, they do the job.

If you can drag yourself away from the beach for long enough, there’s a heck of a lot to explore. The Alameda Principal city centre offers good enough shopping opportunities, both quirky and cheap, but it’s the backdrop that smacks of medieval charm, cultural heavyweights and hidden treasures like the epic Catedral de la Encarnación which boasts the odd religious ceremony big enough and bad enough to shut the town down for a Sunday afternoon, and a cool stylish respite in the form of the Picasso museum (he was born there you see). Put it all together and you’ve got yourself a busy few days to wile away.

If you’re done lazing and culture-hopping, there are some very pretty sights just outside the town centre to behold as well. A fifteen minute bus ride will take you to up a steep mountain to the Alcazaba Fortress affording stunning views over the Port of Malaga. If you can hack the scenic walk back down to the town centre, you’ll be rewarded with a decent workout and the choice of hundreds of tiny eateries dishing up homemade tapas and long leisurely lunches washed down by sparkling Tinto de Verano for just a few Euros.

During the weekend, Malaga comes alive with the clubs and bars and interesting people from all over, and there seems no other option than to party all night. And party all night we did. But weeknights, your best bet is to bunker down with friends in one of the many absolute beachfront bars.

Malaga might not score points for being the prettiest place on the Costa del Sol block, but for wanderlust, fragrance, mystery and light, history, beauty, relaxed chills and thrills – it was a blast.

We stayed in a rather fine hostel which I would happily recommend: the Melting Pot Hostel Málaga · Paseo del Pintor Joaquín Sorolla, 30 · Málaga (Spain) · Phone: (+34)952 600571 · malaga@meltingpothostels.com

Photo: Flickr CC, mer de glace

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