On the coast about 80 miles (129km) southeast of Seville, the lively city of Malaga is the gateway to Spain's popular Costa del Sol holiday resort region. It offers sun, sand, and sea, but also an historical treasure trove, making it a good choice for culture vulture wanting a beach holiday.
Like most Andalusian cities, the holiday retreat of Malaga has Moorish roots and its illustrious past has left an imprint on the historic centre, particularly around the fortress of La Alcazaba, dating from 1065, which is now an archaeological museum.
The city was also the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, and features several galleries displaying his work. Most notable is the 16th-century Museum of Fine Arts, alongside the cathedral. Picasso's birthplace in Plaza Merced is open to the public and showcases his life and works. The city's famous botanical garden, situated on the Calle Alameda, dates from the days when the Malaga area was a popular winter holiday resort for the rich and famous and is also worth a visit.
Of course, the beaches are also a big draw for the numerous holidaymakers who descend on this Spanish city, and watersports and other coastal diversions abound. A range of activities beckon offshore: scuba diving, sailing, windsurfing, and kite surfing are all popular in the warm waters. The more adventurous tourists in Malaga can take short daytrips to the beautiful beaches of Nerja or Motril.
For those who can pull themselves away from the beaches, this region of Spain has been playfully dubbed the 'Costa del Golf' due to its 39 golf courses. Year-round sunny weather and low course fees make a round or two a great option.
Malaga is the capital of the Costa del Sol and has the varied, high-quality nightlife to match. Tourists in Malaga need only take their pick from the varied nightlife venues, which include nightclubs, tapas bars, and traditional flamenco performances. Some of the best bars and clubs can be found around Plaza del Merced and Plaza Uncibay, while the areas of Malagueta and Pedragalejo have lively beach bars in summer.
Malaga enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate, with sunny, hot summer weather, and mild winters, which make it a great holiday destination year-round. The coastline receives more than 320 days of sunshine a year.
Summer temperatures reach an average high of 86°F (30°C), and the winter temperatures seldom drop below 50°F (10°C) on the coast. Rainfall is sporadic and mostly limited to the winter months, with the majority falling in November and December; the rain usually comes in the form of intermittent, light showers which give way quickly to sun and blue skies.
The temperature of the ocean seldom falls below 68°F (20°C) meaning that swimming is almost always a possibility and is enjoyed in spring and autumn as well as summer. Summer, between June and August, when the heat is tempered by frequent sea breezes, is by far the most popular time to visit Malaga. Spring, especially late April and May, when temperatures average between 73°F and 80°F (23°C and 27°C), is also a glorious time to visit.
Malaga is serviced by a comprehensive bus system. Single tickets cost around €1.30, although rechargeable multi-trip cards are available. Malaga also has a limited metro and train system but the rail is only really useful for travelling between Malaga and other cities and towns. A quicker way to get around is hiring Malaga's famous bike taxis (trixis), or regular taxis, although this can become expensive. Renting a car is a popular option, especially for travellers wishing to take excursions to other parts of the Costa del Sol. There are also several companies offering bicycle hire. Taxis are easily hailed on the streets, but central Malaga is quite compact and easy to walk around while sightseeing.