Formerly known for its high-rise hotels and plethora of resorts, Málaga has emerged from the shadow of Granada and Seville to become the Capital of the Costa del Sol.
Just how should you spend a sunny few days in Málaga? Ranjit Shergill explores the city along three of its most culturally significant points, experiencing the old school traditions of the matador at the bullring, cycling along the pleasant pathways that bless a multitude of splendid architecture and switching off and taking in the sun at the city's silky smooth beaches.
The Plaza de Toros de La Malagueta (bullring stadium) is located in the old town of the eastern district of Málaga City. The bullfighting season runs from April to September, Málaga's warmest months, but thankfully, you don't need to actually see a live bullfight to get a feeling for the tradition's importance in Spanish history. Upon arrival, you'll see the Spanish and Andalusian flags flying high to illustrate just how entrenched bullfighting is in both the nation's past and Málaga's own local history. Pay special attention to the outside walls and you'll notice that they're decorated with splatters of red paint to give a taste of what you witness within. Move inside the stadium and you'll find the walls adorned with carvings of bull's heads and elaborate torero (bullfighter) costumes. End your visit with a trip to the beautiful on-site museum, which is both low priced and highly informative.
Málaga City’s largely flat terrain makes for fabulous cycling conditions, and a local bike tour is greatly recommended for a neat way of delving into the city’s ancient history and splendid architecture. As a starting point, the Alcazaba (Moorish Fort) and Castillo de Gibralfaro are hugely symbolic of the city's early centuries and offer impressive hilltop panoramic views. The Paseo de España provides an excellent setback from the city’s main roads and has cycle-friendly pathways, where you can take in a welcomed breeze and stop for a beverage. Cycle through the old town square to take in the city’s iconic cathedral, surrounded by bustling bars, cafes and tapas restaurants with their Juliet-style balconies. Most bike tours include a pit stop at the oldest wine bar in Málaga, Antigua Casa de Guardia, which is famous for its labelled barrels and traditional ambiance.
Head to La Malagueta beach, where you'll find the iconic letters “Malagueta” spread across the sand for a picture-perfect snap. If you get bored of sunbathing, there are plenty of Chiringuitos to take a break in with a drink and a snack, or take advantage of the strong prevailing winds and indulge your adventurous side with windsurfing. Stay beach-bound till dinner time and reward yourself with a dish of famous Andalusian prawns, served sizzling on a plate with onions and chilies at one of the many beach-side restaurants.