In this post, I’ll share the itinerary we created for ourselves for a fun-filled one week winter city break. We hope you find it useful if you’re looking for a fun and affordable place to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Day 1 - Arrival and Getting Settledour Christmas trip to Granada.
- Getting There: Málaga is served by a wide range of airlines including low cost carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet. We took Aer Lingus from Dublin.
- Ground Transportation: Take the train from the airport to Maria Zambrano Station (~10 minutes).
- Accommodation: We rented an apartment for our stay through holidaylettings.co.uk. The one bedroom flat (~50 EUR per night) was located in a mixed residential/office building close to the train and bus station in the El Perchel neighborhood.
Build up an appetite and sample tapas and beer at Bar Lo Güeno tucked just off the main street on a small alleyway. We enjoyed Bar Lo Güeno so much that we went there twice.
Day 2 - Eat Like a Local
Since we were planning to be in town for a good chunk of time, we explored some of the restaurants near our apartment.
Cafeteria El Yate serves coffee and sandwiches in the train station. One of the guys behind the counter was a bit of a flirt. When I went up and attempted to order in broken Spanish, he told me that I was pretty and that my husband (standing at a table nearby) was a lucky man. Flattery will get you everywhere ;-)
Casa Aranda has a perpetual queue out front which caught our attention. They specialize in churros and chocolate. Go early to avoid the crowds.
Cafe Central is a lovely spot for a coffee in the late morning or early afternoon. They invented the ten-strengths convention for ordering coffee in Málaga. They even included an empty glass option to achieve the symmetry of a 10-scale system.
Mercado Central de Atarazanas is a treasure trove of healthy and not-so-healthy treats. We were intrigued by the chirimoyas and tried them for the first time (they taste like a cross between a banana and a papaya). We also saw huge mounds of orange goo on display which I think was lard. We left that one behind.
Day 3 - Getting Above it All
- Parque de Málaga: Walk among the countless fountains. On one side, you can catch a glimpse of the sea and on the other, the hills rising up to the Alcazaba and Gilbralfaro.
- Gilbralfaro Palace: Hike past City Hall up, up, and up some more to Gilbralfaro. The views over Málaga City and the sea beyond are stunning.
- Alcazaba: Drop back down to the Alcazaba fortress and admire more views and Moorish details. It was so tempting to simply pick the oranges off the trees!
- The Picasso Museum is also worth a look. The artist was born in Málaga and a large collection of his works are on display in a stunning mansion in the heart of the city.
Finish the day with tapas and a glass of Málaga Dulce, Málaga’s signature sweet wine at El Pimpi which is just a short walk from the Alcazaba and Picasso Museum.
Day 4 - Exploing the Costa del Sol
Most people that visit Málaga head straight for the beaches. We preferred staying in the city but decided to spend a day exploring the Costa del Sol. Torremolinos is easily accessible by train from Maria Zambrano Station in less than an hour.
- It’s easy to get disoriented in Torremolinos. We found it challenging to figure out which way to walk to get to the sea. The key thing you need to know is that you must head down a considerable way to get to the water. The waterfront is lined with tacky tourist shops.
- Sit down for lunch at one of the many fish restaurants along the sea. We tried Casa Antonio which offered fresh seafood with seats along the terrace overlooking the water. It was a solid choice.
- Promenade Time: Finish off your tour of Torremolinos with a walk along the stunning promenade to Benalmadena. Be aware that the walk to the train station from Benalmadena is a fair distance from the water...uphill. We walked (it took about 15-20 minutes) but I suspect you could also catch a taxi.
Day 5 - A Day Trip to AntequeraAntequera is a picturesque country town less than two hours from Málaga. Make sure to take the bus and not the train (the guidebooks can be quite misleading on this point) as the train station is a good 20 km from the town. We found this out the hard way. You can easily spend a day soaking up the atmosphere of this lovely town.
- Bullfighting Museum - Spend the euro entry fee and have a look around the bull-fighting museum. Some of the bulls mounted on the wall were from the mid-1800s.
- Alcazaba - Climb the Alcazaba and take the audio tour. It’s really well done and is told from the perspective of Infante Don Fernando as he struggled to reconquer Antequera from the Moors.
- Sample Mantecados - Antequera is home to the delicious holiday treat called mantecados. Mantecados, polvorones, and related treats were on sale at nearly every bakery. They are basically pulverized nut cakes held together with lard or olive oil.
Migas are a local specialty and are essentially fried bread crumbs. We sampled them at Mesón Restaurante Pañero and found migas to be a very filling meal when served with a giant pepper, sausage, and black pudding.
- Dolmens - There are three ancient burial mounds accessible from the town. We took a walk out to see them after lunch. There is minimal tourism infrastructure supporting the dolmens. It’s worth going if you need to get a little exercise after all the mantecados and migas but it you’re short on time, you can safely skip them.
Day 6 - Day Trip to Ronda
- Scenic Vistas: Explore the amazing views but be careful that your jaw doesn’t drop too much from the amazingness of it all.
- 3-Bridges: Walk down one side of the gorge and up the other while viewing the progressively older bridges.
- The Water Mine at La Casa del Rey Moro: Take a diversion, explore the gardens, and climb down the slippery steps to the base of the gorge.
Restaurante Doña Pepa: Plaza de Socorro is home to a number of restaurants offering value-priced menu del dias. Restaurante Doña Pepa offered a delicious meal with great ambiance.
- View the ‘New’ Bridge from Below: Before heading back to the bus station, follow the trail downward and admire the impressive soaring new bridge from underneath.
Day 7 - Ring in the New YearMálaga is a vibrant city to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
- Stroll the Streets after Dark: Tip your hat to fellow revelers before making your way to dinner.
- Rendezvous for your Dinner Reservation: We booked in for the evening at Vino Mio.
- Be Part of the Tradition: Make sure that you partake of the Spanish custom of downing 12 grapes to ring in the new year (one with each ding of the bell) to ensure that your year gets off to an auspicious start. Oh, and don’t forget your silly party favors.
Day 8 - Promenade and Gambones
- Strut Your Stuff: The modern promenade along the sea is the perfect activity for a sunny New Year’s Day.
- Stroll on the Beach: Further on, take a walk along Malagueta beach before heading slightly inland to catch the bus.
- Get Your GAMBONES!: Restaurante El Tintero is a ‘must do’ in Málaga. It’s a bit out of the way to get there (about 30 minutes by public bus) but it’s worth it for the unique experience. You take a seat and the waiters come around offering various dishes in their best tenor or baritone voice - many were quite operatic. My favorite was this guy who constantly seemed to be offering gambones (giant shrimp)! When you see something you like, flag them down and they add it to your bill.
Here is a link to more in-depth posts and photos on all of the sites and experiences in Málaga highlighted above. You can also click on any of the 'postcard' photo collages above to see full sized images on Google Plus.
Trip Dates: December 26, 2013 - January 3, 2014
Note: All expenses for the trip were incurred by the author. None of the elements of the trip were sponsored by any of the attractions, hotels, or restaurants referenced.