Celebrate the New Year in Málaga: 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 during our week in Málaga.
Celebrate the New Year in Málaga: Day 2 - Eat Like a Local
Since we were planning to be in Málaga for a full week at the end of December, we explored some of the restaurants near our apartment.
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 in Málaga 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 in Málaga. 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.
Celebrate the New Year in Málaga: 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 in Málaga!
- The Picasso Museum is also worth a look if you spend the New Year's Eve holiday period in Málaga. 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.
Celebrate the New Year in Málaga: Day 4 - Exploing the Costa del Sol
Most people who visit Málaga head straight for the beaches. We preferred staying in the Málaga 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 in Torremolinos. 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.
Celebrate the New Year in Málaga: 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 Andalusian 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. Mantecados are basically pulverized nut cakes held together with lard or olive oil.
- Dolmens - There are three ancient burial mounds accessible from the town of Antequera. 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.
Celebrate the New Year in Málaga: Day 6 - Day Trip to Ronda
- Scenic Vistas: Explore the amazing views in Ronda 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 in Ronda.
- View the ‘New’ Bridge from Below: Before heading back to the bus station in Ronda, follow the trail downward and admire the impressive soaring new bridge from underneath.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Andalucia is full of Moorish influences. Interested in digging deeper? Spend a weekend in Marrakech Morocco.
Celebrate the New Year in Málaga: Day 7 - Ring in Año NuevoMálaga 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 Málaga New Year's Eve festivities at Vino Mio.
- Be Part of the Tradition: Make sure that you partake of the Spanish custom of eating 12 grapes to celebrate 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.
Celebrate the New Year in Málaga: Day 8 - Promenade and Gambones
- Strut Your Stuff: The modern promenade along the sea in Málaga 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 and is open on New Year's Day. El Tintero a bit out of the way. It takes about 30 minutes to get there by public bus but it’s worth it for the unique experience. You take a seat at El Tintero 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 down the waiter and they'll add it to your bill.
A week in Málaga dovetails nicely with a Christmas trip to Granada. If you have more time to explore Spain, check out an itinerary from The Road Trip Guy that passes through Málaga.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: The Christmas season in Europe is a fantastic time to travel. Here are some of my favorite Christmas travel ideas.
New Year's Eve in Málaga 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.