After three days of overcast skies in Belgium exploring Brussels and Bruges, I returned to Spain in pursuit of sunshine. Luckily my next plane ticket was to Málaga, a port city in the country’s southern region of Costa del Sol, quite literally meaning Coast of the Sun. Sandy beaches line the shore and back right up into the hills of Alcazaba and Gibralfaro, where Moorish fortresses and castle ramparts are just waiting to be discovered. With only one full day in Málaga before I would be heading inland to Seville, I used the opportunity to soak up the sun and catch both the sunrise and sunset over the Mediterranean Sea.
7:00 to 10:00
At this time of year, the sun rises just after 8:00, so I set my alarm for 7:00 and made my way to the beach. There’s something about wandering the streets of a city before the rest of the world is awake that never fails to amaze me. As I weaved between the lifeless streets, I listened to the birds sing and the wind whoosh through the trees. When I reached the beach, I slipped my feet out of my flip flops and felt the cold sand spread between my toes, proceeding to the water’s edge to watch the waves crash on the shore. All of a sudden, the sun peeked over the horizon and I took a seat in the sand, letting nature take its course before my eyes. A pair of birds scooped down to the sand and parted ways around me as the warmth of the sun overpowered the morning chill. I stood up to dip my feet in the sea and felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for yet another chance to explore our beautiful earth. Once I was ready to begin my daily adventures, I headed to the Mercado Central de Atarazanas, Central Market of Atarazanas, to have my pick of fresh fruit for breakfast. Located in an old seven-arched shipyard, this market has gone through a number of transformations – from a convent to a military fort, a hospital to a medical school, and finally to the bustling marketplace that it is today.
10:00 to 13:00
Having absorbed my daily dose of vitamin D and fully indulged in fresh fruit, it was time to explore all that Málaga has to offer. I strolled down the street to the Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga, Cathedral of Málaga, a Roman Catholic church with only one tower due to lack of funding to complete the second. Fittingly, the cathedral has been nicknamed La Manquita, the one-armed woman, and is one of Málaga’s most important buildings for both its history and its architectural design inside and out. Also on the list of Málaga’s main attractions is the Museo Picasso Málaga, Picasso Museum Málaga, since Spanish artist Pablo Picasso was born in the city. I personally couldn’t justify spending any time indoors so I decided to skip the museum but one of my hostel roommates said she spent three hours there and was absolutely captivated! Around the corner from the museum is Bodega Bar El Pimpi, a bar and restaurant that has become an institution in the city of Málaga. Known for its decorative interior, its wall of barrels signed by well-known guests, and of course its selection of wine, it was the perfect place to enjoy a quick bite before heading up into the hills.
13:00 – 16:00
When I say the hills, I’m referring to Alcazaba de Málaga and Castillo de Gibralfaro, two historical hilltop monuments overlooking the city and the sea. The Alcazaba of Málaga dates back to the 11th century and was built mostly of limestone, requiring frequent rebuilding and maintenance of the fortress palace. Sitting slightly above Alcazaba, the Castle of Gibralfaro dates back to the 10th century and belongs to Montes de Málaga Natural Park. The two are not connected from inside so to see both, you have to come down from Alcazaba and hike back up to Gibralfaro. It’s a scenic route with magnificent views so I highly recommend going by foot, but it is possible to catch a bus up to the castle if you prefer. Two of my favorite activities when traveling are hiking and discovering the city from different viewpoints, so visiting Alcazaba and Gibralfaro are definitely two must-see sights in my book.
16:00 – 19:00
After taking in the breathtaking views in all directions, I made my way back down the mountain and headed for the seaside promenade. Along Paseo del Muelle Uno, I stumbled upon an ice cream shop called Heladería Cónico with dozens of flavors, including a selection of vegan sorbet. I ordered a cup with mango, raspberry, and passion fruit and took a seat on a bench that was in an ideal position for people watching. When I reached the bottom of my cup, I walked up and down the pier looking at all the boats, secretly hoping that someone would invite me onto their yacht… no such luck. Around 18:00, the sun began to make its decent behind the mountains, casting a golden glow on the masts of the sailboats. As the day came to an end, I slowly made my way back to the hostel, full of gratitude for another day of new adventures and experiences.
Thank you for everything Málaga.