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Malaga, on the southern coast of Spain remains an extremely popular holiday destination owing to its warm, sunny climate and sandy beaches - what more could you want? The town itself sprawls unrelenting along the Costa del Sol and is a favourite for those looking for a winter break, not just summer vacationers. It has been hailed one of the most beautiful towns in Andalusia, in which it is situated and boasts quite a fascinating heritage.
Yet Malaga itself often only provides a starting point for a holiday. Many travellers arrive at the airport, then steer their hire car to a different resort, which is a shame, for Malaga is contains some wonderful sights, activities and attractions. Here is a taster of some of the more the things you could be doing:
Things to do
To stock up on fresh produce or just soak up the ambiance, try the Mercado Central de Atarazanas - the ancient market. The array of produce - predominantly comprising fish, meat, spices and vegetables - is dizzying. What's more, it's a market that is frequented by local people, not by many other tourists. The building features a huge stained glass window - even better, it's free to get in.
For a taste of the Middle Ages, visit Alcazaba and Castillo de Gibralfaro, the Moorish fortress and palace which is located high on a hill in the centre of Malaga. The palace houses ancient pottery and some ornate ceilings, while the gardens are stunning. Entrance is free on a Sunday afternoon, so might be a little busy at this time, but well worth the visit - and the climb. From this vantage point, the views are spectacular, too.
Sample some tapas at one of Malaga's most famous and highly-recommended restaurants, Bodega-bar El Pimpi. Deep in the city's historical heart is this eatery, which comprises patios, meandering vines and huge barrels of wine. The atmosphere matches the food, thus expect to wait before being seated - either at the bar or a table.
For those that like to explore beyond the confines of one resort in their hire car, Malaga offers some great days out that other holiday-makers may not have access to. For example, the beaches around Pedregalejo are said to be very nice and not quite so tightly packed with tourists as Playa de La Malagueta and Playa Las Acacias might be. Pedregalejo might especially appeal to those seeking a bit more privacy from one of its many coves.
If you are content to travel for a couple of hours each way, then it's possible to reach Granada, Ronda or Antequera - perhaps staying overnight in one of these wonderful places for a holiday-within-a-holiday? Granada boasts some breathtaking architecture encompassing the Alhambra fortress, the old marketplace and its Cathedral.
Staying slightly more local at under an hour's drive, is Marbella, which is worth visiting even if you'd rather physically stay elsewhere. Marbella has become a destination for the young and wealthy, so sit and sip a coffee while doing some people watching. Alternatively, 50 minutes in the other direction is the pretty seaside town of Nerja - an altogether quieter and classier spot. Its attractions include an impressive aqueduct and the 'balcony of Europe'.
Of course, there is far more to Malaga than this brief list and if you have your own transport, you'll be able not only to discover another side to the town but really make the most of your holiday, too.
The most convenient and cost-effective place to pick up your hire car is from Malaga airport. There are 8 different companies offering car hire inside the airport and more than 10 in its immediate area. The airport is a great starting point for any journey in Andalusia, whether you plan on spending all of your time in the city of Malaga or are looking to visit nearby cities such as Cadiz, Seville or Gibraltar.