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El Limonar walking tour in Malaga

Malaga Walking Tours – El Limonar

Year-round warm temperatures make great weather for walking in Malaga, but most people on holiday in the city tend to stick to the centre or the Port. In this Malaga walking tours we go east to the district known as El Limonar.

A brief introduction

Located between the bullring in La Malagueta and La Caleta – one of the best beaches in Malaga – El Limonar consists of lots of small streets, often lined with plane trees and flanked by large mansions and hotels. It’s also home to some steep hills so be prepared to do a bit of climbing when you walk round.

While you’re in this of the city, you’ll not only see some amazing architecture but also get right off the beaten tourism trail.

A History

El Limonar goes back to the late 19th century when Malaga was one of the most vibrant cities in Spain. Second only to Barcelona in industrial output, the city was a main engine behind the Spanish industrial revolution. Business in iron ore and textiles, grapes and sugarcane thrived attracting more and more entrepreneurs from Europe.

palaces on Malaga walking tour

Towards the end of the 19th century, the Europeans discovered the joys of sitting on a beach in the sun. With one of the best climates in southern Europe, Malaga unsurprisingly became a desirable holiday spot.

Both the sunseekers and the new bourgeois settling in Malaga needed somewhere to live. This is where El Limonar comes into play. This undeveloped area of Malaga with an unspoilt coastline and far from the industrial chimneys and factories busy polluting the air on the west side of town was perfect.

In 1885, architect-engineer Jose María de Sancha bought up most of the land for 80,000 pesetas (that’s €480.80 in new money) and began selling to Malaga’s wealthy families. Plots sold for 3 or 4 pesetas a square metre (2 cents!) and quickly. Within the next 20 years, many fine summer houses and hotels were built in Malaga, almost all of them with large gardens.

Highlights

This Malaga walking tour comes across a treasure trove of architectural gems, some located on the main road and others up side streets. Here’s our guide to the best (listed in alphabetical order). See the map below for exact location of each one.

Architects Association

The official provincial association for architects is (fittingly) in a stunning mansion on top of a hill in the midst of the Limonar. Built in 1922 by Fernando Strachan, it has an eclectic style that includes a medieval-type tower, classical arches and English gardens, home to several peacocks.

See it at

Avenida Palmeras del Limonar

Costa del Sol Tourism School

The imposing façade at this building reminds you a bit of a cathedral and it also has an English air. Originally built as a private home in 1900, it now houses a tourism school.

See it at

Paseo de Sancha 13

English Cemetery

When it was first established in 1829, this was the first Protestant cemetery in Spain, built to give a proper burial to non-Catholics. Its design is in the romantic style, with extensive gardens and a chapel (housing St George’s Angelican Church) with a Neo-Gothic portal.

quiet corners in Malaga

Today, it houses several illustrious ‘guests’ including Jorge Guillén, Gerald Brenan, Aarne Haapakoski and Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson.  The cemetery also has a year-round calendar of activities.

You can visit the cemetery between 9am and 2 pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Entry costs €5. For information on activities, check out our latest monthly round-up.

See it at

Avenida de Pries 1

Hotel Caleta Palace

This was the first purpose-built hotel in Malaga and one of the largest. When it was built in 1919, it housed 100 rooms (most ensuite) and its gardens came complete with an open-air theatre. The owners advertised it as having “the best seafront position”.

The giant building now houses government offices. You can occasionally visit it during cultural events such as La Noche en Blanco.

See it at

Paseo de Sancha 64, also visible from the seafront.

Hotel Castillo de Santa Catalina

The original part of this castle dates back to 1625 when it defended Caleta beach from the English navy. Its surviving remains in the gardens remind you of Moorish architecture, particularly in the layout of the flower beds and fountains.

Through the window at Hotel Santa Catalina Malaga

It has been a hotel for decades and after extensive restoration, currently ranks among the best in Malaga. Non-guests can enjoy a meal or drink in the gardens.

See it at

Calle Ramos Carrión

Hotel Miramar

This hotel was originally Hotel Príncipe de Asturias, named after the heir to the throne and opened by the royal family in 1921. The Spanish monarchs were shareholders in the development company and had a private pavillion at the hotel at their disposal for summer holidays.

It then became Malaga’s law courts before its magnificent restoration to return to its status as one of the best hotels in Malaga. The revamped hotel (the only 5 star GL in town) opened in 2017 with fully restored patios and tropical gardens.

patio at Gran Hotel Miramar
Patio at Gran Hotel Miramar

See it at

Paseo de Reding 22

Villa Fernanda

This gorgeous home, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Malaga, consists of three buildings, set in extensive ornamental gardens. Peep through the iron gates to admire the stained glass and marble features, reminiscent of Renaissance Italy. The villa dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.

See it at

Paseo de Miramar 16

Villa Suecia

This huge mansion has Art Nouveau style, with one of the most elegant façades in this part of Malaga. When it was built in 1904, it was the first example of Modernist architecture in the city.

See it at

Paseo del Limonar

The Route

Start at the bull ring and walk east along Paseo de Sancha. Look out for the pastel townhouses on your right and the English Cemetery on your left. Numbers 34 to 46 are all lovely villas.

Walk until you reach Paseo Limonar on your left. Turn up here and walk up the hill. Look out for Nos 36, 38 and 40 on your right (a restaurant known as Limonar 40. Reservations only 952 060 0225).

Fine palaces on Malaga walking tour
Palace on Paseo de Reding

When you get to the top, turn right into Calle Goethe and then left into Paseo Miramar. This street turns its slope down to the sea with some uninteresting modern apartment blocks but you quickly return to late 19th century Malaga. Don’t miss Villa Fernanda on your left as you walk down to Paseo de Sancha.

Once you’re back on Paseo de Sancha, turn left to take in Hotel Caleta Palace.

A bite to eat

If the weather’s good (and it probably will be), head for the seafront promenade. Here you have a number of options. Go to one of the beach bars and restaurants here for a well-earned dish of sardines or fried fish.

Or take a short walk east to Los Baños del Carmen, a lovely beach front spot for sunsets while you sip a cocktail.

Los Baños del Carmen in the 1920s
Los Baños del Carmen in the 1920s

Getting back to Malaga

It isn’t far to walk, but if you’re tired or feeling lazy, the No3 bus stops at several places along the Paseo de Sancha and the seafront promenade, and takes you back into town.

Follow our Malaga walking tour around El Limonar on a map

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