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 the first of our series of Malaga walking tours we go east to the district known as El Limonar.
Here, you’ll not only see some amazing architecture you also have the chance to get right off the beaten track.
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 want round.
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.
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. Where better to build than in an 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?
In 1885, architect-engineer Jose María de Sancha bought up most of the land for 80,000 pesetas (that’s 480.80 euros 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.
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. See the map below for exact location of each one:
Hotel Caleta Palace – once one of the largest hotels in this part of Malaga with 100 rooms (most ensuite) and gardens complete with an open-air theatre, this giant building now houses government offices.
Hotel Miramar – recently restored to its former splendour 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.
Villa Fernanda – considered by many as one of the most beautiful buildings in Malaga, this lovely mansion has stunning gardens, almost botanical and a tennis court.
Villa Onieva – the Parque San Antonio (one of the largest private hospitals in Malaga) and this building were once identical. Known originally as the ‘Villa with the Green Tower’.
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 (worth visiting – open Tues-Sun 10am-2pm, €3). 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).
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 and Villa Onieta.
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 de Carmen, a lovely beach front spot for sunsets while you sip a cocktail.
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