Finally at the top of a very steep climb that took me way above the city, I stood back to catch my breath. Leaning on the railings, nothing could have prepared me for the view that met my eyes. It was love at first sight, and it would turn out to be a love that would last a lifetime.
Right there and then, stood in that precious spot on the Gibralfaro Viewpoint, I had never felt more empowered and inspired. Never before had I felt so at home in a city I had only just started to get to know.
Malaga is overlooked by an ancient castle, Castillo de Gibralfaro. The monument sits on the highest point of the mountainous hills overlooking the city. I won’t fool you into thinking it’s an easy walk to the top, but I will say that the views are worth a million dollars. You watch them change and become more spectacular as you climb uphill and this acts as a curious incentive to keep going.
Chance visits to Malaga
That view alone made me realise my dreams of travelling, and awoke passions and inspirations inside of me that I never knew existed. I have that life-changing moment to thank for the whirlwind four years that have passed since. A year and another trip to Malaga later, 21-year old me set off across Europe alone to explore a life right outside of my comfort zone. While I vowed to visit a variety of different countries and cities, there was one place I simply had to revisit in the midst of my travelling… Cue my third trip to Malaga!
Following my time travelling, I was lucky enough to secure a job working in a family hotel in a small fishing village in Ibiza for the summer. Spanish life had well and truly won me over, and my once extremely ropey attempts at the language transformed into an adequate conversational level as I lovingly embraced my new culture.
My season came to an end and I reluctantly returned home to Manchester. I had been home about two days when I received a call from the company I’d worked for in Ibiza offering me a job working over the winter and in Malaga! It was a spine-tingling twist of fate that the very city that had started this whole adventure was to be the next place I would proudly call my home!
What’s not to love?
There are so many reasons why I adore Malaga. Despite playing host to its high-profile Costa del Sol neighbours such as Marbella, Malaga remains both modest and unspoilt. During my travels, I have seen a lot of major European cities that have unfortunately been ruined by mass tourism. I am eternally relieved that Malaga – despite its growing popularity – has always managed to retain its undeniable authentic charm.
Malaga is one of those rare places that manages to surprise you with every visit. The city has changed considerably even since my first visit four years ago, and there is always something new waiting to make me fall for it all over again.
The incredible port is a prime example of this. During my first trip to Malaga, the port was a derelict area at the bottom of the city, laden with cranes and piles of rubble. A year later, and it had been completely transformed! Now, the port is a cool hang-out, with quirky boutiques, ice-cream parlours and restaurants, all with views to die for.
Favourite spots in Malaga
It’s so hard to pick and pinpoint my most cherished areas within Malaga. Of course, you’ve got the fabulous Larios shopping street in the heart of the city with its shiny flagged paving-stones and even shiner array of designer boutiques and chic stores. It’s a great place to grab a drink and indulge in a spot of people watching.
At night, the Larios opens the pages of a very different story. The bustling brightness of the day fades along with the crowds, and as the cool silk cape of the night shrouds the city, the streets take on a more tranquil ambiance.
There is just something so enchanting about walking beneath the Cathedral as it casts its glow across the back streets in the pale moonlight. For a full immersion in the wonderful culture of the city, I’d recommend a stroll around streets surrounding the Cathedral to soak up some of the gentle nightlife.
And then to the beach
When the sightseeing gets too much, head to Malaga’s beachfront, which is an unexpected delight. Always quiet out of season, the beach is a must-do at any time of the year – I have enjoyed both summers and winters here. Relishing the salty air whipping my hair on a cold January afternoon, and lying back with a good book and some music during an April siesta.
Then dust the sand from your feet and wander up the road and back into the city for a truly bona fide Spanish experience. You can’t leave Malaga without a walk around the city’s bull ring (Plaza de Toros), which looks spectacular from the Gibralfaro Viewpoint, and even more alluring up close.
Effortlessly urban and arty, Malaga is one of the most pleasantly surprising places I have ever been. Malaga is a city with so many things to boast about and yet, somehow, it refrains, making each elaborately striking discovery even more extraordinary.
I challenge anyone not to fall under its spell, for it is a city that simply has it all. From the lovely beachfront fringing the city, to the lovely tropical gardens, you could roam this city all day and still stumble upon a treasure trove of new discoveries. Malaga is a bright and beautiful city that will embrace all fortunate enough to visit in one big warm, sunny hug.
Cara Jasmine Bradley is a creative writer from Manchester, who combines her love of travelling with her passion for writing. European cities are Cara’s preferred travel speciality, especially those in Northern and Eastern Europe. Together with her fiancé, she enjoys exploring ‘outside the box’ destinations and immersing herself in different cultures.
As well as travel articles, Cara is also particularly keen on writing children’s fiction.
Guide to Malaga would like to thank Cara for her lovely piece about Malaga. We couldn’t agree more – this is a city to fall in love with!