Malaga, on the Mediterranean in southerrn Spain, is the heart of the Costa del Sol.

Thanks to being protected from the north winds by the mountains, the coastal area has the highest average temperatures in Spain and over 300 days of sunshine per year.

The rugged eastern part has rocky projections of land penetrating the sea while the western area is milder and sandier with large beaches.

But that is only scratching the surface.

Malaga provides lively nightlife, museums and exceptional seafood restaurants alongside wide boulevards, swaying palm trees and beautiful beaches.

Malaga became one of the most important merchant centres on the Iberian Peninsula from the mid fifteenth century.

Its fortress – La Alcazaba – dates back to 1065 and is now a fascinating archaeological museum.

The nearby castle, which is now a traditional parador (State Hotel), is also worth a visit if just for the breathtaking panoramic views.

Malaga‘s most famous son is Picasso Pablo and there are several galleries showcasing his work, including the 16th century Museum of Fine Arts next to the Cathedral.

Picasso’s birthplace in Plaza Merced, an official heritage site since 1983, is open to the public and is an archive of his life and works.

The Museo Picasso Málaga – a moving experience of Picasso’s lifetime of works – is one of the city’s prime attractions and is located in an old palace converted into an amazing art experience.

Even in his early paintings Picasso demonstrated a quality of brush stroke and amazing maturity of composition.

The Museo Carmen Thyssen comprises more than two-and-a-half thousand works from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, giving particular emphasis on Andalusian art.

Teatro Cervantes is Malaga’s main theatre where another of the city’s sons Antonio Banderas once trod the boards and he still visits.

Malaga is also a great place to eat out.

The Malaguenos love their food, and the bars and restaurants are where the real social life takes place.

There is an almost limitless choice of reasonably priced bars with some offering a menu of the day with wine for as little as 6 Euros.

Tapas is an Andalusian tradition and a wonderfully inexpensive way to try a variety of local foods.

Pescaito frito, an assortment of small fried fish including sardines and anchovies, is best followed by a glass of ice cold wine at one of the old-fashioned bodegas in town or visit El Palo, a typical fisherman’s village to the east of the city.

Malaga, with one of the highest concentrations of world class golf courses anywhere, is often nicknamed “The Costa del Golf”.

And if you have had enough of the beach, there are theme parks, water parks, safari parks, go-karting and many beautiful public gardens.

Among them is the beautiful Alameda Gardens and just outside the city on the way to Antequera one can discover the extensive botanical collection of Jardines de la Concepcion.

The beautiful park dates back to the 19th century and is one of the most celebrated botanical collections in Europe.

Open air concerts are held here every Sunday during winter, making a refreshing change from the beach scenario on the coast.

And getting there could not be simpler.

Malaga airport – the gateway to the Costa del Sol – is one of the major airports in Spain due to the number of tourist arrivals.

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