MALAGA, MARBELLA, GRANADA, MALLORCA, BARCELONA
Spain – one of the most popular and most visited destinations in Europe. World Famous sandy beaches, quality food, good wine, music and dancing. Of course, we could not resist and heading there…
We are starting in Malaga. End of October back home in Slovakia the temperature is usually just above zero but after just 2-hours flight you’ll find yourself in a completely different world. Very pleasant temperature even in the night put us right away into the holiday mode. Transfer from the airport to the city centre, dropping off the luggage and off we go to explore… It was just a short walk to the modern port with famous beach Malagueta and then right into the warm sea.
After this refreshment we decided to go to the city and become familiar with the local culture. Along the beach stretches a park with all the exotic species and it looks like a smaller botanical garden. The park is also nicely decorated with fountains and statues. The whole promenade is lined with historic buildings. Short walk along the Town hall, the museum and the university we got to the city center. We couldn’t resist nice smell coming from nearby restaurants and finally tried a goodness of Spanish home cooking and also some quality wine they are famous for.
The next day we went early in the morning for a steep walk to get the view of Malaga from the hill Gibralfaro. It is a steeper stony path along the arena where the bullfights take place but it’s definitely worth the hike up there. On top of the hill are the remains of the Municipal fortress and there is also a museum, watchtowers and cannons. The best of course is the view and the way you will see Malaga from there will be the highlight of your day. You can see the port, bull arena, the old town with the cathedral and at the back remote hills behind the town. We enjoyed the sunset and carried on downwards to see the remains of the palace Alcazaba and the Roman theater.
Alcazaba – lower fortress and also the royal residence built in the 11th century served to protect the town from pirate attacks. It is surrounded by many palms, pine trees and various bush flower gardens with statues and fountains. From there it was close to the city center where we had something good to eat in the domestic eateries that receptionist recommended to us. We finished the evening with a few samples of perfect wines of Malaga in the historic wine cellar Antigua Casa de Guardia. This amazing wine cellar was founded in 1840 and later became our most favorite daily stop. Along with roasted almonds this wine was the best we have tasted in Malaga.
The next day we went on a trip to nearby famous restaurant El Tintero known by shouting waiters circling around the tables with freshly prepared seafood. In short it was delicious gourmet experience. This restaurant is located outside of Malaga so we just borrowed 2 bikes and got there in about half an hour. The best way how to get there on the bike is to ride on sea promenade which stretches along the beach. It was very hot and after this exercise we had to jump into the waves and have some cool off in the sea. After returning to Malaga we decided to go for a little cultural experience and visited the museum of local native – world famous painter Pablo Picasso.
The next morning we got up early and we took a bus to the nearby famous resort – Marbella. City popular mainly among the rich elite impressed us not only with yachts in the port and beaches but especially the historic old town with totally relaxed atmosphere. Snow-white house with lots of trees, flowers and painted benches in parks will make you love this place. From there we then moved to the beach and were chilling there til the sun went down. Another great city with cool character.
The main reason why we actually came to Malaga was to visit nearby city of Granada with the world famous Alhambra palace. It is one of the most visited complex in Europe so we recommend to secure the tickets in advance because if you come here without them you won’t be able to purchase on the same day of your visit. Alhambra is actually a huge complex of palaces and gardens that demonstrate maturity and taste of Arab culture. Complex lying on a hill Sabika is located 150 meters above the city and thanks to its beauty and historical value is included in the UNESCO cultural heritage. The impression is even bigger when you look at the place from a distance with the snowy peaks of Sierra Nevada reaching the height of 3400 meters.
As I mentioned before Alhambra consists of several parts and among the best ones belongs Generalife with perfectly maintained gardens, fountains, statues, lovely lakes and courtyards. Then there is Nasrid palace, Alcazaba and the world-famous Lion fountain which is a part of stunning courtyard and belongs to the highlights of architectural perfection. After you finish with the tour of Alhambra it’s worth to pass over the narrow streets in the historical district of El Albaicin, located on the opposite hill. It’s not just a historic place but also a place where you can refresh yourself in some of the local tapas bars. In most of the bars you’ll even get small tapas with your beer.
Next place of our wanders in Spain was the trip to Mallorca. Spain’s largest island is a part of Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea. We landed in the capital Palma de Mallorca shortly after midnight and the temperature of 24’C at the beginning of October assured us it will be hot, sunny and great here… We got on a bus quickly and moved to the nearby resort El Arenal which will be our temporary home for a next few days.
Since we came late at night we started to explore the surroundings a bit later than usual. Our first steps of course led us to the nearest beach where we decided just to chill, swim and relax all day long. El Arenal is a small resort with everything you need for perfect holiday even with mild sandy beach suitable for families with children. In the narrow streets that are nice to wander off and explore all sorts of tucked shops, bars and restaurants with excellent Spanish food and drink.
Today we decided to be more active than yesterday and went on a trip to iconic resort of Port de Soler, located in the northern part of the island. First we moved by bus to the capital Palma and from there we took historical train Orange Express doing this journey since 1913. It took about two hours to get there and such trips are our most popular because we can see a lot from the country during them. It started with flat land but later on the country was surrounded by high hills and lots of greenery and 14 tunnels. Train finished its journey in the city of Soler and from there we took another historic tram which took us directly to Port de Soler.
This trendy resort is very popular not only among tourists but also among locals. Once you see the port and all luxury yachts it becomes clear that Port de Soler is the home of the local elite. It’s a beautiful place and everyone who visits Mallorca for the first time we highly recommended this trip. Parks, squares, beaches everything clean and neat. Time for lunch and afterwards just relax on the beach. Another adventure, another fantastic day.
Last day of our stay in Mallorca we have reserved for the visit of the capital – Palma de Mallorca. Modern metropolis with a rich history and interesting sights is a must-see on the island. Old town with famous streets La Rambla and Paseig des Born with shops and restaurants are the main arteries of the city. It is also the center of nightlife in Palma. The dominant of the city is Gothic cathedral with rosette windows through which is also called the cathedral of light. Just next to the cathedral is Almudaina Palace which was once the seat of Mallorca’s kings.
Our next stop on a trip around Spain was one of the most beautiful and most visited cities in the world – Barcelona. In this amazing city you will find absolutely everything – history, culture, architecture, sport, sea, shops, parks, night life. All the superlatives that are attributed to this city are fully deserved. I must admit that as soon as we came here Barcelona won our hearts and is definitely one of our most favorite cities. Let’s have a closer look…
First day in Barcelona we started our tour in the port and from there we headed towards the famous beach Barceloneta which is just a few minutes from the city centre. We stayed there for a while, soaked up the morning sun and carried on along the statue of Christopher Columbus up north towards the most famous street – La Ramblas. From there it wasn’t far to the first landmarks of the city – Casa Mila and Casa Batllo – 2 impressive houses designed by Antoni Gaudi. His passion in round shapes on Barcelona’s buildings is visible here in full power and everyone who likes architecture will be pleased with his work. Gaudi hated straight sharp lines so all the shapes here are nicely curvy and rounded.
On the first day of our stay we bought a ticket for the Hop-on Hop-off bus which stops at every known attraction in the city. We drove with the ticket for three days and it was a lot cheaper than buying a ticket for metro. When visiting Barcelona, do not miss a visit to Montjuïc. On this hill you can find everything. Culture, nature, sport and even beautiful views. Just below the hill is located very popular Singing Fountain which starts in the evening and will produce not only music but also light show. Admission is free so it’s another must-see in Barcelona.
On the other side of the hill you can get through nicely designed botanical gardens can to the sports complex with various sport facilities that were the scene of the Summer Olympics in 1992. Sport fans should definitely visit the Olympic Stadium and also nearby standing museum of Olympics. Who does not want to walk up the hill can be brought here by cable car. Among other things there is also Castell fortress with the Military Museum, Greek Theater, Archeological Museum, National Museum of Art, Palau Nacional and many other sights. This place as ideal for chilling and relaxation.
We took a cable car on the way down so that we could see the city from a different perspective and then we continued to the aquarium. Barcelona’s aquarium belongs to the largest in Europe with a huge collection of Mediterranean animals. The main attraction here is the 80-meter long sharks tunnel. We finished the day by visiting one of Gaudi’s works – Casa Mila or by locals called La Pedrera. The residential building that is fully curved consists of Gaudi’s museum with studios and galleries in the attic. The best thing on the building is its roof which is fully accessible and with its round shapes presents the idea of rough sea.
We kept the best for our last day in Barcelona. We started with a visit of the most famous monument – Sagrada Familia. The Roman Catholic church is under construction since 1882 and should be fully completed in 2026. We recommend to come early in the morning because the queues tend to be long or tickets can purchase them online in advance. Beautiful masterpiece of Antoni Gaudi is the most popular monument in the city and it is also worth to look inside. Same as in other Gaudi’s works here is also the majority of round shapes with various architectural elements.
From the city center we continued to visit another Gaudi’s work – famous Park Guell. Colorful park is always full of tourists and locals and it’s also a must-see in Barcelona. The upper part of the park from which is great view is in fact a giant colorful bench in the shape of undulating dragon’s body and also serves as a railing. The lower part is formed by a different gardens and fountains and a rest area and in case of bad weather is also a great shelter which supports the upper deck.
And finally the best bit for every sport fan – visit of the football temple – Camp Nou stadium. Home of the famous club FC Barcelona with a capacity of about 100-thousand people is one the largest football stadiums in the world and will please every football fan. The tour of stadium is included in the price of ticket to the football museum but the best way how to see this beauty in action is of course to enjoy the atmosphere during some of the matches.
What to say at the end? Spain belongs to the one of the most visited countries in the world and I think it’s fully deserved. Sea, beach, music, food, drink, culture, history, sports, anything you can think of the country will offer fully. It’s just a few hours journey, all at affordable prices and satisfaction guaranteed. I hope you’ve already started packing…
Tip 1: Try fantastic roasted almonds in the city centre of Malaga and their delicious wine.
Tip 2: Marbella is known by its port but the old town is also worth the visit.
Tip 3: Don’t forget to buy the tickets to Alhambra way in advance and reserve a whole day for exploring of the area.
Tip 4: Take historic train in Mallorca to a picturesque town called Port de Soler. Not just the town but also the journey itself will be great adventure.
Tip 5: The best way how to see all attractions in Barcelona is to buy a multiple days ticket for the Hop-on Hop-off bus.
Total costs: 3 nights: £190.00 (Malaga)
4 nights: £200.00 (Mallorca)
3 nights: £150.00 (Barcelona)
(Prices as of 2011 – 2013)
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