Yes, that’s right, we said style, and we meant it. The Costa del Sol is a destination that is well known to so many of us Northern Europeans for its accessibility, its fantastic climate and its pulsating nightlife. Perhaps, like us, you’ve gyrated away with dubious partygoers of the trashy variety in the clubs of Fuengirola and Torremolinos, perhaps you’ve written Marbella off as a sleazy depot for Russian infidels and oligarchs, and perhaps you’ve got gazeboed to the beat of Manu Chao at Nikki Beach, writing this part of Spain off as Costa del no Soul. However, you’d be wrong- big time. Bad Norwegian decided to undertake the task of finding classy, cool and innovative things to do and experience in Malaga province, and it was surprisingly easy.
We’ve focused on Malaga as a world-class city destination in itself, with some recommendations within an easy drive of the city.
Where do I stay?
An hour from Malaga, in the quaint, exclusive foodie village of Benahavis, you’ll find Amanhavís, a beautiful gem of a Moorish boutique hotel. It boasts a fantastic pool area and patio as well as an award-winning restaurant. This hotel is guaranteed to impress the ladies, so if you’re taking your WAG along, this is a safe bet.
For a more urban stay, Molina Lario is a 4 star boutique hotel in Malaga Centro. It is regarded as one of the best, all-round hotel experiences of the city with its unbeatable location in the heart of Malaga, its renowned in-house restaurant, El Café de Bolsa and rooftop pool lounge.
Photo: Molina Lario
Photo: Molina Lario
Where do I eat?
For fine dining, Daní Garcia is hard to beat, offering creative artisan dining at Hotel Puente Romano, Marbella. Innovative cooking from a kitchen of contradiction, in Garcia’s own words.
In Malaga Centro, La Alvaroteca is a cool neighborhoody restaurant drawing a young, trendy crowd, and offers traditional food fused with surprise elements, at hard to beat prices.
Tired of tapas? Check out Zenart, a highly regarded Japanese restaurant in Malaga Centro. Kenji Okoyama experiments with traditional Japanese cuisine, while drawing on Peruvian references.
Photo: Tapeo de Costa del Sol
Not to mention El Café de Bolsa- Molina Lario’s own restaurant. It offers seasonal, local gastronomy, infused with serious and gutsy experimentation. On its trendy patio, you’ll rub shoulders with Malaga’s trendiest, plus a host of celebrities who have embraced this stylish addition to the city’s restaurant scene.
Photo: Molina Lario, El Cafe de Bolsa
What can I do?
If you’re looking to get the adrenaline rushing, try mountain biking in Montes de Malaga, on world class trails a short distance behind the urban area. Sierra MTB offer guided excursions at great prices.
Photo: Moritz Reiser
Or how about skiing in a part of Europe you might not associate with the pure powder? Chances are you haven’t heard of Puerto de Ragua, but this cross country haven at 2200 meters above sea level in Sierra Nevada in Granada Province offers great Nordic skiing with fantastic Mediterranean views, far away from the crowds. On a clear day you can slide along perfectly prepped uncrowded tracks, looking across to North Africa.
Photo: Esqui Sport Espana
If you’re more into water sports, La Herradua Scuba Diving offers the best subaquatic thrills of the costa, and is located on the Costa Tropical, an easy drive from Malaga, Nerja, Almunecar and surrounding towns. They specialize in small dive groups and there is also the option of commissioning one of their experienced underwater photographers to ensure your underwater adventure is never forgotten.
Photo: Escape 2 Marbella
Photo: Spain Holiday, La Herradura
For the culturally-minded, there is also plenty going on. The opening of the Centre Pompidou’s satellite site in vibrant Porto de Malaga is hardly coincidental; the French are merely acknowledging what those in the know have known for a while- the Costa del Sol, with Malaga at the forefront, is moving away from its outdated image as a tacky hotbed of debauchery, to take on the role as Europe’s new cool capital, buzzing with innovative diving, serious cultural offerings, and of course, Europe’s best climate.
Photo: Epizentrum, Centro Pompidou Malaga
Ok, I’m convinced. Should I consider moving here?
You went, you loved it, and now you want to come back forever. Porque no, we say. You’ve got cheap real estate, great affordable international schools, impeccable climate, and the infrastructure to take you anywhere in Europe within four hours.