Around the Costa del Sol: Málaga, Marbella, Puerto Banús, Ronda & Gibraltar

A wild monkey on the top of the Rock of Gibraltar
A wild monkey on the top of the Rock of Gibraltar

I’ve recently visited the Costa del Sol twice, exploring Málaga and its beautiful surroundings. Join me in a trip to some of the most touristy places in southern Spain!

STROLLING AROUND MÁLAGA

Málaga is a short 2-hour flight away from Geneva. It is a port city on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol, known for its two massive hilltop citadels, the Alcazaba and ruined Gibralfaro, remnants of Moorish rule. Málaga is home to some important museums such as the Picasso and the Carmen Thyssen.

My visit there was a very quick one but, in addition to the must sees mentioned above, another monument to add to your bucket list is the Cathedral. The city’s soaring Renaissance cathedral is nicknamed La Manquita (“one-armed lady”) because one of its towers was curiously left unbuilt.

Sunny Marbella and Puerto Banús

The first time I visited in April, my friends pickep me up at the Málaga airport in the evening. We drove to Marbella, where we would spend a few nights in one of my friends’ house. The city of Marbella is often associated with the jet set. It hosts sandy Mediterranean beaches, villas, hotels, and golf courses. When visiting Marbella, make sure to stop at Plaza de los Naranjos and the Cathedral in the Old Town. Strolling along the beach promenade is another must.

My second visit to Marbella was in September with my boyfriend’s family. We chilled most of the time, going for short walks, eating in and out and enjoying the long weekend together.

Heading West from Marbella, the Golden Mile of prestigious nightclubs and coastal estates leads to Puerto Banús marina, filled with luxury yachts, and surrounded by upmarket boutiques and bars.

THE STUNNING BEAUTY OF RONDA

Ronda is a mountaintop city, one hour away from Marbella, set dramatically above a deep gorge. This gorge (El Tajo) separates the city’s circa-15th-century new town from its old town, dating back to Moorish rule. Puente Nuevo, a stone bridge spanning the gorge, has a lookout offering spectacular views. New town’s Plaza de Toros, a legendary 18th-century bullring, is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Make sure to stop by the Hotel Catalonia rooftop to enjoy the view of the historic bullring.  My other favorite was the Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH IN GIBRALTAR

The next day we visited La Línea de la Concepción and Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory and headland on Spain’s south coast, dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar, a 426m-high limestone ridge. To this day, Spain is claiming sovereignty over Gibraltar. Make sure not to forget your passport when entering this zone and beware of the wild monkeys! Stroll along Main St and hop on the cable car to enjoy the breathtaking views from the Rock: you’ll see Morocco from up there!

Restaurants & bars
  • La Pesquera: famous shellfish bar with various locations in Marbella.
  • Bar Altamirano: delicious tapas in this bar located in a lovely and hidden square in Marbella. Try their cazón en adobo (dogfish marinade) and calamares fritos (fried calamari) with a glass of white Verdejo wine.
  • Make sure to try espetos when you’re around Málaga! This refers to fresh sardines skewered and cooked over a pit of coals, only seasoned with a bit of olive oil and sea salt.
  • Churrería Marbella:  in Málaga and nearby, the famous Spanish ‘churros‘ are called ‘tejeringos‘. You gotta have some with hot chocolate for breakfast to get you going for the day.
  • El Almacén: we had a tapas feast at this bar in Ronda. We tried their croquetas de boletus,bacalao frito con alioli y cebollino; ensalada de pera, foie y cracania de nueces and carrillera de ternera con patatas panadera. Not to be missed!
  • Mesiko: this is where we had a decent Mexican and Japanese fusion dinner in Puerto Banús.
  • We ate at a Pizza Hut in Gibraltar, so nothing particularly exciting to report on here. 🙂

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