Spain, well-loved for its sunshine and laid-back pace of life, has been a favourite holiday destination since the 1970s. More and more people are now curious to explore the great cultural and historical diversity that makes this country so unique, with so much more to experience than great beaches and nightlife. Andalucia, widely considered the most Spanish region of Spain with its traditions of flamenco and bull-fighting, certainly merits more than just a whistle-stop tour. Its amazing array of attractions range from the wonder of the Moorish palaces of the Alhambra in Granada to the original cave-dwellings of Guadix, from the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada to the glitz and glamour of Marbella.
Basking in Mediterranean sunshine on the Costa del Sol, the city of Malaga is an ideal base for exploring the delights of Andalucia. Its climate makes it a great all year round destination. In August the summer festival brings the city to life with ten festive days of flamenco and street parties, though this is when the summer sun is at its most fierce. If you prefer to escape the heat, Autumn and Spring are extremely pleasant here, whilst Malaga`s mild winters provide a welcome respite from the biting frost and rain back home, for an ideal winter break.
The City of Malaga is steeped in history and despite being heavily scathed during the Spanish Civil war, retains treasured landmarks such as the Alcazaba, the ancient site of the Moorish Royal Palaces. Its gentle terraces and relaxing landscaped gardens transport the visitor back to the days of the Arab occupation, as does the Gibralfaro, the city`s fortified Moorish castle, perched high on a hilltop and affording spectacular city views. Down in the centre, Malaga is an eclectic blend of ancient and modern, with chic boutique shops, sophisticated restaurants, wide tree-lined avenues and picturesque squares, as well as narrow streets and alleyways dotted with Moorish tearooms. Just to the east of the city centre lies Malaga`s own beach La Malagueta, with bars serving local dishes and lashings of fresh seafood.
Venturing out of the city will allow you to appreciate even more of what Malaga has to offer. At the magnificent Caves of Nerja, stalagmite and stalagtite formations decorate some of the most enormous underground caverns in Europe, where concerts and flamenco shows are held in summer. An excursion to the gorge of El Chorro will give you an idea of the true beauty of this area. With its turquoise lagoons fringed with pine forests against the magnificent backdrop of sheer limestone cliffs, there are opportunities here for some real adrenaline powered walks. For those who enjoy long relaxing drives along relatively empty roads with lovely views along the way, the beautiful cities of Granada, Sevilla and Cordoba are within easy reach.
If you wish to hire a car to tour the area, car rental at Malaga airport is hugely popular, with several companies serving an increasing number of independent travellers. It is important to note that hire cars are in great demand here and those simply turning up and expecting their first choice of vehicle to be available for hire may face disappointment. It is therefore essential to book well in advance to ensure some degree of choice over what is available. Choosing the right vehicle will of course rate high on your agenda; for long drives, opt for a comfortable car. With such long sunny days, there`s no longer any reason not to splash out on an open-top cabriolet for those long scenic roads.