It’s that time of year again, when the countdown to Valentine’s Day has everyone scrambling in search of an original and romantic way to spend the day with that special someone. So if you suspect the annual gift combo of a box of chocolates and bouquet of flowers from the petrol station forecourt has lost its wow-factor, then how about mixing it up with a romantic escape to sunny Spain?
Valentine’s Day conveniently falls on a Saturday this year, paving the way for either a short or long break in the historic city of Malaga, enviably located on the sun-kissed Costa del Sol. The month of February usually brings average temperatures of 15-18 degrees Celsius – perfect for exploring the city and surrounding coastline. So pick up a car hire and discover some of the great sights and attractions that await you…
3,000 years of history
With a history spanning nearly 3,000 years, Malaga ranks among some of the oldest cities on the planet. As a result, you’ll find yourself spoiled for choice when it comes to exploring the historic chapels, monuments and fortresses that dominate the city skyline.
The narrow, cosy streets of the city’s historic centre are filled with ancient buildings, winding lanes and old-style taverns, so a stroll around town is very much like a history lesson in itself. Don’t forget to check out the magnificent Malaga Cathedral in the heart of town. Construction started in the 16th century, but due to a variety of problems it took in excess of 200 years to complete. Thankfully, however, a tour of the interior will only take up a small chunk of your afternoon – so drop by and admire the huge domed ceiling and the ancient religious artefacts on display in the museum.
Fancy taking in some spectacular views? Head up to the Castillo de Gibralfaro, a 10th century fortress perched on the hills overlooking the city and the Mediterranean Sea. It’s easily accessible both by car and foot, with your journey culminating in breath-taking panoramic views – perfect for a late afternoon stroll or for catching the early evening sunset.
Explore the sunshine coast
Grab a car hire from Malaga and follow the coast east towards the quaint town of Nerja, where idyllic beaches and stunning cliff drops await. The Maro-Cerro Gordo Cliffs offer mesmerising ocean views and rugged coastal terrain, and on clear days you can even catch a glimpse of the North African coast on the horizon.
There are plenty of walking trails to choose from, and the abundance of secluded beaches dotted along the way make for a perfect (and romantic) picnic spot. On the way back, stop by the town of Nerja for some tapas or to take in the sunset from the Balcon de Europa.
Hop behind the wheel and make the short drive north to the sprawling La Concepcion botanical gardens, a haven of peace and tranquillity amidst tropical forests and gorgeous water features. You can easily spend several hours touring the lush landscapes which date back to the 19th century, with several themed gardens featuring palm trees, bamboos and exotic plants interrupted only by a few man-made lakes and breath-taking views of Malaga in the distance.
Elsewhere, the El Torcal Natural Area is another great shout if you fancy stretching your legs. Just a short drive inland, near the town of Antequera, it’s home to striking limestone rock formations and a healthy dose of hiking trails that enable you to take a closer look at the ancient landscape.
Spa treatment for two
Get a feel for Malaga’s Arabic roots by treating you and your loved one to a morning or afternoon of pure indulgence at the Hammam Al Andalus Malaga Arab baths. The luxurious spas located just a stone’s throw from the heart of the old city and make for the perfect Valentine’s treat. Soak in one of the five thermal pools or enjoy a soothing stone massage, with the sense of relaxation enhanced by the stunning interior décor which simply oozes opulence. You’ll come out feeling suitably refreshed and ready to hit the streets for the Carnival…
In the days and weeks leading up to Lent, Malaga transforms into a sea of colour, music, dance and flamboyant costumes as the annual Carnival celebrations get underway across the country. The main events of this year’s Carnival week run from February 7-15th, culminating in a spectacular city-wide parade and fireworks display on Sunday 15th.
It’s a truly fantastic time to be in the city, with impromptu musical and theatrical street performances transforming the city centre streets into a huge open-aired theatre throughout the day and night. Join in some flamenco dancing, tuck into some tasty street food and party the night away…
In the mood for a city break on the continent? Check out some of our other posts for extra inspiration: