[Photos at the bottom of the page] We are back from our Spanish holiday to the sunniest part of Spain where at the end of October we enjoyed average temperatures of 25C. While there, we also wondered if we could live in that part of Spain sometimes in the future and if any of the cities we visited could be a good candidate. No clear winners so far, but for sure a nice travelling experience that combined relaxing on the beach in the south of Spain with some city sightseeing. We loved as always to practice our Spanish, hear the music and experience the relaxed culture. In short Malaga was so so (we enjoyed more Belmadena and Marbella which were small towns by the beach), and we loved Granada (my favourite!) and Sevilla. For beach holidays I still prefer the Spanish/Italian/French islands or Greece, but it’s still nice to relax late October watching the sea and enjoying a nice meal or nap by the beach.
This part of Spain was more expensive than expected, though cheaper than many European countries.
- Food: 15eur pp per meal at a restaurant
- Accommodation: 60 / night 2 persons
- Car rental: we used public transport
- Sunbeds: 10-15 eur for 2 chairs & one umbrella
- Activities: boat ride Malaga- 15 eur 90mins; massage: 50eur – 60-80mins
Side note: Since 2020, we started travelling on a budget, we rent budget cars, we aim to spend no more than 50 eur/night/2pp for hotel and we don’t go for luxury, as we want to be financially independent in a few years (we practice the FIRE movement). That requires living on a budget and investing almost all savings. We still spend money on experiences, activities and things we want, but the decisions are taken considering the experiences that actually bring us happiness.
When should I visit?
October was perfect for this trip. I presume Sept or April, May, June are good too. July and August are probably too hot.
We usually use booking.com for our hotels research: an 8+ our of 10 review score and ideally under 50 eur/2p/night. We also compare prices with the hotel’s website, agoda.com, hotels.com or other providers on the Google Map entry of the hotel. Sometimes we call the hotel but we did’t find it valuable for this trip based on the chats we had.
It is important to choose accommodation in the city center so that you can easily reach the places of interest, read reviews about the location convenience.
You can either fly internationally to Malaga or Sevilla. I believe Granada only has domestic flights.
Malaga / Granada / Sevilla: while travelling in these towns we used public transport based on the Google maps schedules; to buy tickets we had cash in euros (for buses we paid the bus driver directly, for suburban trains we bought tickets at the vendor machines and validated them at the station before entering trains, etc)
Malaga – Marbella: Check Google Maps recommendations. Use avanzabus.com to book the bus (no train). You can either book online and use the digital QR code or buy at the central bus station. Note that some buses on this route take 45mins while other 1h 45 🙂
Malaga – Granada: Check Google Maps recommendations. Use alsa.com to book the bus. Alternatively book a train on renfe.com (we took the bus as the train offered us a 20min shorter trip for much more money so decided it was not worth it)
Granada – Sevilla: Check Google Maps recommendations. Use alsa.com to book the bus. Alternatively book a train on renfe.com (I prefer the train).
Sevilla – Malaga: Check Google Maps recommendations. Use alsa.com to book the bus. Alternatively book a train on renfe.com (I prefer the train).
Places of interest / Activities
- Malaga cathedral
- Castillo Gibralfaro
- Picasso musem
- Mercado central Atarazanas (farmers market)
- Towns close to Malaga we visited and recommend: Marbella beach town (45min by bus); Benalmadena beach village (30min by bus)
- Fly Blue sunset boat trip 90 min for 15 eur
- What we tried and did not like: masajistaenmalaga.es (unfortunately our massage experience in Spain with local massage types was bad, it is not the country for massages 🙂
- [The nr 1 spot in Andalucia, book right after your plane ticket] Alhambra – make sure to book your ticket in advance (avoid unofficial websites that pretend to be official and charge you more; use alhambra-patronato.es to book it officially), the general (Generalife) visit being 14 eur pp; make sure you arrive before your scheduled time to arrive timely at Nasrid palaces; allocate 3-4 hours at Alhambra
- Granada cathedral
- Mirador San Nicolas or San Cristobal (hills): for a nice view of the entire city
- Flamenco show (e.g. La Alborea theater)
- Sacromonte neighbourhood / gypsy flamenco quarter (e.g. Cuevas Rocio etc)
- What we tried and did not like: borealrelax.es (unfortunately our massage experience in Spain with local massage types was bad, it is not the country for massages :); Elvira baths hammam (not the best hammam)
- [The nr 2 spot in Andalucia] Alcazar castle
- Sevilla Cathedral
- Plaza de Espana
- Thai massage by Jamie (the best massage in our entire trip)
Food and drinks
- Malaga: MIMO (vegan); restaurante Meson Mariano (try the specialities – the grilled artichoke)
- Marbella: Yabaof Marbella (Lebanese)
- Granada: Papas de Elvira
- Sevilla: Almazen cafe (brunch)
- Benalmadena: Sold de Beirut (Lebanese)
- Have some cash in euro.
Places I wish I saw but didn’t have time
- Cordoba town
- Ronda town
- Cadiz town
- All the Hammams
- Malaga (El Andalus)
- Granada (Al Andalus)
- Sevilla (AIRE)