Malaga

Main city of the Costa del Sol and home to one of Spain’s busiest airports, Malaga is too often dismissed simply as a transport hub.

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But the birthplace of Picasso has one of the loveliest Old Towns in Andalusia, stand-out Mediterranean beaches, and is the only city outside France with a Pompidou Centre.

Food and drink

Malaga’s Mediterranean climate, high mountains and artisan traditions make for an extraordinary local larder. The regional olive oil is some of the finest in Europe, local goat’s milk makes fantastic cheese, and an espeto de sardinas at a chiringuito is a Costa del Sol rite of passage for seafood fans.

Tapas

You won’t get tapas free with drinks here, but it’s usually well worth paying for. The focus is on fresh fish, and if you want to avoid tourist-light versions, visit Calle Marques de Larios, on the edge of the Old Town. It’s one of the city’s smartest streets and caters to savvy Malagueños, so tapas bars have to be good to survive.

Chiringuitos

For seafood grilled to perfection, crisp salads, long drinks, and lazy afternoons drifting into evening, head for one of Malaga’s many chiringuitos. They may be on the beach, but these informal restaurants are usually packed with as many locals as tourists.

Try Playa de la Misericordia to the west of the city centre, and Playas del Palo to the east, for the most authentic chiringuitos. Or head to Playa de la Malagueta; it’s always busy in the evening, but the sheer choice of places to eat more than makes up for the crowds.