Beat the crowds to Málaga
Málaga is much more than a stepping stone to the sands of the Costa del Sol. Youthful and fresh-thinking, it’s quickly blossoming into a hipster hangout with top-notch cuisine, laid-back rooftop bars and chic cafés. The birthplace of Picasso, Málaga is creative to its core, with a sparkling new extension of the Pompidou Centre on its ‘mile of art’ and an edgy Soho district crammed with street installations. Even better, despite the millions passing through each year the secret isn’t quite out about the delights of the city itself, making now a great time to visit. If you’re heading to the nearby beaches of Marbella or Nerja, make sure you stick around. Step into storybook Granada Deeply traditional and tinged with fairytale magic, Granada is an Aladdin’s cave of surprises thanks to its Moorish history. Nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, the setting alone is jaw-dropping, the hilltop Alhambra palace towers over cobbled plazas. Don’t pack a map. Instead get lost amidst the alleyways of the white-washed Albaicín, stumble upon hidden tapas bars and pick up a bargain in the Arabic bazaar. For a glimpse into Granada’s gypsy culture, head for the fiery flamenco bars and cave dwellings of bohemian Sacromonte, or keep things cosmopolitan with a cocktail by the cathedral.
Live it up in Alicante
Curved around a Mediterranean bay lined with tropical palms, Alicante is a city to soak up summer. Grab your sunnies and stretch out on the fine golden sands of San Juan beach, take a boat trip to nearby Tabarca Island and climb to Santa Barbara Castle for sweeping views over the bay. On the weekends, Alicante’s cosmopolitan harbour is a hub for all things hedonistic, making it a brilliant spot to let your hair down with a bunch of mates, while the Old Quarter is perfect for lingering over a romantic plate of paella. It’s the ideal Spanish mini break for when you can’t decide between sand or sightseeing.
Keep it cultural in Madrid
Tired of playing second fiddle to city break darling Barcelona, Madrid is pushing its way centre stage. With a welcoming spirit and an infectious buzz, it’s somewhere to feel seriously high on life. Combining culture and cutting-edge design with its art scene and wowing tourists and locals with innovative local cuisine, Madrid keeps visitors coming back for more. After dark, the city’s cocktail bars and salsa clubs spark into action, so get glammed up and dive right in. While you’re exploring, take a trip to nearby Toledo, a timeless city perched atop a gorge with a captivating jumble of Christian, Muslim and Jewish influences.
Discover the other Ibiza
Ibiza has long been synonymous with unforgettable clubbing, making it a magnet for bright young things in search of sun, sea and serious partying. However, while the mega-clubs of San Antonio are the stuff of summer legend, they only tell part of the island’s story. Look beyond the banging beach bars and you’ll find family-friendly Blue Flag beaches, mellow hippie hangouts and a traditional interior peppered with picturesque villages. In reality, Ibiza is an island for everyone and you don’t need to live la vida loca to have an absolute blast.