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Malaga is one of the larger cities of the famous Costa del Sol on the southern coast of Spain. This region on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea is blessed with year-round sunshine, hence its name the ‘Sun Coast’. The city has a history dating back 2,800 years, making it one of the oldest cities in Europe, and it is now the sixth-largest city in Spain. Exploring the region is easy thanks to the major trunk routes that head east and west along the coast and north from Malaga to the rest of cultural Andalusia and elsewhere in Spain.
Who to Book With
Malaga is used to receiving a high influx of tourists, which has resulted in an abundance of places to hire cars. Most depots are clustered at the international airport. Because of a good supply that meets the high demand, car rental in Malaga is extremely competitive. To secure the best deal, it is recommended that you book online in advance.
Best Time to Go
The biggest influx of tourists in Malaga comes during the summer months when the hot weather attracts visitors from all over Europe to the Costa del Sol. School holidays are always busiest, so to benefit from the good weather but avoid the crowds you could visit during the shoulder season months of May or September.
Need to Know Essentials
To pick up your rental car, you must provide the following documents:
- A valid EU driving licence or an International Driving Permit
- A secondary photo ID, such as your passport
- The credit card used when you made the booking
- Confirmation of your booking, such as a reference number
Driving around central Malaga is fairly straightforward if you use the major roads, although navigating the winding side streets is not recommended. For parking, you are best heading to one of the multi-storey car parks close to the retail and entertainment areas. Three useful car parks to aim for are on Avenida de Andalucia, Plaza de Alcazaba and Plaza de la Marina. Rates vary although with around 500 spaces in each lot, you are bound to find a spot.
Getting out of Malaga is easy since it is at the ‘T’ of major motorways. The A7/E15 basically follows the entire coast of east and south Spain, so from Malaga you can take it to other Costa del Sol destinations or follow it all the way to Barcelona or beyond. To head due north, take the A45 to Cordoba. This road also connects with the A92 motorway, which is a secondary east-west route for the region. Take this road for other Andalusian cities such as Granada and Seville.
Malaga is a large city and has some useful public transport options. An underground metro system is currently under construction, but for now visitors can use the well-developed bus network. Taxis are a possibility, but relatively expensive. The overground regional rail network is useful for travel east and west to other destinations on the Costa del Sol, or to travel north, deeper into Spain, enquire about the national RENFE services.
Malaga’s metro system is under construction and due for completion in 2013. The rail service currently operating in the city is the overground Cercanias system. It has two lines with a total of 24 stations and connects the towns of Torremolinos and Fuengirola with the city centre. Malaga is also the terminus of a high-speed AVE service operated by national rail provider RENFE which connects passengers with Madrid in under three hours.
There are plenty of metered taxis operating in Malaga, although in the busy summer months, they can seem few and far between as the supply does not meet the demand. Taxis are fairly pricey compared to other forms of transport so you may wish to catch a bus, drive or use the rail service to save money.
There are two types of buses in Malaga: urban buses managed by EMT and regional buses operated by CTMAM. The bus station is located just outside of the city centre. To ride in, you can catch the number 4 bus, although it is possible to walk to the centre in about 20 minutes. City wide ticketing information is provided by the City Transit Authority. For the most versatile ticket, you should buy the Billete Unico, which allows you to travel on all buses and some urban rail routes.
Malaga is situated in a great position for exploring other parts of the culturally enticing region of Andalusia. It is easy to get to other places on the Costa del Sol, such as Marbella, or you can jump onto the northbound express road to visit inland attractions such as those at Granada.
Marbella - Another true gem of the Costa del Sol, located just 45 minutes west of Malaga. Take the A7 tollway. After visiting the city, you can then loop round via Coin, taking in the Andalusian countryside and passing by the impressive nature spot of the Sierra de las Nieves.
Granada - This offers the significant historic architecture of the Alhambra, an UNESCO World Heritage site, and can be reached by driving northwest of Malaga for 1 hour, 30 minutes. Take the A45 north then connect with the A92 east. On the way back, you can go via Nerja on the coastal road, passing by the Sierras de Tejeda protected area to make for a full day out.
Cuevas del Becerro - A must see destination, so you can sample some of the true charm of the Andalusian countryside. Head to the village for its caves, its historic relics of Roman stoves and the ‘birth’ fountain. It’s a visually impressive and intriguing day out. Take the A357 west out of town for about an hour and marvel at the scenery of the countryside along the way.