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Although General Franco intended Malaga to be the ‘Florida of Europe’, this beautiful city thankfully lacks any sign of tacky rides and Disney characters. Founded by the Phoenicians in 1000AD it was known as Malaka meaning ‘salt’ after the fish that were salted in the harbour. Malaga has a history of invasion; first the Greeks then the Romans and finally the Christians, creating a spectacular canvas of architecture and history.

With over 70 Bullrings, many of Malaga’s sights are unmistakably Spanish, but the stunning sight of the ancient Alcazaba, a fortress built as a refuge from attack in the eighth century, beautifully illustrates the city’s Moorish origins. The site reveals intricate carvings, breath-taking views and even an Archaeological Museum beneath. 

For a glimpse of how the other half live, take a stroll to ritzy Puerto Banus where gleaming yachts twinkle in the sunlight, bobbing gently on the blue harbour waters. If you didn't see any celebs on your Malaga-bound flight, there are plenty of stylish cafes in which to linger should you want to do a little celebrity spotting.

In the mountainous North, the pretty town of Ronda shows off sea views that stretch as far as the eye can see, as a cool mountain breeze softens the heat of the sun’s rays. Nearby, the mystical Caves of Neria lend an air of Indiana Jones as their dank depths call out to be explored. Meet the wolf cubs and the rare ‘white wolves’ of Lobo Park or the curious and wonderful species in Senda El Retiro ornithological and Botanical Park?

A food and fiesta wonderland, Malaga is filled with Arabian confectionary and festivals every month, from the extraordinary Easter celebration of Semana Santa to the Festival de Cine in June, celebrating the best of Spanish film. Enjoy a glass of reviving Sangria or make your way to Casa De La Guardia, on Calle Alameda. It is the oldest Tapas bar in the city, were delicious snacks and colossal barrels of sherry fill its tiny rooms.  After a day of art-gazing in the Picasso Museum, escape to Guadalmar beach, the last of the unspoilt beaches in Malaga where you can watch the sun set spectacularly beyond the horizon.

You will feel well rested after a night in one of Malaga’s many rural hideaways that nestle between the mountains and the sea; where Moorish architecture meets modern design and old water mills provide an idyllic escape. Close to Ronda, the white washed walls of the guesthouses glisten, with swimming pools shaded by surrounding fig trees and olive groves where you can fall asleep to the sound of water rushing through the ancient mills. In the heart of the city, there are many hip little numbers, beautifully designed in Picasso colours with flawless personal service as well as central bolt-holes in the historic district that radiate four star townhouse luxury. For cheaper sleeps, there are backpacker’s hostels close to the Picasso Museum offering bargain beds, barbeque areas and rooftop terraces, from where to admire the goings on in the ancient city below.