Favorite Destination of the Year: Spain
3 years ago, I went to Malaga for the first time and ever since I haven’t been able to get that city out of my head
That city was love at first sight. There is no real rhyme or reason why I love it so much, I just do. As soon as I stepped foot on the cobblestone little alleyways, I felt like I could spend the rest of my days there.
Malaga, in my opinion, is a small city but it’s so lively, close to the sea, warm and home to some amazing restaurants.
Back in June, before I started a new job, I decided to do a 10-day solo trip through Spain (my favorite country), to get away and just be with myself after a hectic year-long job situation. I wanted a proper break rather than just a two to three-day quick trip. During my trip, I went to Malaga, Nerja, Grenada, Cadiz, and Tarifa.
Here’s everything I got into during that trip and some tips for your first solo trip to Spain.
This was my first time flying into Malaga airport, the last time I visited I drove from a nearby city. The airport is small, easy to navigate, and I was able to get through customs quickly. At the time, only vaccinated tourists could visit. You had to fill out a health form and provide proof of vaccination. Travel requirements change almost daily so make sure to go directly to the country's visitor page for information. Their website is easy to navigate!
I stayed in Malaga for a few days and checked into an Airbnb that was right across from the central downtown area. I would highly recommend it! The host met me at the apartment, briefly showed me around and handed me the key. The space was a great size for one person; however, the only problem was the door getting into the bathroom goes inside so you have to maneuver a little to get in.
The second best stay was at an Airbnb in Grenada. Everything was a short walk away and it felt like I was in a fairytale. The property is on a World Heritage Site that is close to 600 years old. The host was super easy to work with and answered all of my questions. I wouldn't recommend a car in the city because a lot of areas are pedestrian-only and it's a hilly city, so lanes were pretty narrow. The only thing about this property was that the bathroom is pretty small.
A popular resturant in Malaga is El Pimpi. It was founded in 1971 and is home to traditional Spanish food and local wines.
La Bottega Food & Wine is an Italian & Mediterranean family-run restaurant, that opened in Nerja in May 2017. It looks over the beautiful Costa Del Sol and has the sweetest and most attentive staff that allowed me to have some samples of their local cuisine.
Vegano Hicuri was one of my favorites in Grenada. The staff and locals were so friendly, and they had a variety of vegan options. The portion size was good and the food was tasty.
Chilimosa is a small and cozy restaurant in Tarifa that serves homemade vegetarian and vegan options. Homemade, tasty and they also offer gluten-free food. I had a Halloumi wrap with salad, pickled red cabbage and homemade pesto sauce and it was so delicious. This location was one of those “I happened to come across” type restaurants and I'm so happy I found it.
Mimi Bistro is a vegan restaurant serving all-natural sourced ingredients in Spain and only seasonal flavors. It's family-owned and in the heart of Malaga.
Things to Do:
One of my favorite things to do on a vacation is a walking tour. It's a great way to get a quick lay of the land, options to come back to later and to learn the history of the city. Most times an area wouldn't be on my radar until after a walking tour. During the tour, our guide mentioned visiting the Contemporary Art Museum which is also free. The museum was larger than I expected and a great way to kill time in-between activities.
On my trip to Nerja, I decided to do an Airbnb experience with Alfonso. He was very knowledgeable about the area. He picked us up in Malaga and offered to drop some of us off in the city of Nerja where he showed us how to take a bus back to the city. The beach hike was a little scary quite honestly and steep at times but the beach we went to was very secluded and felt like our own little piece of paradise. Nerja is a short 45-minute drive from Malaga. It's a traditional Andalusian seaside town with views of a crystal clear sea. It's also famous for its caves. The entire cave system stretches for over 3 miles.
For relaxation, spend some time at Hammam Al Andalus. This spa gets booked quickly, so it's important to make reservations in advance. The facility reflects a traditional Arab bath with hot and cold pools, a steam room, and you can also get massages.
In Grenada, spend time at Alhambra, Mirador de San Nicolas, Cathedral de Granada and catch a flamenco show at Jardines de Zoraya. If you're into the nightlife, MyWest is a good place for socializing and dancing the night away.
One of my favorite activities was Torre Tavira. Torre Tavira is a tower in Cadiz that gives a 360-view of the city, but it also houses a camera obscura! A camera obscura is a device that has a small hole or lens that can project an image onto a wall or table. At Torre Tavira, they use the camera obscura to show landmarks of the city which is projected onto a huge table in the middle of the room.
Another great spot in Cadiz is Parque Genovez. It's a decorative park with rare trees and shrubs from all over the world. Lots of benches and fountains, so a nice stroll even in the heat.
I traveled to 12 destinations this year and spent every day collecting beautiful memories throughout the year. As 2021 comes to a close, I look forward to the continued travels, but also the rest in-between that isn't captured in these blogs. Have a happy holiday and a happy new year!