Malaga: The Art of Extending Summer

Ancient meets the modern in this city.  Home to the only Pompidou Centre outside Paris and birthplace of one of the most celebrated artists in history, Malaga is more than just the gateway to the beaches of the Costa del Sol and Andalucía in the south. A compact and richly cosmopolitan city, it delivers on culture, tantalising tapas, new hedonistic hotspots that could give Barcelona a run for its money and fine weather, with more than 300 days of sunshine a year.

It’s also one of Europe’s oldest cities, dating back 3,000 years to the days of the Phoenicians (some of the ancient walls can still be seen in the city centre). But while Malaga may have history on its side, it’s also distinctly 21st century.

Beyond cutting-edge new hotels, restaurants and clubs – which are changing the very fabric of the city – a new skyscraper is underway that will transform the port area. The 135m tower, named Suites Malaga Port, will include a hotel, casino and high-end shopping centre once it’s completed in 2020.

The height of luxury

Designed by Fernando Guerrero Strachan in the 1920s, the plush Gran Hotel Miramar is the latest incarnation of a grand whitewashed seafront mansion that was a wartime hospital during the Spanish Civil War and the city’s courthouse until 2007.

It is not one of Malaga’s most luxurious hotel decorated with Andalusian tiles, hand painted frescoes, carved wooden Moorish arches and a lobby dominated by giant egg-shaped chandeliers of Murano glass. Beyond the 200 rooms and five restaurants is an adults-only rooftop bar. Drinks may be pricey but the Ibiza-esque beats and views overlooking the sea are worth it.

The art of celebration

As the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, Malaga is arty to its core. It's possible to visit Casa Natal, the house where the great visionary was born in 1881 and spent the first three years of his life.

Located nearby and not to be missed is the Museo Picasso, which displays more than 200 of his paintings, sketches and sculptures, many of which have been donated by the Picasso family. Included among them are some of his earliest works, such as the first of many portraits of his sister, Lola, which he painted at the age of 13. As an extra incentive, the museum - housed in a glorious 16th-century Andalusian building - will be showing a temporary exhibition focusing on women in surrealism. Titled We Are Completely Free, it will include works by Leonora Carrington and Maruja Mallo.

Speaking the same language

Malaga is considered one of the best places in Spain to learn the lingo. 'It's an easy place to interact with locals and practise without feeling intimidated.