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10 Things To Do on a Gay Beach Holiday in Malaga


Thanks to its average of 300 days of sunshine a year and its varied coastline, the Costa del Sol, between Gibraltar and Malaga, offers a full range of beach-based holidays.

It’s now easier than ever for Canadians to enjoy a beach holiday here as Air Transat recently launched direct routes to Malaga from Toronto and Montreal. Whether you’re looking to embark on a weeks-long road trip through Andalucia, or simply want to rest and relax on the beach for a week, Malaga’s the perfect destination to begin your adventure.

A short drive outside of Malaga you’ll find the breezy beach town of Torremolinos, Spain’s most celebrated gay beach community, where drag queen dancing pool parties are best followed by a lazy afternoon on the beach. Take a day trip to Malaga and you’ll discover plenty of fascinating history from Roman ruins to the home sweet home of Pablo Picasso.

Hotel Ritual in Torremolinos is the biggest LGBT-focused hotel in the Costa del Sol, with 189 newly renovated, modern, stylish rooms. This friendly adults-only resort features a restaurant, barbershop, speedo swimwear boutique, gym, spa, an outdoor swimming pool surrounded by loungers and parasols, and a rooftop nudist area complete with petite bar, infinity pool, and jaw-dropping views. Throughout the year Hotel Ritual hosts a popular monthly pool party and during the busy summer months you’ll find a colourful calendar featuring Spain’s top gay DJs and Drag Queens.

Hotel Ritual is located a short 5 minute walk from the lively gay bar scene in Torremolinos. I was shocked by the sheer size of the gay village, which can be found around El Gato gay beach and La Nogalera. It seems like there are a hundred gay bars here, offering a little of something for everyone, from dance-tastic disco to dimly lit leather bars. Be sure not to miss EDEN Beach Club’s popular weekend tea dance and Aqua’s late night teddy bear lounge.

Located in the heart of Torremolinos’ gaybourhood, Kibo Gastrobar offers a contemporary take on Spanish and Asian fusion. The cozy lounge is decorated in Japanese pop art, installations of fresh foliage and chic industrial lighting. After spending a day tanning at the beach celebrate your restful holiday by swirling glasses of local wine and feasting through the chef’s creative menu with highlights including Malaga Sausage Tartar with honey mayo, King Prawn Pad Thai, and an artfully adorned Dragon Roll stuffed with lightly battered langoustine.

Head into Malaga for a day tour of the beachside city and start the morning off at Mercado Central de Atarazanas. Malaga’s most popular food market is also one of the finest examples of 19th-century architecture in the city. The building, however, dates back to the fourteenth century, when it was used as a shipyard in the days of the Nasrid dynasty. In 1870, a project by architect Joaquin Rucoba materialized to develop a new food market. Thanks to the members of Malaga’s San Telmo Academy of Fine Arts, the old monumental door was spared, becoming part of the main facade.

Today, the Atarazanas Central Market is one of Malaga’s shopping hubs, drawing hundreds of Malagueños every day who come to buy fresh produce – one of the market’s hallmarks. It also attracts visitors wanting to taste the fried fish served at the bar or serious samplers who come to plop plump olives and sublime candied almonds into their hungry mouths.

Malaga Cathedral was built between 1528 and 1782 on the site of a former mosque. While original plans had allowed for two towers, lack of funds resulted in the completion of only one, giving rise to the name by which the cathedral is affectionately referred to, La Manquita, loosely interpreted as “one armed woman.”

Malaga’s Roman Theatre is one of the last remaining symbols of Roman Hispania in the city. Discovered in 1951, it lay half-hidden for many years by the Casa de la Cultura, built between 1940 to 1942 and renovated in the 1960s. It was during these works when the first signs of the theatre were discovered and the Casa de Cultura was demolished to uncover and properly assess the ruins below. The theatre is now open to the public and throughout the year plays home to al fresco performances.

In-the-know art lovers plan pilgrimages to Malaga to visit the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. When the celebrated artist was still alive he curated a selection of his most meaningful works, with the intention of showing it all off at a museum in his hometown. The collection found at Museo Picasso features 233 works that cover 80 years of the painter’s life, from 1892 to 1972. In its 11 rooms, you can see how Picasso breaks with convention, as the works are created in a wild variety of mediums including serious sketches, framed sky-high paintings, whimsical sculptures, and ornately decorated tableware.

The Church of Santiago was established in 1490 and is Malaga’s oldest, built on the site of a former mosque. Only the central entrance in the Mudéjar style remains of the original facade. The square tower in the same style was conceived as a separate minaret and was attached to the church in the 16th century.  Inside there are three naves with valuable works by Alonso Cano and Niño de Guevara. Many art-fans skip through the churches doors as it was here that Picasso was baptized in 1881.

If you’re looking to enjoy a midday snack in Malaga head straight to the city’s most celebrated institution, Bodega Bar El Pimpi. The interior encompasses a warren of rooms, and there’s a courtyard and open terrace overlooking the Roman amphitheatre. Walls are decorated with historic feria posters and photos of visitors past, while the enormous barrels are signed by more well-known passers-by, including Tony Blair and Antonio Banderas.

If you’re a fan of high flying heights and keen to get a birds-eye-view of Malaga’s old town and waterfront take a ride on the Noria Mirador Princess. The city’s famed ferris wheel, located in Malaga’s revitalized port, reaches 70 metres high and offers jaw-dropping 360 degree panoramic views. The 15 minute trip can be enjoyed in one of 42 air-conditioned cabins that accommodate up to 8 people.

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