From snoozing through a siesta to escape the heat of the afternoon sun, to feasting on a deliciously large helping of paella, there are many things that spring to mind when we think of Spain.
Whatever traditions you associate with this alluring region of the Iberian Peninsula, you are guaranteed to encounter a wave of culture during a language trip to Malaga or Valencia.
1. The Views
Malaga: Cochino Viewpoint ‘Montes de Malaga’
Spanning nearly 5,000 hectares, the mountains of Malaga are an awe-inspiring expanse of Aleppo pine trees. Buried within, there are several hiking trails, one of which begins at Cochino Viewpoint. Cochino, meaning ‘Wild Boar’ is depicted via a scrap metal sculpture of the animal, and from here you’ll be able to take in the stunning sights of Malaga city.
Valencia: El Miguelete – Torre del Micalet
Climb the 207 steps to the top of this octagonal masterpiece. The perimeter of its 8 sides is equal to its 50 metre height, making this magnificent piece of architecture a perfect location for a 360 view of Valencia. Built in the 1300s-1400s, the gothic-style bell tower houses the inspiration for the monument’s name: the Miguel Bell.
2. The Beaches
For a beautiful sandy beach on the sunny southern coast of Spain, look no further than Playa de la Malagueta. With access to water sports equipment such as sea pedalos, this beach is perfect for children and families. You also won’t need to go far to find various food and drink establishments, making this a great spot for an afternoon in the sunshine.
Valencia: La Malvarrosa
This beach offers almost 2 kilometres of golden sand for strolling, sunbathing or playing. You’ll find everything you could need for the day at Playa de la Malvarrosa, including toilets, drinking water and showers. There is an abundance of seafood restaurants, ice cream stalls and bars, ready to keep you refreshed and well-fuelled for your seaside fun.
3. The Culture
Malaga: Centre for Contemporary Art
Known as the CAC Malaga, this modern art museum is home to around 400 pieces which have been generously loaned by private art collectors. As well as its permanent instalments, the museum often benefits from temporary exhibitions to support budding Spanish artists. During your visit, look out for guest lectures and workshops for further learning experiences.
Valencia: Fallas of Valencia / Fallas Museum
The Fallas Festival in Valencia is a celebration of the arrival of spring, and involves the burning of wooden sculptures and impressive fireworks displays. The Fallas Museum pays homage to the history of the festival, and if you’re lucky enough to be visiting Valencia during March, you may just find yourself involved in some of the Fallas festivities!
4. The Language
Malaga: Larios Street
‘Calle Larios’ is one of the best ways to experience the native language during a visit to Malaga. The time of year you visit will determine what you see, as Larios Street’s appearance changes with the seasons, therefore becoming known for its bustling atmosphere and cultural significance. A shopper’s paradise, this is the place for browsing the boutiques and practicing your Spanish with local retailers.
Valencia: Valencia Central Market
Soak up the surrounding architecture and experience authentic Mediterranean life at Valencia’s Central Market. Take in the colours, flavours and aromas of the 1,200 stalls, bursting with fresh produce including fruit, veg and seafood. You’ll hear many new and familiar phrases here, with a chance to chat to lots of Spanish market vendors.
5. The Food
Malaga: La Tarara de Miguel
Offering a selection of traditional Mediterranean dishes including tapas, seafood and grilled meat, this restaurant in Benalmadena has been described as a hidden gem. Food is made from fresh, local ingredients and the friendly atmosphere gives a taste of real Spanish culture.
Valencia: Restaurante Navarro
With a menu boasting a variety of authentic food such as paella and Spanish sausages, this restaurant is very popular with locals and tourists alike. Restaurante Navarro is a friendly, family-run business which has been passed down through the generations, making it very deserving of its many 5-star reviews.