Malaga, Spain

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While Málaga was long considered just a stopover on the way to southern Spain’s Costa del Sol beach resorts, in recent years a buzz has developed around the Andalucian city. There is a brand-new $100 million port promenade filled with restaurants and a bold new branch of Paris’s Centre Pompidou built in the form of a colorful glass cube. A handful of other major new museums include one devoted to one of the city’s most famous sons, Pablo Picasso—it’s also the hometown of another famous Spanish export, actor Antonio Banderas. Where once many buildings were dilapidated, an entire swath of the historic center is now pedestrianized and filled with shoppers, diners and street musicians. Tapas bars with outdoor tables line the old town’s Calle Strachan, while all over Málaga a boom in fine dining is taking place. The city makes a fine base for day trips to many of Andalucía’s most famous sites. Unlike many southern Spanish cities, Málaga doesn’t really shut down over the hot summer months; its waterfront location helps keep temperatures from soaring to uncomfortable heights. The 10-day summer Feria is becoming more popular each year, drawing visitors with its calendar of bullfights as well as dancing and drinking—activities the city’s residents enjoy before and after the Feria too.