Hidden beyond Algeciras’s (pop. 101,000) seedy port is a more serene old neighborhood, worthy of a visit for those with a few hours to spare. However, for most itinerary-bound travelers, this is a city seen only in transit. RENFE trains (902 24 02 02) run from C. Juan de la Cierva to Granada (4hr. 3 per day, ‚16) and Ronda (lV&hr. 4 per day, ‚5.80). Empresa Portillo buses (956 65 43 04) leave from Av. Virgen del Carmen 15 for: Cordoba (6hr. 2 per day, ‚20); Granada (4hr. 4 per day, ‚18); Malaga (3hr. 8-9 per day, ‚9.40); and Marbella (lhr. 8-9 per day, ‚5.20). Transportes Generates Comes (956 65 34 56) goes from C. San Bernardo 1 to Cadiz (2!2hr. 10 per day, ‚8.60). La Linea runs to: Gibraltar (45min. every 30min. 7am-9:45pm, ‚1.60); Madrid (8hr. 4 per day, ‚23); and Seville (4hr. 5 per day, ‚14.30). To reach the ferries from the bus and train stations, follow C. San Bernardo to C. Juan de la Cierva and turn left at its end; the port entrance will be on your right. The tourist office is on C. Juan de la Cierva. (956 57 26 36. Open M-F 9am-2pm.) Hostels cluster around Calle Jose Santacana. Clean rooms all with phones, TV, and bathrooms can be found at Hostal Residencia Versailles 0, C. Moutero Rios 12, off C. Cayetano del Toro (fax 956 65 42 11. Singles with shower ‚18; doubles ‚30.) Postal Code: 11203.
COSTA DEL SOL
The Costa del Sol mixes rocky beaches with chic promenades and swank hotels. While some spots have been over-developed and can be hard on the wallet, the coast’s stunning natural beauty has elsewhere been left untouched. Summer brings swarms of tourists, but nothing takes away from the main attraction: eight months of spring and four months of summer.
MALAGA. Once celebrated by Hans Christian Andersen, Malaga (pop. 550,000) is the largest Andalucian city on the coast and the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. Today this transportation hub offers a charming casco antiguo (old town) and beautiful nearby beaches like the whitewashed Nerja. (Buses run from Malaga, lV&hr. 12-18 per day, ‚3.20.) The EAlcazaba, the city’s most imposing sight, exudes a medieval tranquility and offers views of the harbor. (Open June-Aug. Su and Tu-Sa 9:30am-8pm; Sept.-May Tu-Sa 8:30am-7pm. ‚1.80, students ‚.60). Malaga’s breathtaking cathedral, C. Molina Larios 4, blends Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles and contains more than 15 side chapels. (952 22 03 45. Open M-F 10am-6:45pm, Sa 10am-5:45pm. ‚3.)
Buses run from Po. Tilos ( 952 35 00 61), one block from the RENFE station along C. Roger de Flor, to: Cadiz (5hr. 5 per day, ‚18); Cordoba (3hr. 5 per day, ‚11); Granada (2hr. 17 per day, ‚8.10); Madrid (7hr. 12 per day, ‚18); Marbella (lV6hr. every hr. ‚4.20); and Seville (3hr. 11-12 per day, ‚14). The tourist office is at Av. Cervantes 1 (fax 952 60 44 10. Open M-F 8:15am-2pm and 4:30-7pm, Sa-Su 9:30am-l:30pm). Hostal La Palma 0, C. Martinez 7, off C. Marques de Larios, has a great family atmosphere and rooms with AC, mini-terraces and private baths. ( 952 22 67 72. Singles ‚21-25.) Vegetariano Canadu O, PI. de la Merced 21, serves hearty meatless entrees. (952 22 90 56. Open Su-Th l:30-4pm and 8-11pm, F-Sa l:30-4pm and 8pm-midnight. AmExMCV.) Postal Code: 29080.
MARBELLA. Like your vacation spots shaken, not stirred? Scottish smoothie Sean Connery and a host of other jet-setters choose Marbella (pop. 116,000; 500,000+ in summer) as their vacation home. While there may be more yachts here than hostels, it’s still possible to have a budgeted good time. The beaches beckon with 320 days of sunshine per year, but no visit would be complete without a stroll through the casco antiguo (old town), a maze of cobblestone streets and white-washed facades trimmed with wild roses. With 22km of beach, Marbella offers a variety of settings. Stroll the 7km from Marbella center to chic and trendy Puerto Banus, where beautiful, dean beaches are buffered by white yachts. Beaches to the east of the port are popular with British backpackers; those to the west attract a more posh crowd.
From the station atop Av. Trapiche (952 76 44 00), buses go to: Algeciras (l’zhr. 17 per day, ‚5.20); Cadiz (4hr. 6 per day, ‚14); Granada (S’ahr. 7 per day, ‚13); Madrid (7!2hr. 7 per day, ‚20); Malaga (l’ahr. 2 per hr. ‚4.20); and Seville (4hr. 2-3 per day, ‚14). The tourist office is on PI. Naranjos. (952 82 35 50. Open June-Aug. M-F 9:30am-9pm, Sa 10am-2pm.) The area in the casco antiguo around PI. Naranjos offers quick-filling hostels. Once a 17th-century inn run by monks for traveling pilgrims, today Hostal del PilarO, C. Mesoncillo
4, is centrally located off of C. Peral and is clean and comfortable. ( 952 82 99 36. Dorms ‚15.) The excellent Albergue Juvenil (HI) 0, Av. Trapiche 2, downhill from the bus station, has a social atmosphere and huge pool. ( 952 77 14 91. June 15-Sept. 15 Dorms ‚18, under-26 ‚14; Apr.-June 15, Sept. 15-Oct. 15 ‚16 12; Nov.-Mar. ‚129.) KEI Gallo, C. Lobatas 44, offers local cuisine in huge portions. (Tapas from ‚1.50. Entrees ‚2.50-8. Open Su-M and W-Sa l-4:30pm and 7-11:30pm.) Nightlife in Marbella begins and ends late. A mellow ambience suffuses the Townhouse Bar, C. Alamo 1, tucked down an alley off C. Nueva. Ask for a shot (‚1.50) of Apple Pie. (Open daily 10pm-3am.) Postal Code: 29600.
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