Malaga is a modern and cosmopolitan city that, nevertheless, offers corners that have managed to preserve their original essence. This is the case of El Palo, a seafaring neighbourhood whose history is closely linked to the sea and where traditions remain intact.
Beaches, promenade and “jabegas”
The beach of El Palo extends along a mile from Pedregalejo to the Galica stream. The warm waters characterize this stretch of coastline of the Costa del Sol, where you will have the opportunity to enjoy all kinds of services, walk along its promenade or take a dip in the sea.
As if it was a picturesque postcard, you can see the boats of the fishermen who still fish in the area sharing the landscape with the “jabegas”, a traditional boat from Malaga. Converted today into boats for recreation or competition, these typical rowing ships have their origin in the Phoenician era and you will recognise them by the two eyes that decorate their hulls.
Fried fish, king of the table
A visit to the beach bars of El Palo is obligatory if you want to discover the most authentic Malaga. The extraordinary freshness of sea products and the many ways of preparing the Victorian anchovies, red mullets (two species of the area) or squid, make this popular neighbourhood one of the best places to try “pescaito frito” (fried fish).
It is almost a ritual to sit in one of these restaurants facing the Mediterranean, enjoying a good fried fish or a skewer of sardines, fish strung with a cane and roasted on the beach. One of the most unique bars, known throughout Spain, is El Tintero, where the waiters proclaim the freshly cooked dishes, impregnating even more the smell of the sea. You will also find many other traditional establishments in this area. Any of them will be a safe choice.
Traditions and popular festivals
One of the most special nights is the 23rd of June, San Juan’s Eve, where the residents of El Palo come to the beach to receive the summer. During this celebration it is a tradition to bathe in the sea at midnight and light bonfires on the beach that give way to the burning of "juas", dolls made with rags and other materials.
Around the 16th of July, the Seafaring and Sports Festivities of the Virgin of El Carmen, patron saint of fishermen, take place. If you have the opportunity to visit Malaga at these dates, you cannot miss themaritime-terrestrial processionof the statue of the Virgin. After walking the streets of the neighbourhood, this Virgin, also known as “Star of the Seas”, is strolled aboard a “jabega”, something impressive.
Other notable events in El Palo's calendar are the El Palo Flamenco Festival, also in July, and the Festivity of Nuestra Señora del Rosario. Both are perfect opportunities to discover the idiosyncrasy of one of the most popular neighbourhoods of the capital of the Costa del Sol.
How to get to El Palo?
Between three and five miles separate the historic centre of Malaga from El Palo, located in the eastern district of the city. To get there, it is advisable to take a bus from the Malagueña Transport Company. Lines 3 and 11, with stops at Alameda Principal and Paseo del Parque, are the best option.