As the regional capital and one of Andalusia’s most chic and progressive cities, Malaga has a nightlife scene to rival that of any major European city. In southern Spain, despite the carefree nature of the people, a proper night out (one that runs until dawn the following day) has a structure that is quite rigidly adhered to. After dinner – around 11pm – head to the sleek cocktail bars around Calle Granada and Plaza Constitución in the old town for a copa for a couple of hours, before heading to a club around 1-2am (and not before) for the rest of the night. Many of Malaga’s leading nightclubs – such as Anden and Sala Gold – cluster around Plaza Merced and Calle Carreteria and are open until about 6am.
Over recent years, Torremolinos has established itself as one of the leading nightspots on Malaga’s coastline, especially for its gay and lesbian scene. Given that this once-small and sleepy village boasts some of the Costa del Sol’s most beautiful beaches, nightspots that offer a beach-style, open-air clubbing experience have become particularly popular with the young crowd that party here. And despite its reputation as a Brit-haven, an increasing amount of Spaniards now also seek out Torremolinos for its nightlife, especially in summer. The Palladium is sought out for its insane laser lighting and El Gato is one of the town’s most popular gay nightclubs. Don’t start too early though, as many of these places don’t shut until 9am.
In all of the destinations recommended here it’s posible to party around the clock, but only in Benalmadena, situated just a few kilometres west of Torremolinos, is there a square with an informal name that explicitly acknowledges this; Plaza Solymar (Sun and Sea) is known as ’24-Hour Square’. Needless to say, most of the late-night spots are here, with Kiu nightclub being the biggest and most well-known. The other cluster of clubs, pubs and cocktail bars can be found in the Marina area, which has a slightly more aspirational ambiance as typified by Kaleido cafe and club.
Just twenty minutes on the train out of Malaga airport, Fuengirola is another formerly-quiet fishing village transformed over the last fifty or so years into one of the Costa del Sol’s top party destinations. Again, its scores of ‘British’ pubs and beach-style nightspots are more geared towards the visitor, but in July and August it is also sought out by Spaniards for the beaches and clubbing scene. Fuengirola’s nightlife is notable for its diversity, with bars staging live rock, blues and jazz bands until the early hours and clubs offering dance music, DJs and copas until sunrise. Every year, an epic beach party is thrown for the Feria of San Juan in late June.
If the chrome and laser-drenched clubs of Marbella aren’t quite your thing, head east of Malaga to the charming fishing village of Nerja. Popular with a slightly older crowd and for its lovely beaches and seafood as well as its nightlife, Nerja’s many bars and pubs offer one of the best live music scenes on the Andalusian coast. Most of these late-night pubs are located in or around the town’s central square, the interestingly-named Plaza Tutti Frutti (not a traditional Andalusian place name, incidentally). Pub Tantra is the local rock joint and often stages live bands until 4am, while at Burro Blanco there are nightly flamenco shows. A good time to visit is early/mid-October, when the town hosts its annual fiesta.