Malaga Forbes

Forbes crowns Malaga as the best “alternative capital” in the world

Once something of a gritty backwater in a shiny Costa del Sol, Malaga is now getting its own back. The capital of this part of southern Spain has risen to international prominence over the last few years, drawing attention from all quarters. The latest spotlight comes from Forbes, which has crowned Malaga the best “alternative capital” in the world.

A survey published by the broadsheet finds that Malaga appeals on several fronts. As a result, it beats 420 cities in the world to the top place. Venice and San Francisco completed the top three in a table where Europe reigned supreme. The continent took almost half the top 25.

Malaga Forbes

What’s an “alternative capital”?

Forbes points out that a country’s capital city is often the first reference point for a tourist. However, it isn’t always the most impressive city on offer. In contrast, other cities take centre stage because of their history, culture and local population.

Premier Inn took this idea on board and analysed 420 cities worldwide based on their popularity, with holidaymakers researching their next destination.

Malaga is the best alternative city

Premier Inn’s research revealed that “Malaga holiday” had 478,600 searches, making it the most sought-after online in 12 months. The hotel chain attributes the popularity to the city’s “idyllic beaches, lively culture and mouth-watering meals”, a top choice for visitors looking “for less obvious cities to visit”.
Malaga ranks far ahead of Venice, the second most popular “alternative capital” in the world. The romantic Italian city was featured in 262,240 searches.

Forbes points out that Spain’s capital Madrid is already eclipsed by Barcelona in terms of tourism. However, the Catalan capital doesn’t appear in the top 25 in the world. Perhaps, says Forbes, because of its reputation among tourists and too many visitors.

On the other hand, Malaga stands out for its beaches and free attractions such as the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle. According to Forbes, these characteristics “attract people from far away”.

Malaga Forbes

Beyond tourism

Forbes takes the accolade of best “alternative capital” one step beyond tourism and highlights Malaga’s other attributes. They include:

International schools – the Costa del Sol is renowned for its wide range of educational establishments, several of which rank among the best in Spain for Forbes. In 2023, they include Aloha College, the British School of Malaga, Colegio San José in Estepona and Laude San Pedro International College.

Health system – according to Forbes, the city’s hospitals and health centres work well.

Proximity to the airport – Malaga Airport is just outside the city and offers direct flights to a long list of destinations year-round and seasonal inter-continental flights such as Malaga- New York from early June to late September.

Safe city – Forbes highlights the low crime rate in Malaga, also enjoyed in the rest of the Costa del Sol.

High quality of life – Malaga offers a lifestyle based on good weather, affordable prices and excellent amenities, a trio that ensures a high standard of living.

Malaga Forbes

Technological hub too

The above list obviously appeals to would-be residents relocating from other parts of the world to Malaga and the Costa del Sol. But Malaga also stands out for its technological opportunities and is currently a major focal point for the world’s tech giants. As a result, the city is known as southern Europe’s Silicon Valley.

Google is about to open its cybersecurity centre at a prime location in Muelle Uno on Malaga Port. PWC also has a hub in Malaga with over 100 employees, with 20% more in the pipeline this year. In addition,

Citibank and Vodafone have both established a presence in the city.

These companies draw on the world’s top tech professionals, bringing the crème de la crème to Malaga and the Costa del Sol. The arrival of Spain’s digital nomad visa with its tax benefits also adds to the appeal of this part of southern Spain.

The added benefit of the Costa del Sol

But while Malaga has taken the crown for best “alternative capital”, it’s worth remembering that the city forms part of a wider-reaching cosmos, the Costa del Sol. The coastline has long been known as the California of Europe and regularly tops rankings for the best place to live and work in the world.

For those looking to enjoy all that Malaga has to offer but without the inevitable hustle and bustle of city life, resorts on the Costa del Sol serve as viable alternatives. From Sotogrande in the far west to Nerja in the east, the entire coastline has something for everyone.

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Forbes article on the Premier Inn survey
Premier Inn report
Forbes best schools in Spain 2023


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