Family of Four Taking Flight to Financial Independence

Travel: Early Retirement and Málaga, Spain

One reason we chose to move to Spain was easy access to travel within Spain and Europe and beyond.  Exploring is at the top of our list, and of course there is so much to see just in Spain so at this point we are starting with that.  Shortly after our trip to La Herradura, Spain, we travelled to Málaga, Spain (within a week!).  Why so soon?  We had the carryover funds to do it (the low cost of living in Granada, Spain helped!); we planned to take a trip to Málaga in June already (our trip ended up being end of May - first week of June).  We found a fantastic Airbnb at a great price, and the Airbnb cost went up later in the summer (not to mention it was already booked for later weeks).  (Note, this is going to be a joint post between me (Tara) and Erik.  Erik provided the numbers, I will fill in the photos and details.)

Why Málaga, Spain?  Málaga was definitely top of my list.  It is Pablo Picasso’s birth town; one of the most important artists of the 20th Century.  He has always been one of my favorite artists (I am an early retired art and museum educator with a passion for the arts) so we had to go check out his hometown.  And besides Picasso, Málaga has history of course, many other museums, and the beach (among other things!). Málaga was also an easy visit for us since it was less than a 2 hour bus ride from Granada, Spain.

Museo Picasso Málaga (Spain)

To make the dollars to euros conversion easier, prior to arriving in Spain Erik calculated the 20 year average to be $1.21 to €1.  Moving forward for our posts (unless things change dramatically), we will use this conversion. 


We found a great place to stay in Málaga on Airbnb that was right around the corner from Picasso’s birth home plaza ... Plaza de la Merced.  Yes, this is one of the reasons why I picked this Airbnb!  It was also an easy walk to the historic center, most of the museums we visited, grocery stores (plenty of restaurants and bars), Málaga’s Roman ruins, Alcazaba, and Gibralfaro.  The beach was an easy (not the most pleasant walk through a traffic tunnel) 15 - 20 min walk.  We did this walk daily, and I would definitely stay in this location again.  Even though the kids loved the beach, it was not just a beach visit for us.  The only place we visited that we chose to do a cab was the Museo Automovilístico de Málaga (it would have been a 45 minute plus walk).

Our Airbnb was right around the corner from Picasso’s birth plaza in Málaga, Spain (Plaza de la Merced).

The cost for this Airbnb came to $263 for 4 nights (crazy reasonable cost!), and it was well worth it.   It still amazes me just how cheap really nice apartments on Airbnb rent for.  This one came to about $66 per night or about €54.  This was probably the best Airbnb we stayed at so far (again, we are sort of new to this though!).  It was perfectly decorated with everything you needed (attention to detail helps!) and clean. The host was very responsive and went above and beyond (drinks and snacks were left for us like wine, water, bread, cheese, ham).  They also included detailed directions for getting into our Airbnb including step by step labeled photos.  The place was on the smaller side, but it worked just fine for two adults and two children for four nights.  We would not hesitate to stay here again.  I did take a few photos, but I definitely think the photos on their Airbnb page were 100 percent accurate.

Airbnb in Málaga, Spain

Airbnb in Málaga, Spain

Airbnb in Málaga, Spain

Airbnb in Málaga, Spain

Our Airbnb had a small balcony that the kids enjoyed.  It didn’t have a great view, but still this Airbnb overall was fantastic (and you couldn’t beat the price).

Airbnb Cost for 4 nights (Monday through Friday trip): €215 ($263)


Plaza Nueva in Granada, Spain near where we typically grab a taxi if we need one.  There is a taxi stand.

Our experience with taxis here in Granada has been great.  They have proven to be an efficient and affordable way to get around, and this trip proved the same.  We are yet to have a taxi fare cost more than €10 within the main part of the city (which is always shocking compared to how much we know they are in NYC).

On our way to get a taxi in Granada to begin our trip to Málaga, Spain.  We took these Tortuga bags you see plus one on my back (same size as the one on Erik’s back).

For this trip we used taxis for ... (Note, I almost always try to research our routes ahead of time.  Being spontaneous is great at certain times, but planning ahead also helps with not overspending unnecessarily.  We took taxis for the routes below because they made the most sense versus walking).

-Getting to Estación de Autobuses (Avenida Juan Pablo II, 33) in Granada (From Plaza Nueva)

-Getting to our Airbnb from Málaga’s Estación de Autobuses (PASEO DE LOS TILOS)

-To and from the Museo Automovilístico de Málaga 

-Back to Málaga’s Estación de Autobuses (PASEO DE LOS TILOS) to catch our bus to go home 

-From Estación de Autobuses (Avenida Juan Pablo II, 33) in Granada to Plaza Nueva 

These all would have been pretty long walks (and with bags for most of them), and taxis are very affordable in Spain (it seems) so the taxis were worth it.  I still have it on my list to learn the city bus system!  But busses are generally slower, and for a family of four the cost difference may not be that much since taxis are cheap.

Taxi Cost: €45 ($55)


Malaga’s Bus Station (Málaga, Spain)

After having such a great experience with the bus to and from La Herradura, Spain, we were eager to use this mode of transportation again, and it did not disappoint.  We booked our tickets from Omio which seems to have the most reasonable service fees, and the total cost for 4 round trip tickets came to €95 or $115.

Málaga’s Bus Station (Málaga, Spain)

Just like our last trip the bus was efficient and comfortable both ways.  We highly recommend using buses for small trips (it was less than 2 hours one way with zero stops for our bus).

Bus Cost: €95 ($115)

Spending / Food

Our spending and food (groceries) for this trip came from being under budget in both of those areas (spending and food (groceries) in May).  We certainly could have started tapping into our June spending if needed, but as it turned out that wasn’t necessary.

First, our entertainment.  What were our plans?  For the most part now we are taking a slower travel approach in, we will try not to cram everything into a small amount of time like we would normally do so on a vacation (depending on location).  We have the time and means to visit again, if needed ...and Málaga is close to us!  Given that mindset, we picked a few focus areas for this trip: museums (Picasso!), some history (Roman Ruins, Alcazaba, and Gibralfaro), and of course the kids wanted to do the beach. 


Here was our Málaga, Spain itinerary:

Tuesday (Full Day): Museo Casa Natal Picasso Málaga, Museo Picasso Málaga, and the beach.

Wednesday (Full Day): Roman Ruins, Alcazaba, Gibralfaro ...and the beach.

Thursday (Full Day): Museo Automovilístico de Málaga ...and the beach.

Monday and Friday we would count as mostly travel days.

Some added bonuses of “entertainment” ...just walking around and exploring their historic city center which was beautiful and so clean.

Málaga’s historic center (Spain)

Street art in Málaga, Spain’s’s historic center.

Let’s dive into each activity more closely.  Were they worth the visit?

Museo Casa Natal Picasso Málaga: This was Picasso’s birth home.  Our Airbnb was right around the corner from his birth home and this museum.  This was a small museum which I knew going into since I read about it prior.  They definitely had some interesting artifacts and for me being an art educator with a passion for the arts, this was a must see.  In fact, ...every Picasso Museum in Europe will be a must see!

Picasso’s birth home in Málaga, Spain.

Museo Casa Natal Picasso Málaga (Spain)

Museo Casa Natal Picasso Málaga (Spain)

Museo Casa Natal Picasso Málaga (Spain)

Cost: €4 Euros for each Adult / Free for Kids 

Museo Picasso Málaga: This was a short walk from our Airbnb / the previous museum into the historic (and beautiful) center.  The whole family enjoyed this museum (and the previous one), but my kids may be in a more unique position since they’ve been going to art museums since birth (or really before birth).  You are never too young or old to experience an art museum.  This was a very comprehensive museum of Picasso’s work, and it was curated by themes / time periods.  There was a free audio guide that Erik and the kids used for part of the time.

Main entrance (before they opened) of Museo Picasso Málaga (Spain).

Museo Picasso Málaga (Spain)

Museo Picasso Málaga (Spain)

Museo Picasso Málaga (Spain)

Museo Picasso Málaga (Spain)

Cost: €9 Euros for each Adult / Free for Kids

Roman Ruins: Besides the Picasso Museums, this was probably my next favorite place we went to in Málaga.  And free!  It was so interesting to see the mix of new (or at least newer than Roman ruins) right next to old in the historic city center.  This is definitely not to be missed if you visit Málaga, Spain.  The ruins are right at the base of the Alcazaba.

Old and newer in Málaga, Spain’s historic city center.

Roman ruins in Málaga, Spain

Roman ruins in Málaga, Spain

Cost: Free

Alcazaba: I read some about both the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro prior to our visit.  In some places I read it was like the “little Alhambra” (the Alhambra is in our new home city of Granada, Spain).  Although in some ways Málaga’s might not have been as large and well preserved as the Alhambra, how could we pass up seeing another castle and fortress in Málaga?  It was definitely a must see visit.  I loved how the Roman architecture was integrated into the Muslim architecture.

Alcazaba in Málaga, Spain

Alcazaba in Málaga, Spain

Alcazaba in Málaga, Spain

Alcazaba in Málaga, Spain

Alcazaba in Málaga, Spain

Cost (included the Gibralfaro): €5.50 for each Adult / €3.50 for each Kid 

Note, I believe this cost was off as in the kids were higher than as reported through my Internet research.  I have found you can’t always depend on Spanish websites as being up to date as many (but not all) US websites.  But that is okay.  Either way, the cost was really reasonable.

Gibralfaro: To get to Gibralfaro, it was quite a long and steep hike (probably 20 min or more).  Much more challenging than the hike to the Alhambra (which is also very steep).  But it was definitely worth the hike up.  There was also a few fantastic look outs on the way up, and of course also once we got to the top.  We walked around a bit, but I think by that point the kids were pooped and mainly wanted to go to the beach.  I am afraid we didn’t see everything.

Steep hike up to Gibralfaro (Málaga, Spain).

Look out on our way up to Gibralfaro (Málaga, Spain).

Málaga, Spain

Gibralfaro (Málaga, Spain)

Exploring Gibralfaro (Málaga, Spain).  Erik has our Tortuga day pack on.

Cost: See above

Museo Automovilístico de Málaga: This may seem like a not so obvious choice to visit since we only had three full days in Málaga, Spain, but our oldest has really been into cars lately so I thought he would enjoy it.  Also I read positive reviews on the museum, and I hardly ever pass up a chance to go to a museum.  It was really a unique place.  I loved how they curated the museum by history and time period.  The cars were definitely works of art, and they also paired the cars / each section with fashion which was interesting.  But fashion didn’t take center stage, it was the cars.  They had great brief and easy to read descriptions on both the cars and the fashion.  They didn’t have too many more recent cars which I think our son was disappointed by, but we all enjoyed it.  I would recommend the museum to anyone especially if you love museums, cars, fashion, or history.  The only downside was we couldn’t easily walk from our Airbnb, and the kids were slightly more expensive than I estimated.  But not a huge deal or dealbreaker.

Museo Automovilístico de Málaga (Spain)

Museo Automovilístico de Málaga (Spain)

Museo Automovilístico de Málaga (Spain)

Museo Automovilístico de Málaga (Spain)

Museo Automovilístico de Málaga (Spain)

Museo Automovilístico de Málaga (Spain)

Museo Automovilístico de Málaga (Spain)

Museo Automovilístico de Málaga (Spain)

Cost: I believe it was €9.50 for Each Adult / €5 for Each Child

The Beach: Of course the kids probably enjoyed the beach the most.  But there was no comparison to our previous beach trip and beautiful scenery of La Herradura.  The water was just as clear for the most part, but I think anytime you have a larger (and port) city this comes with more people and unfortunately the negatives of more people.  I would not go to Málaga just for a beach trip, but more like an added bonus of having the beach (or if you want the beach but a lot of other things to see and do).  The kids enjoyed that Málaga had sand (La Herradura was rocks) though.

Beach in Málaga, Spain

Beach in Málaga, Spain

Cost: Free

Food: We saved a little in the area of food on this trip by bringing some groceries (minimal), shopping for groceries and cooking at the Airbnb, and also eating out for some lower cost meals like breakfast treats and other sweets.  There was a grocery store (Dia) and local produce mini mart only 5 min or so away from our Airbnb.

Grocery shopping at Dia in Málaga, Spain.

Helado in Málaga, Spain

Enjoying helado in Málaga, Spain.

Sharing helado with Picasso in Málaga, Spain.

Sweet treat in Málaga, Spain

Total for Spending and Food: €130 ($160)


There is plenty more to see and do in Málaga, Spain so we will definitely be back.  Let us know if you have any suggestions for us.

There you have it.  Our second trip in early retirement.  What do you think?  Do you have travel planned for Summer 2021?  Comment below.

You can read more about how we are fitting in travel / trips into our budget here ... Early Retirement: May 2021 Expenses.  Erik loves helping people get set up on their own journey to financial independence.  Reach out to him here, or email him at

-Erik and Tara

1 comment

  1. Great post. Have you previously written about how you're getting around Schengen visa requirements? And I'd love it if your font were a bit bigger :-)