Once a small fishing town, Torremolinos may not seem like obvious competition for Spain’s bustling urban gay scenes like Madrid and Barcelona. However, this little corner of the Costa del Sol is one of the best gay beach destinations around – without the exorbitant price tag of similar destinations like Sitges or Mykonos.
Torremolinos’ gay history goes a long way back. It was here that the first gay bar in Spain opened in the 1960s, while the country was still under fascist rule. Franco’s government cracked down on the gay Torremolinos scene, but after the dictatorship ended the city quickly started rebuilding its reputation as a sexually liberated paradise.
And a paradise it truly is. The Costa del Sol is (obviously) known for its fabulous weather, with over 300 days of sunshine a year and mild temperatures around 17-19℃ in the winter. While the beaches may be slightly overdeveloped and the architecture a mass of 70s concrete, the constant sunshine and clear blue waters make the town an easy place to fall in love with.
The main gay area in Torremolinos is Plaza de la Nogalera in the town center – a tightly packed collection of gay bars, clubs, and cruise bars to rival any gayborhood in the world. However, during the day, you’ll find most of the gays at El Bajondillo beach, in particular the stretch of sand in front of Eden Beach Club and El Gato Lounge.
After a day of lounging (and, let’s be honest, probably drinking) on the beach, crowds head to one of Torremolinos’ popular terrace gay bars, such as Aqua and Codigo. This is Spain, so dinner is at around 10 PM and clubs don’t start going until at least midnight, if not later. After clubbing until the early hours of the morning, be ready to do it all again the next day.
The Torremolinos gay scene hits its peak during the summer months. Outside of this season, you will find many of the bars and clubs are either closed or emptier than usual – it’s still very much possible to party, but you might have to look harder for it. The best time to enjoy the town in all of its gay glory is during one of Torremolinos’ many gay events, such as Gay Pride (end of May/start of June), Delice Dream (April, marking the start of summer season), and Mad Beach Bear (August).
Most people who come to Torremolinos are unashamedly here for the party and the boys (the gay scene here is especially cruise-friendly), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do. When you need a break from the drinking and dancing, you can head to one of the quieter beaches on Costa del Sol, go for a hike in a natural park, or even take a day trip to Tangier in Morocco.
Most Torremolinos hotels follow the well-known blueprint for Spanish coastal resorts: big, blocky white buildings with outdoor pools, daytime activities, and nighttime entertainment. This means you have to look for the details that set certain hotels apart, like a great selection of pools, a fabulous beachside location, or adults-only access (this is, after all, a region popular with families with small children).
As a whole, Spain is a very tolerant country of homosexuality. In fact, a 2013 study found it to have the highest rate of homosexual acceptance (88%) of all countries polled. Despite having only recently emerged from a troubled history of fascism, the country developed progressive gender and sexuality laws very quickly, and is now amongst the best in the world for LGBT rights.
Torremolinos has always been an extremely open-minded town, and one of the most gay-friendly places in Spain. Gay visitors are welcome with open arms here – during the gay festivals, you may even feel like the town has been entirely taken over.
Better2Know Malaga is the most convenient place to get a test if you’re staying in Torremolinos. Better2Know are a well-established chain of private clinics across Spain, with efficient and bilingual service. That said, as a private clinic, prices are relatively high. A 28-day HIV test costs €125 and a full STI screen €295. A taxi to central Malaga takes about 20 minutes, or there are regular direct bus services from Torremolinos.
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