Welcome to Melilla, Spain!
Take a piece of regal Spanish culture and add it to the distinct landscapes of North Africa, and you get the autonomous city of Melilla. A microcosm of cultures and a various mix of people, Melilla is a vibran, multicultural Spanish enclave on the edge of the African continent. A relatively unknown destination, Melilla is a rewarding place for those who choose to explore its colorful streets as you saunter past the charming architecture. This is a worldwide local’s guide to the Spanish gateway to Africa.
Enjoy the Beach in Melilla
With a temperate climate all year round, Melilla is a great place to hit the beach and swim in the warm Mediterranean waters. Make your way to the secluded-but-lively beach of Ensenada de Los Galapagos. You can reach the hidden beach by passing through the tunnel under the Melilla Fortress. Once you get there, you are surrounded by the fort walls and rocky cliffs, which creates an intimate experience. Take note that the beach is only open from May to September.
Worldwide Local Tip: The architecture in the heart of the city is reminiscent of the ones you would see in Barcelona, due to Melilla’s architect being Gaudi’s student. Enrique Nieto brought this impressive style across the Mediterranean and transformed the city with a distinct elegance. See the best of the gorgeous facades at Triangulo de Oro.
Eat Like a Local in Melilla
Just like in the mainland, tapas reigns supreme in Melilla albeit with a few twists. Melilla’s tapas incorporates a north African essence into its otherwise quintessential Spanish cuisine. Located just off of Parque Hernandez is the constantly full Casa Marta. With a customer base of locals, along with the occasional group of tourists, chowing down on its delicious list of tapas is a great way to mingle with locals. Grab a refreshing drink and pair it with small plates of tasty snacks while surrounding yourself with friendly locals. The best part is tapas come free when you purchase a drink!
Worldwide Local Tip: Another great way to meet locals is to linger around its residential neighborhoods just before the sun goes down. Most locals avoid the midday heat by staying indoors, instead, mingling with one another during the cooler temperature of the waning afternoon. The neighborhoods come to life, with children coming out to play and the adults talking about their day in quaint little squares.
Head Underground in Las Cuevas de Conventico
The city’s fascinating sights aren’t just restricted to Melilla’s surface; you can delve deeper into its series of underground caves that served as a refuge during many impending attacks. The dark tunnels of Las Cuevas del Conventico allegedly held up to 7000 locals during months of enemy sieges. It consists of three levels, which have been recently restored. It is now a museum that shares the significant history of the caves.
Worldwide Local Tip: A place that may not be in your average travel guides but it is worth a visit is La Valla. This Melilla border fence officially surrounds Europe, separating it from Africa. Illegal migration has been a major issue here in Melilla. Morocco is just across the border, and seeing through the wires of the tall barriers makes you reflect on the realities of life at the borders of two contrasting lands. If you dare to visit, you can experience the eerie ambiance around the fence.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Melilla is a fascinating city that constantly makes you ask yourself which continent you are on. It’s a city of great religious diversity, with its inhabitants living harmoniously. This tiny piece of Europe in Africa is a hidden gem waiting to be unearthed, and you can explore Melilla as a worldwide local to experience its allure.