Now that the motorway is open all the way there, it’s a fantastically easy journey.
We swung onto the motorway at junction 520 and steamed down westwards. We all know the trip to Almeria, so I’ll skip over that bit.
Past Almeria we get into the heavier traffic around Roquetas / El Ejido for half an hour. But it’s a good run all the way. Past Guindos we suddenly hit a concrete motorway, bringing back memories of US Interstates, but that’s only 30km or so and the traffic vanishes.
We then have about 100km of tunnels and bridges. No traffic, lots of greenhouses into the mountains, but it is just an amazing stretch of motorway. On that whole bit I think we saw three lorries and about a dozen cars. Oh, and one long tunnel where the lights were off, which was a bit scary.
Coming into the outskirts of Malaga we start hitting heavy traffic again and the limit is down to 100kph, but frankly it’s no worse than the Puerto Lumbreras stretch and with fewer speedtraps.
Make sure you take the MA20 turnoff towards the airport (well signposted) and you drive through Malaga straight to the airport, which is just 2km off the motorway.
It’s a shade under 300km (298.5 for the pedants), so that’s 2,5 hours driving on easy roads. Slightly longer than the Alicante trip, but much easier, with no nasty Murcia to worry about. I hate that Murcia stretch.
Plus, the flights are better, more varied and much cheaper from Malaga. It was 150 versus 600€ from Alicante.
Car rental (pickup and dropoff from outside airport departures) was €20 for the week. The price includes having a teenager leaving smearing the mud over the car for you (the all inclusive “car wash”).
On the downside, you have to listen to large numbers of Americans on mobile phones yammering away on their phones whilst waiting to board. I’d forgotten how many Yanks use Malaga. It’s a small price to pay.
So yes, it’s a serious and viable alternative to Alicante airport. And for the difference in flight costs over this Christmas, a vast improvement.