The Spanish enclave of Melilla is on the North African coast, the Mediterranean sea on one side and Morocco surrounding the rest. The official language is Spanish, but many locals also speak French, Arabic and the local Berber dialect. There are few English speakers in this part of the Spain as it is well off the tourist route so it is a great place to come and be immersed in Spanish.
Melilla has an airport with flights to and from Malaga, Almeria, Granada and Madrid run by Iberia (www.iberia.com). Nador, the closest Moroccan city, has an international airport and has flights with ryanair (www.ryanair.com) to Barcelona, Madrid, Brussels and Marseille. There are also daily ferries to Malaga and Almeria run by Trasmediterranea (www.trasmediterranea.es) and take between 4 – 8 hours depending on the ship and season. A a residents of Melilla you can get a 50% discount on flights and ferry tickets in and out of Melilla.
Melilla has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters. During the summer months the temperature can reach above 30oC and can be quite humid. In winter the temperature drops to an average of 13oC but feels colder than it is as the buildings are designed for the heat not cold.
The old town consists of a 14th century fort which overlooks the city and the mountains. Inside the old town there are caves, exhibitions and several museums including the Military History Museum and the Museum of Archaeology and History.
Melilla is also known for its spectacular modernist architecture, brought to Melilla at the beginning of the 20th century by the architect Enrique Nieto, a disciple of Gaudí. It is second only to Barcelona for its concentration of colourful modernist buildings.
Melilla also has several sandy beaches along the Mediterranean. The port offers the chance to take courses in many types of watersports such as sailing and windsurfing. Dance is popular and there are salsa and flamenco classes that run all year round.
The local government organizes concerts, performances and events throughout the year and these are usually free. There are fashion shows, a medieval week, classical concerts, the annual festival, touring Spanish pop groups, operas, ballet, military parades, beach festivals and Carnival.
Like most places in Spain, there are lots of cafes, bars and pubs. Most of the nightlife is centred close to the centre of town and there are several disco bars in this area. Melilla has a huge variety of these bars offering regional cuisine from all the areas of Spain plus local specialties.
Cost of living:
The good news is that Melilla has one of the lowest standards of living in Spain. Probably the biggest expense will be accommodation – apartments can be rented for between €200 – 600 depending on whether you share and the condition and size of the apartment.
Electricity is around €50 every 2 months and gas comes in large canesters (€10 a month/every 2 months). Mobile phones are as in the rest of Spain (Orange, Vodafone and Movistar) and have mobile internet. There are also internet companies here – Cable, Orange, Movistar – which will install internet in your home and expect to pay between €20 to 50, depending on the package. The bus is 75c anywhere in the city and a taxi ride to the border is around €3.50.
Fresh fruit & vegetables, fish and meat bought at one of the many markets here are very cheap and fresh s they come straight across the border from Morocco that very morning. There are two large chain supermarkets in Melilla where you can find very similar products to anywhere else in Spain. Melilla is also a reduced tax area and alcohol and cigarettes are much cheaper than the mainland. It is also one of the last places in Spain to still have free tapas with every drink in all bars.