Visiting Malaga

The thousands of tourists who arrive each year at Malaga Airport en route for the beaches of the Costa del Sol often pay scant attention to the city itself - much to their cost!  A lively, very Spanish city, it is the perfect destination for a city/seaside break - friendlier and with better weather than Barcelona, cooler and less congested than Seville.  It has great bars and restaurants, excellent shopping, and a thriving cultural life symbolised by the Picasso museum which opened its doors a few years ago to great acclaim in the art world.  Admittedly, the sands are not golden, but who cares when the scenery (geographical and human!) looks so great!

A few of our favourite Malaga must-visits:


The Picasso Museum


Located in a beautifully restored old palacio, the huge, almost primitive canvasses of his later works against the stucco walls and darl beams provide some stunning contrasts.  Some excellent early lithographs and a fascinating (and ultra-traditional) portrait of the artist's mother from his student days shows just how far he travelled. There is a nice bookshop and cafe, and the young staff, beautiful, clad in designer black and supremely indifferent to your presence until you do something they disapprove of are an art exhibit in themselves...!   


CAC (Centro de Arte Contemporaneo)

Malaga's answer to the Saatchi Gallery?  Opened in 2003 in the old Wholesale Market, according to its website CAC "has opened up new cultural possibilities in the south of Spain and the centre was specifically created with the intention of becoming an international reference point."  It's certainly a new departure for Malaga and has hosted several exhibitions by leading international artists - Tracy Emin's bed paid a visit a few years back…

 It's got a nice café too…




The Gibralfaro and Alcazaba

The old Muslim castle, known as the Gibralfaro, sits on a ridge that overlooks the city of Malaga and provides the best view of the city and the Bay of Malaga.  Take the opportunity to have a leisurely coffee and soak up the sun on the terrace of the Parador just below, to fortify you for the walk down the long rampart connecting the Gibralfaro to the Alcazaba, the younger Muslim palace-fortress, now enclosed by beautiful gardens. Just below it you will find the remains of a recently excavated Roman theatre.




Málaga's main shopping street, Marqués de Larios is traffic-free and luxurious with glossy marble pavements and expensive shops. On either side are alleyways and tiny squares and a number of churches and museums, all within close range. You'll find all the usual suspects around here - Zara, Mango, Benetton - as well as many shops selling Malaga's speciality: shoes.  Basically, if you can't find a great pair of shoes here at a reasonable price, you aren't really trying… The best time to visit Calle Larios is from about 7 - 8.30 pm, when shops are still open and it seems that the whole of Malaga is out for the evening stroll or paseo.  Malaga institution Café Lepanto, purveyor of delicious cakes and outrageously expensive lunches is the place to sip a cold cerveza (beer) and watch the elegantly-dressed Malaguenos at their favourite pastime - enjoying themselves.






Then round about 8.30, as the shops are beginning to close, it's time for the serious business of the evening…



Eating and Drinking

You can't visit Malaga without experiencing a 'tapeo', or Tapas crawl.  Visiting establishments ranging from the traditional Bar El Pimpi with its vintage bullfight and Flamenco posters and indoor courtyard to the ultra-chic (and crowded) Gorki, you take a glass of wine or a beer and your selection of the famous delicacies… sometimes they even come free!

Malaga's restaurants include traditional mesones where you can eat well-known classic Spanish dishes to trendy fusion/New Mediterranean style cooking. In Summer, gazpacho (chilled tomato and garlic soup) accompanied by a wide selection of fried fish and the famous espetos (skewered sardines) is the most popular order at the beach bars or chiringuitos, where tourists can sample a wide variety of local specialities.  Winter treats of roast meat and game abound on a trip to a Venta (rustic inn) in the Malaga campo (countryside).

Further afield

If your stay in Malaga is part of a longer trip exploring Andalucia, we are very well placed for visiting the gems of Spanish/Moorish culture: the Alhambra in Granada, Sevilla's Alcazar and the Great Mosque at Cordoba.  All are within a couple of hours' drive from us.  The lovely hill town and gorge at Ronda and the eccentricity of Gibraltar (you'll love the apes!) are also well worth seeing.  Nearer still are the glitzy resorts of Marbella and Puerto Banus on the Costa del Sol and the smaller, and much prettier, seaside town of Nerja, to the east, and, particularly in May and June, the hill villages of the Axarquia and the Montes de Malaga are stunning in the Spring colours of their wild flowers and blossom.