Malaga is the city of soft beaches, biznaga flower, fried boquerones, and more than 300 days of sun in a year. I love this city in Spain because it feels like home. There is a lot to explore and the city has a cozy atmosphere. I don’t see a lot of tourists as in other Spanish cities. The longer I stay, the more I discover details I like about Malaga. Discover what this beautiful city of artist Pablo Picasso, actor Antonio Banderas, and football player Isco Alarcon has to offer.
1. Alcazaba of Malaga
Mount Gibralfaro is located in the middle of the city. On the foot of the hill, you will find Alcazaba of Malaga fortress. Alcazaba comes from the Arabic al qasbah, meaning citadel, and is built in the 11th century by the Hammadid dynasty (a Berber regime). When you walk towards the Mount you might also pass by the remaining of the Roman Theatre from the Roman times.
2. Gibralfaro castle
On the top of Mount Gibralfaro, you will find the Gibralfaro castle. The castle was built by Phoenicians in the 14th century. I like the fact that it has Arabic influences. The name Gibralfaro comes from ‘jabal’, mountain, and the Greek word ‘faruk’, lighthouse. When the years passed, its function changed from a fortress into a military base. Standing on its walls you will have a spectacular view of the city.
You will learn a lot about the history of Malaga by visiting the Mount and all its beauty on top of it. It has influences of the Roman, Arab, and Renaissance cultures. You can buy a combined ticket for the Gibralfaro castle and Alcazaba for €5.50. Don’t forget to wear good walking shoes, because you will have to walk up the hill. Tip: When you finish your visit don’t walk into the street: Camino Gibralfaro. You will have to walk a very long distance to get somewhere. It is my mistake to walk in this long and empty street in the sunny hot weather.
3. Cathedral of Malaga
In the heart of the city, you will find the Malaga Cathedral (Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica de la Encarnación). Its beautiful building was made in the Renaissance style. The interior has influences of the Renaissance and Baroque styles. It is built within the Moorish walls that no longer exist. The remaining’s of the wall is around Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro.
4. La Malagueta Bullring
Bullfighting is very popular in the Spanish culture and especially in some regions. La Malagueta Bullring is one of the most important bullrings in southern Spain. They have different activities and festivals during the year if you want to attend. I just like bulls, so I don’t want to see them hurt. But I am interested in its history, so I do go and see the building from the outside and read about it.
5. Museo Casa Natal de Picasso
The famous artist Pablo Picasso was born in 1881 in Malaga. You can visit his house, see how he lived and enjoy some of his art in the Fundación Picasso. It is located at the Plaza de la Merced, where you will find a statue of Picasso sitting on a bench. It is a nice square with lovely restaurants and cafes.
6. Picasso Museum
Another place to admire the great work of the artist Picasso is the official Picasso museum in the downtown city. This is a place I definitely like to visit. I like to see his art and try to understand his way of painting. His quotes that are written on the walls inside the museum, can give you an idea of who he was as a person. I find them very inspiring.
7. Port of Malaga
A nice walk during the late afternoon at the Port of Malaga can be very relaxing. A long and wide pedestrian path takes you to the beach. You can buy something from the stores along the way or drink a cold Cruzcampo beer at one of the many restaurants. The city view from the port is romantic during sunsets. You can also hire a bike or Segway and explore the shore.
8. The beaches in Malaga
My favorite place to be is at the beach in Malaga. I don’t mind going to the tourist beach that is called Malagueta or the more calm beaches a bit outside the city. They are all well maintained and clean. I recommend the Playa de Pedregalejo and whenever you are hungry you can eat espetos (barbecue sardine fish on a wooden fire) at the chiringuitos (an open huts bar).
9. Paseo del Parque
Walking in the park at Paseo del Parque is amusing for the whole day. The number of different plants and trees will keep you busy from downtown to the Malagueta area. Many people walk here to escape the sun and enjoy the shadows. While you are walking, you will see Malaga’s town hall and on the background the Mount Gibralfaro and its historical sights. In the summer, you might bump into an open-air concert with classic music at the Recinto Musical Eduardo Ocón in the middle of the park.
Malaga is an exciting city for people who enjoy the nightlife. There are plenty of bars, clubs, pubs, and terraces. What I like the most about it is the place where they play Latin music like at Sala Gold. That is what I want to hear while I’m in Spain. I’m used to English music in the Netherlands. Most clubs are spread out around the Plaza del Teatro in the city.
11. Shopping in Malaga
There are a lot of stores in and around the street: Calle Marqués de Larios. This is the main street of the downtown city center with stores like Massimo Dutti, Mango, and Bershka. I like to go to the small side streets because I will find more authentic boutiques. Even if I’m not shopping, I like to walk here and eat some ice cream. Just like all other cities in Spain, Malaga has the famous department store El Corte Inglés. This is located a bit outside the downtown. Another place to go to for shopping is the shopping mall Centro Comercial Larios, where you can find stores like Zara, Primark, and Levi’s.
There are two markets that I like in Malaga. The first is the fresh fruit and vegetable market in the downtown city where I buy delicious fruit that I can’t get enough of. This is Mercado Central de Atarazanas and it is open from Monday till Saturday. On Sunday I like to go to Mercadillo El Ferial. This market is also a fruit and vegetable market, but they sell more than that. They have clothing, bags, and household items.
13. Learn Spanish
If you like to learn Spanish then I would recommend you to apply to a Enforex language school in Malaga. It is an advantage when learning Spanish in Spain, because you can practice wherever you go. Also, you will learn new things about yourself, make new friends, have more time to explore the city, feel like a local and so much more. You can read about my experience in the article ‘The adventure of learning Spanish in Spain’.
14. Discover the area around Malaga
There are a lot of things to do near Malaga. You can go to the beaches in other cities or visit the Aqualand or Crocodile Park in Torremolinos. Also, you can go and see the real Andalusian art in Seville. The city that stole a part of my heart. You can read more about it in my article ‘How to spend a few days in Seville’. The good thing is that you have plenty of options to travel around. You can hire a car or you can go by taxi, bus, or train. Read my extra tips down below for more information.
Extra tips for Malaga:
– I like it when there is a festival during my stay at a place. I search for the information upfront. You can do the same for Malaga. I have two festivals that I recommend you to go to. The first is the Malaga Fair that lasts about 9 days and is celebrated at the end of August. In different places in the city, you can enjoy some wine and tapas while listening to the free performances of artists. The second is the Santa María de la Victoria that is celebrated on 8 December. Many people gather in the streets of the downtown to see the floral celebration on the way to the cathedral.
– Malaga has a lot of museums. You can look on this list and see what you would like to visit.
– You can travel from Malaga airport to Malaga city by bus. Whenever you exit the airport the bus stop will be in front of you at the end of the footpath. Line A will take you to the city center for €3. The bus will stop in Malaga at the train station. You don’t have to get out. The bus will continue its way to the city center.
– If you need to use the bus more often, you might consider taking a bus card from the official EMT office that is located at Alameda Principal (next to the city center). You can take a card with 10 rides for €8.30.
– There are different places where you can rent a bike or a Segway. One of them is the Baja Bike Malaga.
– If you want to travel to other cities by public transport, you can book your tickets online for the bus or train.
Have you ever visited Malaga? Or would you like to visit it in the future? Let me know in the comments.