Malaga is the capital of the Costa del Sol
With a population of around 700.000 it is known for being the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, an impressive cathedral, excellent shopping and great tapas bars.
12 top things to do in Malaga
- Visit Malaga Cathedral.
- Spend a morning at the Picasso Museum located close to the Cathedral.
- Malaga's tapas bars located around the old quarter.
- Visit the Moorish Alcazaba Castle which overlooks the city.
- Eat fresh fried fish ( Pesquaito Frito ), shellfish and other well-known seafood dishes.
- Walk around the La Concepcion Botanical Gardens.
- Visit the hillside castle ruins of Gibralfaro.
- Visit the Gibralfaro Castle and historic Alcazaba Arab Fortress
- Stroll around the seafront and the new modernised Malaga Port.
- Explore the Old quarter including the Plaza Merced, Plaza de la Constitucion and lots more.
- Enjoy shopping around the famous Calle Larios and many of the adjoining side streets.
- Use the coastal train to visit the most popular tourist towns such as Torremolinos, Benalmadena and Fuengirola.
The Costa del Sol receives millions of visitors each year, but only a small percentage venture into the city of Malaga itself. This is a great shame as the city has been transformed over the past decade and offers so much to travelers looking for an authentic Andalucian experience.
6 Interesting facts about Malaga
- Artist Pablo Picasso is the most famous son of Malaga yet it took until 2002 for him to have his own museum in the city.
- Most people think of Malaga as merely a holiday resort yet it is actually a much underrated and atmospheric city whose history dates back to circa 770 BC
- The English cemetery in Malaga has a fascinating history with the graves of a number of famous people including British writer Gerald Brenan. The ornate headstones contain many shells believed to be a sign of immortality.
- Malaga is also home to well known Hollywood heartthrob, Antonio Banderas.
- There are over 50 golf courses within easy driving distance of Malaga so any lovers of the greens, fairways, and 19th hole, has found their Utopia here.
- If you are visiting Malaga during the holy week make sure you don’t go off exploring when the spectacular Semana Santa procession is taking place. So popular is this event that has now been decreed a National-Tourism Fiesta.
Experience the city of Malaga
The historic Malaga Cathedral is affectionately known as “La Manguita“ the one-armed lady, as only one of the two planned towers were ever finished.
The Roman Catholic church was constructed throughout the 16th and 18th centuries in the traditional Renaissance architectural style and is located within the old historic quarter.
The cultural heritage of Malaga can now take centre stage and is home to the Picasso Museum which is housed in the beautiful old Palacio de la Bellavista.
Picasso is probably Malaga’s most famous son and the impressive Picasso museum is a testament to that fact.
Around 150 works of art created by Picasso have exhibited, these can be viewed over two floors and include paintings, drawings, sculptures and lithographs.
The house where Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born is located on the Plaza de la Merced, 3 minutes walk from the museum. Here you can see areas relating to the life and work from different periods of his exceptional life.
Makes for an interesting stopover even if art is not your thing.
Proudly watching over this cosmopolitan capital is the Castillo de Gibralfaro and the Alcazaba de Malaga ( Moorish Castle ).
The castle dates back to the 14th century and has pretty fountains and manicured gardens whilst the origins of the Alcazaba date to the 11th century. Both have impressive views over Malaga, the port area and the Mediterranean sea and are well worth visiting.
The old part of Malaga is the most interesting area and is located two minutes' walk from the new port all around the Cathedral, the narrow streets which wind off in all directions from Larios Street ooze Andalucian charm.
Well worth visiting is the newly remodeled Port of Malaga, now a major stopover for passing Mediterranean cruise liners.
The area is perfect for afternoon walks, especially in the spring and summer months where you will come across some of the best restaurants and Tapas bars in the area
And if you want a spectacular view over the city and port area, then head to the sun lounge and terraced bar at the top of AC Marriott Hotel.
Luckily, it's open to the public and is a perfect place to relax and enjoy a coffee or watch the sunset.
Other attractions in the old quarter include the Picasso Museum, charming Andalucian plazas and the newly remodeled port area which is 5-minute walk from the Cathedral.
Eating out in Malaga
Malaga offers up an abundance of great places to eat, especially around the central district. Here you will find the very best in Mediterranean cooking from famous tapas to fresh fish baked in salt to the yummy churros dipped in hot chocolate.
Malaga’s greatest culinary offering is undoubtedly its fried fish, acknowledged as some of the best in Spain.
Most of the eateries are grouped around the central district, the old quarter around the Cathedral, the main central avenue ( La Alameda ) and along the promenade located to the east of the port area.
For a great culinary experience try a tapa crawl in the old part of Malaga, basically follow other like-minded people around the back streets. Here you will come across some of the best tapas bars in the whole region serving local delicacies such as black foot ham, sauteed mushrooms, pees and serrano ham and countless seafood dishes.
Popular tapas bars and restaurants in central Malaga:
Lo Gueno ( Calle Marin Garcia, 9 )
Opened in 1967 this small tapas bar is one the best you will find anywhere in Malaga. Located just a minutes walk off of Calle Larios where you will find a delicious selection of the most famous tapas, most of them cooked to order. There are actually 2 bars in the group, the other one is located on Calle Strachan, 12 which offers a more fine dining experience. Highly recommended dishes include a selection of small toasts with salmon, anchovies or cured pork. Breadcrumbs with quail eggs ( Migas ), black foot cured ham, prawns on a skewer, stuffed eggplant and the snails in almond sauce are all from favourites at Lo Gueno.
El Pimpi ( Calle Granada 62 )
Located a few minutes walk from the Picasso museum and on the edge of the old quarter, a visit to this delightfully typical tapas bar and restaurant will never disappoint. Frequented by many a famous personality, past and present El Pimpi offers a truly unique dining experience within a maze of dining areas, bars and terraces. The menu is large, offering a wide variety of hams and cured meats, fish, salads, meat dishes and cakes and pastries, not forgetting a selection of local wines straight out of the barrel.
El Tapeo de Cervantes ( Calle Cárcer, 8 )
Located close to the Cervantes Theater this popular bar/restaurant serves an array of local dishes and some of the best tapas in Malaga. Not one of the oldest tapas in in the city, but surely one to remember and well worth adding to your list of places to eat.
Transport and tourism information
Look out for the red tourist information booths which are located all around the city and have proven to be a great success with visitors.
To cope with the increasing number of foreign tourists visiting the Costa del Sol each year major improvement works have been carried out at Malaga airport to accommodate the increased number of flights to Malaga including a new terminal building.
There is also a convenient train service which stops at the airports and runs from Malaga to Fuengirola every 20 minutes during the day.
The main coastal highway ( N340 ) offers easy access to the airport and all destinations from Malaga.
Malaga for golf lovers
Malaga is the gateway to the Costa del Sol, boasting the most golf courses in one area in the whole of Spain. There are two popular courses located close to Malaga airport, they are the stunning Malaga Parador Golf Club and the Guadalhorce Golf Club.
Tours & Excursions
Recommended hotels and places to stay in Andalucia
The 5 star Gran Hotel Miramar is located right on the La Malagueta beach front, close to many of the cities top landmarks including the Picasso Museum and the Alcazaba. You are treated here to large bright comfy rooms and an impressive high ceiling inner courtyard. Reviewer Rating: 9.1
The 4 star Hotel Salles Malaga Centro is in an ideal location in central Malaga offering spectacular views over the city via a rooftop terrace and pool area. The hotel is close to Malaga's well-known attractions, with Malaga Cathedral only moments on foot from the property. Reviewer Rating: 10.0
The charming La Siesta guest house is located in the heart of the old quarter just a few minutes walk from the Picasso Museum and Malaga Cathedral. The guest house has 5 bright and comfy rooms as well as nice little courtyard, sun terrace and free wifi. Reviewer Rating: 9.9