Malaga province is one of the most popular places in Spain for foreigners to live. Whether you are a retiree looking to kick back and relax or a digital nomad trying to find the ideal spot for your laptop, Malaga certainly gives you a wide variety of options. But have you discovered Malaga city yet?
Over the last 15 years, Malaga city has undergone some massive changes with huge investment in both the historic centre and the travel networks leading to it. It’s fast becoming one of the trendiest weekend break getaways, not only for people who come in from abroad but for residents in other parts of the province who fancy a city break. With accommodation options to suit every budget, from hostels for a few euros to 5-star luxury, Malaga has something for everyone.
Here’s our Upsticks guide to 10 things to do in the city:
Visit the Alcazaba
This Moorish fortress and palace is one of Malaga’s most popular tourist attractions. Built in the 11th century by the Hammudid dynasty, the fortress sits on a hilltop overlooking the port and is made up of several levels, towers and patios. The walls encircle the palace complex, which was home to the rulers of Málaga and their court. The Alcazaba is considered one of the best examples of Moorish military architecture in Spain.
Castillo de Gibralfaro
Next door to the Alcazaba is the mediaeval Gibralfaro Castle, offering spectacular panoramic views of the city, the Mediterranean Sea, the bull ring and the port. It was built in the 14th century by Yusuf I, the Nasrid king of Granada, as a defensive fortress to protect the city from attacks. The castle features a palace and several watchtowers, as well as a network of walls and moats. It has been restored and now houses a museum that tells the full history of the castle and its relationship with the city of Malaga. Visitors can also enjoy the beautiful gardens that surround the castle
Known as the Cathedral of the Incarnation by the locals, it’s one of the most outstanding buildings in the city. Adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures, the cathedral was built over a period of more than five centuries, starting in the 16th century, and has a mix of different architectural styles, including Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. While the outside facade is eye-popping enough, inside it has its own unique architectural style and boasts many different naves and chapels. Legend has it that the cathedral only has one tower due to the city of Malaga running out of money by supporting the United States War of independence.
The Picasso Museum
Malaga’s favourite son is celebrated in this fantastic museum. Home to over 280 works by the artist, the collection is divided into several themed rooms, including works from Picasso’s childhood, his Blue and Rose periods, and his later works which include some sketches, paintings and ceramics.
The museum hosts temporary exhibitions of works by other artists, as well as educational programmes and activities and is considered one of the most important museums dedicated to the artist. Malaga isn’t only home to the Picasso museum; you can also visit the Carmen Thyssen Museum, The Centre Pompidou Málaga, The Museum of Glass and Crystal and the Malaga car museum.
The Roman Amphitheatre
This ancient Roman monument dates back to the 1st century AD, and is one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture in Spain. Offering a glimpse into the rich history of the region, and a must-see for history buffs, the amphitheatre has been sympathetically restored and offers the opportunity to find out what it was REALLY like to visit a theatre in Roman times.
The famous `Calle Larios´
Rumoured to be named after Manuel Larios y Larios, a prominent philanthropist, businessman and politician from Málaga during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, (sadly nothing to do with the local Gin), you are not a true Malaga resident until you have”shopped till you drop” on the most famous street in Spain. With uber-trendy tapas bars and restaurants hiding in the crannies and alleys off the main street, there’s nowhere better to spend the day! At Christmastime the street offers one of the best light shows in Spain.
Plaza de la Merced
Located in the historic centre of Málaga, the artist Pablo Picasso was born in a house on the square “Casa Natal de Picasso”, which houses a collection of paintings and personal artefacts from the artist’s life. The square is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, and it is lined with many cafés, bars, and shops – perfect for watching the world go by.
The Cervantes Theatre
Just a stone’s throw from the Plaza de la Merced is one of the most important theatres in Malaga, the Teatro Cervantes. Built in 1866 and named after the famous Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, the theatre has undergone several renovations throughout its history, including a major one in the 1990s. With a capacity of over 1,000 people the venue is used for a variety of performances, including theatre, opera, dance and even awards ceremonies.
Malaga has everything, whatever you want, you can find. The last few years have seen the city turn into one of the gastronomic capitals of Andalucia and for good reason. We could write a hundred blogs and still not cover it all, but there are some typical places that every Málaga beginner needs to try.
Quite possibly the most famous restaurant in the capital is El Pimpi. With a menu to die for of typical Spanish cuisine and the walls adorned with photos of famous diners past and present, not to mention the wine barrels with film star signatures, it’s a great place to start your gastronomic experience in the city. A real treat is a visit to the Mercado Central de Atarazanas, a joy just to walk around with its stalls crammed full of local produce from fish to dragon fruit and everything in between. Be sure to stop to eat at one of the street stalls and watch them cook the food straight from the market stall to your plate. It doesn’t get fresher than that.
Malaga turns into party central in August for the feria with the famous sweet wine Cartojal taking centre stage. If Feria madness isn’t your thing and all you fancy is a beer, then you should head down to La Fabrica in the Soho district, which brews its own beers and serves them straight from the tap. If “going old school” is more your thing, then the Casa de La Guardia is a must, unchanged in almost 100 years, it serves sweet wine from across the province and the bill is chalked on the wooden bar, just like back in the day
So once you’ve mastered the tourist route yourself, you can now take visiting friends and family and blow them away with our local knowledge!