Overlooked for decades by tourists flocking to resorts on the Costa del Sol, Malaga has come of age and is now ready to rival Europe’s best when it comes to quality of life for its citizens.
Named the European Capital of Culture in 2016, Malaga has every right to be pleased with the way Mayor Francisco de la Torre has turned a once-gritty port into a 21st-century city.
Photo: Malaga Port / The Art of Travel Partners
Malaga Travel Guide
Today Malaga is brimming with a youthful vigor following a multimillion renovation of the city’s port (pictured above) that includes the giant glass cubed Pompidou Centre, the museums first venture outside of France.
The city that gave the world Picasso also has its own Soho art district and a branch of the St. Petersburg State Museum that includes a collection of Russian art that spans five centuries.
Photo: Christmas in Malaga / The Art of Travel Partners
Malaga is also proud of its multi-layered past that encompasses several civilizations dating back to the Phoenicians. Where else in the world could you find a boutique hotel squeezed between a Moorish fortress and a Roman amphitheater?
Packed with bars and restaurants that would rival Madrid, Malaga has a food culture that embraces humble tapas bars and Michelin star seeking restaurants serving the freshest of seafood.
Photo: Eating fish in Malaga / The Art of Travel Partners
In fact, the natives eat so much fish that the local football team is known as the Boquerones (Spanish fried Anchovy).
Things To Do In Malaga
Málaga has become a well-known place for visiting art galleries, historical sites, and monuments in the South of Europe.
Photo: Islamic Architecture / The Art of Travel Partners
Built above a Roman amphitheater is the Alcazaba Fortress from where the Moors ruled Malaga for over 700 years.
Photo: Alcazaba Fortress / The Art of Travel Partners
Situated under the Alcazaba facing a small plaza are the beautiful remains of an old Roman theater. You can view them anytime from the overlook in the plaza, but if you want to get up close you can enter the attached building, where you’ll be shown a short film and view some artifacts before entering the theater itself, where you can walk past the old stage and sit on the stone steps. FREE.
Castillo de Gibralfaro
Further, up Gibralfaro hill you will come to the magnificent Castillo de Gibralfaro, a fortress that dates back to the 10th century with panoramic views of the city below.
Museo de Malaga
For a look into the civilizations that called Malaga home visit the impressive Museo de Malaga in the Palacio de la Aduana, a neoclassical building built in the style of an Italian Renaissance palace.
Here you will discover artifacts dating back thousands of years and a collection of paintings from Spain’s greatest artists.
The Picasso Museum is located close to the Plaza de la Merced in the Old Town and features 233 pieces spanning 80 years of the artist’s life.
Photo: Picasso Museum / The Art of Travel Partners
Museo Casa Natal de Picasso, as it is called locally has loads of objects and some paintings that the most famous artist of the 20th century created during his childhood.
Museo Carmen Thyssen
If you are interested in learning more about the 19th-century Spanish art a visit to the Museo Carmen Thyssen is a must with the museum’s permanent collection containing 230 paintings.
Centre Pompidou Malaga
Photo: Centre Pompidou Malaga / The Art of Travel Partners
Modern art enthusiasts will love the cubist Centre Pompidou Malaga an offshoot of the popular Parisian museum showcasing contemporary works of art.
Located right in the heart of the city center and well worth visiting.
Photo: The Art of Travel Partners
Malaga has exceptional road and motorway links, making it an excellent base for exploring the nearby villages and towns.
Wonderful drives inland reveal the hidden gems of this region, with small restaurants nestling in the hills where you can experience a truly authentic taste of Andalucia.
There are also several tourist holiday resorts within reach, such as:
Photo: Nerja / The Art of Travel Partners
There is lots of great rock climbing in and around Malaga.
Photo: El Caminito del Rey / The Art of Travel Partners
The amazing El Chorro gorge is 50 minutes drive to the North West and this also features the King’s little pathway (aka El Caminito del Rey), an amazing pathway suspended high above the gorge.
There is also Via Ferrata and rock climbing at El Torcal near Antequera.
The nearest beach to the center is La Malagueta. Please note, La Malagueta is fine for a day’s sunbathing although quieter and prettier beaches can be found further east or west.
It can be a nice walk along the waterfront to reach these beaches, otherwise, you could get a bus from near the Bullring in the direction of El Palo.
Photo: Bullring / The Art of Travel Partners
Note: Malaga East tends to have smaller beaches while Malaga West have long stretches of beaches.
Best Time To Visit
With an average of 320 days of sunshine a year Malaga is the perfect place for a weekend getaway and with just about every low-cost airline serving the city you have no excuse not to visit.
With so much to see and do in this exciting city, Malaga is worth a visit at any time of the year.
Photo: Life in Malaga / The Art of Travel Partners
From the airport, you have several options for getting into the city. You can take the airport express bus to the city center or a train from the airport to Malaga-Centro Alameda Station. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or rent a car from one of the many car companies operating out of the airport.
Once in Malaga getting around is easy with most of the places you want to visit all within walking distance. Malaga also has an extensive cycle lane network with rental bike pickup and drop off locations throughout the city.
A great way to see the best of what the city has to offer including a ride out to the beach is to take the hop-on-hop-off bus. The bus stops at all the major attractions and allows you to ride as much as you want for a one-off fee.
Nicola Kennedy works with Malaga Airport Taxis, helping visitors to Spain get the most out of their holiday. She loves sharing her travel adventures and helping others appreciate the wonderful country of Spain.