Why You Should Visit Malaga Right Now: Top 7 Things To Do In The Spanish City
If you're planning a visit to Spain, you might well be considering one of the well-known destinations like Madrid or Barcelona. But there are lots of smaller Spanish cities which have just as much to offer.
Malaga sits in the Andalucia region of southern Spain. You may know it better for its airport which serves the popular holiday resorts of Costa del Sol. But it also makes a great location for a weekend break or a longer stay.
Flights from the UK take around 3 hours, and flights leave from several UK airports. Once you get there, the weather in Malaga is likely to be comfortably warm, with 11 hours of sunshine per day in July. But the city never reaches the searing temperatures that you might find somewhere like Seville. And that makes it a more comfortable spot for a city break.
1. City Life
Like much of Spain, Malaga has a very relaxed vibe. It takes a while to get going in the morning, and until 10am the city seems fairly quiet. And as you might expect, that means that the city is lively well into the evening. You'll find plenty of people still milling around the city centre after midnight.
The city centre itself is full of stunning Spanish architecture and little alleyways to explore. As you wander around the city, you'll spot lots of statues dotted around the streets. The main central square, Plaza de la Constitucion is the perfect place to sit with a coffee and watch the world go by. And there's great shopping to be found in and around the main shopping street, La Calle Larios.
The centre of Malaga is dominated by the impressive cathedral. It's known by locals as La Manquita, which means 'the one-armed lady'. That's because the second tower was never completed as the funding was used elsewhere. Even though the central area of Malaga is quite tightly packed, you can spot the single tower from all around the city.
2. Good Food
If you enjoy good food then you'll be spoiled for choice in Malaga. The streets are packed with restaurants and tapas bars for you to pick from. As well as the expected Spanish eateries, there's everything from pizzerias and Indian restaurants, to Argentine steak houses and vegetarian restaurants. You can either choose somewhere to eat yourself, or sign up for a walking tour of Malaga which calls in at tapas bars around the city.
Cafe Central in the Plaza de la Constitucion has been serving delicious smooth coffee for over 100 years. The churros and hot chocolate make an excellent choice for a relaxed breakfast as well. It's an ideal spot to start your day and watch as the city slowly comes to life.
The ice cream in Malaga is also delicious, and there are many heladerias dotted around the city centre. Casa Mira is always very popular with the locals. You'll find a large range of flavours to choose from, and a cone is a perfect way to round off the evening.
3. Historical Gems
Malaga has lots of touristic attractions and you can book a walking tour to show you around some of the city's highlights. If you are a fan of history you can’t skip a visit to the Cathedral or the Alcazaba. This is a Moorish fortified castle built around 1100 years ago overlooking the city. It's well worth a visit, and entrance is free if you go after 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. See more information here.
And near the Alcazaba, you can also see Malaga's Roman theatre. This is the city's oldest monument, and somehow remained hidden until the 1950s. It has since been carefully excavated and restored, and is used for open air performances during the summer months.
Or if you fancy getting out of the sun for a while, why not visit one of Malaga's many museums. There are museums covering every taste from cars and fashion, to glass and even wine! You could visit the museum of Pablo Picasso, the famous artist who was born in Malaga.
4. Take a Drive to Alhambra
And if that has whetted your appetite for Andalucian history, then why not hire a car and take the drive to Alhambra. This is the fortified palace complex near to the city of Granada. It's around a 90 minute drive, and the route is very straightforward. An in-car GPS will guide you there easily.
The Nasrid palace is full of beautiful Moorish architecture, and you can also visit the palace of King Carlos V which has a more Renaissance style. After that, there are stunning gardens to explore, with the dramatic backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance.
The Alhambra is Spain's most visited tourist attraction, so it's a good idea to book ahead on the website if you do want to visit. You can book up to three months before you go, and you will need to pick a time to enter the Nasrid Palace. If you want to avoid the heat of the afternoon sun, it's a good idea to select a time around 1-2pm as it takes a couple of hours to look around the palace.
5. A Walk in the Park
Malaga has some beautiful parks to explore. The main city centre park is the Parque de Malaga, which opened in 1897. It runs along the seafront, and includes botanical gardens, fountains and sculptures. The park has some really beautiful tropical trees which offer shady areas to relax in. You'll see (and hear!) parrots flying in and out of the trees! There's a band stand where you may find open air performances, and a small arts and crafts market that opens at weekends.
You could also visit the Historical Botanical Gardens, which are a short drive or bus ride from the city centre.
6. On the Beach
And of course you can't talk about Malaga without mentioning the beaches! The closest beach to the city centre is the Playa Malagueta, which is just a 10 minute stroll down the promenade from the port.
It's a man-made sandy beach around 0.6 miles long. Although it's very popular with tourists, it still feels very relaxed and not over crowded. After some sun and a dip in the sea, you can eat at one of the beachfront restaurants. The smell of fresh fish grilling on barbecues will definitely give you an appetite. Or you could try one of the excellent bars and restaurants on the Paseo del Muelle Dos promenade overlooking the marina.
There are plenty of other beautiful beaches in the Malaga area, which are just a short drive away from the city. You're bound to find one to fall in love with.
7. A Different Way to See Malaga
You'll probably spend most of your time in Malaga on foot, and perhaps you'll hire a car to go a little further afield. But there are other ways to explore this Andalucian city as well.
You can see the city from the sea by taking a boat tour out in the port. Just head down to the Marina if this appeals. Or for a more traditional view of Malaga, why not take a tour in one of the horse-drawn carriages that you'll find in the city.
You could hire a bike and see the city on two wheels, either on an organised tour or following your own itinerary. Or for something different, take a tour of Malaga on a Ninebot, a kind of mini Segway.
So when you're in the mood for some Spanish sun, head to Malaga. It's a city with a lot to offer!
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