Malaga is a gem of a city in Spain.
Often overlooked by vacationers headed to Barcelona or Madrid, Malaga offers some rich history, fascinating culture, a great climate and delectable local cuisine. Resting on the coast in southern Spain, Malaga is in the Andalusian region. The area’s history brought international influences into the port.
Malaga: the Basics
- Currency: EUro
- Climate: 77 degrees on average in Summer, 55 degrees on Average in Winter
- Language: Spanish
- Best Time to Visit: Summers for great weather, winter for avoiding crowds
How to Get Around in Malaga
Malaga is a great city to see via bike! With the great climate, you’ll find that a bike is a nice way to see the city. Chances are you didn’t bring a bike with you, but that’s not a problem. Plenty of options for renting bikes means that you can find a deal for any options of times: hourly, half-day, full day, or multiple days. Check out this suggestion for bike rentals in Malaga Spain. Biking around Malaga allows you to visit some of the neat neighborhoods that you may not have stumbled upon otherwise.
Bike Taxis (Trixis)
Enjoy the benefits of biking around the city without having to pedal yourself! Sit in a pod-like carriage behind a bike. You are totally covered. Unlike a motor vehicle, you won’t get stuck in traffic. Plus, you’re saving the earth a little bit, too! Trixis will deliver you from point A to point B. Additionally, you could choose to take a tour through the city; where the guide will narrate the famous destinations for you.
The central train station in Malaga is called Alhameda and is located on the Explanada de la Estacion close to the CAC Museum. You can catch a train to other destinations around the country here. These are considered the Andalucian Region Trains. To stay local, you’ll ride on the ones called “Cercanias.” On the trains, you can head west along the coast to Fuengirola or up to the Guadaljorce Valley to Alhora.
On the other hand, for quick access to points within the city, Malaga has a two-line metro system. This metro runs from the centre to the west and south-west of the city, starting from Maria Zambrano RENFE train station. You can also access the Malaga Airport with this metro. The Malaga metro offers some reasonable passes for touring around the city. Additionally, you can get a rechargeable card and share it with all members in your party. Trains come between 7-10 minutes apart.
As an alternative to trains, busses around the city are relatively easy to figure out since many of the stops have electronic signs indicating arrival times. You can also send a text at the bus stops for additional information. Alhameda is the hub for many of the busses. Here, you can purchase rechargable bus cards if you’ll be using the busses often on your trip. Access information about their timetables here.
Where to Stay in Málaga
Room Mate Valeria
Credit: Room Mate Valeria
Guests have been thrilled with the “best value” that this hotel offers. First, you’ll find some pleasant decor such as deep colors, stripes and chevron to provide a hip, modern, yet whimsical feel in the rooms and lobby. Additionally, this hotel’s location, in the heart of the city, means you can walk to some favorite destinations. There’s even a rooftop bar which tends to draw a fun crowd. You can choose to get a room with a view of the port (we suggest this!). Therefore, you can look out over the ferris wheel, and dine on some of the patios.
Gran Hotel Miramar
Credit: Gran Hotel Miramar
Stay in this beautiful palace and you’ll never want to leave. It’s truly beautiful, with Andalucian decor, white columns, intricate molding designs and sunlight-filled rooms with atriums. You’ll feel the luxury that they have to offer as soon as you walk into the foyer. Experience five-star treatment in the spas and restaurants. Plus, the location is unbeatable; you’ll be within walking distance of some of Malaga’s gems. The stately hotel was originally created by architect Fernando Guerrero Strachan in 1926. It’s been through some updates, and the latest version of the hotel, now Gran Hotel Miramar, opened in 2016. Palm trees and historic gardens will greet you, and you can be spoiled throughout your stay with butler service, spa treatments, culinary delights and a heated pool.
Vincci Seleccion Posada del Patio Hotel
Credit: Vincci Posada del Patio
A third option is to stay in the historic center of Malaga, along the Guadalmedina River. The plunge pool and lounging on the roof offer some great afternoon relaxation after touring the town. This hotel lies on the western outskirts, with just a five minute walk to the main square. Rooms are well-furnished and staff is courteous. Since you’ll be inspired by all the great art around Malaga, Spain, you’ll get to return to a hotel with some lovely art as well. Additionally, guests find the hotel breakfast to be a great start to the morning before setting out to explore Malaga, Spain.
What to See and Do in Malaga
Museums and Cathedrals
You’ll want to check out this iconic Malaga sight, with its baroque facade and ornate interior. The cathedral took more than 150 years to build. You’ll see this cathedral rising out of the rooftops across town. The museum which is part of the cathedral explains some of the unique history, including the fact that funds for part of the cathedral were sent to help the America gain independence from the British.
Museo Picasso Malaga
First, the contents of this museum are impressive; you’ll get to see over 200 works by Pablo Picasso. However, you’ll view this art in a restored 16th century palace. It’s a two-story building with an inner garden. You’ll find it to be a peaceful atmosphere, with smaller gallery rooms and white walls that don’t distract from the artwork. If you’re interested in Pablo Picasso, you may also want to check out his house, called Casa Natal.
Automobile and Fashion Museum
The Automobile and Fashion Museum is another great indoor activity in Malaga Spain. The restored cars are beautifully done, so much that even if you’re not into cars, you’ll find these to be pretty cool. Plus, the outfits in the fashion part are works of art. The museum is laid out well, and offers a pleasant alternative to the many outdoor activities around the city.
Historical Sights to See
Alcazaba in Malaga Spain contains some beautiful reminders of life in the Hispanic-Arabic era, between 1057-1063. This destination was an important military fortification. You’ll see the powerful walls throughout the city, and you’ll want to get up close. The walls contain the Moorish fortress palace. Dual walls protect the inner and outer citadel. In the outer citadel, you’ll find bubbling fountains and gardens. These make it worth it to head up to the walls and walk around. You can choose to take a private tour to learn the history of the area. Otherwise, helpful signs provide information around the site.
Just down the hill from Alcazaba, you’ll find the Roman Theater. It’s another famous historical destination in Malaga, and one of the oldest, built in the first century B. C. However, it wasn’t totally rediscovered until 1951, and has only recently been reopened to the public. The visitors center is relatively new, and the amphitheater will soon be used for open-air performances.
The Gibralfaro Castle and Fortress stands proudly overlooking Malaga City and the port below. The surrounding mountains are the Montes Mountains and the Montes Natural Area is protected. This means you’ll find that the castle is nestled up in this mountain, backed by Eucalyptus trees and pines. The castle dates all the way back to the 10th century. The ramparts have been restored, so you can walk all the way around them, taking in the views.
Where to Eat in Malaga
La Barra de Zapata
This small, family-run restaurant should be a much anticipated stop for you after a day of sightseeing. It’s located in central Malaga, near the Piazza del Obispo. You’ll find a lovely selection of delectable menu items, without the options overwhelming you. Sit at one of the various outside tables and watch the gentle bustle through the streets. The excellent food, prepared by a great chef is only part of the experience. Try some local cuisine, with a blend of Spanish and Mediterranean tastes as well as some fantastic seafood. The staff will “introduce” you to their specialties and greet you with exceptional hospitality. However, you’ll want to make a reservation, for the seating is limited, and the demand great.
At the Restaurante Amador, you’ll find the perfect trio of these three things: a spectacular view, scrumptious food, and polite service. Choose to dine on the panoramic terrace, or in the main dining room with views of the Mediterranean Sea. The Restaurante Amador is part of the beautiful Hotel Villa Guadalupe. Here, you’ll find some beautiful Andalusian decor, and architecture that’s unique to Malaga. The chef creates the menu which specialized in some delicacies such as duck, lamb and oxtail croquettes. The white table cloths, choices of wines perfectly paired with your meal, and well-trained service will make you want to make sure you make a reservation for a fancy night out at the Restaurante Amador in Malaga, Spain.
Mercado de Atarazanas
This market in Malaga, Spain is a must-see destination. Set in the old Malaga shipyard, you’ll get a real taste of local life here in the city. Booths of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and cheese line the walkways. Even if you’re not doing some grocery shopping, you’ll want to come here for a meal. You’ll find a great assortment of smaller tapas bars. The food is excellent, with fried fish and other seafood options. Of course, if you’re not into seafood, there are plenty of options for these small platters known as tapas. Even better, you can get an assortment of these small dishes to try! The Mercado de Atarazanas is a great market to stroll through, and you’ll want to get your lunch here.
Malaga’s history, climate and cuisine makes this a great bucket-list destination.
Since Malaga doesn’t get so much of the mainstream attention, you’ll find this place to still be a fascinating, off-the-beaten path destination. The art throughout the city, featured in the architecture, museums, and on the streets, gives the city its character. The castles and cathedrals remind you of the civilization that was also attracted to the beauty of this area, located right on the sea.
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