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Plan Your Malaga Holiday: Best of Malaga

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This Andalusian port city is one of the oldest in the world, founded in the 8th century by the Phoenicians. It has all the charm and history of a southern European city—a Roman amphitheatre, a baroque cathedral, a Moorish castle. But it’s also bursting with modern art and culture, with over 30 museums dedicated to everything from decorative glass to automobiles to—of course—Picasso, who was born here. Hit the street markets and marvel at the murals in artsy Soho, wander past banana trees and fountains in Paseo de Malaga, and catch rays on one of over a dozen different beaches (this is the “sun coast,” after all). In true Spanish style, the nightlife gets rolling late, so pre-game with tapas in La Merced before hitting the bars and clubs on the charming pedestrian streets of Centro Histórico.

Essential Malaga

How to do Malaga in 3 days

Sprawling ruins, a terrace restaurant with a view, and a coastal bike ride
Read on

The amazing architecture of Malaga

Wandering the streets of Malaga, I found myself stopping at almost every corner to gaze up at a church, a market, or even a bank. I first came to this city in Andalusia to take in the Arab influences on its architecture, but the mosaic of styles blew me away. It felt like travelling through time. Here are a few of the sights I can’t forget.
Anna Rzhevkina, Gdansk, Poland
  • Malaga Cathedral
    Depending on where you’re standing, Malaga Cathedral takes on a completely different shape. That’s because only one of its towers was ever completed. Locals love the church they call the “one-armed lady,” and will happily praise its distinctiveness. Wherever you happen to be in the city—strolling down a narrow street, exploring the port, or hanging out in Malaga Park—it inevitably comes into view. Pay a few extra bucks to take in the city from the rooftop.
  • Alcazaba
    Before I visited Malaga’s Alcazaba, it never occurred to me that a fortress has to do more than protect a city. Once the residence of Moorish rulers, this hilltop structure dating from 1057 was designed to shelter the city’s population in case of invasion. Walking through its keyhole-shaped arches, you’ll see the intricate water supply system and massive silos for storing grain. Climb the walls to take in sweeping views of the port.
  • Castillo de Gibralfaro
    To reach Gibralfaro Castle, you’ve first got to make your way to the top of Mount Gibralfaro. I opted for a steep climb—making up for a missed gym class—but you can also take a bus or taxi. You’re rewarded with great views of the city below. Built on the remains of a small fort dating from Phoenician times, the 14th-century castle's most distinctive feature is the 130-feet-deep Airón Well, carved out of solid rock.
  • La Teteria
    Malaga is known for its coffee culture. But if you are a tea lover like me, stop for a cup at La Teteria, one of the numerous tea rooms reflecting the city’s Arab influence. I particularly liked this cosy spot for its location on a cobblestone street not far from Malaga Cathedral. Choosing between spicy tea, milk tea, and chocolate-flavoured tea was a delightful dilemma.
  • Teatro Romano
    Soak in the sun on the steps of this Roman-era structure at the foot of the Alcazaba. Frequently seen on postcards today, the theatre from the first century BCE has only been open to the public for a little over a decade. That’s because it remained buried for centuries until it was accidentally discovered during construction work in the 1950s. Beside the theatre is a glass pyramid; inside you’ll see the remains of the Roman basins used to make fish sauce.
  • El Pimpi
    Since 1971, El Pimpi has been a go-to bar for artists, including Pablo Picasso, who signed one of the wine barrels. In an 18th-century house built around a traditional patio, it’s a great place to soak up the neighbourhood’s atmosphere and sample some sangria and croquettes.
  • Centre Pompidou Malaga
    If you have childhood memories of playing with a Rubik's Cube—I know that I do—you might feel slightly nostalgic when you see El Cubo, a glass structure casting colourful shadows on the square. Erected in 2015, it’s part of the contemporary art museum called the Centre Pompidou Malaga. Exhibitions occasionally take place inside.
  • Fundacion Picasso - Museo Natal
    Museums showcasing Pablo Picasso’s works can be found all over Spain, but Malaga has one that’s inside the apartment building where he was born. You can picture a young Picasso standing on the balcony in front of the green shutters. Inside, you will see the painter’s childhood photo, his first shoe, and a sketchbook. There are a limited number of tickets, so make sure to reserve yours in advance.