Malaga. A bustling port city on the sunny coast that is constantly changing before your eyes

Malaga travel guide: travel, shopping, attractions in and around the city, reviews

Malaga

Málaga embodies the combination of all amenities – a resort, an important port, and the cultural, economic and financial center of Andalusia. A direct flight from Moscow makes the city very attractive for tourists from Russia.

Málaga is an ancient city with rich history and a lot of interesting sights. At every step you can find a church with luxurious decorations, and on the hill there are two beautiful fortresses of Alcazaba and Jibralfar. Málaga has many museums and pleasant parks, including an ancient botanical garden.

You can see the beautiful and unique city of Malaga in this video:

One of the “skates” of the city is the fact that the world’s most expensive artist, Pablo Picasso, was born here. Tourists can visit his ancestral home with its authentic interior, as well as the Picasso Museum and the church where he was baptized.

Málaga’s restaurants offer traditional Spanish and special local dishes, complemented by excellent sweet wines.

How to get there

Tourist map of Malaga

Photo: Tourist map of Malaga

There is a direct flight from Moscow to Malaga from Sheremetyevo, a 5,5 hour trip, the flight one way costs from 100€.

How to get from the airport to the city:

  • The cheapest and fastest way to get there is by train – about 15 minutes in transit, the cost of the ticket is 2€. The C1 train at the station of Terminal 3;
  • By bus (75A, every 30 minutes) – about 35 minutes trip, ticket price €3. The stop is near Terminal 3;
  • By bus (19, every hour) – about 35 minutes trip, ticket price €3. The stop is at terminal 1.

When to go

If temples, cathedrals and museums are your goal, choose any season except summer. Málaga is one of the hottest cities in Europe and in summer the temperature can go up to 35°C or even higher. Hotels at this time are very expensive – in the resort Málaga is high season, and in the city during the day all establishments are closed for siesta, which is not very convenient when planning a tour.

Spring is the perfect time for an excursion visit to Malaga – temperatures are ideal from +20˚C (March) to +24˚C (May). The water is still quite cold, but the best time to visit the parks and gardens, where everything is in bloom and fragrance.

September and October is the velvet season, with temperatures of +24-27˚C, but the rains come at the end of October. The Malagasy winter is quite mild due to the mountains, which keep out the northern winds. The “coldest” month is January with +17˚C.

History

Malaga was founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC for trading purposes as a colony, and the name “Malaka” most likely comes from the Phoenician word for “coinage” or “salt”. The fact is that the main income of the city came from the mining of silver in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, from which coins were minted, and salt was mined in the sea.

In the 6th century AD. Malaga was conquered by Carthage, and in the 2nd century BC, Roman rule over Malaga began. As early as A.D. 74, the city received privileged federative rights, and in 212, the status of a Roman city.

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At the beginning of the 8th century Malaga was among the first to be conquered by Muslims from North Africa, and the Moorish period began, which lasted until 1487, when after a six-month siege and famine the city surrendered to Christian armies. Since the population was completely Islamized, almost everyone was killed or sold into slavery, and only 25 families were allowed to remain.

In the middle of the 19th century, Málaga became the second largest trade and industry after Barcelona, and the leader in metallurgy. This provoked the creation of the Bank of Málaga and the laying of streetcar and railroad tracks. One of the first civilian airports was built here in 1919.

Today Málaga is a developed industrial and resort city which is the 6th most populous city in Spain.

Attractions

Plaza de la Constitución for walks

Photo: Plaza de la Constitución

Plaza de Marina (Plaza de Marina) is the best starting point for a walk in Málaga. Find the tourist office here to pick up a map of the city. From here begins Marques de Larios, a great place for shopping at a walking pace. Rue Marques de Larios takes you to the historic heart of the city in Plaza Constitución.

Plaza de la Constitucion is where all the old streets converge and where any sightseeing itinerary is convenient to start. On the square you can see the Town Hall, the Augustinian Monastery, the courthouse, the judge’s house and the prison.

The Malaga Cathedral (Catedral de Malaga) from the 16th-18th centuries is a majestic Renaissance structure and the second largest cathedral in Spain. The cathedral was built on the ruins of a mosque just after the reconquest of Malaga from the Moors, as a symbol of the power of the Catholic Church. Inside is a magnificent three-tiered altar with marble sculptures, stained glass windows, mighty Corinthian columns, a large organ, valuable paintings and sculptures. The cathedral was nicknamed “one-armed” because it has only one tower-the second was not built due to lack of money.

The beautiful Cathedral of Malaga

Photo: Beautiful Malaga Cathedral

The Church of Santa Maria del Sagrario (Santa Maria del Sagrario), which is located near the Cathedral, has its own special charm. The entrance to the tabernacle and the beautiful Plateresque work of the main altar, with figures of the apostles, scenes of Calvary, God the Father and the Virgin Mary, are stunning.

The Bishop’s Palace (Palacio Episcopal), on Obispo Square in front of the Cathedral of Malaga, is in superb Baroque style with ornate and colorful decorations. The entrance is particularly noteworthy for its elegant columns and the alabaster statue of the Virgin of Angustias on the upper shield. Inside is the Sacred Arts Museum.

Bishop's Palace in Malaga

Photo: Bishop’s Palace in Málaga

Museo Carmen Thyssen (Museo Carmen Thyssen) is located in the 16th century Villalón Palace. It exhibits 230 works by 19th century Spanish artists from the Baroness’s private collection.

The Iglesia de Sagrado Corazon (Iglesia de Sagrado Corazon) is not ancient (it is less than a hundred years old), but is incredibly beautiful externally and internally.

The 11th century Alcazaba (Alcazaba de Malaga) is the pride of Málaga, on a hill overlooking the port and bay. The Moorish castle palace-fortress of natural marble and limestone has retained its strong walls and several courtyards. A long road of fortress walls connects Alcazaba with another fortress – Ghibralfaro, which is even higher.

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View of Málaga from the Alcazaba Fortress

Photo: View of the city of Malaga from the Alcazaba fortress

The Gibralfaro Fortress (Gibralfaro in Arabic means “lighthouse rock”) is a 14th-century Arab structure on the 142-meter high mountain of the same name. Particularly memorable are the fortress walls with teeth, as well as a “bottomless” well in the wall to a depth of 40 meters. It is noteworthy that it was in this fortress that the Christian kings won their final triumph over the Moors. Numerous cypresses, eucalyptus, ficus, pomegranate, olive and orange trees add particular charm to the whole complex. From the walls of Gibraltar you can see not only the whole of Malaga, but also the Strait of Gibraltar.

At the foot of the fortress of Alcazaba is a Roman theater from the 1st century A.D., which today serves as the city’s stage. The auditorium, the forecourt and the tunnels leading to the main stage are well preserved. From here we take a trip to Plaza Merced in Picasso’s footsteps.

The Picasso House-Museum (Fundacion Picasso Museo Casa Natal) is the house where the brush virtuoso Pablo Picasso was born on October 25, 1881. It is a small charming museum where the master’s personal objects are kept: sketches, diary entries, paintings, family photos and everyday objects. The first floor has preserved the interior of the time when the Picasso family lived here.

Picasso House Museum in Malaga

Photo: Casa Museo Picasso in Málaga

The 15th-century Church of the Apostle Santiago is the site of the infant Picasso’s baptism, which is located on Granada Street. The structure combines Moorish and Gothic styles, and you can even find a Moorish-style laid-in entrance in its façade.

The Museo Picasso is located in the heart of the city in the Buenavista Mansion. The 14 rooms of the museum, which began its work in 2003, display 233 of the artist’s creations, more than half of which were provided by Cristina Picasso, the wife of Picasso’s son, and her son.

The itinerary comes again to Plaza Constitución, the shopping and tourist street Marques de Larios and to the starting point, Plaza Marina. From here we start a new itinerary, taking the path to the Paseo del Parque (Park Alley). This charming place stretches along a 19th-century park where you can see interesting objects from the early 20th century: the Neo-Mauritanian Post Office, the neo-classical Bank building and the Baroque Town Hall.

Parque Malaga is a large Mediterranean-style seaside park with palm trees, bananas and other subtropical plants. The park is exquisite with sculptures and fountains: the “swan” in the Renaissance style, the unusual “waterfall garden” and “genoa”. There are also three sites with rides.

The Great Park of Malaga

Photo: Great Malaga Park

Turning onto Maestranza street, and passing a hundred meters, we find ourselves in front of the La Malagueta bullfighting arena (La Malagueta) of the late 19th century. The octagonal neo-mudejar structure has a diameter of 52 meters. Inside there is a museum named after Antonio Ordonez. Antonio Ordonez.

The seaport of Málaga is a great place for a promenade. Here you can eat delicious ice cream and watch a variety of ships and rent a bicycle. From here we walk to the symbol of the city, the Flora lighthouse from the beginning of the 19th century. On the 1st pier there is a tourist area where you can shop and eat in a cafe.

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The Centre Pompidou is between piers 1 and 2 (Muelle 1 and Muelle 2). This futuristic building has a cube of colored glass and exhibits works by Picasso, Chagall, Bacon, etc.

Palmeral de las Sorpresas (Palmeral Alley of Surprises) is an amazing promenade on the second pier. The original weightless canopy, palm trees and unusual benches create a stunning sense of lightness of being. There are numerous cafes and restaurants as well as the Maritime Museum.

Palm Alley

Photo: Palm Alley of Surprises

The late 18th century Palacio de la Aduana was designed in the likeness of an Italian palazzo by a pupil and nephew of the famous architect Venturo Rodríguez. The fate of the palace is long-suffering – it survived looting, reconstructions and fires. It is now home to the Museo de Malaga.

The Jardin Botanico La Concepcion is located 6 kilometers north of central Málaga. It is a paradise to escape the summer heat in the shade of palm trees, ficus trees, century-old wisteria and magnolias in the company of parrots. This ancient garden is replete with sculptures and fountains and offers magnificent views of the city.

La Concepcion Botanical Garden

Photo: La Concepcion Botanical Gardens

The Church of Santisimo Cristo de la Salud (Santisimo Cristo de la Salud) on Jesuit Street commemorates the end of the plague epidemic in 1649. The temple has an unusual octagonal roof structure, a magnificent semi-circular vault and sculptures of Christ, the Virgin Mary and the saints.

The church of San Juan Bautista is not on the main attractions, but it deserves attention. The temple combines Gothic and Mudejar, as well as an ornate interior.

The Interactive Music Museum (Museo Interactivo de la Musica) gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of music. The private collection consists of 1,000 exhibits in 11 thematic rooms. You can learn all about music from the earliest to the most modern instruments and hear the sound of them through multimedia devices.

Attractions in the vicinity

The amazing city of Ronda

Photo: The breathtaking city of Ronda

Marbella is a petite town 58 km from Málaga, and has the status of a respectable resort. Lose is evident in everything: expensive yachts in the port, Lamborghini and Ferrari on the roads, marble embankment, luxury hotels and the cream of the world.

Ronda is a stunning town above the El Tajo abyss, 100 km from Málaga (2 hours by bus). It’s a place where it’s hard to believe your own eyes – the town itself is charming, but the scenery of the gorge and the nature is beyond description.

Tips from tourist reviews

The best panoramas come from the fortress of Alcazaba and Gibralfaro, as well as the Botanical Garden, where blooming wisteria create a heavenly backdrop for photos. The Seaport and the Subtropical Park of Málaga offer amazing photos. The Bishop’s House with its strikingly colorful decorations will help take original pictures.

Holidays

It’s a great idea to plan a visit to Malaga during one of the local holidays:

  • Noche de San Juan, a summer festival of rag doll burning and festivities on the beach. It takes place on the night of June 23rd to 24th.
  • Málaga Fair (Feria de Malaga) is the main celebration of the city in honor of its liberation from Moorish domination. The extravaganza takes place in late summer with costume entertainment, dancing, wine and food;
  • Christmas (La Navidad) – Despite the lack of snow, Christmas in Málaga does not lose its fairy tale. Lights are lit, there is a fir tree in Constitution Square and there are fairs and colorful Nativity Scenes;
  • Easter (Semana Santa), a major religious holiday with colorful rituals.
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Shopping

Spanish Olive Oil

Photo: Spanish Olive Oil

What to buy in Málaga:

  • Leather accessories (belts, bags, wallets and shoes);
  • Colorful ceramics;
  • Handmade fans, castanets;
  • Branded clothing;
  • Wine, jamon, olives and olive oil, cheeses and local almond and marzipan sweets.
  • Souvenirs in the many shops in the historic part of town;
  • Clothing and accessories on the Marques de Larios shopping street or the huge El Corte Ingles shopping mall;
  • Groceries at the Mercado Central de Atarazanas market.

What to do in Málaga

10 things to do in Málaga:

  1. Make a pilgrimage to the artist Picasso’s sites;
  2. Sunbathe at one of Málaga’s wonderful beaches;
  3. Attend a bullfight at the La Malagueta Arena;
  4. See centuries-old wisteria in Málaga’s ancient botanical garden;
  5. See the “one-armed” Malaga Cathedral;
  6. Try to see the Strait of Gibraltar from the height of the Gibralfaro fortress;
  7. Relax in an authentic Hammam Al Andalus Malaga;
  8. Stop by the “chigirintos” for fried sardines;
  9. Take a photo in front of the stunningly colorful Bishop’s Palace;
  10. Send money to the fabulously beautiful Ronda.

What and where to eat.

Churros custard rolls

Photo: Churros Custard Straws

Málaga has cultivated the art of tapas making, so you’re advised to try all sorts of snacks in the downtown bars and market. One of the best tapas bars in the city is Uvedoble near Alcazaba. Excellent tapas and delicious fresh products can be bought in the market Mercado Central de Atarazanas.

As in many Spanish coastal cities, sardines are popular, but in Málaga they are served on a bamboo reed, the “esperto de sardinas” or “fried sardines”. They are served in almost every “chiringuitos,” a beach café.

Try the Moorish pots – fish with olive oil, herbs and garlic, tuna in a wine sauce with garlic, clams in wine and other seafood. The Marisqueria Casa Vicente restaurant in the Plaza de la Marina is known for its rich seafood cuisine and pleasant prices.

Honey eggplant and almond-garlic soup are a local gourmet specialty with an amazing taste.

Tourists recommend a restaurant near the church of St. John the Baptist – La Recova, where delicious Spanish cuisine and a cozy home-like interior in the style of old Spain.

Be sure to visit the beach cafes, which are called “chiringuitos”. One of these beach “chiringitos” – El Tintero , where instead of a menu waiters serve a random dish, but always delicious.

All these gastronomic delights are washed down with local sweet wines, the most famous of which is Pasas de Malaga (“pasas” means raisins). Try the wines at Pimpi or the Guardhouse, as well as the purely Spanish wine cellar and tapas bar Antigua Casa de Guardia.

Desserts

Málaga will also please sweet tooth gourmands: avocado cake, chestnut flan, orange biscuits, pastries with pine nuts and other delights. And, of course, Spanish churros – Casa Aranda’s downtown cafe specializes in churros and hot chocolate.

Also taste the ice cream – near the Carmen-Thiessen Museum there is a cafeteria Amorino Malaga with delicious pistachio ice cream and waffles.

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