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Things to do in Malaga – Understand
Malaga is a medium sized city in South-East Spain. The city lies close to the summer beach capital of Marbella and the Costa del Sol but has it’s own unique character. It is a major tourist destination for Spaniards in summer who come to hit the beaches outside the city during the day and eat and drink along the scenic downtown area at night.
Malaga has all the draws of a major city – a pretty historic center, posh downtown shopping (though prices in Spain are very affordable right now), outlet malls and major industrial areas.
It’s a good idea to leave your car somewhere along the edges of the ‘Centro Historico’ and walk to the sights. However you can drive in if you are prepared for the narrow one-way streets.
Malaga is a rather safe city – it is also not plagued by the souvenir shop mania that has hit other areas of Spain (i.e Marbella).
Summers can be hot (120 degrees) but the heat usually comes with low humidity (though not the days I visited when it was 95 degrees and very humid).
Things to do in Malaga – Sights
Almost all the major sights of Malaga are located in the Centro Historico. This is where you want to be and stay ideally. As with other Spanish towns it’s a maze of small alleys all pedestrianized with the odd delivery truck or scooter bursting through the crowds.
Picasso was born in Malaga and the museum honors the city’s super famous son. The museum is small but gives a glimpse of the famous artists early life.
This contemporary art museum has free admission and while small fetches great reviews. Sadly I could not go since my only full day in Malaga fell on a Monday which is when the museums are closed.
Similar to the Alhambra in Grenada this used to be a Moorish castle/ fortification built initially in the early 11th century and rebuilt many times after.
Right across from the Alcazaba is the Gibralfaro Castle which stems from the 14th century.
Unfortunately I did arrive a bit after the official closing time of 8 PM for the sunset views. There is a sunset viewing platform close to the entrance but you don’t get a full sunset view.
The Malaga Cathedral is a beautiful building that was initally built in 1528.
Things to do in Malaga – Eating and Drinking
Since Malaga is a Spanish holiday destinations as much as for non-Spanish tourists; the downtown area becomes a big outdoor eat and drink festival every night after 9 PM. The amount of options is breathtaking and so is the the festive mood. It does not get loud or raucous though.
Most places offer a range of Tapas, cheap alcohol and a place to sit outside and watch the crowds. I liked Los Gatos for its great setting and original menu as well El Tapeo de Cervantes which does not have outdoor seating but has higher quality Tapas. El Tapeo de Cervantes comes with a higher price tag than other places but is well recommended.
The lack of good coffee in most Spanish town is moderated by Julia Cupcakes in Malaga which serves decent espresso drinks and some yummy pastries (and surprisingly – to a lesser extent cupcakes). Note that the life in Spain does not exist before 10 AM and the shop does not get going before 10.15 AM.
Juices and coffee come in tandem surprisingly often in Spain and so does it at El Último Mono Juice & Coffee – the coffee is just ok but the juices fresh and cheap.
Things to do in Malaga – Beaches
Malaga has some great, sandy Mediterranean beaches. Malagueta Beach is just 10 minutes walk form downtown but is a real city beach and can be polluted at times.
Since I did gobbled up enough sun rays in Greece I actually avoided the beach.
Things to do in Malaga – Conclusion
Malaga is a relaxed city that feels much smaller than it actually is. It’s a bit of a hodgepodge but gives off a friendly vibe. Malaga works great as a city/ beach combination that gives you great beaches and a real city (not a tourist town) in immediate vicinity.
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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