Málaga is a great city and has so much to offer. It seems like Málaga is mostly overlooked by the majority of visitors to the Costa del Sol, which is a shame. The city is small, but vibrant and full of great places to eat, drink and be merry. Take a look at the Castillo de Gibralfaro, for sure, but don’t leave out the Marina and the old town and the Cathedral!
One of the oldest, permanently inhabited cities in the world (surprising, isn’t it?!), Málaga is often considered the gateway to the Costa del Sol, although the airport is there, so the title isn’t too surprising. It’s a beautiful city, for sure, with some incredible gardens, winding old town streets and a wealth of truly Spanish eating and drinking places.
It’s busy, too. With over half a million inhabitants, the city center gets busy, busy, busy! Calle Larios (or Calle Marqués de Larios) is the shopping hub of the city, with all the homogenized brands you might expect to find in any European city, leading from Calle del la Marina up to Plaza de la Constitución, in the heart of the old city.
It’s also where Pablo Picasso was born in 1881, hence the Museo Picasso. Whether you’re in to art, or not, this place is certainly worth a visit. I enjoyed it a lot.
The city is also home to an impressive number of museums including the Museo Carmen Thyssen Malaga, the Centre Pompidou Malaga, the Museum of the imagination (fantastic!), the Museo Automovilistico y de la Moda and many, many more. For art and culture, Málaga absolutely takes the proverbial biscuit on the Costa del Sol. Get cultured! Visit Málaga!
While the city does have beaches, it isn’t really famous for them. If you’re looking for sun, sea and sand in your underpants, there are possibly better places to visit on the Costa.
Like many cities, Málaga has a ‘hop-on-hop-off’ (or whatever they’re called) bus service. I like these, they’re a great way to see parts of the city you may not otherwise see. Recommended.
The Plaza de la Merced is nice, too. It’s been there since the Romans invaded the area. You won’t find too many gladiators or legionaries any more, mostly bars and tapas restaurants.
The cathedral, or Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga, is lovely! As of writing this, there were some fairly serious repairs and renovations going on, but still a sight to behold. The square immediately in front of the cathedral is a great place to chill with a cool drink. Although… expect to pay well. Premium locations make for premium prices! You can also get up on to the roof for some vomit-inducing views of the city. I bottled, I don’t like heights, but what I saw was really nice.
Picasso’s Museum touts itself as an ‘essential’ part of any visit to the city. By what standards, I couldn’t say, but as mentioned previously, its a nice museum if you’re in to the crazy creations of Málaga’s most famous person. Queues are often soooooo long, but then during high season times, queues for toilets, beaches, bars and anywhere to sit are similar. Off season is much nicer (as with most of the Costa) and you probably won’t need to book tickets. We didn’t, mid-November.
Shopping in Málaga
Lots of it. Sigh. I’m not a ‘brands’ person and, I admit, often look snootily down on ‘brand’ people. Sorry if that’s you, dear reader. Anyway, lots of boring shops selling all those brand you know, but don’t know why you like them. There’s a GAP shop! Woo-hoo! And a Lacoste shop!! Double woo-hoo!! Other than the tired homogenized rubbish, you can buy some very Spanish oils, meats, drinks, etc. On the Costa, this is probably the best place to find genuine Spanish products.
Hammam Al Andalus
I’ve only had two ‘professional’ massages, one in Peru and one at the hammam in Málaga. While the place in Peru was a bit grubby, it felt real and a little exotic. The one in Málaga felt more like having a go on a ride at the fair. I was just another tourist (although I lived there). Don’t get me wrong, it was very good and all the people were friendly, but it was difficult to relax when it felt like I was expected to do what I had to do, then get out to allow the next person in. I only had a massage, but there are baths and other stuff, too. If you like having strangers squash your muscles about, I imaging you’ll like it here!
You should see their website – https://malaga.hammamalandalus.com/en/. “Travelers of Winter”, “Feel the Water Journey, massages, rituals and experiences which will connect you to your Inner Nature.”, “Nature is a metaphor and a bridge which connects us.”. Titter. But, if that kind of flowery, hippy gibberish suits you, you’ll love it!
A “palatial fortress”, as described by Wikipedia, this is just fantastic!! I like old architecture and this has it in droves! I’ve been four or five times and spent the full day. It’s massive, with gardens, towers, tunnels, fountains, wells, even dungeons!
As with all tourist places, the worst thang about it is the BLOODY TOURISTS! And there are LOTS of them, especially – and hardly surprisingly – during the high season. If possible, visit in a quiet time and take you time to wander about. It’s stunning, honestly, although more information on the building would have been good for me.
It used to feel small, nice, welcoming. Now, it’s HUGE (by comparison, anyway) and just feels like any other large airport. Easy to get to by public transport, the train runs from Málaga city center to Fuengirola, roughly every 20 minutes, or so. I’ve spent many an hour whizzing my little boy around in one of those luggage trolleys. All good fun.
Visit. It’s a nice city.
On an Unrelated Note
I recently bought a cheap, Chinese copy Fender Precision Bass Guitar. It’s clearly cheap tat and sounds like two cats squaring up for a fight outside your window, but it’s still lovely, they all are. Anyhoo, I wanted a gizmo that would let my plug the bass in to my laptop, so I can play along to the Ramones on my headphones. Easy, one might think! But no. the laptop only has one mini-jack socket, which serves as both input and output and I can’t find a way of splitting the lines. I bought a USB thing which said it would do exactly that, but neglected to mention that the device will have a lag of about half a second, from playing a string to making a noise. Cheap, Chinese rubbish. I’m not having a pop at Chinese people, I’m sure they’re just as excellent/hapless as folk from any other country, but their AliExpress really is a tsunami of tat. And the CCP is to be avoided at all costs. On balance, pay more for non-Chinese products: 1; they might just last a little longer and even work properly, and 2; you’ll be delaying the CCP harvesting your organs. Or whatever it is they do.