I haven't yet had the pleasure of visiting Malaga, so it's a real treat to have guest blogger, Paul Collins, shed some light on this little Spanish gem! Thanks for the great info, Paul!
Considering the number of people who’ve visited the area over the years, the city of Malaga has never quite had the reputation it deserves. For many years, the majority of visitors who flew in for their holidays saw little more of the place than when they picked up their car hire in Malaga airport before promptly heading straight off to their hotel on the coast or on to one of the other major cities in Andalucia. Which is a huge shame, really, because Malaga is a city with so many things to offer. Here are just a few of them…
1. It’s Still Largely Undiscovered
For many years Malaga was, in the truest sense of the word, a hidden gem. All too many travellers, on getting off at Malaga bus station and seeing the dismal suburbs that stretched away from them, would get straight back on the bus again – without so much as clapping eyes on the lovely (if slightly scruffy) network of narrow old streets of the city’s old town.
In the last couple of years the city has gone through something of a renaissance. The redevelopment of the port has led to an influx of thousands of cruise ship visitors a day, while travellers generally have caught onto its charms. Despite all this, it’s still got nowhere near as many other tourists as other cities of its size in the south of Spain like Granada, Cordoba and Seville. And this, of course, means that your chances of queuing for hours only to have to traipse around one of its museum or attractions in a mass of other visitors is that much less likely.
2. It’s Got some Great Art
Malaga puts a great deal of emphasis on the fact that it was the birthplace of one Pablo Picasso. Regardless of whether or not it overplays its role in the young painter’s formative years, it’s led to one inarguable fact: whether you’re talking about the Picasso Museum (Calle San Agustin 8), the Thyssen (Calle Compañia) or the CAC (Calle Alemania), the city is now home to some fantastic art.
3. There Are some Fantastic Sights
Art aside, Malaga’s got plenty of fantastic sights to see. While it’s largely 19th century in its look and feel, with some very grand apartment buildings lining its principal streets and squares, there are some fine sights. Malaga Cathedral in particular is well worth a look around. It’s known locally as ‘La Manquita’, or the ‘One-armed’, because the bishop, so the story goes, dedicated the funds earmarked for the completion of its second tower to the American War of Independence. It’s an imposing building nevertheless, and is home to some highly decorative baroque and renaissance architectural feature inside.
As you’d expect from an Andalucian city, Malaga is crowned by an impressive Moorish fortress, the Alcazaba. If it’s not quite on a par with Granada’s Alhambra or Seville’s Alcazar, the Alcazaba (and the Gibralfaro, which stands above it on the hill) is a handsome fortress/palace complex that’s well worth a morning’s wandering. While the climb is a sapping one on baking hot summer days, the views from the ramparts at the top – out across the city, the bullring and to the sparkling Mediterranean beyond – are absolutely stunning.
4. The Nightlife is Amazing
While Malaga nightlife has always been lively, one of the upshots of its recent renaissance has been a corresponding surge in bar openings. The best place to kick off a night out in the city is in one of the chic, modern breed of tapas bars that’s sprung up in recent years like La Moraga (Calle Fresca 12) and La Cosmopolita (José Denis Belgrano 3). For something more atmospheric and traditional, try pulling up a chair at the bar in the small but perfectly formed Lo Gueño (Calle Maria Garcia) followed by a trip to Bodega el Pimpi (Calle Granada, 62) for Malaga wine and a wonderfully picturesque setting of barrels, tumbling plants and a riot of decorative tiles. Then gravitate towards the bars that fan out from Plaza de la Merced to carry on long into the night…
5. And it’s Got Beaches
There’s a reason all those visitors flock to Malaga airport, and on to the busy Costa, year after year: there are over 300 days of sunshine a year. And with sunshine and a coastal location comes, inevitably, beaches. As is generally the case with city beaches, the strips of sand that stretch away from Malaga are slightly scruffy affairs, but that’s more than compensated by the convenience factor.
The beach at La Malagueta is the closest to the city centre, but stretching away to the east, the beaches of Pedregalejo and El Palo are wider and better catered for by nearby restaurants serving fabulous seafood (top tip: make for El Tintero, Playa del Dedo, where you have to flag down one of the waiters carrying plates of fresh seafood). Really, though, whichever you go for, it’s hard to beat a culture/nightlife-infused city break mixed with a day or two stretched out in the sun.
Bio: Our guestblogger, Paul Collins, is a travel blogger writing on behalf of Espacar, a family-owned firm specialising in car hire in Malaga.