See: Malaga’s iconic landmark, La Alcazaba, stands on a hilltop overlooking the city. The Moorish fortress offers the best views of the city and is best visited at sunset. Other monuments worth checking out are the nearby Castillo de Gibralfaro, a 14th-century castle, and the Malaga Cathedral. For culture vultures, get under the skin of world-famous artist Pablo Picasso at the impressive Museo Picasso Málaga or check out the Municipal Museum of Malaga for temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.
Golden stretches of beach run for miles in Malaga: head to the city beach of la Malagueta, just 10 minutes from the city centre or Playa Palo next to the marine for some aquatic action.
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Shop: For high-street fashion digs, wander through the swanky shopping street of Marqués de Larios, home to many famous Spanish brands like Mango, Zara and Massimo Dutti. The most popular Spanish department store, El Corte Inglés offers a myriad of products from electronics to accessories and food. Alternatively, check out the historic commercial centre of Félix Sáenz that plays host to a selection of fashion shops, hairdressers, electronic stores and supermarkets. The architectural gem of Atarazanas Central Market gives a crash course in Spanish culinary with its plethora of fresh seafood, dried fruits and cured meat on display. Featuring 14th century Moorish architecture, the building was once a shipyard before being transformed into a modern-day market.
Eat: With its seafront location, Malaga rightfully claims fame to having some of the best seafood restaurants in Spain. A fixture of Malaga’s culinary scene, Marisquería Sal Gorda dishes up seafood platters as how you imagine them: colourful, savoury and in generous portions. Those with a refined taste for gastronomy will be delighted by La Moraga Antonio Martin, a contemporary gastrobar that serves up funky tapas created by world-famous chef Dani García.
For something more wallet-friendly, head on the popular el Refectorium for traditional Spanish fare. Not a fan of seafood? Meson Los Robles de León is famed for its roasted meat – carne a la brasa – and other meat dishes like ox entrecote and sirloin steak.
Quiet bites and cheap snacks are available at the humble tapas bar, Rincón de Mata where tapas are priced at €1.20. From gambas al pil-pil (spicy prawns) to stewed snails, this bar certainly gives you a bang for your buck.
Drink: As night falls, Malaga transforms into a vibrant, palpitating hub. With bars and discos stretching all the way from the Marqués de Larios to the port, the choice is endless. Most clubs are concentrated around the districts of Malagueta and Pedregalejo, while beach bars and lounges are scattered around the port.
Start the night at E!vissa Biocafe, a chillout lounge serving some of the best cocktails in town. With its cosy sofas, café del mar music and Ibiza-inspired décor, it’s a great place to meet locals and relax before a night of partying. Continue the night crawl at Weekend in Plaza de la Merced, the most popular hangout spot for young revellers. The music at Weekend is an eclectic mixture of blues and funk, a magnet for a stylish and alternative crowd. One of the trendiest hangouts in town is D’angels in Teatrino. Featuring swanky black-tiled interior and plush suede sofas, this joint is the place to be seen. For one last drink before dawn, Café Boulevar Copas in the University district promises to end your night with a bang.
Stay: Whether you’re a backpacker or a luxury traveller, you’ll be spoilt for choice by the list of accommodation options available in Malaga. The best hotels in the city centre of Malaga include the Vincci Posada del Patio Hotel, Barcelo Malaga Hotel and Sallés Hotel Málaga Centro. Stylish boutique hotels like Hotel Molino Lario and Ataranzanas Boutique Hotel provide a rather unique and artistically-designed experience. For mid-range accommodation, try out the cushy three-star Campanile Hotel,Eurostars Astoria Hotel and Suite Novotel Malaga Centro. Lastly, backpackers can easily find affordable and atmospheric accommodation at all-time favourites like Oasis Backpackers, the Melting Pot Backpackers Hostel and Hostal Domus.
Walk: Boasting a compact city centre, the narrow streets of Malaga are best explored by foot. You can easily see the main districts and port in one day, although that would probably leave you wanting for more. Most walking tours cover the main attractions like the Alcazaba, Cathedral, castle, Roman amphitheatre and Picasso Museum. Foodies alert! The tapas tour with Malaga Walks educates you on local tapas culture and and includes sampling of sherries and several tapas.
To explore the greenery of the city, wander through the tropical gardens surrounding the Town Hall and Bank of Spain. A seaside stroll by the Malagueta beach and lighthouse along with a visit to the nearby bullring also gives great insights to the typical Malagueño lifestyle and their history.
Get out: Beach lovers can head out to the nearby beach towns of Torremolinos and Fuengirola for a change of scenery. Particularly popular with tourists, these towns may be crowded but they are lined with golden beaches and seafood restaurants. Nerja, an hour away by bus, is home to one of the most impressive caves in Spain, featuring massive auditoriums and gigantic stalagmites and stalactites. For a cultural fix, drive out to the picturesque city of Ronda that sits on a dramatic gorge and the world-famous Moorish Alhambra palace in Granada.
Listen: While Malaga is not the birthplace of flamenco music, there’s no shortage of live flamenco shows in the city. One of the most famous spots in Malaga is Flamenco Diquela, where veteran dancers perform to passionate beats and feisty rhythms every night.
Avoid: Tourist traps along the beach – some restaurants jack up their prices especially in summer; be sure to compare prices when choosing a restaurant.