Our Guide To Malaga“Everything you can imagine is real.” Pablo Picasso
Malaga city centre has undergone a complete revamp in the last two decades and the result is quite astounding. The vision of the city council and tourism board set in motion a 25-year plan to rejuvenate a tired and rather lacklustre city. They have succeeded in creating a pulsing metropolis of beautifully restored ancient monuments, cutting-edge museums, and hip street art, all intimately knitted together with an endless string of bars and restaurants serving delectable local goodies. We dub it “The Picasso Effect”.
The fact that Pablo Picasso was born and spent his first decade here seemed to have been relegated to Malaga’s distant memory – until the opening of the superbly designed “Museo Picasso Malaga” opened the floodgates. Now the entire city centre has woken up to its artistic and historical heritage. There are few European cities beating to such a positive and proud rhythm at the moment. We love taking clients to Malaga and witnessing their delight at the broad, sweeping avenues and grand tree-lined plazas. Surprised by Malaga? You will be!
Places to StayOur Selection of the Best Malaga Accommodation
Hotel Molina LariosVisit website
This hotel may not especially charm from the outside, but what it lacks in curb appeal it makes up for in facilities. Central patio, café, ample rooms with everything just as it should be from a 4-star hotel, a rooftop bar with pool, reading room, restaurant and stunning views of the Cathedral and the sea, it ticks an awful lot of boxes.
Address: Calle Molina Lario, 20, 29015 Malaga; 952 06 20 02
Soho Boutique HotelVisit website
This relatively new 28-room hotel is in a great location in trendy Soho in the historic centre of Malaga and is a good option for a reasonable, quick city stopover. The rooms are compact but all have large balcony-style windows.
Address: 29001, Calle Córdoba, 5, 29001 Malaga; 952 22 40 79
Vincci Posada del PatioVisit website
Beside the river, this 5-star hotel has generous rooms (some being duplex suites and others with standalone baths) along with a rooftop pool and ground floor bar that often has local musicians playing. Intriguing Roman ruins uncovered during the hotel’s construction can be seen through a glass floor in the reception and bar area. A major plus is the onsite parking, which is amongst the easiest to get in and out of in Malaga city centre.
Address: Pasillo de Sta. Isabel, 7, 29005 Malaga; 951 00 10 20
Room Mate ValeriaVisit website
The Room Mate chain is consistently good in their offering of value for money city accommodation. Room Mate Valeria is the newest of the chain in Malaga and its bold décor in a grand historical building in Soho makes it a great addition. Expect design-led good sized rooms, gym, extensive buffet breakfast and a roof terrace for downtime relaxation.
Address: Plaza del Poeta Alfonso Canales, 5, 29001 Malaga; 952 06 04 01
Hotel Castillo de Santa CatalinaVisit website
A little way from the city centre, this beautiful hotel with only eight rooms is very popular for weddings. And on arrival it’s easy to see why: views, serene gardens, historic features and, well, it’s a 17th-century castle. The location for sightseeing isn’t ideal as it’s about a 35-minute walk into the centre of the city or a 15-minute drive. However, it is only 10 minutes’ stroll to the beach and easily one of the best places to stay in Malaga in terms of atmosphere, service, quality and beauty of the installations.
Address: Calle Ramos Carrión, 38, 29016 Malaga; 952 21 27 00
RestaurantsA Few of the Best Places to Eat in Malaga
La CosmopolitaVisit website
The earthy, home from home feel dining experience was until recently quite unusual in Malaga and La Cosmopolita was the first to offer this. Aside from the calming olive green and cream décor the food is home cooked, with Mediterranean staples served to a consistently good standard. There’s ample dining room space, bar-side seating and a terrace for sitting outside and watching the world go by.
Address: Calle José Denis Belgrano, 3, 29015 Malaga, Spain; 952 21 58 27
Meson de CervantesVisit website
Set in a large dining room divided into smaller areas to create an intimate feel, Meson de Cervantes specialises in food that blend heartiness and high quality. The wild boar stew is just the tastiest you’ll ever encounter, the pumpkin and mushroom risotto is perfect as a side tapas and if you’re a meat-lover then their take on Plato de los Montes, a black pudding with quail egg tapas, caps off a superb evening’s dining.
Address: Calle Álamos, 11, 29012 Malaga; 952 21 62 74
Los MellizosVisit website
The mini chain of fish restaurants is a longstanding local favourite. There’s nothing much to say about the non-descript dining rooms of Los Mellizos but that’s not why you’re there. The emphasis here is on the super-friendly service and the quality of fish – think typical grilled sardines and lightly battered fish. If you have an irresistible craving for Paella or seafood, there’s only one place to head for.
Address: Calle Sancha de Lara, 7, 29015 Malaga; 952 22 03 15
Restaurante José Carlos GarcíaVisit website
When you dine with Michelin-starred chef Jose Carlos Garcia at Malaga’s port you experience quite simply the best gastronomy in Malaga right now. Served in a huge dining room which is as comfortable as it is stylish, from food to service right the way through to table settings the themes of every dish extend into every minute detail. Spectacular.
Address: Puerto de Malaga, Plaza de la Capilla, 1, 29016 Malaga; 952 00 35 88
El Balneario – Baños del CarmenVisit website
The situation and vibe at El Balneario is unique in Malaga city. Beside the sea in Pedregalejo (a short taxi ride from the historic centre of the city) it’s a great place to catch some rays during a long leisurely lunch or visit when the sun’s gone down and the twinkly lights are on. A light, breezy, conservatory-esque indoor dining room that opens out on to an extensive two-levelled terrace allows for both casual and more formal dining.
Address: Calle Bolivia, 40, 29017 Malaga; 951 33 31 31
El RefectoriumVisit website
The three Refectorium restaurants are synonymous with old Malaga with the first having opened in the early 70s. El Refectorium del Campanario is in Cerrado de Calderón, a residential area to the east of the city. This is the most elegant dining experience of the three and is great for a romantic meal or a long leisurely lunch as it has excellent views over Malaga. The next is Refectorium Malagueta: near the bullring and beach, it’s much more traditional Andalucian in style with a little less finesse than the other two. The newest of this mini Malagueño chain is El Refectorium Catedral. This modern dining room (situated, as the name suggests, right next to the cathedral) offers high quality tapas-style light bites and sharing plates in a light and airy setting. The service is the best at this restaurant, while Malagueños have been known to talk in hushed, reverential tones about its Russian salad.
El PimpiVisit website
The iconic Bodega El Pimpi can’t be overlooked when visiting Malaga. The entrance on Calle Granada is probably one of the most charming in Spain, little patios full of tumbling plants, traditional dining rooms, signed wine barrels and a wall full of past celebrity visitors. In terms of what to order, the traditional ‘Vino de Malaga’ (sweet wine) and a plate of Jamon never disappoints. If you’d like to make the most of the weather, then the terrace is huge and looks towards the Alcazaba Fortress.
Address: Calle Granada, 62, 29015 Malaga; 952 22 54 03
Uve DobleVisit website
A stone’s throw away from the Cathedral, the Alcazaba and the Malaga Museum sits the very unassuming Uve Doble. The menu offers tapas, half plates or full plate options of nearly all dishes. The food is excellent and presented with care and finesse. Ajoblanco – almond soup, one of Malaga’s most famous dishes – is often on the menu here, so be sure to give it a try. The service is also very good.
Address: C/ Cister, 15, 29015 Malaga, Spain; 951 24 84 78
Mercado de MercedVisit website
Created in the old market building round the back of Plaza Merced, this trendy gastro market is a collaborative affair with good music. The idea is you pick and choose whatever you fancy from several different stalls; all light bites/tapas. It’s open all day from 11am until 1am so if you haven’t quite got your body clock into Spanish time then this is the answer. The mini burger and Spanish omelette stalls are always on our list as well as looking out for a typical Ensalada Malagueña of cod, potato, orange, olive and garlic salad.
Address: Calle Merced, 4, 29012 Malaga; 952 65 65 83
La Odisea Tienda de Vino
Selling wines only from Malaga this wonderfully authentic bar is one of the best places to soak up the last of the evening sun. With a central patio and quirky back courtyard it’s very atmospheric too. Charming service, delicious tapas and great wine list of white, red, fizzy and sweet wines leave you feeling like you’ve really sampled a local haunt.
Address: Subida Coracha, 1, 29016 Malaga; 659 56 08 38
NightlifeRooftop Bars & Live Music
La Terraza, Alcazaba Premium HostelVisit website
Malaga these days does a pretty good line in amazing rooftop bars right in the centre of the historic city. Not only do they have fantastic panoramic views they make for a chic way to take the sun during the day or soak up the buzzy atmosphere at night. The one at Alcazaba Premium Hostel is one of the best, as the vibe is great, the cocktails are generous and the views over the fortress from one of three different terraces are fantastic.
Address: Calle Alcazabilla, 12, 29015 Malaga, Spain; 952 22 98 78
Hotel AC Malaga PalacioVisit website
The original rooftop bar in Malaga is definitely worth a visit as it has a glamorous feel that the others don’t quite offer. Perhaps it’s the pool, or perhaps just because it’s part of a smart four-star hotel. No matter – while it offers much the same 360-degree views across the sea and surrounding rooftops as the others, it has a certain something or other that makes it stand out.
Address: Calle Cortina del Muelle, 1, 29015 Malaga; 952 21 51 85
La Terraza de Larios, Room Mate LariosVisit website
Room Mate Larios has the best address for a rooftop bar – right on Calle Larios, one of the most exclusive streets in the centre of Malaga. They often have live music during the weekends and it’s great for louche cocktail-sipping and people-watching.
Address: Calle Marqués de Larios, 2, 29005 Malaga; 952 22 22 00
Museo de Flamenco – Peña Juan BrevaVisit website
Every Friday at 22.30 a show is held in one of the oldest Flamenco clubs in the world – Peña Juan Breva. Tickets include a drink and the show is intimate, and generally involves great guitar work, in particular. The building is also home to a small Flamenco museum which is interesting in itself and well worth a good browse around before the performance.
Address: Calle Ramón Franquelo, 4, Malaga; 952 221380
Clarence Jazz ClubVisit website
Our last choice for nightlife in Malaga is a jazz club. This small but perfectly formed venue has live artists regularly that offer a high standard of jazz and comfy tub chairs to settle into and listen from. Live music nights usually start at either 20.30 or 22.30; you pay on the door but it includes a drink.
Address: Calle Cañón, 5, 29015 Malaga; 951 91 80 87
Things to do
Glass MuseumVisit website
A beautifully preserved 18th-century townhouse holds a small yet perfectly formed private collection of glass work. Even leaving aside its beautiful exhibits, the house itself is a lovely example of Spanish architecture within the San Felipe Neri area of Malaga and a pleasure to browse around. The idea behind the museum is to catalogue glassmaking techniques past and present; they even hold tutorials to get people enthused.
Address: Plazuela Santisimo Cristo de la Sangre, 2, 29012 Malaga; 952 22 02 71
Russian Art MuseumVisit website
Opened in 2015, Malaga’s Russian Art Museum is a thoroughly modern affair with three cinemas, a children’s workshop area and an auditorium for literary readings or conferences. Housed in a beautiful old tobacco factory there are five enormous rooms with over five centuries of Russia’s rich artistic legacy told through temporary and permanent exhibitions. The soul of Russia is really conveyed in this inspiring art museum whose works come from the Russian State Museum’s collection in St Petersburg. There are cultural events held throughout the year where film, music and talks are showcased.
Address: Edificio de Tabacalera, Av de Sor Teresa Prat, 15, 29003 Malaga; 951 92 61 50
Automobile MuseumVisit website
Also housed within the 1920s tobacco building is the Automobile Museum. As you might expect, the museum charts the history of cars (in intriguingly chronological order) and contains some of the most beautifully designed models of all time. Alongside the cars there’s haute couture fashion to complement the collection and automotive art. The very best time to visit is during the weekend when the keys get turned and you can hear some of the engines roar or purrrhh.
Address: Av de Sor Teresa Prat, 15, 29003 Malaga; 951 13 70 01
Picasso MuseumVisit website
Pablo Ruiz Picasso spent his early years in a house on the corner of Plaza Merced, so it’s apt that the city’s Picasso Museum is just a short stroll down the road. The building itself, the 16th-century Buenavista Palace, is spectacular with two central patios, a cool courtyard and vaulted wooden Mudejar ceilings which sit on top of some Phoenician and Roman ruins. The permanent collection contains a few crowd-pleasers as well as some slightly more unusual pieces of work from family members which give it an intimate feel.
Address: Palacio de Buenavista, Calle San Agustín, 8, 29015 Malaga; 952 12 76 00
Perched on the hill high above the Alcazaba (the city’s 11th-century Moorish fortress-palace) is the Gibralfaro. Built in 929AD on the site of a Phoenician lighthouse, the walls and ramparts have been restored and are in good condition, and as a result virtually the whole parameter can be walked along with great views over the city, into the bullring and out to the sparkling Mediterranean.
Address: Camino de Gibralfaro, S/N, 29016 Malaga (Entrance on Plaza de la Aduana)
The Crypt of St. LazaroVisit website
The church of San Lázaro can truly be said to be a ‘hidden gem’ of Malaga, partly because of its location (on Plaza de la Victoria to the north of the city) and partly because of the concealed entrance to its crypt. The church itself is in the Mudejar style. Built by the Catholic Kings in 1491, it used to be connected to a hospital which no longer remains. The secret crypt that lies beneath it is really rather extraordinary, with impressive frescoes of Death lining the vaulted 17th-century walls.
Address: Plaza Victoria, 19, 29001 Malaga; 952 25 00 96
Day Trips from Malaga
Antequera & the Dolmens
For a day trip packed full of sights the handsome town of Antequera, just 50 minutes north of Malaga city, is a great option. Dubbed the ‘City of Churches’ it has 33 in total – the most per capita in Spain. Two of our favourites are the Colegiata de San Sebastian, with its famous weather vane and ornate alter, and Colegiata de Santa Maria la Mayor, for its dramatic location.
Just on the outskirts of the city, the Dolmens of Antequera have recently been awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO. The oldest of the trio of megalithic tombs dates back nearly 5000 years, but all three structures constitute a remarkable feat of engineering. In the visitor centre there’s a fascinating video of how they are thought to have been constructed.
El Chorro & the Caminito del Rey
The area surrounding the small village of El Chorro is great for bird watching, hiking, walking, mountain biking and, most of all, rock-climbing. For those who like a spectacular view but don’t like to work too hard for it and are good with heights, then the Caminito del Rey (Caminitodelrey.info) is ideal. It’s an awe-inspiring 4.8 mile walk, much of which goes through the Hoyo Valley along walkways that sometimes cling precariously to the edge high up on the wall of a gorge.
Ronda is a one of the jewels in Malaga Province’s touristic crown. The town is surrounded by the rolling plains and mountains of the Serrania de Ronda and sits directly on the edge of a deep gorge. With its roots stretching all the way back to the 9th century it’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns in Spain and its historic centre is full of palaces, mosques, churches and picturesque squares. It has a particularly good example of a Moorish bathhouse and a famous bullring. For wine-lovers, the surrounding area is home to a handful of bodegas which are gaining greater recognition with every passing year for the quality of the wine they produce.
Bobastro Fortress & Church
Hidden away in wonderfully remote countryside not far from the village of Ardales, to the north of Malaga city, is the fortress and church of Bobastro. In terms of the fortress, which was the stronghold of the Moorish robber baron Ibn-Hafsun, all that remains are huge chunks of sandstone masonry from the walls scattered amongst the undergrowth. The heart of the complex, though, is a remarkable Mozarab church carved out of the stone, which along with the accompanying cemetery and crypt, dates back to the 9th century.
Where is Malaga?
The Mediterranean port town of Malaga is the second largest city in Andalucia in the south of Spain. The famous Costa del Sol is the coastline which runs through Malaga and extends from Manilva to the west and Nerja to the east. The province of Malaga is neighboured by the provinces of Granada, Cordoba, Seville and Cadiz making it an ideal base from which to visit the rest of Andalucia.
When to Go & Climate
Malaga enjoys arguably the best climate of any major city in Europe. Warm in the winter and, because of its breezy coastal setting, never blistering hot in the summer it can see around 320 days of sunshine a year. On average the hottest month is August and the rainiest month is November.
Easter is a great time to visit the city if you’d like to see the solemn religious parades of Semana Santa; alternatively, the annual feria is held in August every year, where the city is full of music and dance.
The railway networks in Spain are pretty slick. If you’re already in Spain or wanting to carry on your travels Malaga’s Maria Zambrano railway station (Adif.es) has links to most major cities in Spain whether it be by a normal train or a high speed train. The high speed network (AVE) is great and a very civilised way to get around the country with its pristine carriages, movies and newspapers. Malaga to Madrid for example is just 2.5 hours and Malaga to Barcelona is just under 6 hours with the high speed train. For tickets, go to Trenes.com.
Not far from the centre of Malaga city is a large bus station where you can travel on to most places be it towns or cities (Info.emtmalaga.es). All buses are air-conditioned and always arrive on time (even if they can leave a little late on occasions).
Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport (Aeropuertodemalaga-costadelsol.com) is the biggest in southern Spain. It receives international flights and has all the infrastructure you would expect from a large airport. If you fancy a spot of retail therapy or a last glass or two of cava, Malaga airport will satisfy your wait during check-in.
Malaga Tourist Information
The main tourist information centre in Malaga city is at the end of Calle Larios.
Address: Plaza de la Marina, 9, 29001 Malaga. Malagaturismo.com.