Top Things to do in Malaga Spain
Malaga Spain: If you think the Costa del Sol is soulless, you clearly haven’t been to Málaga. Loaded with history and brimming with a youthful vigour that proudly acknowledges its multi-layered past, the city that gave the world Picasso has transformed itself in spectacular fashion, with half a dozen new art galleries, a radically rethought port area and a nascent art district called Soho. Not that Málaga was ever lacking in energy: the Spanish-to-the-core bar scene could put bags under the eyes of an insomniac madrileño, while the food culture encompasses both Michelin stars and tastefully tatty fish shacks.
Malaga, Pablo Picasso’s birthplace and the gateway to the Costa del Sol, is a hectic, sometimes unruly city of 550,000. An impressive number of museums and monuments, including the 11th-century Alcazaba fort and Museu Picasso Malaga, provide plenty of diversions for those who opt not to spend all their time on the coast’s famed beaches and in their accompanying bars. The old city bustles with taverns and bistros. The generous Paseo del Parque offers a delightful stroll past banana trees and fountains.
Weather Malaga Spain
The Andalusian city of Malaga, with its enviable location on the Costa del Sol, is a great place to base yourself while you explore the region. We did three days of day trips from Malaga, but we also made the time to explore the city. Although it is often underrated as a destination unto itself, we found lots of fun things to do in Malaga!
Malaga has transformed itself in recent years into a vibrant, happening place, well worthy of time in your Andalusia itinerary. The city also hosts a number of festivals, so check to see if there is one happening when you plan to visit. And best of all, Malaga is very affordable! The figure of the artist is everywhere in Malaga. The best example is the Picasso Museum, founded in 2003; in addition to the painter’s House-Museum. Another visit not to be missed is to the Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga, which highlights the importance of Andalusian artists to 19th-century Spanish painting. What’s more, simply by strolling around its historic center visitors can immerse themselves in the city’s heritage, with monuments like the cathedral, a fine example of an Andalusian Renaissance church; the Alcazaba, a 10th-century Arab palace-fortress; and the Roman Theatre. The city’s best-known festivities are the Easter week commemorations and the Malaga Fair. This first event has been declared a Festivity of International Tourist Interest, and the second –in August– is an excuse to fill the city’s streets with good-natured high spirits. Finally, Malaga is an excellent destination for those who want to learn more about the art of flamenco.
Weather In Malaga Spain
Start your Malaga adventure by walking in the footsteps of one of the most iconic civilizations to ever rule the city: the Ancient Romans.
As the oldest surviving monument in Malaga proper, the Roman amphitheater was built in the first century AD and used for more than 200 years. Some of its stones and columns were later taken to be used in the Alcazaba on the hill overlooking the Roman theater.
The theater is free to visit and located on Calle Alcazabilla right in the city center. To learn even more and gain a deeper understanding for this fascinating gem, check out the Interpretation Center right next door.
As with much of Spain, the central market is such a focal point of daily life in Málaga that you have to see it for yourself.
Locals favor the stalls at Ataranzas for freshness, and because the prices are reasonable.
It’s also just a lovely building, with an elegant iron and glass canopy, Mudéjar arches and a magnificent stained-glass window.
Come to buy all the usual market produce, like fruit & veg, meat (both raw and cured), cheese, fresh bread and some local honey or sherry.
There are also bars where you can get a tapa to go with a cold glass of cruzcampo.
Time In Malaga Spain
You might be thinking of the beach. And while the Costa del Sol capital is definitely within reach of some of Europe’s best beaches, there’s a lot more to Malaga than surf and sand.
Settled first by the Phoenicians and then the Romans, Visigoths, Moors and finally the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, Malaga’s history is one of the most diverse and fascinating in all of Spain. These iconic civilizations have left their mark on the city’s architecture and culture, making Malaga an absolute must on any Andalusia itinerary.
If that all sounds like your cup of tea (or glass of Malaga wine), you’re ready to start exploring. Here are just a few of our favorite things to do in Malaga to start you off.
Things To Do In Malaga Spain
Known to many as the capital of the Costa del Sol, Málaga is more than a seaside city. You can learn about Spain’s Islamic past at the majestic Alcazaba fortress palace, while Pablo Picasso was born here, so there are museums that shed light on his early years.
And during the city’s famous festivals you can also get to know the Andalusian culture, watching flamenco shows and quaffing sherry, in the part of the country where they originate. And in case you needed reminding, the world-renowned beaches, resorts, and golf courses of the Costa del Sol could hardly be closer.
1. La Alcazaba
With powerful walls visible from almost anywhere in the city, Málaga’s Alcazaba is a Moorish fortress-palace and valuable monument from the Islamic era.
It was first erected in the 8th century and was bolstered and expanded over the next five hundred years. On this hill are two sets of walls protecting an inner and outer citadel.
The outer citadel contains the palace’s stunning gardens with fountains and gateways that the Arabs built out of old Roman columns.
Within the second set of walls is the palace and stately dwellings that are spread across three peaceful courtyard gardens.
2. Roman Theatre
Just down the hill, beyond the outer walls of the Alcazaba is the best ancient monument in the city.
The theatre was in use for around 300 years up to the 200s but then was forgotten about and even used as a quarry during the Moorish period.
The structure was only rediscovered in 1951 and considering all its been through is actually in pretty good shape today.
Several tiers of seating of the 16 meter-high cave (spectator’s circle) remain undamaged and there’s a recently-opened visitor center showing off some of the finds at the site including amphorae and everyday tools.
3. Málaga Cathedral
The city’s cathedral took more than 150 years to build, and so is a kind of melange of renaissance and baroque styles.
The facade, for example, was one of the last parts to be completed and is suitably grand, with arches, columns pilasters and stone reliefs depicting saints.
The cathedral’s north tower is 84 metres-tall, second only in Andalusia to La Giralda in Seville.
There was supposed to be a South Tower, but instead, the funds for this were diverted to help America gain independence from the British.
You can read about this on the cathedral’s information plaque where the tower should have been.
4. Castillo de Gibralfaro
Like the Alcazaba this hilltop fortress looms above the city. It’s a majestic landmark that you might recognize from Málaga and the wider province’s emblems.
Unlike the Alcazaba the site has a more warlike purpose, with lookout towers and ramparts that are still standing today, competing with the pines on the hillside.
There has been a fortress here since the Phoenicians more than 2,500 years ago and this castle was the scene of a pivotal siege in 1487.
The Muslim Malagueños held out against King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella for three months before surrendering when they ran out of food.
5. Museo del Vidrio
This intriguing little museum is in a lovely old house from the 1700s, with exposed beams in the ceilings, period furniture, and tasteful decoration.
What people come to see though is the large collection of antique glassware that spans several thousand years.
There are pieces from a range of ancient civilisations: Phoenicians, Romans, Ancient Greeks and Egyptians.
Check out the green Roman glass bowl, still intact 2,000 years later.
Then further on you’ll see beautiful Venetian items, glassware from the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age and a collection of English lead glass including jugs and wine cups from the 1500s.
What is Malaga Spain known for?
The largest city on the Costa del Sol, Malaga has a typical Mediterranean climate and is also known as the birthplace of famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso . The city offers beaches, hiking, architectural sites, art museums, excellent shopping and cuisine.
Is Malaga safe?
One of the reasons Málaga is such a popular holiday destination is because it is considered to be very safe. However, as in most cities around the world, there are areas that are best to avoid. Màlaga city is big and the majority of attractions are based in and around the city center.