Welcome to one of the oldest cities of the Iberian Peninsula, where you can find traces of Phoenician, Roman, Muslim and Christian! Malaga, like Granada, is one of the 8 provinces of Andalusia, which is one of the 17 autonomous regions of Spain. This beautiful city, inhabited by 1,700,000 people, is the capital of the 150 km long Costa del Sol, the “Coast of the Sun”, which is the same for Spain as the Côte d’Azur (French Riviera) for France. Its sunny weather 300 days a year, its museums, monuments and beaches make this Andalusian city an important tourism center.
“In Málaga, the city where we have been living for about 2 years, the people, are generally friendly, people who love to eat, drink and have fun, like other Andalusians. As we said for Granada, we do not think that you will feel unfamiliar as a tourist in Málaga.”
The name Málaga comes from the Phoenician name “Malaka”, meaning “salted fish”, given to the city. The city’s openness to the sea created an excellent opportunity for this civilization to trade, while the surrounding mountains protected the city against invading attacks. The Romans, who captured the city after them, continued the commercial boom of the city and showed an important cultural and artistic development. After the Muslim Umayyads from North Africa conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century, Málaga was again in demand due to the commercial importance of its port. It is possible to find traces of every culture in this Mediterranean city, which was re-conquered by Christians in the 15th century.
As we have partially mentioned above, Málaga has a Mediterranean climate that is mild in winter and warm in summer. It is considered one of the best Spanish cities to live in, thanks to its almost year-round beautiful weather. Every season is good to visit the city, as the weather conditions of the city do not prepare big surprises for you. The annual average temperature is 18°C.
In Málaga, the city where we have been living for about 2 years, the people, are generally friendly, people who love to eat, drink and have fun, like other Andalusians. As we said for Granada, we do not think that you will feel unfamiliar as a tourist in Málaga.
How to Get to Malaga?
There are direct flights from 153 airports in the world to Málaga-Costa del Sol, popularly known as Pablo Picasso International Airport. If your plan is to tour Andalusia, it would be good to have Málaga as your first stop. You can visit the whole of Andalusia with daily or overnight trips from here, and you can return to your country from Málaga or from another Andalusia city. Andalusia tour will be the subject of another article with its route, important places to visit and dates.
Málaga City Transportation
The time required for a trip to Málaga depends on whether you are just visiting the city or on a summer vacation. In the first case, it will be enough to have 3-4 days to explore the city. If you are going to vacation, we recommend you to spend more time in the city, which is home to many attractions and beautiful beaches in and around the center. You can easily use the municipal buses, which have many lines for urban transportation. The fee is 1.40 Euros and it can be taken from the bus by giving coins (over 5 Euros is not accepted). The price of the 10-boarding card, which provides free transfer within the first hour, is 8.40 Euros, and the 20-boarding card is 16.80 Euros. It is possible to reach the airport from the city easily and in a short time with a journey of 4.00 Euros with the L-A Express bus line. There is also a metro in the west of the city, but you will not need to use it as it is possible to reach everywhere by walking or by bus.
Places to Visit in Málaga:
1- Castillo de Gibralfaro (Castle of Gibralfaro)
The castle was built on the ruins of an old lighthouse during the Phoenician era. During the rule of the Arabs III. Abdurrahman used the remaining ruins to build a defensive fortress, and Gibralfaro Fortress became one of the most unconquerable fortresses in the Iberian Peninsula. You can find more details and login information about the castle here.
The Alcazaba, which literally means “fortress” in Arabic, was built by the Umayyads upon their arrival in Málaga in the 11th century and is the best-preserved Moorish fortress in the world. Limestone and columns from the Roman Theater, located right in front of it, were used in its construction. The complex wall system, double doors, curved entrances, arches, and other defensive elements have made the castle an impregnable place. Both Gibralfaro Castle and Alcazaba Castle have wonderful city views, from which many photos of Málaga were taken.
3- Málaga Cathedral
It is the second tallest cathedral in Andalusia after the Giralda in Seville. Its construction began in the middle of the 16th century according to the plans of the architect Diego de Siloé, and the cathedral was finished only at the end of the 18th century. The first thing you notice when visiting Malaga Cathedral is the absence of the second tower. The north tower is 84 meters high but the other tower is unfinished. Of course, there are various rumors about its causes. Because of this unique shape of the cathedral, it is popularly called “La Manquita” (One-Armed). For detailed information about the cathedral and entrance tickets, click here.
4- Picasso Museum
Pablo Ruiz Picasso, painter, sculptor, writer, designer from Malaga, is one of the most important and versatile artists in the history of art. The painter, who did not stick to academic impositions and a single style, made three-dimensional works with the idea of “creating shapes that will take a life of their own”, so a new art movement, Cubism was born. And also went beyond all established norms at the beginning of the 20th century. The world-famous painter has both a museum and a foundation in the house where he was born. There is also a Picasso statue sitting on the bench in Plaza de Merced (Merced Square) where the foundation is located. The museum is open every day of the week, 2 hours before closing time is free.
5- Teatro Romano (Roman Theatre)
It is an auditorium built in the 1st century at the foot of Mount Gibralfaro, right in front of the Alcazaba. Excavations of this theater began in the mid-20th century.
6- Plaza de la Constitución (Constitution Square)
The square, which is the heart of the historical city, is a lively meeting point at all hours of the day, surrounded by pedestrian streets with many restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. By taking this square as the center, it is possible to reach all the must-see places on foot. There are 6 steel plates belonging to the front pages of the main newspapers embedded on the cobblestones of the square. They contain the results of the referendum for the entry into force of the 1978 Constitution, which the Spaniards cared very much after the Franco period.
7- Calle Marqués de Larios (Larios Street)
This pedestrianized street will take you to Constitution Square when you enter from the port. It has world-famous Christmas light and sound shows, which are opened in November every year by actor Antonio Banderas, a Malaga in love with his hometown. The street is also a shopping district with many clothing, cosmetics, decorations and other brand stores.
8- Carmen Thyssen Museum
You can find details about this museum here. Art lovers should not miss this museum, which is closed on Mondays and free of charge on Sundays from 16:00 to 20:00.
9- Center Pompidou (Pompidou Museum)
Pompidou is a museum of French origin opened as the most important modern art collection in Europe with more than 120,000 works. The first foreign center of this museum was established in Malaga. Art lovers should definitely visit this museum. The museum is closed on Tuesdays and free of charge on Sundays from 16:00 to 20:00.
10- Plaza de Toros (Bullring)
You can find details about Plaza de Toros, a place that still hosts bullfights at certain times of the year, here.
11- Jardin Botanico (Botanical Park) and Malaga Park
If you went to Malaga in the summer and the heat overwhelms you while visiting the city, there are two parks where you can take a short break, relax in nature and recharge. The Botanical Park is a very large park with thousands of plant varieties, its own routes, a cafe that you will be satisfied with, and a magnificent atmosphere that you will never regret visiting. The other is a beautiful, well-maintained city park that you will see on your way from Larios Street towards the port.
Apart from these places, there are some interesting museums on the map that we can recommend for the enthusiasts: Interactive Music Museum, Glass and Crystal Museum, Car and Fashion Museum. You can find detailed information about all of them from the links.
Click to open the map of places to visit on Google Maps.
Where and What to Eat in Malaga?
We wouldn’t be wrong if we said that Malaga is a seafood paradise, as if it deserves the meaning of the name given by the Phoenicians. Málaga is a city where fish and other sea products are consumed mostly by frying or grilling, and you can often smell fish while walking around. We mentioned siesta in our Granada article, the same is true here.
Since it has a rich food culture, you will not have any trouble as a tourist. Fish, olives and olive oil, almonds and wine have an important place in the gastronomy of the city. Apart from these, the use of vegetables, meat, legumes is also very common. In Malaga, as in most other European countries, sweet pastries such as croissants are consumed a lot. But here, there are many sandwiches made with delicious and fresh bread that make you feel full in the morning. Deep-fried salty dough sticks, called churros, can be preferred for both a delicious and satisfying breakfast. The extra virgin olive oil and tomato grated on toast, which is traditionally eaten a lot for breakfast, is also very tasty.
Small, shabby “Tapas” bars located on the beach, with a terrace and a mostly reed canopy, are called “Chiringuito” and are considered the symbol of Malaga. One of the typical foods of the city is “Espeto”, or sardines on wooden sticks, cooked over an open wood fire in a boat in front of dozens of Chiringuito lined up along the coast.
It is a common culture here to share ordered food. In fact, some restaurants have a separate section on their menus called “Para compartir” (To share). Here are some of the traditional dishes unique to Malaga and where you can find these dishes at affordable prices:
* Fried Fish:
The indispensable part of the fried fish plate is our favorite fish; Anchovy. In Spain, “Boqueron” (Anchovy) is one of the most consumed seafood products. Apart from that, you can eat fish such as squid/baby squid, shrimp, haddock as well-fried on this type of plate. Wherever you go in the city, you will come across many places where you can eat fried fish and seafood. Some places we can recommend: El Freidor, which is located in the west of the city and where we like all its seafood, especially the “Tuna fish skewers” (Brocheta de atún). Mercado Central de Atarazanas is one of the indoor eateries/food shopping markets. It is located in the center and was used as a shipyard in the 14th century during the Muslim rule, then as a military hospital and barracks. Casa Lola, Freiduría Chupytira, El Pescaito de Nicolás and El Pimpi, which is the first name you will hear when you say Malaga. El Pimpi is located right in front of the Roman Theatre.
We talked about the place of seafood in the gastronomy of the city. These sea crustaceans are one of the best options for those who love these products and like to try new flavors. It is also called “Malaga mussel” because it is consumed a lot here. When you eat this raw food with lemon and black pepper, you will experience an unexpected taste. Marisqueria Casa Vicente might be a good place to try.
* Boquerones en Vinagre: When you type “Anchovy in Vinegar” into the internet search engine, it says “A type of appetizer available in Spain and Turkey”. This appetizer, which is made with fillet anchovy, olive oil, salt, garlic and parsley, and which is widely consumed in restaurants and bars, comes from the Sephardic cuisine.
* Ajoblanco: This soup, also called the white of Spain’s famous cold tomato soup “Gazpacho”, made with raw almonds, bread, garlic, vinegar and olive oil, is served with muscat and melon or apple depending on the season. A delicious Mediterranean soup preferred by vegans.
* Porra antequerana: Named after a town called Antequera in the north of Malaga, this thick soup is one of the city’s iconic dishes. The soup is made with green pepper, tomato, garlic, olive oil, salt and crustless bread unique to the city and consumed cold. It is especially preferred during summer days and is served with a boiled egg and “jamon”, a meat product similar to bacon.
* Berenjenas con miel de caña con queso de cabra: Fried eggplant with sugarcane molasses and goat cheese is one of the most preferred tapa in bars and restaurants. We really liked the one in Restaurante DBandera.
* Rabo de toro: Bull’s tail. A traditional stew with sauce, dating back to ancient times and of course bullfights.
* Ensalada malagueña: Malaga salad. A delicious salad made with a combination of boiled and diced potatoes, cooked, diced cod or tuna, diced tomatoes, onions, green and red peppers, oranges, green olives, olive oil and vinegar, and served with a boiled egg.
* Croquetas: Croquettes with jamon, cheese, shrimp, meat and mushrooms are delicious snacks that you can find in almost every place.
* Paella: Since it is the first dish that comes to mind when we talk about Spain, it is one of the good options that can be eaten here as well. Seafood and slightly more watery versions are quite common in Malaga.
* Tortas Locas: Crazy Cakes. It is a traditional dessert with a very old history, cream between two puff pastry dough, orange sauce and cherries that dessert lovers can try.
* Bienmesabe: A kind of cake of Arabian origin, containing eggs, almonds, cider syrup, ground cinnamon and sugar. We recommend Panadería Salvador, one of Malaga’s best bread and pastries bakeries, to try these two desserts and to have a quick snack. You can find many sweet and salty varieties in this bakery dating back to 1905.
Click to open Malaga food map on Google Maps.
If you are a wine lover, Malaga can impress you with its wines. You will definitely find one that you will like among a wide variety of local wines and that you will take with you on your return with affordable prices. Likewise, liquor and a variety of it is quite wide. Let’s talk about a drink that is very common in Malaga and will please raki lovers. There are many varieties of this drink called “Anis”, that means anise in Spanish. The Spaniards especially like the sweet one and of course drink it in the form of “shots”. When you put the variety called Seco in a glass and add water to it, it becomes the same colour with raki and it tastes good. Let’s add right away, when you sit down to eat somewhere in Malaga, first of all drinks and then meals are ordered.
Drinking Coffee in Malaga
Yes, we opened a separate topic for this because it has a story that deserves it and methods unique to this city. Don José Prado is the creator of these methods. He was the owner of Café Central, a historic café in the Plaza de Constitucion in the center of the city. It is closed permanently in January this year for family reasons. He found these coffee order methods because of the economic problems of the war that affected even the amount of coffee ordered. They are still valid today. In the video below, grandson Prado tells this story.
If you want to eat dinner and watch Flamenco dance which is an Andalusian classic at the same time, there are two places we can recommend to you: Tablao Flamenco Alegria and Tablao Flamenco CalYCanto.
We hope this long article, in which we try to cover everything about Malaga, will be useful to you. Stay healthy. Have a good trip!