Malaga is both a modern city and historical destination all in one. As the capital of the province of the same name, this sprawling port city lies directly on the Costa del Sol in Southern Spain. The birthplace of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso and Hollywood actor Antonio Banderas, Malaga offers something for everyone. With historic Roman and Moorish ruins from the city's past to explore -- including a castle and palace as well as art galleries, theatres and museums for a touch of the local culture -- the possibilities are endless. Shopaholics will love the main shopping street, Calle Marqués de Larios, which runs through the city centre and has a range of high-end fashion stores, jewellery stores, restaurants and cafés.
Gourmets can indulge in everything the Mediterranean has to offer in the way of traditional Spanish cuisine in the city's restaurants, as well as more international fare. Famous for its fried fish, Malaga offers a tasty range of the freshest, catch of the day seafood and delicious meat dishes, all washed down with a good local wine or beer. Enjoy tapas in the many cafés located the city's squares. There are also many "chiringuitos," or beach restaurants, lining the beach promenade, offering the local cuisine or just a welcome and refreshing drink after a day in the sun.
Talking of sea and sand, Malaga's almost endless sandy beaches lend a chance to relax in the sun, with every amenity available, including showers, lifeguards, sun beds and shady parasols. For more active visitors all the popular water sports are available, including scuba diving, sailing, wind and kite surfing and more. The city is also host to several exciting fiestas over the year, including the Feria de Malaga (fair), which takes place every August. Over the Easter period, the famous Semana Santa events are spectacular to watch, as the parade makes its way down the Calle Marqués de Larios and around the city.
Things to do
Malaga offers a wide range of attractions, ranging from the beaches to the historic buildings of the city. A walk through the historic centre takes visitors to many spectacular sites, while a stroll through the streets are a shopaholic's dream with all the popular fashion boutiques, souvenir shops and more.
Pablo Picasso and Malaga
A stroll to the Plaza de la Merced gives the opportunity to visit the birthplace of the famous Spanish artist. Pablo Picasso's original home stands on a corner overlooking the square and has been converted into the Casa Natal or Picasso Birthplace Museum. On display are many of Picasso's personal belongings, photos and works of the iconic artist. A short distance away in the historic centre is the Museo Picasso Malaga, housed in the Buenavista Palace and displaying 285 of Picasso's works of art as well as regular exhibitions of other famous Spanish artists.
Moorish and Roman ruins
The Gibralfaro Castle stands watch from a hillside, overlooking the city and the Mediterranean Sea and offering amazing views. The castle was built by the Moors in the 14th century to protect the Alcazaba, a sprawling complex and fortified palace spreading down the hillside below and built by the Moors in the 11th century. Right at the base of the Alcazaba lies the remains of a Roman amphitheatre, which has been partially restored to its former glory and is used to host various cultural events and shows. Historians believe the theatre was created by Augustus and was used by the Romans from the 1st century AD through to the 3rd century. An interpretation centre has been added to give more information about the building and the Roman occupation of the area.
The "Museo Automovilístico de Málaga", or Automobile Museum, is a fascinating visit offering a collection of more than 90 vehicles housed in a historic former tobacco factory. The vehicles are divided into several collections from different eras, including "La Belle Epoque" from the late 19th century, the "Golden 20s" and the luxurious vehicles of the Art Deco period of the 1930s. Also on display are various "popular cars" from the 1930s and 1950s -- a selection of "Designer Cars" and "Dream Cars" of Hollywood fame. On a totally different theme, the museum also offers a fascinating collection of 300 hats from various famous designers and some interesting luggage items.
Retail therapy in Calle Marqués de Larios
Running through Malaga's city centre to the historic quarter, Calle Larios as it is known for short, is a pedestrian shopping street lined with attractive buildings. The fashion shops offer a range of luxurious labels right through to more affordable clothing. There are also many jewellery and souvenir shops along the way. While strolling Calle Larios, enjoy the antics of several human statues or street mimes giving brief performances for a euro or two. The street is also used for all the main events in the city, including the justifiably famous Christmas lights and various religious processions.
Sun and sand on the beaches
Located on the Costa del Sol as it is called, Malaga offers 15 beaches sprawling along the coastline. While the beaches closest to the city centre can become crowded, there are several quieter spots within easy walking distance, including the Playa del Campo de Golf - San Julián, a popular destination for wind surfers. Playa de la Misericordia is one of the more popular beaches in the area with all the necessary visitor amenities and is also popular with the surfing crowd. Playa de San Andrés is the perfect family beach with its range of children's playgrounds, plenty of facilities and attractive grassy areas. The beach promenade offers a range of restaurants, bars and "chiringuitos" (or beach restaurants) with traditional Spanish cuisine and international dishes.
Calendar of Events
Spain is well known for its regular fiestas and festivals and Malaga is no exception. A huge variety of religious festivals, along with the colourful carnival celebrations never cease to fascinate, and the annual fair is one of the most exciting on the Costa del Sol.
Carnival: The Carnival of Malaga is held each year on the week before Ash Wednesday. There are celebrations in the historic centre and other parts of the city, with many different activities on the go. The colourful parade is full of fun as it passes through the streets with musicians and costumed performers on display. Each area of the city offers gastronomic events with tasting sessions held at various restaurants.
Semana Santa: "Semana Santa", or Saint's week, is held over the Easter period each year between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. A range of religious events is held over the week, including colourful street processions where the figures of Jesus and the Virgin are carried through the streets accompanied by music and wafting incense. Of interest to note, visitors can usually get a glimpse of Antonio Banderas and his family, as he enjoys the event.
Noche de San Juan: The annual "Noche de San Juan", or Midsummer's Eve, is both a pagan event and a huge beach party held on the 23rd June. Fires are seen burning on the beaches, where a doll by the name of Júas is burned for good luck. The fires are also used as barbeques as families and groups of young people settle in for the evening. Live music events are held and the celebration culminates in a spectacular firework display.
Feria de Malaga: The Malaga fair is held each year during August. The event runs for nine days and ten nights with a variety of spectacular events, concerts and religious parades. A full funfair is available in the city's fairgrounds with a wide range of colourful rides for all ages, as well as food, drinks and general entertainment.