Málaga has become a thoroughly chic city, boasting exquisite architecture, sunny beaches, stunning botanical gardens, fabulous cuisine and a culturally dynamic art district. Join me for a quick tour of southern Spain’s hottest city.
As one of the oldest cities in the world, with nearly 3,000 year of history and a city center that boasts references to its Roman, Islamic and Christian past, Malaga just oozes charm. But the city’s present is just as exciting as its past: there are new festivals, concerts and exhibitions to attend and enjoy throughout the year. In August, you can attend the awe-inspiring Feria de Agosto, the biggest festival on the Costa Del Sol, while in January-February and December you can attend two authentic festivals called the Carnaval De Málaga and Fiesta Mayor De Vediales.
Malagans speak Castillian – commonly known as standard Spanish and the Spanish you will hear on radio and TV – and the city is known as a hub of Spanish language instruction. The city’s attractiveness as a destination to learn Spanish owes much to its laid-back vibe, unique cultural mix and vibrant Andalucian culture, but the accent is also a selling point. It’s known to be expressive and humorous, and just like the city itself, thoroughly charming.
Málaga offers up a “lesson in reinvention”, having shed the region’s somewhat tired image and emerged as a chic regional capital. In one day of wandering you can discover Roman amphitheaters, churches, religious monuments and stunning cathedrals, and then stumble on modern monuments like the La Rosaleda Stadium and the Port. Some of the city’s must-see monuments include the Roman theater, La Manquita, the Gibralfaro and the 11th century built La Alcazaba, a key landmark overlooking Málaga from a breathtaking hilltop.
Málaga is called the “City of Museums” for a reason, with 20 museums dedicated to historical artifacts, religious and contemporary art. The most famous ones are the Picasso Museum of Málaga and the Pablo Picasso’s Birthplace Museum. There is also the Soho Art District, a creative area of alternative culture buzzing with life and original street art from some of the most famous street artists in the world.
This flamboyant traditional dance originated in the area almost 500 years ago. Flamenco embodies the spirit of Andalucia, and Málaga is one of the places where you can witness an ancient tradition in its purest, most passionate form.
Food and wine enthusiasts are well catered for in Malaga. Strolling down the Mediterranean-like, marble-paved streets, traditional tapas bars welcome you on every corner. Local highlights include seafood, traditional gazpacho soup, red mullet and delicious sardines, as well as local wine served directly from the barrel.
7. Weather & beaches
With an average temperature of 21°C and around 320 days of sunlight a year, Málaga is an all-year destination. And what do you do with all that sunshine? Head to the beach, of course. The city and surrounding areas boast several exquisite beaches, including Playa Puerto Banús and Cabopino.
Malagueños, as the locals are called, are known to be extremely friendly and laid-back. Malagueños don’t take themselves too seriously and just enjoy life’s simple pleasures – sitting at a tapas bar at sunset and chit-chatting with a few old friends.
9. Botanical gardens and natural parks
Málaga is home to some seriously impressive botanical gardens and parks. Two in particular are worth visiting: Jardín Botánico de la Concepción, a botanical garden built in 1855 and, Jardín del Retiro, a vast and lush garden outside the city center, known to be one of the most stunning in all of Spain.
10. Night life
Malagueños know how to party and most good nights out end with ‘churros’ for breakfast (those traditional Spanish fried pastries). You can literally feel the city come alive as the sun sets, and nights out in the city can either be relaxing and laid-back or very loud, intense and a little crazy. You can find most of the clubs in the old town or along the coast, or on some very chic rooftops with live music and awe-inspiring views.