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This lively Mediterranean port city on the edge of the Costa del Sol is fast becoming one of Spain's top cultural, historic and gastronomic destinations.
In recent years the city of Malaga has undergone a true renaissance. It’s now firmly on the Andalucian travel map and is holding its own against its more famous sisters Granada, Seville and Cordoba as a cultural destination in its own right.
Founded by the Phoenicians, Malaga is a city rich in architectural styles that also include Roman, Moorish, Renaissance, Baroque, Art Nouveau and Art Deco.
Now, thanks to millions of euros of clever investment, the city’s historic centre attracts more visitors than ever to its handsome streets, fine museums, vibrant gastronomic scene and lively streets bustling with cafés, tapas bars and shops.
As the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, one of Malaga’s main attractions is the museum dedicated to him that’s housed within the beautifully restored Buenavista Palace. It stands in the shadow of the imposing Malaga cathedral, whose magnificent architecture and workmanship is certainly worth a visit. Less than a kilometre from here you’ll find another pair of outstanding art galleries, the Carmen Thyssen Museum and the Pompidou Centre.
Housed in a magnificent old tobacco factory just outside the centre, the Classic Car Museum offers one of the finest collections of its kind in the world.
If you can resist the nearby beaches, then head for the elegant Teatro Cervantes, the Roman amphitheatre or the imposing neoclassical buildings at the base of the Gibralfaro. Situated on a prominent hill overlooking the entire city, this old Moorish citadel also houses a stylish Parador hotel that makes for a great place to take in the fabulous views.
- City centre improvements have revealed the architectural beauty of this vibrant city as never before.
- Great shopping, dining, tapas and café society in the historic centre or on the water’s edge at Muelle Uno.
- A cultural hub, Malaga is home to grand theatres, open-air Roman amphitheatres, film festivals and an active events calendar.
- Art and museums: the Picasso, Carmen Thyssen and Pompidou museums, and one of the finest motoring museums in the world.
- The vibrant atmosphere of this city blends remarkably well with its beach culture.
- Convenient transport facilities of a modern city.
There aren’t too many big cities in Europe that can boast of sun-kissed sandy beaches within easy walking distance of the centre.
Malaga is one of few, in fact, and its climate is perhaps the best of all, making it possible to stroll through the city centre in the morning, go for a spot of lunch on the beach and spend a lazy afternoon on the sand.
A tree-lined park leads you from the historic centre to a seaside promenade popular with joggers and cyclists that runs for several kilometres along a beachfront dotted with fish restaurants, laid-back beach bars and chill-out lounges.
Traditional or trendy, the choice is yours, and it’s all within easy reach.
From breakfast through lunch and daytime snacking to dinner and late-night tapas, Malaga has it all to offer. Its tapas bars are famous, its fine dining restaurants increasingly so, and with a climate like this café society is a year-round pleasure.
In the heart of the centre, the streets off Calle Larios are lined with cafés and pastry shops – not to mention Spain’s greatest contribution to social dining, the tapa.
From here up to Calle Granada, Plaza de Uncibay and around Plaza de la Merced, entire pedestrian streets are lined with tapas bars that offer a choice of indoor or outdoor dining.
Across town to the southeast, the new port area, Muelle Uno, is home to trendy restaurants and lounge bars, while the seafront to the east – from La Malagueta right the way through to Pedregalejo and El Palo – is lined with beachside cafés and seafood restaurants.
Though Malaga has a young vibe, cities in southern Spain are renowned for their friendly, easygoing nightlife scene in which all generations rub shoulders. Remarkably trouble-free, crowds in the busy bars and cafés spill out onto terraces that remain busy well into the night.
The shopping street to head for first is Calle Larios, a striking promenade whose handsome historic buildings are home to attractive shops, cafés, tapas bars and designer outlets. Pass the Art Deco Hotel Larios and you come to the Plaza de la Constitucion, from where atmospheric pedestrian shopping streets continue to wind their way through the city’s historic centre.
Dotted with galleries, restaurants and theatres, this elegant shopping district with its marble pavements is the lively heart of the city. You can walk around for hours, chancing upon quaint squares, old-fashioned shops and modern outlets without having seen it all.
If it’s serious retail therapy you’re after, then just cross the bridge over the Guadalmedina River and you’re only a short walk from one of Spain’s famous Corte Ingles department stores.
Just a few hundred metres from Calle Larios, close to where the many cruise ships visit Malaga dock, is Muelle Uno, a modern quayside retail and dining development featuring award-winning architecture.
Naturally there are also large shopping malls outside the centre, but if you’re in search of the unusual you’re almost certainly better off exploring the quaint old shops and authentic atmosphere of Malaga’s old town.