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Malaga, Andalusia

Malaga in two days

Málaga

The city of Picasso


Malaga has been experiencing a cultural upheaval in the past few years. The birthplace of Pablo Picasso, it now has some of the last decade’s most interesting new museums, and daring street art has sprung up in neighbourhoods like the Barrio de las Artes. If you add the city’s beaches and centuries-old heritage, as well as the chance to try its local culinary specialities at a sunny pavement café, the result is a two-day break which really does have everything. You’ll probably wish you had more time to really explore the capital of the Costa del Sol, but it’s the perfect excuse to go back another time.

DAY 1:

For your first day in Malaga, explore the old town centre, with stops at the most important museums and sights.

A walk round the historic centre

After you unpack, you can jump straight into a weekend of full-on experiences. Kick off the morning on the city’s most iconic street, Calle Larios, a lively and bustling pedestrianised shopping area to give you a taste of Malaga’s great atmosphere. If you’re here at Christmas, be sure to see the amazing light and music show on this street. The street leads into Plaza de la Constitución, a pretty square which is the ideal spot to stop for a snack or a drink. Did you know there are nine different ways to drink coffee in Malaga? For example, a “sombra” is three quarters milk and one quarter coffee.

A 5-minute walk brings you to the Cathedral or Basílica de la Encarnación, called “La Manquita” (the one-armed lady) because construction stopped before the southern tower could be finished, leaving it asymmetrical. There are more curious things to see if you choose to go inside. One you’re sure to like is a visit to the cathedral roof, nearly 50 metres up. The views from here are unbeatable.If you walk a little further, you can enjoy the charming Calle de San Agustín, a street bringing you to the Picasso Museum Malaga, with over 230 works by the city’s most famous son. Highly recommended.

Local dishes and centuries of history

Our next stop might be La Alcazaba, the fortress-palace which the Muslim governors built on Mount Gibralfaro in the 11th century. At its feet there is a Roman theatre which was in use until the 3rd century CE.By this time you’re probably hungry. This is a great place for lunch, with unspoiled traditional eating houses nearby, such as El Pimpi. Everyone has enjoyed the local dishes here, from the Picasso family to Carmen Thyssen and Antonio Banderas. Other iconic bars in the city centre? Antigua Casa de Guardia, or Restaurante El Chinitas. Would you like to try a porra antequerana (like a thick gazpacho) or a dessert wine?

Images of the Roman theatre and the Alcazaba fortress, Malaga, Andalusia

You can have the traditional post-lunch coffee in the sunshine, at one of the pavement cafés in Plaza de la Merced. Just off this square is a very special location, the Picasso Foundation and Birthplace Museum. This is the house where Picasso was born and spent his childhood. You can take a selfie with his statue here on the square. Very close by, the church of Santiago Is where Picasso was baptised.

Sunset from a castle

Do you remember La Alcazaba, which we suggested seeing before lunch? You probably noticed that the palace is connected to a castle, the Castillo de Gibralfaro. In fact, there is one entrance for both buildings.

Dusk seen from the Gibralfaro castle in Malaga, Andalusia

If you don’t have a car, the best way to get up the hill to the castle is to catch a number 35 bus on Paseo del Parque. Once you arrive, there is a visitors’ centre where you can find out about the castle’s history. But the best thing it has to offer are the fabulous views over the city, the Bay of Malaga and La Malagueta bullring. The famous viewing point of Gibralfaro is next to the castle and the Parador hotel. If your visit happens to be at sunset, even better.

DAY 2:

We’re right on the Mediterranean, so today you can get to know the seaside city.

A morning of contemporary art

Before you hit the beach, we suggest exploring the more modern and rebellious side of Malaga. This is the neighbourhood known as Barrio de las Artes, the centre of the city’s street art. But as well as graffiti, the area between Avenida de la Alameda Principal and the dock at Muelle Heredia is where you’ll find CAC Málaga – the Malaga Contemporary Art Centre. In a former wholesale market, it displays works by Juan Muñoz, Tony Cragg and Sigmar Polke.  While you’re here, you could have breakfast in one of the cosy local cafés.Alternatively, you could try the traditional churros at Casa Aranda, near the Atarazanas food market, which is also well worth a visit.

 The Arts district in Malaga, Andalusia

On the sea front

Now we suggest visiting one of Malaga’s most popular areas: the Pedragalejo esplanade. It’s a little way out of the city, but you can get there on a number 11 or 34 bus. As well as swimming if the weather is good, this area is famous for its snack bars on the beach and restaurants next to the sea. This is the time to try boquerones (fresh anchovies), fritura malagueña (mixed fried fish) and especially espetos de sardinas (sardines on a skewer), a classic local dish. As you walk around you’ll notice little boats full of sand, where the fires are made for charcoal-grilling the sardines. Don’t forget the camera so you can record this quintessential Malaga moment.

Malaga Beach and a stall selling food on skewers in Malaga, Andalusia

Afternoon on Paseo de la Farola and Muelle 1

Back in the city, you can stick with the seaside theme with a visit to Malagueta beach and take a selfie next to the letters spelling out its name. Next to it is Muelle 1, a shopping and leisure area where you can take the opportunity to buy a souvenir. It’s also home to one of the city’s new landmarks, a giant coloured cube which is the Centre Pompidou Malaga, with works by Francis Bacon, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, and more.You could stroll along Paseo de la Farola to the Farola itself, a lighthouse built in 1817, and wait for night to fall so you can enjoy the sunset colours and have dinner in one of the nearby restaurants.

Alternatively, go back towards Muelle 2 and stroll along El Palmeral de las Sorpresas to get back to the old town centre. In this harbour area there is an enormous Ferris wheel, 70 metres tall, which makes a great viewing point. Back in the centre, why not have a drink at the rooftop bar of a hotel? It’s the perfect end to a wonderful weekend.

Have you got more time?

We’ve shown you the city’s must-sees, but if you have more days to spend here and want to slow the pace down a little, there are plenty of interesting options, such as the Carmen Thyssen Museum or the Historic Botanical Gardens of La Concepción, especially if travelling with kids.

Places not to be missed

What to see


Tips and recommendations

Worth knowing

With the tourist bus you can discover the most attractive and interesting parts of the city while travelling in comfort. You could also try out a trip by horse and cart.If you're travelling with your family, check out all the plans you can do with children.Some of the most popular trips from Malaga are: the Caminito del Rey footpath, the spectacular town of Ronda or glamorous Marbella. If you have a little longer, you could also visit the cities of Cordoba or Granada.

When to go on the trail

If you want to see the city at a special time of year, you might like to visit during Easter (March or April, depending on the year) and experience the emotion of its processions. If you’re drawn to its more cultural side, try Malaga during its film festival.

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