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Travel guide – Málaga

In the heart of Spain’s Costa del Sol lies the beautiful city of Málaga. Formerly known more as a hub for onward travel to nearby holiday destinations, the recent uplift has helped the city become a tourist hotspot in its own right. The city mixes culture and historical attractions with shopping, restaurants and sandy beaches, alongside a vibrant nightlife offering whirling flamenco shows and a whole host of clubs, bars and discos to choose from. Take a tour by the trendy harbour and watch huge cruise ships pass by, or grab a bite to eat at one of the many cosy tapas bars around the city. Did you know that Málaga is also the proud hometown of famous artist Pablo Picasso?

Alcazaba – the most popular attraction in Málaga, a powerful military fortress built by the Moors (medieval Muslim inhabitants of the region) on a hill overlooking the city on one side and the Mediterranean on the other. The castle Castillo de Gibralfaro is located just above the fortress and dates from the same period. Málaga's Roman theatre lies at the bottom of the fortress.

Málaga has around 30 museums to explore, the most famous being the Málaga Picasso Museum. Other museums include the Centro Pompidou de Málaga and the Museo Estatal Ruso de Málaga opened in 2015 plus the Málaga Municipal MuseumMuseo Automovilistico Málaga (Automobile Museum) and the Museo del Vidrio y del Cristal (glass and crystal museum).

Jardín Botánico – a large tropical-inspired botanical garden in downtown Málaga.

Catedral de la Encarnación – a magnificent cathedral from the 1600s, located in the old city. Another impressive building is the Plaza de Toros – Málaga's great bullring.

Málaga is the capital of Costa del Sol and has several kilometres of beautiful sandy beaches. The most popular are La Malagueta and La Caleta. The beaches are located along the Pablo Ruiz Picasso boardwalk, which is lined with restaurants and bars.

From Málaga you can easily get to other cities along the coast, and even across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Nerja – a village known for its Arab neighbourhood of whitewashed houses and a stalactite cave, Cueva de Nerja, approximately one hour from Málaga.

Córdoba – a village with a beautiful mosque (Mezguita)synagogue and the traditional Jewish quarter.

Playa Las Acacias – several beautiful beaches with the Blue Flag eco-label (a mark of water quality and beach safety), a few miles east of downtown Málaga.

Granada – the city with the Moorish Alhambra Palace, the Gothic Cathedral and the Arab Quarter of Albaicín, between 90–120 minutes by bus from Málaga. Some other great locations for swimming and sunbathing near Málaga are MarbellaFuengirola and Torremolinos.

Family favourites – Aqualand in Torremolinos, Selwo in Estepona (a natural park with adventure activities) and Tivoli World in Benalmádena.

Gibraltar – take a daytrip across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco and visit the city of Tangier; remember to bring your passport when travelling.

The main shopping streets of Málaga are Calle Marqués de Larios and Calle Nueva, which lie parallel to each other. The shopping here is dominated by shoes and fashion, and most of the Spanish clothing giants are represented.

El Corte Inglés – a Spanish department store chain with a wide range of goods, close to Calle Marqués de Larios and Calle Nueva.

Centro Larios and Plaza Mayor are two large shopping centres with everything from clothing and restaurants to bowling and cinema.

Mercado Central Atarazanas – buy delicious fresh vegetables, meat, fish, cheese and spices at budget-friendly prices. A great place to buy souvenirs, gifts or something tasty and inexpensive to eat.

Mercadillo Baños del Carmen – Málaga's largest outdoor market.

A trip to Málaga is not complete without a visit to one of the city’s many affordable tapas bars. The most common foods in Málaga are seafood and various soup dishes, some of which originate from Roman or Moorish times. Grilled fish is also a popular beach snack that you can buy from shacks called chiringuitos.

Tapas – miniature portions of various dishes, served cold or hot. Tapas are very popular in Spain and often ordered and eaten while standing at the bar. Enjoy them as small starters or snacks, or order several to make up a meal; in Spain it’s most common to eat tapas between meals.

Gazpacho – a cold soup made of tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, olive oil, garlic and water, sometimes served with a hard-boiled egg or ham

Porra Antequerana – a thicker cold soup with the same ingredients as gazpacho, but without water

Ajoblanco – a cold soup with garlic, olive oil and ground-up peeled and roasted almonds. Served with white Muscat grapes.

Gazpachuelo Malagueño – a fish and potato soup with vinegar. Served with hard-boiled eggs and toast

Boquerones – anchovies, often fried in oil

Boquerones en vinagre – uncooked vinegar-marinated anchovies, often served as tapas

Fritura Malagueña – several different varieties of seafood (fish, shellfish, squid, etc.) fried together

Espetos de Sardinas – sardines roasted on a skewer and grilled, often served at chiringuitos on the beach

Berza Malagueña – a cabbage stew with beans, beef, chicken, pork, vegetables and spices

Gachas Malagueñas – a winter dessert of fried bread pieces with a sweet hot sauce

Mosto – a sweet wine made from Muscat grapes

Moroccan tea house – known for a large selection of teas and other non-alcoholic beverages

Other typically Spanish drinks are sangria (red wine, fruit juice and ice) and Cava (the Spanish equivalent of champagne).

Renting a bike or walking are the best and least expensive ways to experience downtown Málaga. Buses and trains are also affordable.

Bus – EMT (Empresa Malagueña de Transportes) has good prices and an extensive route network; avoid rush hour traffic between 2 and 5 p.m.

Commuter train – two lines pass through the railway station María Zambrano; Málaga-Fuengirola and Málaga-Álora

Taxi – pricy but efficient. Cabs with a green light on are vacant; avoid cars without a meter

Trixi Pedicab – a sidecar bike – a different experience for which Málaga is famous

Currency – euro (€)

Electricity – 220 volts, 50Hz

Tips – not necessary

Payment/card – cards are accepted almost everywhere

Time Zone – Málaga (Spain) UTC/GMT +1 hour

Water – safe to drink from the tap, no need for bottled water

Málaga Airport (AGP)

The airport is located 8km southwest of Málaga.

  • Finnair flights: Terminal 3
  • Check-in opens 2 hours before departure
  • Check-in closes 45 minutes before departure

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