Malaga is one of Andalusia’s gems. A city on the sea, it’s most notably the home of artist Pablo Picasso. It’s a wonderful mix of a seaside town, a historic Spanish city, and a lively place to be. Malaga makes a fantastic destination for your trip to southern Spain.
A little bit of history: Malaga dates back several millennia. The area had already been continuously inhabited for several hundreds of years before it fell under Roman territory around the 1st century AD. Of course, the city falls under the conquests and thus cultural changes that shaped the rest of Andalusia. It fell into the hands of the Visigoths and the Byzantine empire, but spent an incredible amount of time under Arab rule. Though lots of its heritage is in its Arab history, it mostly resembles and feels like a city of Roman origins. This is in contrast with other Andalusian cities that have stronger Arab roots.
Malaga actually has a lot to do. The two main sites people like to visit are the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle. You can buy tickets for the two as a set but they are two different sites you must access differently. The Alcazaba is super pretty and has amazing views of the city. This used to be the royal seat of Malaga. It’s in virtual ruin now but there’s some remaining architecture, tile work, and gardening to be enjoyed. It’s also a sizable site. A lot of people opt to go to Gibralfaro Castle as well, which has mainly been used as a fortress. They have a small military museum at the top of the hill where the castle is, but I personally thought the castle was unimpressive. The views are great but I don’t think it’s worth the energy walking all the way to the top – maybe halfway up – and paying the money to get into the castle. You can climb up the hill and get good views without paying for the Castle entrance. I felt the Alcazaba was a lot more enjoyable and the Castle skippable.
A primary feature of Malaga is its Roman amphitheatre (note that this one is still complete – there is a smaller, incomplete one by the Alcazaba. This is included in your Alcazaba ticket.). The complete amphitheatre dates back to Roman times but it’s so hard to tell since it now looks so modern from the outside. It was closed the day I went. Malaga Cathedral is another incredibly beautiful landmark to see. It’s in the Renaissance style but looks quite Baroque to me. Also shout-out to the beggar there who kept saying, “Por favor (money). God is watching.”
On the topic of popular Malaga sites, ou also can’t miss the glass installation of the Centre Pompidou Malaga, the sister of the one in Paris. The installation is outside by the harbour and it’s hard to miss.
The rounded building in the back is where Pablo Picasso was born.
There’s also a lot to do in the city that involves its famous native resident, Pablo Picasso. You can see the house in which he was born, which is actually in a very central location, off of Plaza de la Merced. It’s a quite small museum that has a few artefacts from Picasso’s heritage and early childhood. It’s more for someone who’s more interested in Picasso himself. Of course one of the hottest museums in the city is Museo Picasso. It’s a fabulous museum that has a decent number of artworks from different eras of his career. However I was surprised that it lacks a bit on learning about the artist himself. It’s still worth a visit for art lovers though.
There are also a lot of smaller museums in the city. The Museum of Malaga is actually quite excellent. You get a great overview of the city’s history from artistic artefacts, including some wood objects that date back over 1000 years! I thought it was a terrific museum. There’s a lot more art to see in Malaga including the Museo Carmen Thyssen (classical art), Contemporary Art Centre, and the Museum of Glass and Crystal. If you like drinking experiences, there’s also a wine museum and even a brewery in the city. Malaga has specialty wine to check out when you’re in town.
Some other things you can do involve going to the beach. I loooove the beach and Playa la Malagueta was really nice. I went to the beach in Punta Umbria but wish I had just opted to revisit Malaga and spend a beach day there. It’s easily accessible, sizable, and they have a good amount to do. I visited in October and though it was super hot, the water was really cold. This did wonders for my super tired feet though.
You can also go to a Hammam, Turkish bath. There are a few in Andalusia to celebrate their Arab heritage. I went to one in Seville and it was sooo relaxing.
I actually visited Malaga initially because I felt I needed to, but it ended up as one of my favourite parts of my Andalusia trip. I really wish I’d spent at least 2 days if not 3 there, to spend some leisure time at the beach and get to know the city a bit more. It’s a very big coastal city that’s more relaxed yet lively, and it’s filled with an array of art that reflects its diverse culture. I would definitely try to make Malaga part of your Andalusia trip if not your Spain trip. It deserves the attention.
Have you ever been to Malaga? What did you think?
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Posted on Monday, October 5, 2020 in Destinations
Tags: andalusia, europe, malaga, spain