Málaga is one southern Spain’s most culturally dynamic cities and is home to more than 30 museums. Freeing you from the feeling that you really should be on the beach or sitting on a sunny terrace, rainy days are the perfect time to visit some of these fascinating spaces, starting with the Museo de Picasso, which is dedicated to the city’s most famous son (Pablo was born just down the road from the museum, on Plaza de la Merced, in 1881). Housed in a beautiful 16th–century palace in the old town, it displays paintings and sculptures from various stages of the artist’s career as well as temporary exhibitions.
Other highlights of Málaga’s museum and gallery scene include the Pompidou Centre, where you can see works by Marc Chagall and Francis Bacon, and the Carmen Thyssen Museum, which takes a look at the the history and customs of rural Andalusia. This thriving city is also home to the Museo Jorge Rando, the only art museum in Spain to specialise in expressionism, and the quirky and fascinating Museum of Glass and Crystal.
Another top rainy-day activity in Málaga is a visit to its enormous cathedral, a structure as beautiful on the inside at as it is impressive on the outside. It was built between 1528 and 1782 under the supervision of a succession of architects, the last of whom, José Martin Aldehuela, also designed Ronda’s famous bullring and New Bridge. Owing to the fact that only one of its two planned towers was ever completed, this magnificent renaissance and baroque cathedral has been nicknamed La Manquita, or ‘the one-armed woman’.
Eating and drinking, happily, are activites that can be enjoyed whatever the weather, and one of the best places to indulge in both on a rainy day in Málaga is El Pimpi. The city’s most famous restaurant hides on a narrow street in the gorgeous old town and is the perfect spot to settle down for a long lunch. You can take tapas at the bar, a table in a traditional Andalusian-style dining room on the ground floor (think huge, sepia-hued bullfighting posters on the walls) or relax in a more modern dining space upstairs. The latter part of the restaurant offers some great views of the Moorish Alcazaba and the remains of the city’s Roman amphitheatre.
Málaga’s old town is a shopper’s paradise and offers an abudnance of stylish outlets in which to escape the rain. The principal shopping street is Calle Marques de Larios (a thoroughfare that’s spectacular when wearing its Christmas lights), where Spanish-high street stores such as Zara sit alongside classy little boutiques. Take any right or left off this spacious boulevard and you’ll discover shops selling everything from souvenirs and locally made wines to designer shoes and perfumes. And for those visitors who regard the prospect of an afternoon’s shopping with horror, this part of Málaga is packed with cool little tapas joints, too.