The magnificent Málaga lies on the Andalusian Costa del Sol and boasts some of the most significant cultural infrastructures and heritages in Europe. Málaga truly has it all, and its sights range from scenic beaches and hikes to its century-old castle structures, stylish harbors and excellent restaurants. While a visit to Málaga offers a variety of activities, here we explore the 10 essentials, which you should not miss on your next visit.
With its location on the Costa del Sol, Málaga boasts some of the most fantastic coastal sceneries in the country. Málaga’s port is located only a few minutes outside of the city center and impresses the visitor through its successful adaption to a modern setting. A variety of shops and restaurants are clustered around the area and make for a perfect break after a stroll down the harbor to watch the yachts and cruise ships roll in or to people watch. Soak in Málaga’s relaxed atmosphere and breathe in the fresh oceanic climate while sipping on a cool drink.
The Castillo de Gibralfaro, a Moorish palace, dates back to the 10th century and is located on Gibralfaro hill, overlooking Málaga city. Historically, the castle is renowned for a three month siege by Catholic monarchs which came to a close with the surrender of the famished Malagueños. The castle has been mostly restored and also features a military museum. It can be reached by bus or foot, but it is well-worth making the step climb to enjoy the scenic view over the city. Additionally you can get to Gibralfaro via the scenic walkway of Paseo Don Juan de Temboury, located to the south of the Alcazaba.
The hike through the river Chillar to the cave of Nerja offers some of the most stunning scenes in the region and is an absolute must for outdoor enthusiasts. A pair of solid trainers are essential for your walk through the mostly ankle deep waters. The trek takes between four to six hours and leads through narrow cave walls and pebbled river beds. On arrival at Nerja, you are greeted by a vast water basin, allowing you to enjoy a cool splash in the clear water after a long journey. The journey through Chillar is truly one of the best hikes in the country and well worth the effort.
With its direct location on the Mediterranean Sea, Málaga offers some of the best seafood in the country, as well as other mouthwatering treats. A variety of operators offer private and group food tours through the city, which lead you off the touristy track and allow you to enjoy some more authentic dishes. With most tours focusing on a variety of tapas, you are able to indulge in a great range of different treats while learning about Spanish cuisine as well as the specialities in Málaga itself.
The Cathedral of Málaga was designed in the Renaissance style by Diego de Siloe and constructed between 1528 and 1782. It is located in the historic centre of town and represents one of the most important architectural structures in Málaga. Due to a lack of funds only the North tower was completed, but this notwithstanding the cathedral still counts as one of the most impressive throughout the region. The stunning Baroque façade represents a unique contrast to the magnificent and numerous frescos on the inside, with the sculptural works of Pedro de Mena being among the most noteworthy.
Málaga is not only the birthplace of Pablo Ruiz Picasso, but also offers a marvelous collection of his works. The Museo Picasso Málaga is located in the centre of the old town, close to the Plaza de la Merced, where Picasso was born. It exhibits a selection of Picasso’s work from the late 19th century until his death in 1973. The 230 different works offer a unique insight into his developing style and are completed by constantly changing contemporary exhibitions. The Buenavista Palace itself, in which the museum can be found, represents a stunning example of Andalusian architecture.
The Roman theatre can be found in the southern part of Málaga, at the foot of the Alcabaza. It is estimated that it was constructed in the first century A.D. under the dominion of Augustus. The theatre represents the traditional Roman theatre architecture with the typical tiered seats and a grand entrance. It remained in use until the third century until it was converted into a source for building material by the Arab conquerors. At the time of its construction, Málaga represented one of the most important cities in the region and the theatre itself is a historical reminder of the Roman imperium.
Málaga boasts as many as 15 different beaches, with each location more enchanting than the previous one. One of the most stunning places among them is El Pedregalejo, located about 30 minutes walk from the town center. It is considered one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the city and offers a wide range of excellent restaurants. The nightlife at Pedregelejo is particularly renowned due to its numerous bars, making it a spot for every time of the day. The beach itself is 1.2km long and is the ideal place for a relaxed day and a refreshing splash in the sea.
Málaga’s botanic garden is spread out over 25,000 square meters and was constructed in 1850 by the aristocratic couple, Jorge Loring Oyarzábal and Amalia Heredia Livermore. It is located outside of the city centre and can be reached by bus within half an hour. The park boasts more than 2000 different plant species from Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Oceania, as well as a huge variety of bird species. The garden successfully combines formal gardens with more tropical gardens, which immediately enchant the visitor and draw them ever deeper into its green jungles.
Alcazaba, a palatial fortification at the foot of the Gibralfaro hill, is Málaga’s most iconic landmark and the best-preserved Moorish fortress palace in Spain. The fortress was constructed by the the Hammudid dynasty in the early 11th century and later captured by Ferdinand and Isabel after the siege of Málaga in 1487. The Alcalbaza is most renowned for some of the most important Muslim works in Spain today, as well as its caliphal arch work. The castle can be reached by foot as well as by bus, although an early start is recommended to avoid the midday heat. Alcabaza represents arguably some the most significant architectural works in the region and are an essential destination during your visit.