The Coolest Neighbourhoods in Malaga, Spain

Malags bullring; Martin F, flickr
Malag's bullring; Martin F, flickr
Mark Nayler

Over the last few years, the vibrant city of Malaga has established itself as Andalusia’s most cultural and exciting city. This is not just because of its dazzling array of museums, historical monuments and art galleries, as you’ll find when you explore its coolest neighbourhoods – some of them little-known by tourists. Read on for the must-see barrios in Malaga.

1. Old Town

Calle Marques de Larios is the gateway to the modern yet still typically Andalusian old town centre, one of Malaga’s coolest and most intriguing barrios. The street itself is wide and magnificent, and feels more like a Parisian boulevard than anything else you are likely to encounter in Andalusia, where even main streets can feel narrow and overshadowed. Lined with designer shops and smart cafes and tapas restaurants, it leads up from the port area to old Málaga’s biggest square, Plaza de la Constitución. Off this bright and spacious square, which is frequently used for concerts and shows, Calle Granada weaves through the lively plazas of the old town, all of them great places to stop for a drink and a bite to eat. This area of Malaga is also home to the city’s key monuments, most notably the Moorish Alcazaba fortress, Gibralfaro castle, the stunning Roman ampitheatre and the cathedral.

Plaza de la Constitución, Málaga, Spain

Calle Marques de Larios, the principal thoroughfare of Malaga’s old town; Danny Thompson, flickr

La Merced

To the northeast of the old town centre is Malaga’s trendiest quarter, La Merced. The barrio takes its name from the lively Plaza de la Merced, where Pablo Picasso was born in 1881; this square is a great place to hang out, packed as it is with bars and restaurants with sun-drenched terraces. The fact that it’s favoured by street performers of all kinds means there’s likely to be live entertainment as you enjoy your tapas, too. Just off the square is the city’s coolest covered market, Mercado de la Merced, where you can enjoy cuisine from all over the world as well as buying some of the freshest meat, fruit and veg available in the city. Venturing off Plaza Merced itself, the streets surrounding the square are a hedonist’s playground: Calle Alamo is lined with super-trendy bars and clubs and gives way to the equally popular Calle Carreteria, on which you’ll find La Tranca, the tapas joint of choice for La Merced’s locals. Pop in and you’ll see why.

Plaza de la Merced, Malaga, Spain

Mercado de la Merced, 2 Calle Gómez Pallete, Malaga, Spain

Bar La Tranca, 93 Calle Carretería, Malaga, Spain, +34 615 02 96 69

Plaza de la Merced, Malaga; Encarni Novillo

Soho

Just off the port, bordered by Alameda Principal to the north and the Guadalmedina River to the west, is a now-neglected quarter of Málaga that 50 or so years ago was a desirable residential area. Yet nowadays, Malaga’s Soho is home to one of the most exciting street art scenes in Andalusia. As part of the initiative known as Málaga Arte Urbano Soho (MAUS), some of the world’s leading graffiti artists have enlivened this barrio’s crumbling facades with amazing spray-paint images. Though there is a map of the works’ locations available on the MAUS website, it’s more fun just to walk around, discovering the wonderful murals as you go. And owing to the relative obscurity of Soho for the majority of tourists (who flock to the city’s more obvious attractions and neighbourhoods), you won’t find many other visitors walking around here, which only makes it feel like more of an adventure.

Street art in Malaga’s Soho; Encarni Novillo

2. El Perchel

Train Station

2. El Perchel

Like Soho, the charm of wandering around Perchel is owed to the fact that it’s only visited by the most curious of tourists. This scruffy and utterly charming barrio is situated between the Guadalmedina river to the east and the Maria Zambrano train station to the west and is one of Malaga’s oldest neighbourhoods. It’s hard to believe that Perchel is in the same city as the smart, sophisticated old town, but for that reason it gives you a true taste of what life was like before Malaga became a major tourist destination. It was – and still is – a working-class neighbourhood, many locals earned their living from the ocean on their doorstep; indeed, the barrio takes its name from perchas – the hooks on which fishermen would hang their catches to dry. Nowadays it’s still the place to head for the freshest fish in the city, sold from stalls at the wonderful Mercado del Carmen.

Mercado del Carmen, 3 Calle la Serna, Malaga, Spain, +34 951 92 60 10

El Perchel’s Mercado Carmen is the best in the city for fresh fish; Aapo Haapanen, flickr

3. La Malagueta

The high-rise apartment blocks that surround Malaga’s historic bullring are the most modern additions to La Malagueta, an upmarket barrio whose residents literally have the Mediterranean on their doorstep. La Malagueta beach, which runs along the southern length of the neighbourhood to Malaga’s great port, is the most popular stretch of sand in the city and is this quarter’s key attraction. On its western side, leading up to the historic city centre, is the relatively new Paseo del Muelle Uno, a lovely promenade lined with bars and restaurants from which you can watch the huge cruise liners coming and going. La Malagueta also boasts the city’s bullring (which bears the same name as the barrio) – an important arena which stages several bullfights every August during the city’s annual feria.

Plaza de Toros de Malaga, 8 Paseo Reding, Malaga, Spain

Malaga’s bullring, in the heart of the Malagueta neighbourhood; Martin F, flickr

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article