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May 19, 2023

Things to do in Malaga Spain

Malaga is much more than just a gateway to the beaches of Costa del Sol. Flanked by towering hilltop citadels, the city offers the perfect blend of Andalusian culture, stunning landscapes and historic appeal. In addition, Malaga’s enviable coastal location delivers pristine stretches of sand and sweeping sea views. Once you’re done taking in Malaga’s natural attractions, explore its fascinating historical landmarks and plethora of galleries and museums. End the day at one of the city’s traditional tapas bars for a seafood feast. 

Sunny 320 days a year, Malaga delivers plenty to email home about. Here are just a few of the city’s highlights to look forward to on your next trip. 

Abundant Natural Attractions

A 10-minute walk from downtown, La Malagueta features dark sand and gentle swells. The 1,200-meter stretch of sand is flanked by an appealing promenade conveniently lined with bars and cafes. With plenty of sunbeds, parasols and hammocks, the beach is a favorite for lazing away warm, sunny days. Plus, it has been recently awarded the Blue Flag for its clean sands and its high standard of services.

Dating back to 1855 when it was a private garden, Jardin Botanico Historico La Concepcion opened to the public in 1994. Today, the tranquil grounds are home to Europe’s most extensive collection of subtropical plant species. Some of the highlights of the garden’s 23-hectare grounds include a black bamboo forest, an area for aquatic plants and a palm tree-lined avenue. The mirador at the southern end of the grounds affords spectacular views across the city. At the heart of the grounds is Jardin Historico-Artistico, a three-hectare area that features waterfalls and romantic fountains.

Around an hour’s drive from the city center, Caminito del Rey features a hair-raising walkway along the walls of a gorge. For white-knuckle fun, thrill-seekers can hike the path suspended 100-meters above the rushing river below. Once touted as the most dangerous walkway in the world, the 8-kilometer path runs through picturesque valleys, gorges and reservoirs. One of the area’s highlights is Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, a canyon carved out by the Guadalhorce River.

Historical Appeal

History buffs won’t have to look far to find remnants of Malaga’s fascinating past. Founded almost 3,000 years ago, the city prides itself on being one of the Mediterranean’s oldest seaports. The best way to explore Malaga’s multilayered pastLink opens in a new tab is by following the cobblestone laneways of its scenic old town. 

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One of the city’s most striking architectural gems is the Catedral de la Encarnacion de Malaga. Built over two centuries (construction started in the 16th-century and was never completed), the structure’s architecture is the perfect blend of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. Inside the cathedral visitors can admire 15 chapels, 40-meter domed ceilings and an impressive colonnaded nave. The cathedral was built on the site of a former mosque of which only the Patio de los Naranjos remains.

Nestled on Mount Gibralfaro, Alcazaba de MalagaLink opens in a new tab was once the city’s first line of coastal defense. Built in the 11th-century, the Moorish structure sits amid verdant flora and towering palm trees. Aside from its terraced gardens and decorative fountains, the hilltop palace features an intricate design that includes stunning marble pillars. 

Keep climbing up to the summit of Mount Gibralfaro to explore Castillo de Gibralfaro, a 14th-century fortress. Built near the ruins of a Phoenician lighthouse, the fortress offers an intriguing window into the past — don’t miss the exhibits at the Interpretation Center in the main courtyard. Take a walk along the structure’s ramparts while enjoying the breathtaking coastal panoramas before visiting the castle’s Phoenician well and baths.

Cultural Gems

Dedicated to one of its most famous former residents, Museo Picasso MalagaLink opens in a new tab is housed in the 16th-century Buenavista Palace. The museum showcases over 200 pieces spanning the artist’s entire career, from his childhood to his musketeer period. The collection looks at the various themes that were prevalent in the artist’s oeuvre including portraits, nudes, still life and landscapes. Some of the museum’s highlights include plaster, clay and sheet metal sculptures and Picasso’s musketeer paintings.  

Museo de Malaga is actually composed of two museums: the Archaeology Museum and the Provincial Museum of Fine Arts. Located on the second floor, the museum’s archeological collection features more than 15,000 items from the 8th-century onward. Bequeathed by the Loring-Heredia family, the collection includes Neolithic shards and the 2nd-century Roman statue of La Dama de la Aduana. The 2,000-piece-strong fine arts collection on the first floor includes works by masters such as Alonso Cano, Luis de Morales and Antonio del Castillo.

Located in a building topped by a striking multi-colored cube, Centre Pompidou Malaga is the first Centre Pompidou outside France. Famous for its contemporary art collection, the center features works by such renowned artists as Picasso, Frida Kahlo and Max Ernst. The center also features an intriguing lineup of rotating exhibitions. 

Visit Malaga

While the attractions above should keep visitors busy for days, they are not all that Malaga has to offer. Sample local wine, shop ‘til you drop a the local markets or catch a flamenco performance  — the choice is yours.

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Best Restaurants in Malaga, Spain

Things to do in Malaga