The many and diverse sights and activities in the historic centre of Malaga means that the capital of the Costa del Sol really does have something for everyone. From picturesque streets and plazas that are the perfect backdrop for a lazy stroll and lively bars and terraces to the monuments and museums that tell the fascinating story of the city and the many shops and other leisure activities, Malaga’s historic centre will keep you entertained from dusk to dawn. Keep reading to discover the best things to do and see in Malaga.
La Alcazaba, Gibralfaro castle and the Roman Theatre
If you’ve only got a couple of hours to visit Malaga and want to go back in time to the Pheonicians, Romans and Arabs, you simply have to explore La Alcazaba, Gibralfaro castle and the Roman Theatre. Built between the 11th and 14th century, La Alcazaba and Gibralfaro castle are two of the best conserved fortresses from the period in the whole of Spain. From Gibralfaro castle, which is perched atop a hill of the same name, you can breathe in extraordinary views over the city and the Mediterranean Sea. The combination of Roman, Arab and Renaissance cultures, together with the impressive vistas, make La Alcazaba a truly unique site. Sitting at the foot of the fortress is the Roman Theatre. Built in the times of Emperor Augustus, in the 1st century AD on top of the Roman baths, it is the city’s most important Roman monument.
A walk along Alameda principal and the streets of the centre
If you’re one for walking, you’re going to love Malaga and its kilometre after kilometre of attractions. One of the most popular places to take a stroll is the recently done up Alameda Principal, a large avenue with spacious pavements lined with shops and flower stalls. The alameda connects to one of the city’s most famous streets, Calle Larios, which will take you to plaza de la Constitución with its beautiful Génova fountain. From here you can see the picturesque Pasaje de Chinitas, Casa del Consulado and Ateneo de Málaga, the school where Picasso started drawing. One of the main sights in the historic centre of Malaga is the cathedral, which is a beautiful example of Renaissance architecture. Built on top of the mosque between the 16th and 17th centuries, the cathedral remains unfinished to this day. Missing one of its towers, it has been nicknamed “La Manquita” (the missing one). The roof of the cathedral offers impressive views and the place of worship’s greatest artistic masterpiece is the choir stall by Pedro de Mena.
The atmospheric Mercado de Atarazanas
One of the best ways to discover authentic local lifestyles is to visit a destination’s markets. Located in the heart of the centre, in a street running parallel with Alameda Principal, Mercado de Atarazanas will take you aback with its Neo-Mudejar style, vibrant atmosphere and the many and diverse stalls. Locals love to take a seat at one of the bars next to the market entrance to enjoy some exquisite yet simple tapas at a great price.
If you love culture, you won’t have to venture any further than the historic centre to enjoy some of the city’s most iconic museums, such as Museo Picasso Málaga (which houses an extensive collection of the artist’s work) and Centre Pompidou, where you can see A hat with flowers, which was painted in Paris under Nazi occupation. Museo Carmen Thyssen is another of the most popular galleries in the city, which is home to an interesting collection of Andalusian art. Museo de Málaga, Museo Ruso and Museo Automovilístico are also great places to learn about the city. Finally, CAC Málaga, which is free, also houses an interesting collection of contemporary art.
Shopping on Calle Larios and Muelle Uno
Well-known Calle Larios is the central axis of the historic centre with most streets leading here. The street is the social hub of the neighbourhood and also a great shopping area. Fully pedestrianised, Calle Larios is home to the most popular and well-known clothing and design stores, making it the perfect place to spend a day shopping while soaking up the history of the city’s streets.
Muelle Uno (Pier One), sitting by the Port of Málaga, is the piece that was missing from the city’s jigsaw puzzle. This recently developed lifestyle centre offers places to shop, eat and have fun to cruise passengers, other visitors and locals alike. How could you make the most of this new city icon, flanked by the Palmeral de las Sorpresas (a palm tree-lined boulevard) and sprawling out of the legendary Lighthouse (known as ‘La Farola’) to afford some of the best views of the Málaga skyline?
Tapas in the streets and plazas of the centre
The streets and plazas of the historic centre of Malaga, such as calle Bolsa, calle Strachan, plaza de la Judería, la plaza de la Merced and plaza de la Constitución, among others, are filled with bars, cafés and restaurants with vibrant terraces. Leaving Malaga without first checking out the tapas and terrace scene would be to miss a vital part of Malaga life. Having something to eat and drink in the street is one of locals’ favourite pastimes. The warm weather all year round and a somewhat addictive atmosphere are some of the reasons why it’s so popular. And as soon as you try it out, you might just find yourself hooked too.
Churros with chocolate
As you walk through the historic centre you’ll soon see that locals like to enjoy the small pleasures in life, such as churros with chocolate for an afternoon snack or even breakfast. This ritual is very popular in the city and the streets of the centre are lined with cafés where you can indulge your sweet cravings. Some of the cafés are steeped in history, such as Casa Aranda. Go on, give in to temptation.
A bird’s eye view of the city
How can you make an unforgettable getaway to Malaga even better? Here’s an idea… enjoying a delicious cocktail or soda with a view. There are many rooftop bars in the city and the experience of sipping on your favourite drink as you gaze at the vistas with the sun setting in the background has become popular among both locals and visitors in recent years. You can enjoy some of the best views from hotel Málaga Palacio, The Top (hotel Molina Lario), Batik (Alcazaba Premium Hostel) and Terraza de Valeria, at Room Mate Valeria hotel.
Once you’ve lived all these experiences, you’ll have a great idea of what Malaga is all about. But one thing is for sure: the city is constantly evolving and so you’ll just have to keep coming back time and time again to see everything that’s new. We’re sure that each time you do, you’ll fall a little bit further in love with the capital of the Costa del Sol. If you’re planning a getaway to Malaga, check out this map of the historic centre and explore everything it has to offer.