Our Guide to Malaga, Spain
For visitors willing to take the time, Malaga offers fascinating historic sites like the Alcazaba fortress, excellent museums such as the Picasso Museum and an otherworldly selection of traditional tapas bars -- said by many Spaniards to be among the best in the Andalusia region. Take time to wander through the port and into the charming historic city center, teeming with bustling plazas, excellent shopping and dining, and majestic architecture. Here’s our guide to help you explore a city worth savoring.
Where to Eat
Where the Young and Hip Get Sated
Malaga's young and trendy crowd can be found at Clandestino, a restaurant serving up Euro-Latin fusion cuisine in a hip warehouse setting. Located in the city center, steps away from the Plaza Merced, the restaurant's terrace has become a vibrant gathering spot for malagueños. The kitchen prepares creative takes on Spanish classics, like the Ensalada Quercy, a salad topped with duck confit, cherry tomatoes, Spanish ham, quail eggs and pine nuts, and served with a tangy orange-vinaigrette dressing.
Must-Eat Foodie Destination
It's a crime to leave Malaga without indulging in the city's famed tapas. Sifting through Malaga's many tapas bars can be overwhelming; save yourself the time and head to the city's best: Tapeo de Cervantes. The restaurant in the city's historic center has gained a loyal following in recent years -- thanks to its vast selection of traditional and innovative tapas and raciones (small plates).
Order the plate of jamon iberico and manchego cheese, a tortilla de patatas (a simple potato tortilla) and the chorizo with melted cheese. For a larger bite, sink your teeth into the filet of deer served with chutney and sauteed mushrooms, or the veal fillet with crispy almond risotto. Wash this goodness down with a soothing bottle of rioja wine.
Food, Flamenco and Fun
Vino Mio has something for everyone, and perhaps this is why the restaurant has become a recent Malaga culinary fixture. Diners at the stylish restaurant can enjoy top-notch Flamenco performances nightly.
Unlike some restaurants that serve as Flamenco theaters (and cater mostly to tourists), Vino Mio makes its cuisine the main attraction. Chef Simon Robson, who trained with British TV personality and chef Jamie Oliver, is at the helm of this restaurant’s kitchen. Vino Mio features an eclectic menu of traditional tapas and main courses, like fillet of cod served with cream cheese-filled peppers, potatoes and asparagus topped with a cava and chive sauce.
Where to Stay
AC Palacio Hotel
Modern Hotel With Romantic Rooftop
If you've got money to burn, stay in one of Malaga's classiest and most revered accommodations, the AC Palacio Hotel, conveniently located in the city center. Many of the hotel's 214 rooms offer excellent views of Malaga's waterfront, while all of them feature a bright and comfortable modern decor.
Be sure to request a room with a balcony facing the port -- it's all about the vistas at the Palacio. Head up to the hotel's top floor (15th floor) and enjoy the rooftop terrace and its spectacular views of the city's major sites, like the Alcazaba fortress and Gibralfaro castle.
Stylish and Affordable
Located in the midst of the shopping mecca -- Marques de Larios and Plaza de Constitución -- the slick and trendy Room Mate Larios hotel is just a few minutes' walk from many of Malaga's main sites and museums.
The hotel's Art Deco decor gives the space a contemporary appeal, though guests may be more thrilled by perks like free Wi-Fi and a complimentary buffet breakfast served until noon. Request a room with a balcony for stellar people-watching below. Pay a visit to the rooftop terrace bar; the space has become a popular hub during summer months.
Hotel Carlos V Malaga
For the Budget Traveler
Frugal travelers won't be left in the cold in Malaga. The recently renovated Carlos V Malaga offers an excellent standard of accommodation at an affordable price, making it one of the city's most popular hotels for budget travelers.
While not luxurious, rooms are simply but stylishly decorated, and include free Wi-Fi and air-conditioning. The hotel's location is another win for guests. Set in the city center, Carlos V is just a short walk from the Cathedral, Gibralfaro castle, Roman amphitheater and dozens of bars and restaurants.
What to Do
More Than 200 of the Master’s Works
Malagueños take great pride in their city being the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, and the town's Picasso Museum is a fine testament to the artist. Tucked into the 16th-century Buenavista Palace, just steps from where Picasso was born, the museum houses more than 200 of the artist's works.
The collection includes donated items, as well as a handful of works never previously displayed, such as Woman in an Armchair. Be sure to head to the museum's basement, which houses some incredible Phoenician, Roman, Renaissance and Islamic archaeological remains discovered during the museum's construction.
Moorish Palace with Spectacular Views
One of Malaga's most striking sites is the remains of the Alcazaba, an ancient Moorish palace and fort built in the 11th century. Perched on a hilltop high above the city, the sprawling Alcazaba complex was constructed adjacent to Roman ruins that date back to the first century, B.C.
Visitors can explore the Alcazaba's inner and outer citadels, wandering through classic Moorish gardens and fountains as well as traditional Islamic architecture.. Visitors will also find a small archaeological museum featuring Moorish ceramics and artifacts discovered on the site. Be sure to bring your camera. Views of the city and port from the Alcazaba are perhaps the most spectacular in Malaga.
Castillo de Gibralfaro
Wander the Ruins
Set high on a hill above the Alhambra and overlooking the city of Malaga, the 10th-century Castillo de Gibralfaro originally served as a lighthouse and military barracks. Today, visitors can explore the castle's ruins, including the well-preserved ramparts. Take a stroll around the winding ramparts and enjoy the breathtaking vistas to the city below. The Castillo also houses a small military museum.
Captivating Cathedral Design
Construction of Malaga's impressive cathedral began in the 16th century and stretched on for 200 years. The result of centuries of work is a striking space, with a 131-foot-high ceiling, breathtaking cedar-wood choir stalls and 15 ornately designed chapels decorated with dozens of carved saint statues.
The cathedral's plans originally featured 2 towers, but only 1 was completed, earning the church the nickname La Manquita, or “The One-Armed Woman.” Don't leave without visiting the cathedral's museum, which features religious paintings and sculptures dating back 500 years.
Getting Here and Around
Malaga is located in the south of Spain, along the Costa del Sol in Andalusia province. Travelers arriving by plane from North America will transfer in Barcelona or Madrid to a national flight to Malaga. Malaga Airport is located about 5 miles from the city center. Travelers can take express buses or commuter trains from the airport to the city center. Taxis are also available.
Travelers staying in Malaga's city center can walk to many of the city's major attractions. To traverse longer distances, consider using the city's efficient bus service; schedules are posted at bus stops. Another good transportation option is taxis. Though more expensive than buses, they are still reasonably priced, convenient and typically easy to hail.