Malaga, Spain. Great food, art, culture, fabulous beaches and a happening vibe. Read on for my top Malaga tips for your 48 hours in the city and guide for things to do in Malaga.
City Guide – Malaga Tips
Malaga, is a city on the Andalucian coast in Spain. It’s probably best known for being the gateway to the Costa del Sol and for the beaches, resorts and tourists that go with that. But the city also has a traditionally Spanish side to it. Malaga has depth, character and a history which is well-worth exploring.
Next time you’re passing through Malaga airport think about taking a cultural swerve and explore the city before moving on to your resort. Read on for what to see and do plus my top Malaga tips to help you get the most from your trip and the best things to do in Malaga. But first some Malaga travel tips…
Getting from Malaga airport to the city
You have three options for getting to the city centre from Malaga airport; train, bus and taxi. You could also consider car hire if you’ll be exploring more of Andalucia.
The Malaga airport train stop, which is called ‘Aeropuerto’, is just a few minutes walk from Terminal 3 and takes you directly to the city centre. It’s on the ‘Cercanias Line’ which is the local line.
The train stops at the main train station, Maria Zambrano, en route. Tickets cost €1.80 and can be purchased from the self-service ticket machines at the station which take cash and cards.
Trains start at 06:44 hrs and run until 00.54 hrs from the airport and run every 20-35 minutes during peak travel times. The journey from Malaga airport to the city centre takes around 12 minutes.
As you leave the arrivals hall at Malaga Airport you’ll see the ticket office and the bus stops are right behind it. Look for the A Line Express which will take you to Plaza del General Torrijos in Malaga city centre. There are ten stops en route and journey time is around 15-25 minutes althought his will depend on time of day and density of traffic. The fare is 3€ (single) and you can pay the driver direct.
Buses run every 15-25 minutes until around midnight and after that at 00:45, 02:00 & 05:05.You can check the bus times here www.emtmalaga.es.
As you leave the arrivals hall at Terminal 3 you’ll see the taxis on the right. Spanish taxis now have meters installed and there is signage at the taxi rank which sets out the fares to popular destinations so you can get an idea of how much your journey should cost.
It’s worth noting that there is an additional charge for picking up at the airport of €15.50 and also for travelling at weekends, on public holidays and different times of the day. The cost of a taxi from Malaga airport to the city centre is around €20 (up to four passengers).
You may wish to book a private transfer. These can be booked in advance and can take up to 6 passengers for less than €30 which is much cheaper than the cost of two taxis if your group is more than 4.
Malaga Old Town
Malaga Old town, which dates back to Phonetician times, has a central pedestrian area made up of wide marbled promenades and narrow alleyways. Pretty squares are lined with traditional Spanish cafes and bars and there’s a good shopping scene.
You can’t miss the fabulous Renaissance cathedral dominating the centre or the traditional Spanish vibe often lost in today’s Spanish coastal towns and cities. So, what to see and do in Malaga? I spent 48-hours in Malaga seeking out some of the city’s hot spots. Here are my Malaga tips for visiting one of the best cities in Spain.
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Atarazanas Market, Malaga
What to do when it rains in Malaga? It started to pour while we were in Malaga city and we dashed inside the food market, Mercardo Central, to avoid the downpour. It turned out to be one of the highlights of our time in the city and one of my top Malaga tips is to pay a visit to Atarazanas Market known locally as Mercado Central.
The food market has a rich history and the nineteenth century iron-clad building incorporates the original Moorish gate which used to connect the city with the port.
Look up and see the massive stained-glass window showing the city’s historical highlights. We spent time checking-out the stalls in the lively, animated atmosphere. Trays of olives, colourful seasonal vegetables and fruit drew the eye and stalls with fresh fish, meats were abundant with produce.
But the best bit was lunch – it seems that this is where the locals meet up on a Saturday – and with good reason. A couple of stalls at the back of the market are packed with people enjoying the freshest fish dishes and tasty tapas – all cooked right in front of them.
It seemed mad not to join in so we ordered prawns in garlic, a squid dish, Iberico ham, Queso Manchego and some local wine. Delicious food and a buzzy fun atmosphere made this a very special lunch.
When: Monday to Saturday, from 8 am to 2 pm
Where: Calle de las Atarazanas, 19, 29005 Málaga
For spectacular views of Malaga take a wander along the rugged ramparts of Castillo de Gibralfaro. The Moorish fortress overlooks the city at 130m above sea level and dates back to the eighth century – it was originally a lighthouse and military barracks.
There’s not much left of the original castle but the walk along the ramparts afford fabulous vistas over the city taking in the bullring, views out to the port and, at some points, the newly restored amphitheatre below.
View of Malaga’s Bullring from Castillo de Gibralfaro
The walled walkway connects with the gardens, courtyard and fountains of the Alcazaba which is a beautiful place to wander. Inside is the Archeological museum housing Moorish, Roman and Phoenician artefacts.
The best way to reach the castle by foot is via the scenic Paseo Don Juan de Temboury, to the south of the Alcazaba. From here a path winds steeply through the gardened terraces with viewpoints over the city en route. The tourist hop-on-hop-off bus also stops nearby or you can drive up the Camino de Gibralfaro. Bus 35 from Avenida de Cervantes also goes there. Plans to build a funicular railway to the Castillo are in the offing.
The castle is open in winter from November to March: 9am to 6pm and in summer from April to October: 9am to 8pm.
Standard admission: €3.50 Combined visit Alcazaba – Gibralfaro Castle: €5.50. On Sunday entree is free from 14:00 hrs.
Malaga is the birthplace of Picasso. The artist was born there 133 years ago and of course there’s a museum commemorating the city’s first son, although he only lived there until his teens. The museum of Pablo Picasso resides in a renovated sixteenth century mansion in the heart of the city’s oldest quarter called ‘Palacio de Buenavista’. It’s quite near to the cathedral. The palace is built on the ruins of a Nasrid palace and houses over 200 pieces of his work.
Picasso and me
Where: Palacio de Buenavista, Calle San Agustín, 8, 29015 Malaga
More information here for times, admission prices and concessions
The Cathedral of Incarnation was founded on the site of a mosque in the fifteenth century and sits in the heart of the city. Its moniker ‘La Manquita’, by which it’s known locally, means ‘one-armed lady’. This is because the tower on the south side has never been completed.
The cathedral belonged to the Moors until the 1400s and there are many Moorish influences still to be seen together with later Renaissance and Baroque elements. Outside there’s a small patio with orange and frangipani trees and benches for resting walk-weary feet. It’s worth stopping here to take in the intricate detail on the cathedral’s exterior.
The cathedral’s interior is stunning with breathtaking vaulted ceilings, richly decorated frescoes, paintings and two organs with 4,000 pipes between them. Seek out the seventheenth century mahogany and cedar choir.
When: The cathedral is open Mon – Sat 10am – 5pm. It’s closed on Sundays except for Mass. Entry is free but it costs €5 for entry to the small museum.
What to eat and drink in Malaga
Chocolate and Churros
The Spanish have a breakfast tradition that really shouldn’t be missed. Check out the churros; finger-shaped doughnuts dipped in a thick gooey chocolate drink. I chose chilli hot-chocolate – absolutely delicious but more like a cup of dessert. Luckily the girls were on hand to help me out because I really couldn’t manage that massive sugar fix on my own!
Malaga Sherry Bars
There are a multitude of sherry bars in Malaga as it’s not far from the great sherry producing houses of Jerez. Dimly lit bodegas furnished with dark wooden mis-matched tables and chairs and sherry-infused bar tops are dotted around town. Huge barrels stacked floor to ceiling add to the atmosphere and walls are decorated with blue tiles and sepia photographs.
The fortified wine is quite trendy now and time spent sampling Jerez sherry and Málaga’s famous sweet wines in the bar of an old bodega will give you a taste of traditional Spain.
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