Europe Spain

Travel Guide to Malaga, Andalucia, Spain

My picture travel blog guide & Top 11 things I learned about Malaga

It’s that time of the year in the UK when the days seem interminably short and skies too often a leaden grey and streets awash with rain. Of course with airlines such as Ryan Air offering  fantastically cheap flights to any number of EU destinations why would you stay amidst the gloom. Given that about 95% of the time it’s actually cheaper to go abroad on holiday than it is to stay in the UK and that’s even after you factor in the Brexit effect on our currency the benefits of abroad still stack up. So I searched out a good deals in locations where  there was a reasonable chance of catching some rays and warming heat of the sun on my face and landed on Malaga.

Not having been to Malaga before it felt like a bit of a gamble, more so as the that part of Spain is not generally known for its high culture and there was always the danger of a plane load of hens and stags. There were some, but they all seemed to be headed further down the coast, maybe to Marbella and Fuengirola as there was little evidence of party people on the streets of Malaga day or night. In fact Malaga turned out to be an unexpected revelation and is now on my list of top favorite European cities, although that would most likely just apply outside the main holiday seasons as I’m sure it must get pretty packed during high season. Never mind, the weather was glorious for the four days I was there, just the sort of relief needed from the grey sludge of Manchester in January.

The top ◙  11 things I learned about Malaga:

◙ 1 Malaga has a Pompidou center distinguished by the multi-coloured glass cube box that marks it location at the end of the seafront promenade, however, not being a great fan of the original I gave this one a miss too and therefore cannot comment on whether its worth a visit or not….?

◙  2 Car parking in the old city in is nigh on impossible, as a consequence indoor off street parking  is ridiculously expensive. In fact had we paid the parking would have amounted to the same as that which we paid for car hire in the first place. However for my top tip on where to find free parking within walking distance of the old town scroll to the bottom of this post. We parked up for four days without paying a penny.

They have a Malaga eye wheel too, although I’m not quite sure why given the proximity of the castles on the hill above the town which offered sweeping views of all aspects of both the town and coast as you climbed.

Malaga has two massive hilltop citadels, the Alcazaba and ruined Gibralfaro, remnants of Moorish rule. The magnificent Castillo de Gibralfaro sits on a high hill overlooking Malaga city and port, and dates back to the 10th century. The castle was built in 929AD by Abd-al-Rahman III, Caliph of Cordoba, on a former Phoenician enclosure and lighthouse, from which its name was derived – gebel-faro (Arabic and Greek, meaning rock of the lighthouse). Yusef 1, Sultan of Granada, enlarged it at the beginning of the 14th century, also adding the double wall down to the Alcazaba.

It offers a birds eye view of Malaga below.

Like virtually every town in Spain it has a Bullring not to my tats as I find it both cruel and barbaric.

A view to the old town from on high.

◙ 3 Malaga has an enormous and impressive renaissance cathedral which only has one tower which gave rise to the nickname “The One Armed Lady” well why not!

The one armed lady.

In some it seems to inspire romance.

◙ 4 The more modernist high rise blocks in Malaga have very sensibly been built to the far end of the seafront thereby containing the bland ugliness without impeding the looks, views, or aesthetic, of the old town. I cannot comment on this part of Malaga as I avoided it completely spending all my time in the old town. Have you visited and if so did I miss anything?

Inside the grounds of the old castle.

The single tower atop the Malaga cathedral

◙ 5 Malaga is the southernmost largest city in the EU.

There are many charming town squares and gardens dotted throughout the city and its environs.

Unfinished business what was to be the second tower on the cathedral. Does anyone know why it was never completed?

Street graffiti

◙ 6 The actor Antonio Banderas was born in Malaga, I didn’t know that before, did you?

◙ 7 The people are genuinely friendly, not something I generally expect in tourist destinations when locals and service providers alike become jaded and effect a smile with littler tru warmth, not here I can honestly say I was struck by the true warmth and friendliness of the locals whether on the streets of in cafes and restaurants.

◙ 8 It has the remains of a Roman amphitheatre. The theatre was built in the first century BC, under Emperor Augustus, and was used until the third century AD. After many years of reconstruction it was reopened to the public in 2011. Open all year round to visitors and free to enter it is also now used during the summer months for open-air performances.

Some of the side streets are very narrow. In February they hod a carnival of masks when everyone dresses up hence the overhead lights, its meant to be great fun and is  on my list for another visit.

◙  9 There are so many good restaurants here which are also amazingly cheap, scroll to the bottom of this post for my recommendations and links.

Flamenco dress’s hanging out to dry.

◙ 10 Most museums offer free entry on Sundays after 5pm and with most staying open until eight it an opportunity if you are prepared to que as the museums small and the crowds large.

◙  11 It’s the birthplace of Pablo Picasso a fact I was not previously aware of. There is a very good Picasso museum and although being used to free museum entry in the UK I despise having to pay to visit them abroad the one is worth the € 7 entry fee and should be top of anyone’s list. Who knew, did you?

The Picasso museum and church spire as viewed from the charming cafe garden in the museum.

Getting there

Ryan Air has daily flights both too and from Malaga and if you book far enough ahead in advance offers some real bargains. The route from Manchester to Malaga is also serviced by Jet2 so be sure to use a price comparisons platform for the best deals, my two favourites being Kayak and Sky Scanner.


Car Hire In Malaga

Buyer beware: Having read many horror stories and reviews of bad experience of car hire in Malaga I did quite a bit of research before settling on one company. Whilst all the big name companies are represented here their prices are quite simply too silly to contemplate but to the opther end of that scale if you search google and use the main price comparison platforms you will find prices from local companies equally as ludicrous, but for the very opposite reasons of being so cheap they don’t make sense and be warned they don’t. That old adage you get what you pay for was written for this type of situation. In the end I settled on AUTOCLICK Rent a car. I booked directly through their website which I found very easy and straightforward in terms of what your options are. I also opted for their premium cover as it was still very reasonable and took the worry of any damage to the car and meant an excess free car hire. Although I had booked an economy car I was also given a free upgrade to a 4×4 automatic. At €47 for a three day hire I found this very reasonable. They also have a full to full fuel policy which I prefer. With all their cars virtually under 6 months old the car was trouble free.  More info click this link

To find them on the street they are located a short distance from the Airport  on Avenida del Camandante Garcia Morato 24-26, 29004 Telephone number +34 952962522.


Staying there

Whilst there is any number of accommodation options I chose an apartment on Air B&B for the both its old town location and amenities. It is also offered excellent value. There is the added bonus of  a pool with the apartment complex but I didn’t have time to try it. Click this link for more info and bookings


My Top Three Tips for Food

El-Pimpi: This place is the oldest Tapas bar in Malaga and should be a must visit on any Malaga itinerary both for its sheer size and atmosphere. It is something of a Malaga institution and is where the local Malagans come to eat drink and socialise. The atmosphere at night time is electric, frantic, noisy and great fun. It’s also a great place for people watching as bus boys (actually men) swirl by at top speed trays full of food held deftly aloft. Oh and the food is also very, very good. Top tip: Due to its size and because it is so busy be sure to order some cold plate Tapas, as these will be delivered quickly, whilst hot plates can take a long time to arrive, but hey don’t let that put you off as the buzz is great. Tony Blair signed one of the wine barrels here but don’t let that put you off your food or drink either, as Antonio Bandera’s signed one too and he’s cool! This the place to go if you want to get a genuine taste of Andalusian Spain. For reservation and in for click this link

Vino Mio: Located in Plaza Jeronimo Cuervo, virtually opposite the Teatro Cervantes, it was an absolute revelation of Spanish Asian fusion, which I must admit I had never tried, or encountered before, but would happily go back to again. There is a very nice seating area on the square outside the restaurant and service was very efficient informative and very friendly. I would heartily recommend this place as the food is delicious. There is also flamenco performances every evening from 8-930 pm for which there is a small surcharge. Open from Wednesday through to Sunday online reservation is advisable click this link for more info


NoviembreHealthyFood: Last but not least a Café restaurant that I visited three times due to its excellent coffee, good food and relaxed ambiance, oh and the food is also Organic. There are many cafes and restaurants that looked worthwhile and interesting in and around Malaga but these were my top three. If you know of others I should try on my next visit, as Malaga is a place I would definitely return to, please drop me a line and let me know? Click here for more info


#TravelWise #TravelWell #TravelThere #DKTravelpix

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