Your guide to Málaga – European cultural gem
For many years, those visiting the Costa del Sol tended to overlook Málaga, the provincial capital and port city that lies some 40 minutes east of Marbella. To be fair, the coastal resort towns with their beaches, luxury hotels, golf courses, glamorous marinas, luxury properties, fine dining, shopping and nightlife offered enough for many not to feel the need to stray, yet there is something very special to enjoy in every direction from Marbella – whether it be the gorgeous, rugged nature of the mountain ranges immediately inland, exotic Morocco across the water, the ski resorts of the Sierra Nevada, kite surfing and hippie chic in Tarifa on the Costa de la Luz, or the cultural, historic cities of Andalucía.
In the latter you will find some of the greatest historical/cultural gems anywhere in Europe, making the likes of Sevilla, Córdoba, Granada, Jerez de la Frontera and Cádiz among the most interesting cities in the world. Málaga belongs to this list, and it is little more than half an hour from Marbella by car. Not only that, but over the past twenty years the city has undergone a beautification process that now sees it being described by Lonely Planet as ‘the other Barcelona’. In other words, a city of global interest and impact that remains as yet a little under-discovered, and offers an authentically Spanish-Andalusian experience.
Málaga – city culture with beaches
It occupies the same coastal region, complete with sandy beaches and pretty coves that look back across the Mediterranean to Gibraltar and North Africa, but Málaga adds a distinctive touch of big city chic and glamour to it, not to mention the fine dining, shopping, culture and exciting buzz that comes with a city.
The historic centre is an architectural and cultural beauty spot that has been polished till it shines, and lining Málaga’s grand Alameda Principal avenue and elegant pedestrian shopping streets such as Calle Larios are beautifully renovated buildings in a variety of classical styles. They are complemented by parks, ambient squares and a lively port. In short, this is a great place to visit!
- Visit the Muelle Uno waterside shopping and dining area. The parking is excellent, there are always activities on for young and old, and the Pop-Up Pompidou Museum is right on your doorstep
- Calle Larios forms the heart of the historic centre. Its shops, restaurants and cafés offer the ideal place from which to follow your nose and explore the surrounding streets, squares and historic buildings, as well as shopping, dining and entertainment
- Málaga offers the ultimate tapas experience. Try the iconic El Pimpi or indeed any of the many eateries that will catch your eye. For culture, head on to the city of museums’ venues dedicated to Picasso, the CAC Museum, Carmen Thyssen, Russian State Art Museum and the wonderful car museum
- Visit the Alcazaba fortress atop a prominent hill that overlooks the city and offers fantastic sea views. It’s a little hike uphill, but well worth it and surrounded by lush gardens. Or stay down below and explore the Roman amphitheatre and imposing cathedral
- Málaga is a city of culture and history founded more than 2,000 years ago by the Phoenicians, so immerse yourself in local lore and visit the Plaza de la Merced square where Picasso was born or view live performances at the Teatro Cervantes, then head out to the nearby beaches for a unique blend of city culture and seaside relaxation