If I told you to think of Malaga, you’d probably picture hen dos, no carbs before Marbs, Torremolinos and so on. And sure, it is true that all those things can happen when you get of the plane at the southern Spanish airport, you could choose another course altogether. And it turns out that the city of Malaga itself has a lot to offer, and it’s close enough to the UK that it should be on top of your list of future mini-breaks.
I recently headed out there for a long weekend, here’s what I’d recommend:
Three things to see in Malaga…
1 – The Alcazaba
If you walk around the centre of the city, the Alcazaba will be hard to miss. A gigantic fortress built in the 11th century by Moors from the Hammudid dynasty, it once stood by the seaside but now dominates the old town. As you walk up the stairs and through the citadel, make sure to pay attention to all the details, from the pieces of Roman architectures the Moors used to build their own monument, to the remaining parts of houses gypsy families built within the fortress when the city made them inhabit it. The Alhambra in Granada might be the most famous building of its kind, but the layers of history held within the Alcazaba are truly unique.
Calle Alcazabilla, 2, 29012, Málaga
The two most famous people to be born in Malaga are Antonio Banderas and Pablo Picasso. While the former doesn’t have a museum dedicated to his work (yet), the latter’s gallery offers an intimate tour of some paintings and sculptures never seen anywhere else, as it follows his life and the many relationships he formed until his death. The building itself is worth the visit alone, but definitely stay for the artworks, though be careful; photography isn’t allowed in the gallery.
Palacio de Buenavista, Calle San Agustín, 8, 29015, Málaga
Cars and clothes don’t have much in common at first glance, and it may seem odd to bring them together in one big exhibition. That being said, the A&F Museum suddenly makes sense once you’re in it; along with an extensive collection of vintage cars from all eras, the rooms feature a number of outfits from matching eras, as well as a separate rooms full of vintage designer outfits. The extravagant Dior hats are a highlight, and so is the comically over-the-top black car covered in oversized rhinestones.
Avenida de Sor Teresa Prat, 15, 29003, Málaga
Two restaurants to try out…
1 – El Pimpi
Any trip to Malaga would be incomplete without having a meal at the famous El Pimpi, though don’t worry; just because it is well-known doesn’t mean it’s a tourist trap. A traditional bodega, its decor mostly features huge wooden wine barrels, which have been signed by all sorts of important people (including Tony Blair). Because it is Spain, the fact that it is mostly a wine bar does not stop it from serving brilliant tapas, including probably the best ham you’ve ever eaten in your life.
Calle Granada, 62, 29015, Málaga
If you loved the Alcazaba so much you’d like to look at it while having lunch (or if you were too lazy to walk up its many stairs but want to take a good look at it), the roof terrace of la Aduana is the place for you. It’s best to book in advance as there are only a few tables up there, and it has one of the best views of the city. And since you’re presumably there to eat as well as gaze at the skyline, we recommend you get the truffle croquetas, which are to die for, and wash them down with some crisp, fresh white wine.
Museo de Málaga, Plaza de la Aduana, 29015, Málaga
And one hotel to stay at…
1 – Barceló Málaga
There is one excellent thing about this hotel and we should get it out of the way now: it has a massive slide. It has a massive slide that goes from the first floor to the ground floor reception and no matter how old you are or how serious you think you are, you will want to try the slide then have a ton of fun doing it. Slide aside, Barceló offers lovely rooms (with a view of the seafront if you’re lucky), is within walking distance of the beach, has the best breakfast buffet in the business (including on-demand, chef-made omelettes), and has a bar and a swimming tool on its rooftop. If you fancy staying in one evening, its restaurant makes a mean octopus dish, as well as local specialty salsichon tartar. Careful with the slide if you end up having a few of their cocktails, though – and yes, I’m speaking from experience…
Estación Vialia Maria Zambrano, Calle Héroe de Sostoa, 2, 29002 Málaga