The Spanish city of Málaga is located in Andalusia; the southernmost part of Spain. Málaga is often visited by tourists who can appreciate the old buildings, the nostalgic squares and the Spanish culture. Málaga attracts many day tourists who stay in the nearby seaside resorts on the coast. After all, Málaga is located on the Costa del Sol, which is known for sun, sea, beach and wonderful summer temperatures. Besides cozy restaurants, beautiful beaches and nice shops, Málaga also has a bit of culture to offer. The rich historical center has a number of beautiful gems to offer from the past. The museum offer is nicely varied, so that museum lovers can go to Malaga. Thanks to the direct flight connections between Malaga and the Netherlands, it is not difficult to find tickets to Malaga. For the school holidays it can be useful to book them in time. Malaga airport is then widely used to visit various destinations on the Costa del Sol and inland in Andalusia.
According to Equzhou, Malaga is quite a big city. In terms of population, Málaga is the second largest city in Andalusia after Seville. Nevertheless, it is perfectly doable to explore the main highlights of this city in one or two days. Our top 10 things to do in Malaga can help you put together an exciting program for your visit to Malaga.
Top 10 sights of Malaga
#1. Centro Historico
The historic center of Málaga is actually one big attraction in itself. Let yourself get lost in the sometimes narrow alleys and discover the most beautiful places of atmospheric Málaga. Every moment of the da, the center has a different face. In the early hours you can see the city slowly starting up. The streets are swept clean, the catering industry is supplied and the locals go to enjoy their breakfast in the bar. The shops open at ten o’clock and the city center comes to life. The busiest and most beautiful part of the day is the evening. Then Málaga shows its cosiest side.
In the historic center you can discover various historic buildings, beautiful churches and beautiful squares. Be sure to visit the Plaza de la Merced (on Sundays there is a nice market here), the Plaza de la Constitution and the Plaza de Obispo. There it is especially the Bishop’s Palace (Palacio Episcopal) that steals the show. The bright colors come into their own when they are exposed to the sun in the afternoon. Fascinating museums in the historic center include the Carmen Thyssen Museums and the Museo de Málaga. That museum has been given its own place in our top 10 sights in Malaga.
The old heart of Málaga is an excellent place for shopping. In the eastern part you mainly see shops that focus on tourists. There you can find souvenirs and typical local delicacies such as caramelized almonds. Serious shopping is mainly done in and around Málaga’s main shopping street: Calle Marqués de Larios. This car-free street is located in the historic center of the city of Málaga. During the sometimes hot summer days, many shopping streets, including Calle Marqués de Larios, are covered with white cloths. This way you still have some shade while shopping. Well-known chains in Calle Larios are Desigual, Mango and Zara.
#2. The Alcazaba and the Castillo de Gibralfaro
Málaga has two fortifications. The lowest fortress is the Alcazaba. This Arabic name is due to the fact that it was the Moors who built the fortress in this strategic place in Málaga in the eleventh century. The fort is intended to protect the palace inside. This palace is a fine example of typical Moorish architecture. The Arabic arches in particular are a clearly recognizable style element.
Above the Alcazaba is the later built castle Gibralfaro. The Castillo de Gibralfaro Málaga was built in the 14th and 15th centuries and is therefore several centuries younger than the Alcazaba. As a structure in itself, the Gibralfaro is less fascinating than the Alcazaba. What the Gibralfaro does have as a plus is the great view over the city of Málaga and the immediate surroundings. For a nice view you do not necessarily have to enter the castle itself (and buy an entrance ticket. You can also enjoy the view for free from the Mirador del Gibralfaro. This is one of the best places to watch the sunset over Málaga see.
#3. Museo Automovilistico de Malaga
The Museo Automovilistico de Málaga is described as a car museum, but is actually so much more than that. Here beautiful cars, fashion and art merge into a fascinating whole. The museum is located in a former tobacco factory. The factory buildings are a sight in themselves. They are a fine example of typical Andalusian architecture. The Museo Automovilistico de Málaga shows an impressive collection of cars, including a number of beautiful models. It is mainly the design of the cars over the years that is highlighted here. The combination with fashion objects and art objects derived from car parts ensures that you walk through a visually extremely attractive museum. A clever trick is the way in which the daylight is filtered through the cloths in front of the windows. This creates good lighting conditions to shoot beautiful photos.
#4. Picasso Museum
As the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, a museum about this master of painting in Málaga was of course inevitable. The Museo Picasso Málaga on Calle San Agustin was opened in 2003 by King Juan Carlos I and his wife Queen Sofia. It is located in the Buenavista Palace which was built in the sixteenth century. Among the works are masterpieces such as ‘Madre y niño and Mosquetero con espada’. Many of his artworks have been donated from the family. Special works by Pablo Picasso can also be admired in world cities such as New York. A wonderful example is the painting ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ which hangs in the Museum of Modern Art.
#5. Cathedral of Malaga
The beautiful and graceful cathedral of Málaga was built in the sixteenth, seventeenth and partly in the eighteenth century. The duration of construction was mainly related to money. Construction was regularly halted because there were no financial resources. Because of this, even a part was never finished, for which it eventually received the nickname of the lame lady ‘La Manquita Catedral de Málaga’. Clear baroque and renaissance features can be found in the building. Both inside and outside, a lot of attention has been paid to various details. The chancel and the Gothic altarpiece in the Chapel of Santa Barbara are particularly popular.
You ca n’t just visit the Malaga Cathedral from the inside. A visit to the roof is also an option. Several times a day, supervisors go up to the roof with a group of visitors. It gives you a good view of the special roof construction, the tower and the city. The roof visit is not an option for those who are mobile limited. You have to walk up and down about two hundred steps. There is no elevator.
#6. Muelle Uno
Its location on the Mediterranean Sea is the reason that Málaga was once founded. The strategically and logistically favorable location has contributed to the prosperity of Málaga and the position that the city occupies within Andalusia for centuries. For years, the port of Málaga was an unattractive place that was not interesting from a tourist point of view. In the context of urban renewal, the port area has undergone a major overhaul. This has created a recreational area that has been given the name Muelle Uno. Along a long promenade you will find numerous shops and catering facilities such as cozy sunset terraces and nice restaurants. For lovers of modern and contemporary art, the art museum Center Pompidou Málaga is located.
From the promenade you have a beautiful view over the harbor and a part of the city. The best view is from the elevated area located in the southeastern part of Muelle Uno. La Farola de Malága is located at the end of the boulevard. Literally translated it means “The Lamp of Malaga”. This white lighthouse is one of the city’s icons.
#7. The Lagunillas district
The Soho district is often tipped by travel guides and Málaga sites as the hip area of the city. To be fair: Soho is quite nice, but we would rather choose to visit the Lagunillas district. Where Soho comes across as quite polished, Lagunillas is still a real working-class neighborhood where you see raw street art that makes a walk through this part of the city worthwhile. It is striking that ‘El Barrio de Lagunillas’ borders almost directly on the historic center. Immediately north of the Marcado de Merced you will find yourself in a neighborhood where poverty, unemployment and dilapidated buildings are the harsh reality. To literally give life more color, local graffiti artists have united in the ‘Lagunillas Barrio de Creadores. With their street art, they have ensured that the Lagunillas district has become a true attraction.
#8. Teatro Romano
Below the current city lies the city that was once founded by the Romans. It was not demolished, but was buried by the Moors under a layer of sand, after which they built a new city on it. The old Roman city is thus still below the present-day centre. Last century, a Roman building was completely exposed: the amphitheatre. The Teatro Romano was built in the first century BC and has been synonymous with various performances for many centuries. Sometime in the eighth and ninth centuries, Teatro Romano was buried under stone and rubble because the Alcazaba fortress and Castillo de Gibralfaro were built right next to it. In the end, the theater was not discovered again until the twentieth century and excavations were started. In the visitor center ‘Centro de Interpretación’ you can go further into the history of this very special place.
In front of the Teatro Romano you can see a small glass pyramid. It looks like a small version of the pyramid that has been put away at the Louvre in Paris. The glass pyramid in Málaga stands over an excavation of Roman salt baths. In this, the former residents made fish sauce by fermenting pieces of fish in a salt bath.
#9. Playa de la Malagueta
Málaga has several beaches. Playa de la Malagueta is the nicest and most beautiful beach in the city. Its location directly southeast of the center means that you can easily reach this pleasant sandy beach on foot. You therefore do not necessarily have to spend the night on the beach to go swimming and sunbathing here. Most of the buildings along the Playa de la Malagueta are apartment buildings. You can count the number of hotels along Playa de la Malagueta on one hand. An exception is the stately and luxurious Gran Hotel Miramar, which can count itself among the very best hotels in the city.
Thanks to its location, the Playa de la Malagueta is an excellent place to enjoy the sunrise in the morning. The combination of the rising sun and the palm trees produces beautiful holiday snaps. On the beach you have access to all necessary facilities such as showers and public toilets. For a fee you can use the available sunbeds and umbrellas.
#10. Malaga Museum
Museo de Málaga was created in 1973 with the merger of the provincial Museum of Fine Arts and the provincial Archaeological Museum. The fine arts department mainly features works by painters such as Manuel Ángeles Ortiz, Jose Nogales Sevilla, Antonio del Castillo and Leon Bonnat. The archaeological department has more works from antiquity. Here you can, for example, admire ivory plaques from Roman theaters or view the bones of a Neanderthal up close. In short, a fascinating and educational museum with various objects. Recently, the Museo de Málaga has been established in Palacio de la Aduana. This beautiful neoclassical building on the port of Málaga has had various functions over the centuries. At the end of the eighteenth century, the design and construction started. It has served as a customs house, a tobacco factory, a municipal office and now a museum of fine arts.