I’ve travelled several times in Spain, mostly to Barcelona and Madrid. And I immediately loved this country. Everything from Spain sounded good to me : the artists, the typical food for tourists (Sangria, Touron and Tapas), the sonority of the language …
Then, my admiration for this country and its culture increased when I first went to the very south of Spain : Andalusia.
Can you imagine a mix between Europe and North Africa ? That’s what Andalusia is like.
I have no clue why I decided to go to Malaga in the first place – because travellers usually go to Sevilla or Grenada when they visit Andalusia. But I followed my intuition and it was totally worth it.
This city (570 000 habitants) is located between the mountains and the Mediterranean, so you can go for a hike in the mountains the morning and relax on the beach the afternoon. I have to say that I really liked this option!
Wandering around the city is a real pleasure —the architecture is surprising, thanks to this cultural mix. You’ll find impressive historical buildings – like the cathedral – but you’ll also come across lots of small churches. Orange trees and colorful birds are everywhere. Oriental tea and nargile cafés share the streets with the typical Spanish restaurants. Plus, this is Pablo Picasso’s birthplace!
The climate in Andalusia is warm. Avoid summertime there if you can’t stand the heat (or the crowds, by the way). Even in February Malaga is sunny and temperatures are pleasant. Yes, Andalusia is also called La Costa del Sol (the coast of sun).
Things not to miss in Malaga
Go to the Artarazanas market
This market – open from Monday to Saturday until 3pm – offers a large choice of fresh local food. Fruit, fish, meat, seeds : everything to make a perfect lunch or snack for the day.I highly recommend the avocado and the nuts. You can also go there at noon and taste delicious BBQ sardines. (If you trust me, don’t try the beet root smoothie— friendly advice.)
Hike to the Parque de los Montes
You can go by bus but it isn’t well indicated. Better to grab a taxi and ask him to drive you to the Mount Parc, near the Botanic Park. You’ll be dropped off at what seems a freaky path, but don’t worry, walking up a few yards more and you’ll find the park entrance. This hike is not difficult but this a mountain trail. Continue as much as you want. You’ll soon have a lovely view of the city. To return to town, you can grab a bus; the bus station is a15 minute walk (turn left when you leave the path). It’s good to know that transport costs are rather low in Andalusia.
Have a yoga session on the Malagueta beach.
Okay – even if you are not a yoga addict – the beach is still a pretty cool option ! There you can have a refreshing sea bath and then chill on the sand.
Go rollerblading on the promenade
Malaga’s beach is surrounded by a really well-kept promenade of about 11km. In Andalusia, lots of people rollerblade and this area is perfect for it. On this walk you can also find a few spots with sport machines. What’s better than a sport session right next to the sea ?
Have a drink and tapas !
Malaga’s downtown streets are full of Bodegas (bars) and restaurants. Have a sit and enjoy the Spanish atmosphere. Most of the time una caña (a small bear) costs just 1 euro and most of the places offer a large choice of tapas (snacks). So just wander around and follow your gourmet instinct !
My favorite places : La plaza (calle Alcazabilla) and El café con Libros (plaza de la Merced)
Go to the Hammam
As I mentioned, this part of Spain is full of Arabian influences. And the hammam is a lovely aspect of this heritage ! My favorite one is El Hammam (calle Tomas del Cozar) where you can enjoy the baths and a massage for about 35 euros. They also offer you una copa de Cava (a glass of spanish Champagne) on the roof top.
Visit the historical center
The cathedral was built at the exact spot where a mosque used to be. A funny characteristic: building was never finished, so one of the towers is missing. That’s why it’s named La Manquita (The One-armed) cathedral!
The castle, with its colorful oriental architecture, is amazing.It’s as beautiful in my opinion as its famous neighbour, the Alhambra (the most famous castle of Granada).
The Teatro Romano. Nothing else to add, there is an authentic Roman theater right in the center town. Isn’t that amazing ?
And last but not least : walk up to the mirador of Gibralfaro
The ascent might seem a little steep, but it’s quick. Or, if you don’t want to walk it, you can grab a bus. Once there, you can visit the mirador that surrounds the city. I recommend stopping at the view point on the way to the mirador (if you walk it), where you’ll have an amazing view of the city and the amphitheater.
Nice things to do around Malaga
One hour from Malaga : Marbella. The clubbers will love it. this is the Ibiza of the Costa del Sol.
One hour and a half from Malaga : Ronda. Small city in the mountain where Hemingway used to live. You can walk around the street and you can’t miss an awesome bridge : el Puerto Nuevo.
One hour and a half from Malaga, to el Chorro : El Caminito del Rey. Impressive walk on the slope of a canyon. You better book your ticket few weeks before. I never had the chance to do it, as they closed the area because it was too windy.
You can also visit Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba or Gibraltar pretty easily; there are comfortable and inexpensive buses throughout Andalusia.
If you visit Malaga, please share with me your impressions about the city and your favorite addresses!