Malaga is literally a city for the history buffs. As simple as it is, if you love history then you will love Malaga. But at the same time, if history is not your subject then you won’t end up liking this city that much. While travelling across Spain, I met quite a few Spaniards and as I mentioned that I’d be going to Malaga, they immediately had a weird reaction on their face with questions like, ‘Why do you want to go there? It is so boring!” and some were surprised and asked ‘Really? Why?’ To which my immediate question was ‘Why not?’ and they only told me why I should skip Malaga and maybe go somewhere else. I don’t think I found even one Spaniard who recommended me this city during my solo trip.
Malaga is a city located in the southern side of Spain and has the most amazing coastline in the entire country named Costa Del Sol which is spread across plenty of villages in the south. The beaches across the Costa Del Sol are simply mind-blowing and the fortresses give views to die for. When I went to Nerja for a day trip from Malaga, I was completely mesmerized with the beauty of Costa Del Sol. My local bus was just going parallel through Costa Del Sol and I got a glimpse of the coastline and my eyes were fixed outside the window throughout the ENTIRE journey.
Also Read about my day trip from Malaga to Nerja here:
THINGS TO DO IN MALAGA:
1. Pray in the cathedral of Malaga
The cathedral is located in the heart of the city of Malaga and is popularly known as La Manquita (One- armed lady). Initially, it was a mosque however the same was destroyed when the Catholic troops re-conquered Malaga in the year 1487. The cathedral was constructed in such a way that it would imbibe both Renaissance & Baroque styles in their architecture which is visible even today. There are 2 towers in this cathedral i.e North tower & the south tower, out of which the south tower is unfinished and hence it is nicknamed as La Manquita i.e. One- armed Lady. Apart from the cathedral, there is a museum and a garden within the premises. The garden is free to visit and is one of the most photographed location of Malaga. One will find plenty of monuments of the victims of the civil wars and cafes lined up along the path. Although, the garden is free to enter, there are charges to enter the Cathedral along with the museum. Click on the link to visit their official website for the timings & charges of the Cathedral and for more information: Malaga Cathedral
Please Note: There is free access to the Cathedral & to the roof of the cathedral between 9.00 am to 10.00 am from Mondays to Thursdays.
2. Enjoy the Nightlife:
Although, this city has a historical touch, it has a very active nightlife & plenty of pubs along with tapas bar to do a pub crawl. The locals usually do not go partying before midnight, and it is normal to go back home after sunrise, but not without having some breakfast on the way back. Some great areas to check out the night life in of the city are in Plaza Mitjana, Plaza Uncibay, La Malagueta, El Palo y Pedregalejo.
3. Visit the many museums of Malaga:
Believe it or not but this city has more than 35 museums and most of them are right in the historic center. Yeah! Imagine covering all those museums in just one city. It gets crazy to get so much of information and probably that is why Malaga could be the museum capital of Spain. Having said that there are some museums which one should not miss at all which are – Thyssen Museum, Picasso museum, Picasso museo casa natal, Automobile museum of Malaga, Museum of Glass & Crystal, Georges Pompidou, Museum of Air transport airport & navigation etc. Trust me the list is endless and so little time to cover all of them up. This city always made me feel like so much knowledge was yet to be collected from everywhere.
4. Witness the ruins of Roman Theater:
The best thing about visiting this Roman theater is that it is completely free to explore. It is one of the remains from the Roman empire in Spain. This theater was actually hidden underneath a building named Casa de Cultura. In the mid-nineties, when this building was being re-developed, it was during that time the workers found this Roman theater after which Casa de Cultura had to be demolished completely to excavate & uncover this theater.
5. Visit La Malagueta i.e the Bull Ring:
La Malagueta is one of the most visited cultural spot in Malaga. It was first built in 1874 and the first bull fight also took place in the same year. The stadium has a capacity of 14,000 people and also houses all the facilities for the fighters and the bull before the fight. Apart from that, La Malagueta has its own museum which showcases the history of this sport and the history of the Bull ring. Every year from April to September, one can witness the bull fighting festivals held in the city. So, if you want to know how this age old sport is practiced by the locals then you should head to Spain during summers to witness some live adventure.
HOW TO REACH MALAGA?
Malaga can be easily reached if you are coming down from the main cities like Valencia, Madrid, Sevilla etc. Usually people come here to spend their summer vacations by the beaches of Costa del Sol.
BY ROAD: You will find buses from all the nearby main cities in Spain to come to Malaga. The bus is the cheapest way to travel between cities however, it takes many halts and goes through many villages which is why it is a time-consuming journey. Apart from that one can also carpool with the other people doing the same two cities through this website called as BlaBla car. It is quite safe and the best way to have a road-trip along with some strangers going in the same way. I would not recommend taking a bus from Madrid or from Valencia as it would take around 10 hours approx to reach this city. My recommendation would be to take the train.
BY TRAIN: If you are low on time you should hop on to the Renfe trains of Spain. These are high speed, inter-connected trains running through the entire country. You can check the time-table and book your tickets online on www.renfe.com But the price of the tickets of these high speed trains are quite expensive so as per my suggestion, only doing the long distance journeys would be cost-effective.
BY AIR: Malaga Airport is the fourth largest & busiest international airport of Spain. Having said that the transport is well organized from the airport. Taxis are available from the airport. There is an express bus that reaches the city center in 15 minutes. Intercity buses run to Marbella, Estepona and Malaga-Santa Amalia. Long-distance buses ply on routes to Granada, Sevilla etc. and Renfe trains reach city center within 12 minutes.
WHEN TO GO/CLIMATE?
Due to its proximity to the beach, this city has a hot & humid climate for most part of the year. However it is also the time when tourists come from all parts of the world to enjoy the summers & the sunshine and of course swim in the azure waters of Costa del Sol.
SPRING: The months of March to May witnesses spring season in Malaga. This is the best time to explore the historical & cultural side as it does not get too hot & humid during the entire exploration & the weather is pleasant. It is also the right time to go on the beach as the water starts to get warm in these months.
SUMMER: The summers of Andalusian region are renowned to be super hot & sunny and Malaga is no exception to it. June to August are the summer months out of which the heat in June is still bearable compared to July & August as the season starts to change from Spring to Summer in the month of June. You are sure to get tired very quickly and easily if you intend to visit this city int he month of summer. However, if you are here then do not forget to carry the required summer gear like sunscreen lotion & a cap. Further needless to say that you need to keep yourself hydrated throughout your time in Malaga in summer.
AUTUMN: September to November witnesses autumn & rainfall in this city. The heat starts to lessen slowly in September and the nights become cooler, however the morning are still quite hot & humid. October & November are cooler and full of rain. It starts raining in these two months with November witnessing extreme rainfall in this city. Temperatures in the beginning of November is much the same as October, but the end of November is considered winter, and nights are quite cold.
WINTER: The sea is too cold to go for a swim from December to February as they are the winter months. The mornings are pleasant however the nights get chilly & windy in this city. However due to its proximity to the beach the winters are not so dry. Further, out of all the months January is considered to be the coldest month of the year and the temperatures can drop down till 10 degree Celsius during winter. It is advisable to bring proper winter gear during these months if you are travelling here.
WHERE TO STAY?
When I was in Cordoba, the manager of my hostel there gave me discount for the hostel in Malaga as they were from the same group and the place where I stayed was the The lights hostel. The hostel had lifts to carry the luggage & had a rooftop terrace where one could sit & enjoy the night or mornings. You can book it online by clicking on the red link and I absolutely recommend this hostel to everyone wishing to visit this city. The atmosphere, the vibes and the other travelers were really great and kind.
However, if you want to choose something else you can always go through all of them and make your bookings: Accommodation in Malaga
Also read about how to spend a weekend in Cordoba:
WHAT TO SHOP?
Malaga has become a tourist hot-spot and plenty of shops have come up right from local stores to branded stores. The unique things that this city has to offer is the famous local sweet wine and Extra Virgin olive oil available across many stores. Apart from that, Andalusia as a whole is quite popular for hand painted ceramic plates and the same can be found across many stores of Malaga. Further Biznanga flowers are unique to this city & can be added as a souvenir in your travel bucket. It is made from the jasmine flower and is white in color and yes they smell delightful. Obviously you can’t take the flower home with you but what you can take home is the porcelain versions of this flower for decoration or even buy them as jewelry from the stores.
HOW MUCH DOES EVERYTHING COST & HOW TO BUDGET?
Malaga is mid-budget in terms of accommodation charges for a normal budget traveler. Hostels start from 15-25 euros per person whereas mid-ranged hotels will start from as low as 50 -150 euros for 2 persons. Hence, if travelling in groups it is convenient and reasonable to book hotels whereas hostels are a safe bet for solo travelers on a budget. Also, there are plenty of luxury options for persons wishing to live a luxurious life and lot’s of hotels are located right in the city center.
Food outside is mid-ranged. The cost in any restaurant for a complete meal can start anywhere from 05 – 20 euros. If cooking by yourself then this cost can be brought down to almost half. You will find supermarkets almost everywhere and that is definitely the best way to decrease the overall cost on the food.
The best way to travel within Malaga is by the Bus or by foot. All places are walk-able however it could get tiring after a certain time as some places are located at a distance from each other and there is too much to explore in this city. To make the transport cheaper it is best to buy a bus pass with 10 trips and refill it as per your convenience instead of paying each time you board a bus.
As per this Malaga travel guide, there are plenty of things to do some of which I have already mentioned above. Malaga has plenty of museums depicting the art & history of the city which is sure to cost a few euros. Apart from that, most of the places doesn’t require you to pay any entrance charges. This entire atmosphere & the vibe of Malaga will surely take you back into the world of art & history. Also, you need to pay only if you take any other tours. However I feel activities, especially the museums can make your pocket a bit lighter. However again it depends on the number of museums you visit. Hence, you can end up saving money on the activities depending upon your interests.
PLEASE NOTE: The best day to explore Malaga is on Sundays as most of the tourist sites have waived off their entrance fees which means you can enter in these places for free thereby saving more on activities.
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