Come with us on a day trip to Málaga, a port city in Southern Spain. This beautiful city is, in our mind completely underrated and we absolutely recommend you spend a day here whilst on your Competa Escapes holiday. It absolutely has something for everyone and is an outstanding place to visit.
Málaga is the birthplace of Picasso and perhaps even more interesting to his adoring fans, Antonio Banderas. The city is known as the City of Museums, with over 30 to choose from. The most famous of those is the Picasso Museum.
Commanding a view over the city from the hilltop, sit two citadels, the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro ruins, remnants of Moorish rule. In fact, with roots going back to 700BC when discovered by the Phoenicians, it is one of the oldest cities in Europe and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The architecture is striking so be sure to look up as you walk around.
The port was founded by the Phoenicians in around 1000BC. It is likely that they named the area Malaka, the Phoenician word for salt, due to fish being salted in the first dock. Today the port is an international seaport, one of the oldest of its kind and the second most important in Spain.
EThe port has undergone considerable refurbishment in recent years and is now a beautiful Mediterranean Marina sitting just on the edge of the historical cultural centre. It is the gateway to the city’s golden sand beaches from the Promenade Pablo Ruiz Picasso. If you’re a yacht spotter then the marina at Pier one (Muelle Uno) for mega-yachts should be on your itinerary. Here standing proudly you will see the striking-coloured glass cube that houses the Pompidou Centre. The first branch of the Paris based art-museum.
Pier Two (Muelle Dos) is known as the The Palm Garden of Suprises, ‘El Palmeral de las Sorpresas’ due to the many palm trees planted here. Among them you will find fountains and light displays. Home to the Museum Aula del Mar (classroom of the sea). Smaller cruise ships dock here for direct access to the city.
A wide variety of Museums?
Yes with over 37 museums to choose from, it can be difficult to choose when you only have a day in Málaga. We list below the favourites of our guests, to help you pick some that will suit you.
Carmen Thyssen Museum
Featuring a collection of 19th Century Spanish artists, giving an insight into life in the Andalucian region, Seville, Cordoba and Malaga. There are 230 works from her personal collection. The building in itself is worth a visit – admire the outstanding central patio and beautifully carved ceilings.
Museum of Art and Glass (Museo del Vidrio y Crystal de Málaga)
At the time of writing, it held the No 2 spot of things to do in Málaga on Trip Advisor. Home to a collection of over 1,000 pieces of glass, from modern to antique, dating back to Phoenician times. Set in a restored 18th century mansion (worth visiting for this alone), if you love pretty things, add this one to your list.
Home to a vast collection of temporary art featuring artists such as Frida Khalo, Picasso, Chagall and Francis Bacon, this is worth a stop off on your tour. Not least to see the multicoloured ‘El Cubo’ designed by Daniel Buren.
Museum of Imagination
This fairly recent addition to the Málaga museum collection offers 4 rooms. Stretching your imagination to the unknown with scientific and optical illusions – things are not as they seem! A really interactive museum so great for all members of the family.
Picasso Museum (Museo Picasso)
Home to a collection of Picasso’s life works and varying styles. Also hosting temporary exhibitions with world class artists and cultural events. In the basement visit the Roman and Moorish archaeological remains.
Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga (Centre for Contemporary Art)
Located in Málaga’s old Wholesale Market, a historic building declared an Asset of Cultural interest in 1987. This museum is slightly off of the main tourist trail, none the less it is absolutely worth a visit. Not least because it is light and airy and a welcome change from the warmer temperatures. It’s also free to enter.
Home to ever changing collections (through their owners loan scheme) detailing contemporary art largely since the 1950’s. Damian Hirst, Julian Opie, Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth are some of the artists featured within.
You can check out a comprehensive guide to all of Malaga’s museums here.
Street Art in Málaga
Málaga is famous for its urban street art in the Soho neighbourhood – we could spend hours wandering around looking at it. It is a fantastic opportunity for keen photographers – the art is out of this world.
The Street Art Company do a tour starting at the CAC Malaga so it is a great idea to combine the two things. Check out their two-hour tour here.
But if you would prefer to wander and find the art in your own time then this article from the Guide to Malaga is a great starting place.
You will find art everywhere, from hotels to beach huts, everyone is keen to get this unique art. We would love you to tag us in your street art photos. Find us on Facebook here.
Other Malaga Tours
As you can imagine there are many tours available in Malaga. We have to mention the Spain Food Sherpas tours – without doubt the best and they offer a wide selection. They also operate in Granada, Cordoba and Seville and they really know their stuff. They offer private and group tours and cooking classes. See the Arazanas 14th century food market with its Moorish architecture and huge stained glass window. Take a wine and tapas tour or the Pedregalejo Tour of the old fisherman’s quarter. View everything they have to offer here.
Perhaps seeing Málaga on wheels is more your thing, how about on a Segway? Daunting at first but great fun once you have got the hang of it! Segway Malaga tours offer a variety of tours starting at €19 for 30 minutes – as well as the city tour they offer an off road tour. Fancy it, you can check them out here.
There are also several hop on and hop off bus tours that operate in the city.
Malaga has been labelled as one of the oldest cities in the world. With a rich history featuring the Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs it is no wonder it boasts such amazing architecture.
Points of interest include the remains of the Roman Amphitheatre from the 1st Century. The ruined fortress, Castillo de Gibralfaro overlooks the city and offers spectacular panoramic views. The Alcazaba fortress is still intact and is the best preserved Alcazaba in Spain. It offers insights into a working fortress and Moorish living quarters with their opulent design. It is probably the best historic monument in Málaga and scores highly in things to do in Málaga lists. Entry at the time of writing is €3.50, offering amazing value.
Cathedral and Churches
Catedral de la Encarnción de Málaga (Malaga Cathedral)
This imposing piece of architecture can be spotted from many places in Málaga and is also known as La Manquita (the one-armed lady). She owes this accolade to only having one tower when she was due two. The second didn’t happen due to a lack of funds, though there are many interesting suggestions as to where the money for the second tower was spent. Both the interior and exterior are outstanding. Inside you will find finely detailed choir stalls and an 18th century organ with 4000 tubes. There are many free concerts throughout the year but arrive early to secure a seat.
There are many churches in Malaga that are well worth a visit – for a comprehensive guide – click here
Calle Larios Málaga
Calle Larios is the main shopping street, the 5th Avenue of Malaga if you will. Its imposing architecture was designed by local architect Eduardo Strachan. The street is named after the Marquis of Larios who was a promoter of the textile industry. Spain’s No 1 gin is produced in Malaga and is also named Larios.
The street is pedestrianised and filled with bars and restaurants with lively terraces. In the high heat of summer much of the street is covered with large awnings to protect shoppers from the fierce sun. Winter sees the arrival of Christmas lights, one of the best light displays in the world, set to music. See a clip here from our last visit in 2019. For us, Christmas hasn’t started until we have been to the Malaga lights.
Playa de la Malagueta
This beach is lined with shops and restaurants and due to its proximity to the town it can get very busy. It has imported Saharan sand to make it wider and a promenade. It has a lively atmosphere and is a great place to hang out day or night.
Playa de la Caleta
Leads on from Malagueta and is very popular with the locals. It runs alongside the Pablo Picasso promenade and is easily accessible from the motorway. It is a great beach for watersports and has plenty of beach bars.
You’ll find a comprehensive list of beaches here.
We couldn’t sign off on our Malaga blog without telling you about our favourite restaurants.
Founded in 1971, El Pimpi is a hugely popular Bodega bar in Málaga. It is located in an 18th century mansion house. We love to come here to soak up the tradition and culture of Southern Spain. With that in mind, whilst the large outdoor terrace overlooking the Teatro Romano is lovely, for us the best experience is indoors. Sitting in one of the rooms in this underground warren, adorned with Feria posters and old barrels signed by the famous visitors. Pimpi takes its name from a popular Málaga character who helped crew and passengers off the cruise ships arriving into port.
El Pimpi is hugely popular so be prepared to wait or book ahead.
La Barra de Zapata
At the time of writing Zapata was No 10 of 2,110 on Trip Advisor but it is often found at No 1. We always advise booking ahead! Its an intimate little taberna on a side street running between the Plaza de la Constitucion and the Cathedral, it has outdoor barrel seating or small tables to snuggle up in the interior. Tapas here are works of art and that’s why it makes our top 3 restaurants in Málaga, a contrast to our other two choices.
Here is the link to book ahead
Tapas in Málaga have been reinvented and now are artistically and gastronomically designed.
We love Casa Lola because it sticks to the simplicity and authenticity of Andalucia, knowing that what it does it does so well. Its white and blue tiled frontage and dark wood interior are reminiscent of days gone by.
We love that it retains its historic past and classic feel, and it is truly one of our favourites. Many agree as the queues are often long, especially later in the evening when the locals come out to eat. If you love vermouth or Vermut then head here.
So that’s our blog
We hope we have given a good selection of activities for a day trip to Malaga, do let us know if you try some of them. We’re easily tagged as @competaescapes on all social media channels.
Competa Escapes Houses
Two beautiful townhouses in the heart of Competa. Both featuring private plunge pools and fantastic views. Both two bedroomed and ensuite but completely different. Heating and aircon throughout. Perfectly situated for all the bars, restaurants and activities in the area. Soon to be joined by a third townhouse with three en-suite bedrooms and a private rooftop pool. Please take a look at our website when considering your next holiday – Competa Escapes.
If you would like to add a stay in Málaga onto a Competa Escapes holiday, let us help you with that.