Malaga, once previously over-looked city in comparison to Barcelona and Madrid is now a formidable adversary. There has been extensive restoration and re-generation, which has much transformed Malaga into a great cultural tourist destination. Think museums (so many fantastic museums), art, restaurants, bars, shops, beach and impressive historical monuments all boosted by a new port and metro line.
It was a beautiful day so we decided to soak up the sunshine and visit Malaga’s outdoor attractions. The first on our list was the Alcazaba, a stunningly restored 11th century Moorish Palace and Fortress. If you haven’t got time on this trip to Spain to visit the Alhambra, the Alcazaba provides you with a little taster of what to expect, but has nowhere near the impact. It does however have a fascinating floor plan, very easy to get lost, and is a wonderful place for exploring and getting lost amongst numerous archways, courtyards, orange trees, palms and fountains.
We paid for a combination ticket to also enter the Castillo Gibralfaro, the two sights are adjacent and were once linked but there is a rather confusing fence in the way. So we had to find our way back to the Alcazaba’s entrance (eventually), then walked up to long steep path up to the castle.
The view points on the way up to the castle break up the walk and give you a taster of the outstanding views you can attain from the top. When you finally climb to the top it becomes apparent that there is a route you can drive up or even get a bus! Even still, the walk only took us twenty minutes with a toddler and the viewpoints were well worth it, honest!
The castle itself probably doesn’t take as long to explore as the Alcazaba. The fully enclosed castle walls are its best feature and can be walked to view the city from afar, affording you 360º views of Malaga. The walk back down to the city is much quicker and easier, we were soon back near to the Alcazaba’s enterance to take a picture of the Roman amphitheatre and grab a bite to eat in the buzzing Plaza de la Merced, the location of Picasso’s childhood home.
The old town is fun to wander through, the vibe in the streets at Christmas time is great, so many places to eat and drink, soak in the atmosphere around Plaza de Uncibay then head for the main shopping street Marques de Larios for the Christmas light/ music show and street performers. If you like shopping Larios is the place to go, jam-packed full of designer labels and shops.
After the lights we enjoyed the eating experience at La Taverna Del Pintxo, help yourself to a delicious array of cold pinchos (small bites). The shape of the little sticks in the pinchos determine the price of the meal. Keep your sticks for the waiter to add up your bill at the end, best visited for a late lunch or after 8pm when the kitchen is open and hot tapas is provided by on the house.
For a classic bodega experience we then headed to the oldest bar in the city (serving since 1840) to try a sweet Malaga wine. Antigua Casa de Guardia really is a fantastic glimpse into the past, choose from the giant wine barrels a Seco or Pedro Ximinez, your drinks will be notched up in chalk in front of you at the bar.
The main street leads down to the Marina and Malaga’s big wheel. The Paseo de los Curas runs parallel to the marina and was filled entirely with stalls selling joke shop fair, fireworks and figurines to make your own nativity scene Belen. The boys learnt a new Spanish word, Bombetas and we al had fun throwing the mini bombs at each other.
For the most incredible seasonal produce visit the daily market Mercardo Atarazanas , together with the fruit and veg, the market sells the most fabulous array of meats, cheeses and fish. The market is clad in iron and the sunlight shines through the beautiful coloured glass windows.
We only had 24hours to explore Malaga, but with so much more to see, we will definitely be going back to soon, especially to visit some of the city’s world renowned museums. Watch this space!
Live like a local, book an apartment through, this link for £30 travel credit with Airbnb and we get a little something off our next booking too, enjoy!
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