Beach, please! Whenever I’m on an trip with friends away, I’m that pale wierdo hiding under a big hat, sunnies and layers of sunlotion. Even if I was able to bronze happily and look like a greek goddess by the end of it all, I would still get too bored to patiently rotate on my sun lounger for even coverage. Let’s face it, there’s a reason I’m a travel writer; I’m too damn nosey to sit still for too long.
On a recent trip to Malaga I was with some real sun worshippers and, rather than steal their sunshine, I took myself off on some adventures…
- Museums ; Bet You Didn’t Know That Malaga had 37 of them?
Almost any city you go to will have a museum of some description but Malaga made a concerted effort to gather some of the most amazing museums in Europe and maybe even the world. You can see universally renowned art that hasn’t been seen before in the Picasso family’s private collection at Museo Picasso Malaga(Palacio de Buenavista), take in some contemporary art at the CAC Malaga (pictured, C/ Alemania) or visit the colourful Malagueño outpost of the Pompidou (Muelle Uno) that Antonio Banderas modelled his roof terrace on. Oh yes, Antonio is another famous son of Malaga. We won’t put trying to take a selfie with him down as one of the 10 activities but, sure, it’s your 11th activity and secret mission.
2. Amble the streets of the Soho Arts District
A couple of years ago, the area of town now known as ‘Soho’ was a bit down and out but is now thriving with life thanks to the council being up for this colourful revival. If you are a planner, head over to the MAUS site for a map of the area but for me, the joy is in wandering and discovering. Don’t forget to look up or you might miss some show stopping pieces by world famous Shephard Fairey (Obey) and D*Face. The streets are alive with pavement cafés so stop, grab a caña and watch the world go by.
3. Rooftop Bars and People Watching
Just because you don’t want to full out sunbathe doesn’t mean you can’t get a little colour, right? And a rooftop bar is the perfect way to do so. If you stay at the Barceló Malaga, as we’d recommend (more here), you will have access to a guests only roof bar which is the perfect way to relax with a book.
But if you are out and about in town, don’t worry, there are a number of great hotel rooftop bars open to the general public. We love the roof at Room Mate Valeria (Plaza Poeta Alfonso Canales) with views over the port and Muelle Uno and Terraza San Juan tucked away in the Hotel Malaga Premium (Calle San Juan, n.º 11).
4. Visit the Alcazaba
You probably know about Southern Spain’s most famous piece of Moorish architecture, Granada’s Alhambra; as beautiful as it is, tickets can be tough to come by (I visited early in the morning once when people were still in the streets from the night before). The Alcazaba is incredibly accessible and more modest in its beauty.
Our tour guide wove stories around its more recent history, when groups of gypsies were permitted by the city to build their own houses onto the existing structure. What were once defense towers in the conquests were turned into family homes which hid many of the original features of the Alcazaba until restoration began. At only 3,50e to enter, this is a historical bargain with excellent views.
5. Go for icecream
I can’t be the only one that plans exploring a new city around coffee and treat breaks, surely? When asking our local guide for an icecream spot recommendation, the response was immediate: Casa Mira (C/Andrés Pérez 16) , first inaugurated back in 1890 as the first icecream shop in Malaga – but their newest outpost on Calle Andrés Pérez. This shop has stunning design and they do a mean turrón helado. What more could you want?
6. Explore the old town streets around Calle Andrés Pérez
Now that you are at this secret Casa Mira, you can explore the narrow, winding streets around. Just next door to the icecream shop is activist space La Casa Invisible. Colourful murals and a quiet shady courtyard give way to more raucous evenings with a community feel – yes, this is a squat but a creative one full of life.
In fact, Calle Andrés Pérez was once a busy little street and, although much quieter these days there are some great little shops and cafés to check out in this historic area.
7. Enjoy a long lunch, with a view
You might expect Malaga to be full of brits abroad but, even when the groups off the cruise ships flood in, there’s blissfully not that much English to be heard. Middle of the day is the height of the crowds in the Old Town centre so do yourself a favour an book an outdoor table at La Terraza de Aduana on the roof of the Museo de Malaga (Plaza de la Aduana).
Looking every inch the millennial chic beach bar, with a view over the Alcazaba ; the menu is delicious and incredibly well priced. Get two raciónes of the truffle croquetas, you’ll eat them, believe me.
8. Head to Malaga’s newest port, Muelle Uno
The city’s newest port, Muelle Uno was opened in 2011 and it’s a great spot for shopping, staring out at that sparkling water and perhaps catching a short boat trip out to see the city from the water and spot dolphins. You’ll also find one of Malaga’s Michelin starred restaurants, Jose Carlos García’s Café de Paris under lemon coloured parasols as well as the Pompidou art gallery.
9. Co-work, look at BANKSY’s and go shopping at La Térmica
Further south down the coast you’ll find the city’s new cultural centre, La Térmica (Av. de los Guindos, 48) boasting coworking space, exhibitions and live music. From 24 May to 19 September it is home to BANKSY’s The Art of Protest and the ‘Nocturnal Rastro’ runs frequently with live music, food and craft and record shopping.
10. Eat tapas where Antonio does
Did you already Google where Antonio Banderas lives? Well, friends it’s visible from the terrace of famous tapas and flamenco spot El Pimpi (Calle Granada 62) . El Pimpi is named after the original pimpis, popular city figures of yesteryear who would help new comers off the boats at the port and show them the town. It certainly is a great way to see the town as it is housed in the warren-like rooms of a former palace and decorated by old feria and bullfighting (let’s not go there) posters.
Our table was snuggled up to sherry barrels signed by friends and fans of the restaurant including dear Antonio. It’s said he does eat here quite often, hope you have better luck spotting him…
Heading to Malaga?
We would strongly recommend booking in at Barceló Malaga not least for Mojitos in the pink bar and the slide!
Rates at Barceló Malaga start from €123 per room per night based on two sharing a Superior room.