The ongoing post-exam slump in a dark and dreary Manchester needed a solution. I’m always searching for an excuse to travel, so I went to Malaga, in the hope that some winter sun would alleviate my self-diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder. The cultural heart of Malaga is the perfect size to explore during a spontaneous weekend away. I returned to England with a much-needed dose of Vitamin D and another city ticked off my list.
As the largest city on the Spanish Costa del Sol, Malaga is known for its high-rise hotels and beach resorts. Rejecting this touristic stereotype that often dominates British opinion, I wanted to immerse myself in city life through language and cultural sites of interest.
You only have to walk a short distance into Malaga’s Centro Historico to discover authentic Spanish
Situated in an idyllic location between mountains and sea, Malaga’s natural beauty is evident with summery palm trees, gardens and greenery. Getting around the city couldn’t be any easier than with electric scooters. Accessible through an app, the scooters can be picked up and dropped off anywhere in the city. They reduce CO2 emissions while making travel efficient, quick and fun. This is the best way to see the city ‘on foot’. Hop on a scooter to visit the Castillo de Gibralfaro. From here, make your way down the hill to the Alcazaba fortress and gardens, and finish at El Teatro Romano, one of the only Ancient ruins left in the city centre. Enjoy a glass of cava from the elegant El Pimpi bar opposite.
Malaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso; one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. It’s worthwhile visiting ‘Casa Natal de Picasso’ (his birthplace) and Museo Picasso. The museum holds an overwhelming collection of Picasso’s works. It’s a visual journey through a wide array of styles and creative masterpieces. Also situated in Malaga’s old town, the Wine Museum showcases local wine making, process and culture. The Glass Museum displays decorative glass from various eras, set in a restored 18th century mansion. If you prefer something more contemporary, Centre Pompidou at the Port holds a modern art, dance and film collection; it’s also free admission after 4pm on a Sunday. The artistic vibe is reflected in the old town with the architectural wonders and colourful buildings.
No city break is complete without a divine culinary experience. For the foodies out there, Malaga won’t leave you disappointed. Spend late afternoon and evening enjoying ‘tapas y terrazas.’ You’ll find traditional tapas bars with modest prices on every street; those by the port and in the centro historico are bustling and atmospheric into the early hours of the morning. There’s a lively and friendly vibe in the old town and dining al fresco is the best way to soak up this atmosphere. Calamares, gambas, jamon iberico – my favourites from restaurant Pepa y Pepe – the abundance of local delicacies is mouth-watering.
Malaga’s Cathedral, Catedral de la Encarnación, is a landmark in the historic centre and from the plethora of rooftop bars Malaga boasts, the stunning cathedral is visible. Visit the rooftop terrace at AC Hotel Palacio for sunset and sangría; a chilled jazz soundtrack completes the laid-back vibe. Although Malaga’s regaetton clubbing scene doesn’t suit everyone’s tastes, you’re spoilt for choice in terms of bars and restaurants. Everywhere is welcoming and inclusive to locals and tourists, students and pensioners.
More laid-back than Barcelona or Madrid, Malaga should be considered as your next getaway destination. For those who suffer from SAD, year-long sunshine and a Mediterranean climate further boosts it appeal. It is an ideal base for exploring the Andalusian region, but it’s more than just a gateway to the Costa del Sol resorts. Artistic, cultural and with cool rooftop bars; Malaga is a city with something for everyone.