When flying out to Malaga for a week-long holiday, the next seven days will feel like they are spread out in front of you like a wonderful dream. They can disappear very quickly, however, when you are having a good time, so put a plan in place. Here is a carefully considered itinerary to ensure you make the most of your time in this Spanish city, which is undergoing something of a renaissance at present.
Day 1 – Climb to the best views of the city
One of the best ways to become acquainted with Malaga is to climb to the top of Gibralfaro Hill and survey the city and coastline below. There are several ways to access the paths that lead up to the castle, but the route is well-marked and is a pleasant stroll. Stop at the various viewpoints on the way up to take in the vistas of the Town Hall and Bull Ring below. At the top, explore the ramparts of the old castle and grab a drink at the snack bar.
Further down the hill is the Alcazaba, which while being part of a joint ticket with the castle, has an entirely separate entrance to find. This fortification dating back to the 11th century is the best-preserved building of its kind in the whole of Spain. Finally, at the base of the hill is the remains of a Roman Temple, where the seats of the old amphitheatre can still be seen.
Complete the day in Moorish style with a visit to the Hammam – Arabic style baths and massages. It can be found through the winding streets of the old town, but once you get close, there are signs to direct your way.
Day 2 – Get acquainted with the Old Town
Get to know the old town much better by exploring it on two feet from the main shopping street of Marques de Larios all the way up to Plaza de la Merced. Along the way, you will encounter nice squares, including Plaza de la Constitucion, with its replica newspaper front pages set into the ground, and Plaza del Obispo, which is flanked on one side by the Episcopal Palace.
Be sure to step inside the cathedral, which has been lovingly nicknamed La Manquita by locals, which translates as The One-Armed Lady. This unusual moniker came about after a proposed second tower was never built, leaving the church a little lopsided. Attempts to rectify this have been met with much opposition over the years.
Spend the evening in Bodega El Pimpi, which has become something of a Malaga institution. As well as serving up delicious authentic cuisine, this network of rooms has been crammed full of barrels serving Malaga’s most tempting sweet wines. Over the years, celebrities from Antonio Banderas to Tony Blair have scrawled their signatures on the wood.
Day 3 – Hit the beach
Being on the coast is one of the major draws for people coming to Malaga on holiday, so make sure you maximise your time at the beach. This could be by finding a spot on either La Malagueta, La Caleta or Playa San Andres and doing beachy things all day, such as reading under a parasol and taking a dip in the sea.
Alternatively, take a walk and enjoy feeling the sand between your toes, before reaching Banos del Carmen where you will be rewarded with a cool drink and a great view back towards the city centre, fringed by the sea. There are little bars all along Malaga’s coastline, often with barbecues cooking fresh fish outside.
Day 4 – See Malaga through Picasso’s eyes
Pablo Picasso must be the most famous person ever to have lived in Malaga, despite the fact that his family moved away when he was ten and he only returned a few times after that. Spend a day doing all things related to the great artist, from visiting his birthplace house to drinking at the bar that he is said to have frequented on subsequent trips back to the city.
When Picasso died he was insistent that Malaga would have a museum to house his work and the Buenavista Palace became the setting. Here you will find 285 pieces, accompanied by an audio guide in English. It is considered to be one of the best Picasso Museums in the world, so be sure not to miss it.
For a more intimate look at Picasso’s origins, head to the house where he was born in a corner of Plaza de la Merced. As well as objects belonging to the family, paintings created by his father Jose Ruiz Blasco, which portray pigeons, can also be seen. Any keen Picasso fans will know this was a theme he extended into his own work.
Out in the square where the young Pablo would play is a statue of the artist as an old man sat watching the world go by. As Picasso never visited Malaga in this stage of his life, some artistic licence is needed, but it makes for a very poignant sight and a lovely photo opportunity.
Finding yourself in Plaza de la Merced will make you ideally positioned for a coffee in Cafe con Libros or for dinner at one of the restaurants lining the square. The perfect way to finish off a Picasso day is to head to La Antigua Casa de la Guardia, which was founded in 1840 and still serves dry white wine in tiny glasses at a narrow bar. A little further away, it is worth venturing to for a nightcap.
Day 5 – Museums and authentic cuisine
Use your fifth day to explore some of Malaga’s other museums, with plenty to choose from, depending on your own personal interests. The Glass and Crystal Museum occupies a stunning old house and includes items such as a stained glass window designed by William Morris.
The founder of the museum is sometimes even on hand to give tours in English and it is impossible not to be infected by his absolute enthusiasm for the items he has brought together into this collection.
Have lunch at the Ataranzas Market, where produce is sold in the centre and bars and stalls serve beer, wine and dishes to keep everyone going around the outside. Pull up a stool and dine like a local on delicious fresh food cooked to order in front of you.
Day 6 – Day trip the Costa del Sol
While the city of Malaga itself has its fair share of beaches, the province surrounding it has even more to choose from. A popular daytrip from Malaga is to Nerja, around an hour’s drive away and still on the coast. Often referred to as the jewel of the Costa del Sol, this resort town has a unique setting, complete with sandy coves sheltered by the imposing Sierra de Almijara Mountains.
Make a whole day of your time in Nerja, sunning yourself on the beach in the morning, before heading into the town to explore its sleepy plazas and seek out a delicious seafood lunch. Alternatively, opt for tapas, which is a great way to enjoy locally specialities through sharing dishes with the rest of your party.
In the afternoon, make your way to the Balcon de Europa, a lookout point that has been fashioned from the remains of a fortress. From here, all of Nerja’s coves and beaches spread out in front of you, as well as the picture-perfect village of Maro and the Nerja Caves beyond.
Day 7 – Grab a souvenir
On your final day in Malaga, spend it leisurely wandering around the city, picking up souvenirs and writing postcards at El Pimpi’s outside space overlooking the Roman Temple with a beer. Typical items to buy in Malaga include red wine, olive oil, painted ceramics or fans.
With so much to do in Malaga, what are you waiting for? Check out our flights to the Spanish city today.