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Malaga holidays are packed full of charm and traditional Spanish attractions, not least because it’s one of the oldest cities in Europe. Today, it has a balance of historic and modern touches and has become a highlight of the Costa del Sol region, providing a popular gateway for visitors in search of a city break that combines sunny days on the beach with a hint of culture.
While many may pass through on their way to their chosen beach resort, Malaga holidays offer a great deal more than a regular spot on the sand and a cocktail in hand. The city is rich in culture and history, boasting Moorish castles, Roman ruins and a stunning cathedral, as well as being the birthplace of a little-known artist called Picasso.
Malaga holidays are the perfect way to explore an engaging variety of historic sites and pretty churches, while the little streets and squares in the city open up to a host of delightful cafes and restaurants. Boutiques, craft shops and larger shopping centres are present in Malaga so you won’t have a problem finding the perfect gift to take home from your trip to the Costa del Sol.
Tropical and sub-tropical plants are found in La Alameda, the main park in central Malaga, and for delightful beaches head just outside of the city, which opens up to a glorious world of sand and sea, and you’ll find a number of 5-star hotels making the most of these fantastic beach locations.
To kick start your Spanish getaway, check out our top Malaga hotels!
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A bustling and vibrant city dominating the coast of the Spanish region of Andalucia, Malaga is the traditional centre of the Costa del Sol. Generally, flights to Spain are reasonably priced throughout the year, with the peaks being in the summer months. The best part of Andalucia is that it's a year-round destination, the cooler months best for both cheap holidays to Malaga and long days sight-seeing.
There are so many things to do in Malaga, a destination capitalising on the Costa del Sol’s steamy Mediterranean climate, fantastic traditional cuisine, and a rich history – few know that Picasso was born in Malaga.
Southern Spain is an undeniable tourism hotspot of Europe, and Malaga is certainly no exception. Yet despite this hefty influx of visitors and increased infrastructure, the city still retains its original charm. While the sun and the sand are often the main focus for tourists that flock to this part of Spain, a combination of Roman ruins, intriguing museums and historic castles will have you delving beyond the more frequented of Malaga’s attractions.
If you fancy a little bit more of a thrill, you can venture out of Malaga and head to the El Chorro gorge for some serious rock climbing. While the climbing is best left to those with experience, the gorge itself is a magnificent sight, one you can appreciate from the slightly precarious walkway.
For a day of fun and relaxation, a 20-minute drive west will bring you to the resort town of Torremolinos. The town is home to the biggest water park in Andalucia, Aqualand. Spend the day slipping and sliding down the waterslides or chilling out in one of the many pools on offer to visitors.
Malaga rests along the Costa Del Sol, literally the coast of the sun, and the city is blessed with expansive stretches of soft sand and picturesque bays to fill the hearts of all beach bums with glee. Malaga's city beach of Caleta is well equipped for the whole family with sunbeds and umbrellas to hire, and toilets and showers available. About 1400m long, Caleta Beach is easily accessible and offers great views towards the port. Long promenades run along many of the beaches and are flanked by numerous traditional tapas bars and restaurants known locally as chiringuitos. You won't have to move far from your sun lounger to find tasty seafood and cold beer in Malaga.
For a truly scenic beach, just 20 minutes up the coast will deliver you to the beautiful Playa de Guadalmar, a sandy beach which kisses the mouth of the river Guadalhorce. a regional beauty spot. Or you can hop along the coast the other side of Malaga and explore popular bays like Playa de la Malagueta and Playa de El Palo.
If you fancy a little more action around the beach, you’ll find a variety of water sports up and down the coast around Malaga, from simple sports on the sand like beach volleyball and football, to adventures in the water like kayak touring, jet skiing and windsurfing. Malaga is also a brilliant location to explore the farther stretches of the Costa del Sol’s coastline, providing easy access to destinations like Marbella, Estepona and Nerja.
You’ll find that Malaga is blessed with decent weather year-round, though the highest temperatures, usually peaking at around 30C, will be experienced in the summer months between June and September. July and August experience the biggest influx of tourists, but for those looking for a little more peace and quiet there is plenty of winter sun to be had through the darker season.
One mainstay of Malaga’s cuisine is of course the seafood plucked from the rich Mediterranean Sea. The majority of the Costa del Sol’s seafront is lined with little snack bars and restaurants known locally as chiringuitos. Here you can enjoy various fish dishes, grilled squid and paella. One of the most renowned chiringuitos in Malaga is El Tintero, famous for its singing waiters.
Malaga is home to a few typical local dishes which are worth a taste. Espetos are grilled sardines skewered on a bamboo stick, while coquinas are sweet small clams cooked in white wine. Of course, you can get your fair share of Spanish jamon here, much of which is a regional speciality – it tends to go very well with cheese, but what doesn’t?For a taste of some local booze you should order a glass of mosto, a sweet wine made from muscat grapes.
Throughout the whole year you’ll be able to experience the wonderful cuisine of the Costa del Sol, some of the finest in Spain. Predictably the seafood is fantastic, with some wonderful fried fish dishes all along the seafront. The tapas in Malaga is also very good, as is the Iberian ham.
Malaga possesses that ‘city that never sleeps’ vibe, evident in the number of diverse bars and clubs dotted around the destination, although it is Thursday through to Sunday when you’ll find the rowdiest party.
The city is home to controlled drinking areas called botellodromos. You can buy your alcohol from supermarkets and then legally drink in these sectors in the city centre before heading out to the clubs later on.
The club scene is extremely variable, and you’ll find everything from jazz to dance joints throughout the city. You’ll also find a number of Salsa bars open late across Malaga, most of which offer classes through the day, allowing you to show off your new moves once the sun has gone down.
Families will find many attractions in Malaga to make their holiday an enjoyable one. The beaches of the Costa del Sol provide the typical lure for families, whether seeking some relaxation in the hot summer sun or a session of splashing about in the waves.
For families hoping to indulge themselves deeper into Spanish culture, Malaga is home to some great language schools that offer various types of Spanish lessons to visitors. Babylon Idiomas host some great and affordable options for all levels, allowing your family the chance to communicate with the locals, even if it is just ordering dos cervezas.
Just east of Malaga in Torremolinos you will find Aqualand, Andalucia’s largest water park. The park is full of relaxing pools, exciting slides and countless sun loungers, providing families with a great afternoon of entertainment.
Malaga is a great place for couples looking to explore on foot, and you’ll find some great attractions throughout the town. The Alcazaba of Malaga is a wonderfully maintained Moorish castle which also boasts a Roman theatre just below it. A visit to the grand cathedral is also worthwhile, especially at night when it is lit up to make it look even more imposing. You should also take the opportunity to discover Picasso’s legacy in Malaga. The artist was born in this city, and as well as having the option to visit his birthplace, there is the fantastic Picasso Museum featuring some of his exclusive work.
Malaga is home to a burgeoning cycling scene and getting on two wheels is a great way to explore the motorised vehicle-free city centre with your other half. There are longer routes available to cyclists that fancy more than just a leisurely afternoon cycle. Bike2malaga run cycle tours between the city and the resort town of Torremolinos.
You’ll find a little bit of action and adventure along the beaches near to the city. The closest beach is La Malagueta which you’ll find just to the east of the city. Splashing about in the waves and kicking a football along the beach is about as active as it gets here, but taking a trip further east will expose you to beaches with bustling water sports activities.
One of the most adventurous things to do in Malaga is climbing in the El Chorro gorge. This haven for rock climbers is less than an hour’s drive from the city and offers some challenging climbs in a beautiful location. The gorge is also home to the Kings Walkway, a thrilling pathway that is suspended above a rather high drop.
The city centre is a pretty part of town, consisting of some interesting architecture and pretty streets. The iconic image found at the heart of this area is the city’s cathedral. The tower rises above the rest of the buildings, creating an imposing beauty, especially at night when the cathedral is lit up.
Malaga is home to some extremely well preserved Moorish castles, the best being La Alcazaba de Malaga which you’ll find perched on a hill in the middle of the city. It was built in the 11th century and now serves as the best Moorish castle remains in Spain as well as a historical reminder of the Hammudid dynasty. Just below La Alcazaba you’ll discover the remains of a Roman theatre complete with a mini artefacts exhibit and, more importantly, free entry to the main complex. Another famous Malaga site is the Castillo de Gibralfaro. Sitting proudly on the hilltop overlooking the city, this castle is one of the most recognisable in Spain, featuring on the flags and official seals of both Malaga city and province.