Having snapped up cheap flights to Malaga, millions of tourists will see only the airport as they make their way to the sun spots along the Costa del Sol, such as Torremolinos, Benalmadena, Fuengirola, Marbella or Seville, but Malaga is one of Spain's under-discovered cities, bustling and cultural with a lively student population, and a passion for a parade.
The traces of several civilisations can be found here. High on a hill in the centre of the city sits the Alcazaba, a Moorish fortification dating from the 8th century. Beside it is a Roman amphitheatre and above it the Castillo de Gibralfaro, built in the 14th and 15th centuries on the site of a Phoenician lighthouse. The views of the city from here are stunning. The cathedral, known as La Manquita (One Armed Woman), dates back to the 16th century, built on the site of a mosque, and there are several other pretty churches in the city.
To underline their religious faith, Holy Week (Semana Santa) and, later, Corpus Christi, are marked with solemn and extravagant processions.
Pablo Picasso is Malaga's most famous son and there are two buildings associated with him. His birthplace Plaza de la Merced 15 is the Foundation Picasso and the Picasso museum.
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Malaga is characterised by balmy winters and hot, dry summers tempered by sea breezes. The average temperature in August is 28 degrees (Celsius). The coolest months are January and February with temperatures in the teens. Most of the rain falls between November and March, and the rest of the year is very dry.
When to fly to Malaga
June to October is peak season, and all Malaga flights and hotels must be reserved in advance.
The first week in August, Malaga celebrates its reconquest by Ferdinand and Isabella with a big fair, complete with parades and bullfights.
National Day is 12 October when the Spanish are also on holiday.
Malaga was once a popular winter resort for the rich and famous, and is still a pleasure to visit in winter.
Many restaurants close while their owners go on holiday around 15 October.
Getting around Malaga
Malaga is easy to get around on foot since most of the sites are close to each other. The public buses are reliable and affordable. Take the train or bus into town after your Malaga flight lands. You can also rent a car at the arrivals gate if you need to.
Malaga insider information
- Malaga has more than 20 museums. Most of them are in the city’s Historical Quarter including the Picasso museum, dolls house museum, bullring and bullfighting museum, contemporary art centre and religious art museum.
- Parts of the 11th-century Alcazaba (Moorish fortification) has been restored – walkways, ramparts, gardens and water gardens. Below the entrance, lie the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre dating from the second century (AD).
- Barcelona holds the lion’s share of Picasso’s work, but Malaga, the artist’s birthplace, also has a museum. It was founded thanks to the dedication and collection of Picasso’s heirs, Christine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso. In addition to the permanent collection of such works as the Dora Maar paintings, the museum also has works on long-term loan including Portrait of a Woman with a Green-Collar Dress and several fine ceramics pieces.
- Malaga Cathedral: the cathedral was started in 1528 after Malaga was taken from the Moors. It was built on top of a former mosque and was not finished until 1782. It therefore has a mix of architectural styles including a Gothic fundament, Renaissance facades and Baroque towers. There is a museum too.
- Malaga has plenty of green attractions including Malaga Park, Pedro Luis Alonso Gardens, Puerta Oscura Gardens and the English Cemetary, Spain's first Protestant cemetery.
- The bullfighting ring in Malaga (in Paseo de Reding, La Malagueta) dates from 1874 and can hold almost 15,000 people.