Malaga Top 10 Things To Do On Your First Visit

Malaga: Top 10 Things To Do On Your First Visit

Malaga on Spain’s Costa Del Sol is a buzzing city with more history, culture and great food than many cities put together. Find out the top things to do on your first visit. 

Malaga is a pretty green city too
Malaga is a pretty green city too

Malaga – the heart of the Costa Del Sol. With over 300 sunny days a year, hot summers and the warmest winters in Europe, it’s a great choice for a holiday all year round. Many Brits visit Malaga just for the airport as they travel on to the likes of Marbella and Torremolinos, but Malaga really is worth a dedicated holiday.

Malaga is a city undergoing regeneration. While it may not have the draw of nearby Andalucian cities Granada, Córdoba and Seville, it offers plenty in the way of art, culture and beauty. It’s got that beautiful marriage of ancient and modern. Trendy bars and food markets sit next to Gothic cathedrals and Roman ruins, while rooftop pools offer views to an 11th Century castle on one side and a modern promenade on the other. It’s got that buzz about it. A city on the rise.

Cool modern architecture in Malaga
Cool modern architecture in Malaga
Roman amphitheatre ruins in Malaga, Spain
Roman amphitheatre ruins in Malaga, Spain

Believe me, I never expected to return from my trip to southern Spain shouting about Malaga… but it genuinely surprised me. So here we go…

Malaga: Top 10 Things To Do On Your First Visit 

Malaga: Wander the old city  

Malaga is a city of cute pavement cafes, historic plazas and stunning architecture. A former stomping ground for Picasso, there’s a creative streak running through the city. Huge murals, mosaic floors and eye-catching street art line the ancient streets. Be sure to wander along Larios – one of the most expensive streets in Spain, often compared to NYC’s 5th Avenue and the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Streets of Malaga, Spain
Streets of Malaga, Spain
Plazas of Malaga, Spain
Plazas of Malaga, Spain
Larios street, Malaga, Spain
Larios street, Malaga, Spain

Malaga: Visit the food markets

The food in Malaga is top notch and the best way to get to know it is by visiting one of the city’s markets. Mercado Central de Atarazanas is a busy market in a beautiful historic building. It’s hard not to be impressed by the huge archway at the front which was once part of a shipyard. The building fuses 14th century Moorish architecture with 19th century industrial design. Once inside, the most eye-catching feature is its huge stained glass window. Stalls inside offer everything from cheese and meats to fresh fish, colourful fruit and vegetables and hundreds of varieties of olives.

Mercado Central de Atarazanas, Malaga, Spain
Mercado Central de Atarazanas, Malaga, Spain

Meanwhile, Mercado Merced is a gourmet market offering tasty tapas and alcoholic drinks in a more sophisticated environment. From Malaga’s famous fried fish to croquetas, craft beer and even sushi, it’s a fun place to spend an evening with friends.

Mercado Merced, Malaga, Spain
Mercado Merced, Malaga, Spain
Mercado Merced, Malaga, Spain
Mercado Merced, Malaga, Spain
Mercado Merced, Malaga, Spain
Mercado Merced dressed for Halloween in Malaga, Spain

Malaga: Visit the Pompidou Centre

 You might not have expected the first Pompidou Centre outside of France to be in Malaga… but it seems to be a perfect fit in this creative city. The colourful cube structure sits above ground while most of the modern art is displayed in the gallery underground. After receiving over 75,000 visitors in the first three months, it’s really set Malaga as a city for art lovers. From Picasso and Francis Bacon to dynamic live performances and visiting exhibitions, this is the kind of gallery where you don’t have to be an art connoisseur to really enjoy your visit!

Pompidou Centre at night, Malaga
Pompidou Centre at night, Malaga

 Malaga: Walk along the Muelle Uno

 Malaga has a busy port, and this area known as Quay 1 has been completely transformed into a cool shopping and dining area. Along with around 30 stores there are restaurants, cocktail bars and gelatarias. Oh and then there’s Zoco – a monthly market selling everything from handmade crafts and jewellery to delicious organic foods.

Enjoying the reflections by the water in Malaga
Enjoying the reflections by the water in Malaga
Sunset in Malaga, Spain
Sunset in Malaga, Spain
Night time by the water in Malaga, Spain
Night time by the water in Malaga, Spain 

Malaga: Rooftop views

As you walk the streets of Malaga you’ll be amazed at the beautiful historic buildings sitting alongside each other. There’s so much detail on each one… plus plenty of art to take in too. But head up to one of the city’s tallest buildings for a completely different view of the city. Spires poke out between the congested rooftops, while boats come and go in the port. For the best view, head to the rooftop of the  AC Hotel Málaga Palacio where you can enjoy the panorama while sipping on a cocktail by the pool!

Rooftop pool at the AC Hotel Malaga Palacio
Rooftop pool at the AC Hotel Malaga Palacio
View of Malaga from the roof terrace at AC Hotel Malaga Palacio, Malaga
View of Malaga from the roof terrace at AC Hotel Malaga Palacio, Malaga

Malaga: Food Tour

My favourite way to get to know a place is by eating my way around it! Malaga food tours run by Spain Food Sherpas and Devour Malaga give tourists a great introduction to Malaga with visits to the market and the city’s most interesting restaurants. The guides are full of information, and after the tour, you’ll have a great knowledge not just of Malaga’s cuisine, but also the history and culture that has shaped it.

Squid tapas in Malaga, Spain
Tasty squid tapas on Spain Food Sherpas in Malaga, Spain

Malaga: Ride the Malaga Wheel

At 70m high, views from the Malaga wheel are pretty spectacular. Located down by the water, its said you can see for around 30km on a clear day – all the way to Morocco! With 42 pods and space for 8 people, it’s a lot smaller than the London Eye, but it’s a still a lovely way to get to know Malaga.

View of the Malaga wheel and port 

Malaga: Soak up the history

Malaga has been described as one of the oldest cities in the world, with over 3000 years of history. In 7 BC, the Phoenicians founded a commercial centre here named Malaca. The Romans spent time here, plus don’t forget Arabs ruled for eight centuries and left their mark architecturally. For history lovers, there really is so much to see! From the incredible remains of the Roman Amphitheatre from the 1st Century to the impressive Santiago Church, Picasso’s birthplace in Plaza de la Merced, and stunning 10th Century Castillo de Gibralfaro overlooking the city – you’ll have your work cut out seeing it all on your first visit.

Roman amphitheatre ruins in Malaga, Spain
Roman amphitheatre ruins in Malaga, Spain
Malaga Cathedral
Malaga Cathedral

Malaga: Hit the beach

While many head out of Malaga to the beaches of Nerja or Marbella, there are some lovely beaches close to Malaga’s centre – 15 within the city’s limits to be exact! Playa de la Malagueta is one of the closest, lined with shops and restaurants specialising in fresh seafood. Just beyond, Playa de la Caleta is one of the most popular with locals.

Nerja's beach, Spain

Malaga: Enjoy the sunset  

After a busy day exploring the city, don’t miss one of Malaga’s famous sunsets. As the sun disappears over the water, it’s time for another side of the city to reveal itself… the nightlife! Crowds gather at bars lining Malaga’s ancient streets, enjoying local wine, tapas and more.

Sunset in Malaga, Spain
Sunset in Malaga, Spain

N.B. This post was sponsored by Thomson but all opinions are my own. 

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Malaga: Top 10 Things To Do On Your First Visit