After the sombre processions of Semana Santa (during Easter week), Malaga’s city parks and gardens burst into full bloom and while northern Europe struggles to stay in double digits, summer is already around the corner on the Costa del Sol.
If Malaga is on your holiday list this year, here are some of the city’s highlights which are worth a detour. Most of the main timeshare resorts are a fifteen to forty minute drive from Malaga airport but there’s no reason not to explore this vibrant city if you have an afternoon or evening to spare.
If you’re staying in Fuengirola or Benalmadena, the RENFE train runs frequently during the day from Fuengirola to Malaga airport and Malaga’s shopping centre.
Historic Centre/Centro Historico
You can shop, eat and sightsee to your heart’s delight in Picasso’s original home town. With a mix of modern malls and small boutiques tucked along side streets, Malaga is a maze of tapas bars, gift shops, restaurants and parks.
Meson la Aldea (5 Esparteros, tel. 952 227 689) does a lunchtime menu for around €8 with southern Spanish dishes like seafood soup, grilled dorada (fish) and baked aubergines.
Malaga’s Moorish influence means you’ll find several Arabic-style tea-shops to stop off at for a refreshing mint tea or a café con leche, some of the best ones are near the cathedral and Picasso Museum (which has constantly changing exhibitions in a beautiful setting and is well worth a planned visit). Pop into Tetería La Manquita (Duque de la Victoria 8) or La Tetería (9 Agustín) which are both good and popular with the malagueños.
Many of the main shops in the city centre lie along the flower stall-lined Calle Larios – it’s Malaga’s most famous shopping street and conveniently lined with bars and coffee shops, the perfect stop for a cool break in between window shopping or to escape from Malaga’s hot midday heat in summer.
There’s also Alameda which is the district that separates the historic centre/old town from the park and Malaga’s large harbour. If you’re in the mood for music, head for the Interactive Music Museum (Plaza de la Marina) and if you need a sweet treat midway through the morning, Arte Postre (Carazuela) serves tempting Spanish pastries and chocolate brownies.
Culture vultures will love the Contemporary Arts Museum – if you’re anywhere near it, a good coffee shop is Frankamente, inside the museum (Alemania).
The locals love Pedregalejo but it’s still a bit of a secret for most visitors. Like Marbella, further up the coast, it started as a sleepy fishing district but has become something of a destination for a good Frito Mixto Malagueno (Malaga’s famous mixed fried fish dish, usually an assortment of fish and seafood, piled on a silver platter and garnished with lemon. For fried fish and sardines barbecued on a skewer try La Cabra (89 Paseo Marítimo de Pedregalejo) or Mari Cuchi (14 Paseo Marítimo de Pedregalejo).
If you need to check your email, many of the bars along the seafront have Wi-Fi – try Nemaste (74 Paseo Marítimo de Pedregalejo) for midmorning drinks.
Transport links in Malaga
Malaga airport is situated about nine kilometres from the actual city centre and trains run to and from the airport every half hour. If you’ve just arrived in Malaga from the UK and need to get to Malaga city centre, follow the yellow “tren” station signs from the departure (not arrivals) floor.
The Nº19 bus also leaves from outside the arrivals hall approximately every 30 minutes from 7.00am to 12.00pm on weekdays and from 7.05am to 12.00pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. The fare is €1.20.
If you’re taking a taxi, the journey from the airport to the city centre will cost between €17 and €23 depending on the time and day, plus supplements for luggage. And if you’re heading to Benalmadena or Fuengirola, expect to pay around €50. It’s cheaper, if you have time, to catch the train to either of these two “regional station stops” and get off and then catch a taxi to take you directly to your resort.
The Tourist Office – Malaga’s main tourist office is located at 4 Pasaje de Chinitas 4 (for more information see the official website which is www.malagaturismo.com ).
Don’t forget that southern Spain takes its siestas seriously, and the banks, government offices and many shops close during lunchtime and reopen late afternoon until the evening – a good excuse to escape to a tapas bar until they open again…