With its very respectable late autumn temperatures, sweeping sandy beaches, legendary tapas bars like El Pimpi and short flight times, Malaga still tops a lot of polls as one of the most popular holiday destinations for British travellers and timeshare owners.
Unlike many Spanish cities, though, Malaga doesn’t wind down once the summer tourist season is up. The region is still warm and dappled in sunshine come the autumn months, making it the perfect time of year to visit this Costa del Sol favourite.
But with so much to do in the popular resort, what are the must-not-miss highlights? Here are our top ten ways to get the best out of your next Malaga holiday.
Ideally positioned for budding photographers, the views from Alcazaba stretch way out across the sea and the city, so it’s hardly surprising that over time this 11th century fortress has become one of Malaga’s key attractions. Built by Malaga’s Arab rulers, this grand and immaculately-preserved fortress once served as a palace.
Visitors should make the most of the beautiful gardens and the stunning architecture before browsing the archaeological museum where exhibits include Roman mosaics and Moorish ceramics.
Sweeping majestically above Alcazaba is Gibralfaro castle, built in the 14th century to protect the fortress. Although the road leading to the top is long and winding, there are plenty of buses that run from the town centre, or you can even take one of Malaga’s abundant taxis.
Come here on a clear day to enjoy some breath-taking views of the city, wander through the gardens, or stop by at the outdoor café to take it all in over a cup of café con leche.
3) The Cathedral
Based on the site of Malaga’s main mosque, building on the cathedral was started in the 16th century. However, one of the towers was never completed, making the city’s unique cathedral slightly topsy turvy and lop-sided (it is nicknamed ‘La Manquita’ which means ‘one-armed lady’ by locals).
This is an impressive building to take in and if you visit you’ll notice a span of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Inside, the carved choir stalls are quite beautiful, while art lovers will love the famous sculpture by Pedro de Mena and painting by Alonso Cano.
4) The Picasso Museum
The museum has had a terrific amount of media coverage in recent years and has become one of the top five places to visit in Malaga. Spend an afternoon here and you won’t be disappointed – it’s an unmissable destination for art and culture lovers and charts Picasso’s works from the late-19th century until his death in 1973.
Based in the heart of the old town, the museum also happens to be just a short stroll from the house where Malaga’s most famous son Picasso was born on Plaza de la Merced (and it’s also open as a museum).
Take a browse around the contemporary exhibitions, treat yourself in the gift shop, or sit and watch the world go by in the pleasant courtyard café.
5) The Roman Theatre
Incredibly, Malaga’s Roman Amphitheatre – based at the foot of Alcazaba – was only discovered in the 1950s and has since become one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions. Parts of the tiered seating, the stage and access corridors have survived, while much of the rest has been restored to host concerts and outdoor gigs offering perfect acoustics for music fans.
6) Indoor Market
This is the place to come to stock up on gourmet treats if you’re self-catering! Set your mouth watering and feel your senses explode by exploring Malaga’s legendary indoor food market. From stalls selling fresh fish to vegetables and meat, the market is a feast for any food lover – and we challenge you to come away empty-handed!
Food apart, it’s worth seeing the venue itself as the market is also based in a beautiful building, with touches of Moorish architecture style and a breath-taking stained-glass window.
7) Relax at the Hammam
Malaga’s Moorish footprints are alive and well at the Hammam where you can relax and unwind from the stresses of life in the warm baths. Choose from a selection of pools (you can even brave the ice cold ones if you dare!), the steam room or Turkish baths, or even book yourself in for a massage. If it’s all getting a bit too much, take a step back and enjoy a mint tea in the upstairs café. This is the perfect place to get away from it all.
8) Sunbathe at Playas de La Malagueta
While many of Malaga’s beaches are overcrowded and full of tourists, this sandy white beach is where the locals (and celebs) come to swim and sunbathe. This is our favourite beach in the area to unwind – you sit among the upmarket beachclubs, snack bars selling freshly grilled sardines and one of the city’s smartest restaurants – Antonio Martín. It’s always worth spending an afternoon here to enjoy the warm swimmable water.
9) The Botanic Gardens
Renowned as one of the best botanic gardens in Europe, La Concepción is a tropical paradise which combines formal gardens with a lush green forest. The gardens feature plants and species from across the world and were created in the mid-19th century by an aristocratic couple.
Following the basic route takes around an hour and a half, but you could easily spend all day there – find yourself getting lost among the numerous squares and monuments dedicated to Malaga’s elite. An excellent place to head to at midday if the weather is unusually hot.
10) Taste-test Malaga’s famous sweet wines
El Pimpi is Malaga’s best-known tapas bar where you can sample the region’s superb sweet wines with mini-plates of fresh seafood. If you’ve already been there, try La Casa del Guardia which is the oldest tavern in Malaga. They sell Malaga sweet wine at Malaga airport, so if you’ve forgotten your “souvenir bottle”, no problem – you can pick one up before you fly home.