Vibrant, open late and with a serious café scene, Marbella’s less famous sister is worth exploring
It’s a timeshare favourite, it’s easy to get to and now that reality TV stars have discovered Marbella, Andalucia has never been more in the spotlight than right now.
But if you’re landing in Malaga soon and intending to make a quick beeline to your resort in Marbella, you might want to put aside a day – or half – during your stay to get to know this vibrant city by the sea a bit better.
Malaga – getting there
Chances are you’ll probably be based in Fuengirola, Mijas, Marbella or Benalmadena, in which case if you can get to Fuengirola, the RENFE train runs all day and into the evening from Fuengirola to Malaga train station where you can get off for shopping (it also stops at the airport).
Art – part of the heart of Picasso’s home town
While you eat, shop and sightsee to your heart’s delight, art is a big part of Picasso’s own home town. With a mix of modern malls and small boutiques tucked along side streets, the city is a maze of sidestreet tapas bars, gift shops, restaurants and parks and the fabulous Picasso Museum is an absolute don’t miss!
A spot of lunch or a cup of tea?
Meson la Aldea (5 Esparteros, tel. 952 227 689) If you’re in the city at lunchtime, Meson la Aldea does a good menu for around €11 – try the typical Andalucian dishes like seafood soup, grilled dorada (a popular local fish) or baked aubergines drizzled in honey, Moorish style.
Malaga’s Moorish influence means you’ll find a lot of Arabic-style tea-shops – called “teterias” – dotted around the city (there are some in Fuengirola, too). Perfect for a refreshing mint tea or a café con leche and something sweet, in between window shopping. Some of the best ones are near the cathedral and Picasso Museum (well worth a visit for its frequently changing exhibitions and beautiful setting). 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 Calle Larios, lined with pretty flower stalls. It’s Malaga’s most famous shopping street and when you’ve had enough of strolling around it’s the perfect stop for a break, to sit and just soak up the early autumn sunshine.
Ruin your diet with a churro (or two)
Alameda separates the historic centre/old town from the park and Malaga’s large harbour. You’ll want to head here if you’re in the mood for a bit of music – to the Interactive Music Museum (Plaza de la Marina) or for a sweet treat midway through the morning, Arte Postre (Carazuela) serves calorie-packed Spanish pastries. (If you haven’t had a typical churros with chocolate breakfast yet, you should. They’re crispy, golden, moreish and you can dip them in chocolate for an extra-delicious “fix”).
Make a beeline for the Museums
Culture vultures will probably enjoy a wander around the Contemporary Arts Museum and when you’ve seen all the art you can take in, take a coffee break at the café called Frankamente. (Alemania).
Tuck into a Frito Mixto at the beach
Want to go where the locals go? The locals love Pedregalejo. Like Marbella it started as a sleepy fishing district but has become something of a destination for a good Frito Mixto Malagueno. This is 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.
Malaga airport is around 9 kilometres from the actual city centre and, conveniently, 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” (as in train) 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 although schedules may be subject to change.
Thinking of taking a taxi? The fare from the airport to the city centre will cost between €19 and €24-ish depending on the time and day, plus supplements for luggage. And if you’re heading to Benalmadena or Fuengirola, where a lot of the timeshare resorts are, then expect to pay around €50. It’s cheaper, if you have time, to just catch the train to either of these two “regional station stops” – look for Benalmadena/Arroyo de la Miel or Fuengirola station – and get off and then catch a taxi to take you directly to your resort.
Malaga 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 ).
Southern Spain takes its siestas seriously, so…
You won’t be the first visitor to be taken aback when you turn up somewhere, only to find it closed “during normal working hours”. Lots of offices do this, including lawyers.
You just need to remember that southern Spain takes its siestas seriously, and the banks, government offices and many shops tend to close for lunch then reopen late afternoon until later the evening – which is a good excuse to escape to a tapas bar or sip a few people-watching cafes con leche until they open again…
The same thing happens late morning. Although they’re open, a lot of company staff nip out for breakfast (and another espresso to fuel their morning) at around 10.30 or 11am, so if you’ve made an appointment but are told “Senor Rodrigues will be in soon” chances are he’s around the corner tucking into a quick breakfast before getting back to his desk. Andalucians work to live and enjoy life, not the other way round!
Leading timeshare companies with resorts in the Malaga/Costa del Sol region include Club La Costa, Silverpoint, Hapimag and Holiday Club Resorts and you’ll find most of the timeshare resorts in and around Malaga are between 15 and a maximum of about 40 minutes from the airport, so they’re easy to get to.