Top 5 sights for first-timers
Like much of southern Spain, Málaga was once a Moorish city and the Alcazaba is a beautiful example of their castle-building skills. Built by the Hammudid dynasty in the 11th century, the castle is set high on a hill in the middle of the city and offers spectacular views of the surrounding sprawl.
One of the most iconic artists of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga and the city isn’t about to let you forget it. Boasting 160 works by the Cubist master, the gallery is set in a stunning 16th-century palace and includes some illuminating exhibits.
Palacio de Buenavista, Calle San Agustín 8
Plaza de Toros
Despite the best efforts of PETA and co, Málaga’s enthusiasm for bullfighting remains undiminished and a visit to the Plaza de Toros goes some way to explaining why. Attached to Spain’s busiest bullring, the small museum gives a glimpse into the world of the matador via a carefully curated selection of artefacts.
Paseo de Reding
It took almost 200 years to convert Málaga’s 16th-century mosque into a Christian church but a glimpse at its stunning 40-metre-high domed ceiling is enough to reveal that the time and effort was well worth it. Of the original mosque, only the pretty orange tree-filled Patio de los Naranjos survives.
Calle Molina Lario 9
Plaza de la Merced
A bustling city square in the heart of the centre, Plaza de la Merced is where Málaga comes alive. Packed with quaint bars and interesting boutiques, it’s also home to the Fundación Picasso Museo Casa Natal, the tiny house where the city’s favourite son was born.
Plaza de la Merced
Top 5 sights for old hands
If you’ve seen the Alcazaba before but don’t want to miss the view from the ramparts, make Málaga’s crumbling Roman theatre your excuse. You can see them from the plaza in front, or drop into the attached building which leads into the ruins themselves and houses a small collection of artefacts found in the remains.
Castillo de Gibralfaro
Málaga’s second Moorish castle is just as lovely as the first, although you will need hiking boots to reach this one as it’s set atop a craggy hill. Built by Abd ar-Rahman I, the eighth-century Cordoban emir, it was rebuilt in the 14th century but fell into disuse after the Emirate of Granada came to a bloody end.
Camino de Gibralfaro 11
Jardín Botánico La Concepción
It’s a little out of the way but the Jardín Botánico La Concepción is well worth a visit if you have a couple of hours to spare. Created in the mid-19th century by an Anglo-Spanish aristocratic couple, the garden is famous for its purple wisteria although it was originally intended to resemble a tropical forest.
Camino del Jardín Botánico 3
Centro de Arte Contemporáneo
Thanks to Picasso, Málaga has a passion for all things modern art and the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo is one of the beneficiaries. Housed in a converted warehouse, the museum has a small permanent collection and an interesting roster of temporary shows.
Mercado Central de Atarazanas
Málaga has no shortage of markets but the Mercado Central de Atarazanas is particularly special. Housed in a renovated 19th-century building that incorporates the Moorish city gates and boasts beautiful stained glass windows, you’ll find everything from olives to misshapen tomatoes on sale.