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Malaga, The Paradise City

Loaded with history and brimming with a youthful vigour that proudly acknowledges its multi-layered past, the city that gave the world Picasso has transformed itself in spectacular fashion, with half a dozen new art galleries, a radically rethought port area and a nascent art district called Soho. Not that Málaga was ever lacking in energy: the Spanish-to-the-core bar scene could put bags under the eyes of an insomniac madrileño, while the food culture encompasses both Michelin stars and tastefully tatty fish snacks.

For most people, the first stop on their journey through the south of Spain happens to be the second largest city in Andalucía. This is because the most popular airport in Andalucía is located in Málaga.

Despite being a port city, Málaga has a beautiful and historic Old Town.

The historic Old Town, is also known as the Centro Histórico. This almost car-free centre is like a maze. It’s easy to lose your orientation within this charming labyrinth of narrow streets, but that is exactly what makes the Old Town of Málaga so attractive. The Old Town is home to some of the most significant sights in city, including the impressive Cathedral and the Mercado Central.

Described as “Ciudad del paraíso” (“Paradise City”), Malaga is a vibrant city that fascinates all who visit with its mixture of ancient history, folklore and modern culture. It’s easy to imagine paradise in this harbor city with nearly 3.000 hours of sunshine a year and several kilometers of beach right in its centre.

Málaga is located on the Costa del Sol, a stretch of coast on the Spanish Mediterranean. As the name suggests, this region is spoiled with endless sunny days along the cost.

In terms of tourism, Málaga has long been overlooked in favour of other nearby regional destinations. But in recent times, that has changed completely. Nowadays, Málaga is one of the most popular destinations in Andalucía. A few years ago, the city had many of their streets renovated and the port was also converted into a modern promenade.

Puerto de Malaga is the port area in Malaga, home to bustling bars and restaurants. The perfect place for a stroll and a nice lunch in the sun.

One of the most beautiful streets in the centre of Málaga (if not, the most beautiful) is the palm-fringed Calle Puerta del Mar. It is much shorter than you would expect, but highly worth a stopover. Not far from there, you can reach the most famous shopping street in Málaga, Calle Marqués de Larios – which leads you past the Plaza de la Constitución. Surrounded by vibrant-colourful buildings and a fountain, it is one of the most beautiful squares in Málaga.

Ten minutes east of the city centre, the old fishing village of Pedregalejo is the place to eat fresh fish and seafood at one of many beachside bars. Cooked on embers in boats on the sand, the must-try is espeto de sardinas (just-caught grilled sardines on a stick, €4.50).

Malaga according to the authorities has 15 beaches within its city, none of which are going to win any ‘best beaches’ awards but great city beaches all the same.

The best is Playa de la Malagueta which is around 1.3 km long and is just a few minutes walk from the city centre, it has loads of reasonably priced places to eat and drink along the beach and the ‘chiringuitos’ (beach restaurants) offer some excellent locally caught seafood.

Malaga’s most important monument is the 11th-century fortification that overlooks the historical center of the city known as the Alcazaba. To get a grip on the city’s Moorish past, this monument is a must visit!

Málaga’s coming into its own as a culinary destination and a tour (group or bespoke) with the recently launched Spain Food Sherpas takes foodies off the beaten track to discover everything from traditional crisp makers to the best churros (doughnuts) and hidden restaurants.

From the buzzing Mercado Atarazanas (the main food market) Malaga has what is perhaps the most impressive local produce market in all of Andalusia. At the Mercado de Atarazanas, you’ll find rows upon rows of booths selling almost anything you can imagine: endless varieties of seafood, cheeses & charcuterie, more types of olives than you even knew existed, great value bottles of sweet wine and unfiltered virgin olive oil, and more. Every morning the place gets filled with locals stocking up on their daily supplies. To make it even cooler, the building is an old shipbuilding yard that dates back to the Moorish times!

For most visitors, Málaga is simply a gateway to the beach resorts of the Costa del Sol, with few venturing far from the airport or into the city. Well, they’re all missing a trick because this once-shabby port has undergone something of a reinvention. There’s a sparkling new waterfront and millions of euros have been pumped into the art scene, thanks to mayor Francisco de la Torre’s vision to turn his city into a cultural hub, with a branch of the Parisian Pompidou Centre among the latest museum openings.

Malaga is a small city, which means you don’t have to go far to find something different. Rent a bike and cycle along the boulevard to find the old fishermen’s villages. It’s an easy ride with great views, all rewarded with the best fish and seafood in town! One standout is the of village El Palo, where you’ll find El Tintero (Avenida Salvador Allende, 97), a malagueño seafood institution. Waiters rush around with different plates shouting the name of the dish and when you see something you like, you have to flag them down!

It is approximately a two hours’ drive from Granada, Córdoba or Seville in a hired car or by bus or less than 3h by train from the capital, Madrid.

Malaga is an excellent base for those looking to take day trips along the coast, up to the small mountain villages or to one of the larger Andalusian cities.

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