As an access point to the beautiful Andalucian costs and a beautiful days drive away from the southern point of Europe at Gibraltar, as well as the birthplace of Picasso and a beautiful city in its own right, Malaga is understandably a serious competitor to Barcelona and Madrid when it comes to pulling in the Spanish-bound tourists.
Andalucía has a more mixed culture than many parts of Spain, with North African invaders holding parts of the country for many years, and bringing in Muslim influences amongst the older architecture. In Malaga you’ll find two castles left behind by Moorish invaders, one up a large hill that gives great views down to the sea. Down by the sea is where you’ll no doubt be spending a great deal of your time, with impressive white sand beaches (just about) within walking distance of the city centre, and – for the more adventure minded – a vast array of rock climbing, too.
It wouldn’t be Malaga without Picasso, though, and he’s suitably remembered in an affordable museum with stacks of the great’s art, as well as the chance to drop in on his birthplace, which is home to some curious painting from Picasso’s childhood and some peculiar objects dating back to his upbringing.
The city centre has a fantastically laidback atmosphere, with the balmy summer nights making the ideal time for outdoor meals with plenty of affordable beer and samples of the local seafood. Calameritos Fritos – tiny squid fried whole in batter and served with a squeeze of lemon – are a particularly essential local experience. When you’re done with your drinks, plenty of bars in Malaga offer free salsa classes in the evening. Be sure to mingle with the passionate locals and practice a few words of accented Spanish along the way.
Over the years Malaga has become the access point to a host of attractive but somewhat tacky south coast beach resorts, but it’s also a great city in its own right, one far more worthy of your time than your probably expect it be. Catch up on some proper Spanish culture before hitting the clubs to the west.
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