Málaga…more than just beaches.

Malaga castillo12

I’ve postponed writing about Málaga as I know the people who live there are very passionate about their home, whether they were born there or moved there later in life. I hope I can do this justice, as I have only been to the capital city once, in 2009, and a return visit to one of the SetMeravelles of the entire country, Ronda, in 2013. It most definitely is NOT one of the worst cities to visit in Spain, as one blogger wrote last year. I know the province has more jewels than the capital city, but I really enjoyed my visit to the capital (much more than neighbouring gaybourhood Torremolinos!) in 2009.

I was ending my first year living in Spain, unsure if I was going to be able to continue and regretting a ton of opportunities I’d miss to travel. We had the “Puente de Mayo”, the “bank holiday” weekend of May 1st. I wanted to go back to Granada and felt I should visit Málaga as I heard so much about it. I caught an early bus from the Linares bus station (I sort of miss that place as it was one of the places with free wifi in 2009 small-town Andalucía and we had no internet). The bus stopped in Granada and then went on through some amazing scenery between Granada and Málaga capital. The bus arrived, as they tend to do, and I deboarded and found myself in a beautiful city. (It’s the sixth largest city in Spain with a population of 542,000). I loved the Roman ruins and the pedestrian tunnel to go to the beach. It was one of my first times going to the beach as an adult, sadly enough. It would become a favourite pastime, although I much prefer a sunset walk along the beach than barbecuing myself. I went to Gibraltar (Gibraltar español. I had to say it!) and then tried going out in Torremolinos, which is very connected to Málaga capital all night long. I wasn’t too impressed by Torremolinos.

Malaga Playa11

I did find a great café, whose wifi I never deleted until the computer died in 2011 and whose name escapes me today, to have my tostada con tomate. It was located in the plaza where the birthplace of Picasso is located. I had forgotten it, but I did go to the Picasso Museum (I remember going to the one in Barcelona in 2003). I had the opportunity to see some beautiful views of the city. The capital may not have the elegance of nearby Marbella or the Je ne sais quoi of Valencia, but Málaga capital does have a lot of things to see.

In 2013, knowing that I was about to move to Bilbao, I went on a trip to Ronda to cross it off my bucket list. This was sadly my last trip to Andalucía as of March 2015. (I hope to go back soon). Ronda impressed me a lot. I happened to coincide with a cool local festival, so everyone was dressed in the typical Andalucía outfits. I fell in love with the bridge and had a relaxing café con leche at their Parador (castle converted into a hotel). I lamented having to go on to Granada as Ronda was so full of charm and life, but Granada *is* Granada.

From my private journal in 2009 on Málaga: Thursday I woke up real early to catch the 7.15 bus to Málaga. The province of Málaga is beautiful. Málaga sort of reminds me of Honolulu. The hostel gave bad directions again, and it was annoying the way I had to make the reservations as I had to change rooms every morning. Ah well. I was in sort of a depressed mood the first day, from lack of sleep. I went to the cathedral, saw it was 4€ to get in, refused to pay it, then went to see the alcazaba (different word for alcázar or fortress) and castle, which combined were about 3€. The views were quite beautiful. There is an ancient Roman theatre next to the alcazaba. I then went under the tunnel to the Malagueta beach…it was okay, but I’ve seen better beaches……Saturday I went to the Picasso museum where I had my brilliant insight into cubism, Spain and Almodóvar. I went to the beach for a while. Lounged around mostly.

Sounds like a good Andalucían holiday to me!


1. Ronda

Ronda 130

Located 100 kilometres west (62 miles) of Málaga capital, this city of 36,000 people is one of my fave places I have been in Spain. It’s a typical Andalusian town full of charm enhanced by an amazing bridge. The Puente Nuevo (“New Bridge” is over 300 years old and is 120 metres high (390 feet or 120ish yards). It took 42 years to complete and both sides threw prisoners off it during the Spanish Civil War. There is a ton of natural beauty and hiking trails to explore around this incredible place.

2. Picasso

Pablo Picasso is from Málaga. His paintings are some of the most famous ever thanks to his Cubist style, and in 2003, a museum was opened in the Palacio Buenavista which is located on Calle San Agustín, 200 metres from his birthplace in Plaza de la Merced. After visiting Málaga, I had a greater appreciation for this artist.

3. Alcazaba de Málaga

Malaga Day Uno6

The Alcazaba (Moorish fortress/citadel) is one of the best-preserved in all of the Greatest Peninsula in the World and was constructed by the Hammudid Dynasty during the 11th Century. It’s built on a hill and offers beautiful views of the port and Málaga.

4. Málaga Romana

Malaga Day Uno12

Right next to the Alcazaba is a Roman theatre rediscovered in 1951 that dates back to the 1st Century BC. That’s right, Before Christ. As the photo shows, it is currently undergoing restoration.

5. Antequera (yet to be discovered)

The “heart of Andalucía”, 42,000 residents is located equally between Málaga, Granada, Córdoba and Sevilla. Antequera boasts an alcazaba of its own, churches, a palace, and two Bronze Age dolmens (ancient tombs).

6. Cuevas de Nerja (yet to be discovered)

The small town of Nerja is quite popular with tourists and ex-pats (who make up at least 30% of the population if not more) from the British Isles. The mountains have a ton of “pueblos blancos”, or villages with white houses and architecture. The most popular tourist destination (outside the beaches) are the caves, which are large enough to hold concerts in the summer. They were rediscovered in 1959. In 2012, possible Neanderthal paintings were discovered here.

7. Marbella (yet to be discovered)

Eva Longoria and Michelle Obama can’t be wrong, can they? The posh city of Marbella is the second-largest city of the province with nearly 150,000 habitants. The Casco Viejo has ancient walls and many monuments. Most people go straight for the Golden Mile, a 4-mile stretch of villas, hotels and resorts.


7 thoughts on “Málaga…more than just beaches.

  1. You’ll find a lot of changes to the city since 2009. Many tasteful renovations in the old city, a new marina development, more museums than you could visit in a week’s stay, and fabulous restaurants and tapas bars. I’m off for a visit tomorrow to collect my pilgrim’s passport from the camino office, and take a look around the marina with its prestigious new Pompidou Centre. Pity you don’t have time for another visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would love to go back to Málaga! (Especially right now with 7 degrees and constant rain in Bilbao :)) I would love to see how it’s changed in the past six years and explore the province more.


  2. My first time in Malaga was 2010 and I wasn’t a great fan. However, I think it has changed hugely in that time. I was last there just a few weeks ago and it had such a positive energy about the place. Art, weather, food, architecture, beach and sunshine in January. I think you’d love it. When you eventually make it back to Andalucia, we could pop down for a copa on the beach…


  3. It’s a nice city…the only three cities in Spain I haven’t liked are Madrid, Sevilla and Salamanca so it takes a lot for me NOT to like a city. Right now I’d kill for just an hour of sunshine, hah. I don’t see any trips to al-Andalus on the horizon :-/ Stupid money and time.


  4. Pingback: Gibraltar. Let’s rock and roll. | setmeravelles

  5. Pingback: Return to Málaga. | setmeravelles

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