Things to Do in Malaga… eat, drink and wander!

Malaga - view from Parador

I didn’t like Malaga when I first visited the city a few years ago, but now, several trips later, I think it might be one of the most interesting cities in Andalusia (in fact, along with Cadiz, Madrid, and San Sebastian, I think it might be one of my top four cities in Spain.) Once you get away from the traffic-heavy thoroughfare next to the port, the old town that extends away from the cathedral is a fascinating mix of polished shopping streets, and crumbling alleys and hidden plazas, filled with beautiful people taking life easy and having a really good time!

Here are a few things we would recommend if you find yourself wandering around this classic provincial capital:

1. Have a glass of Malaga Seco (fine local dry sherry) in the Antigua Casa de Guardia, at Alameda Principal 18. Drinks are poured from rows of vast oak barrels, and your tab is written in chalk on the heavy wooden bar top. They really don’t make places like this any more. Careful with the Seco… a few glasses of this can be fatal later! See our Google Malaga map below for directions.

2. Have a drink at the Parador de Gibralfaro, high on the hill next to the Moorish Alcazar. The views over the city (photo above), the port, the sea, and the bullring (photo below), are worth the price of the beer. You can walk up there from the old town, but personally I’d take a taxi up, and walk back (there are two Paradores in Malaga – make sure the taxi driver doesn’t take you to the Golf Parador instead.) If your budget can stretch to it, then sleep up here as well, it’s one of the nicest Paradors in Spain.

Malaga - view from Parador to beaches

3. Not sure where to have dinner? Everywhere looks a bit toursity? Have a plate of Jamon Iberico, fried eggs and chips, at Restaurante Mariano, tucked away in a corner at Plaza de Carbon 2 (see map below). There’s more about this heavenly culinary experience in a previous post.

4. Pick up a twist of fried almonds from the friendly guy outside Cafe Bar Central in the Plaza de la Constitucion. Best damn almonds on the planet!

Almond hawker in Malaga

5. Wander aimlessly through the back alleys and plazas to the North West of Calle Marquis de Larios (see the blue shaded area on our map below). The streets here often seem to have fallen into a beautiful state of disrepair (as strange as that may sound). This must be one of the few remaining places in the world where you’ll find large shops dedicated to selling nothing but buttons, or fiesta dresses, or fans…

6. Head down to the city beach at dusk to eat sardines grilled at a wood fire which, improbably, has been lit in an old wooden boat!


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Do you know the city? What would you add to the list?

12 thoughts on “Things to Do in Malaga… eat, drink and wander!

  1. Ben Post author

    1. it just seemed like a big city with not much to it. 2. Digging deeper one weekend when I went with friends. Malaga has great nightlife as well!

  2. Jules

    The view from the Parador de Gibralfaro is indeed breathtaking and well worth visiting. We stayed there once but decided a hotel in the city was a better bet to be within easy reach of the bustling city streets. For an overnight stay we thought the Parador really is just a bit too difficult to access – fine when you have plenty of time but and can casually walk up and down the magnificent stepped path cut into the hillside – do not use after dark. The lighting is not so good & various ‘marginados de la sociedad’ some of whom will eventually doss down for the night are not easy to avoid. Cost of drinks at the parador bar can be quite reasonable especially for a glass of wine (they give you a tapa).
    The castle is nearby also with plenty good views & the cafe bar its very pleasant & surprisingly inexpensive.

    The botanical gardens to the north of the city are excellent – take a bus (details from the tourist office) & then you have to walk the last kilometer or so.

    One interesting curiosity is ‘The English Cemetery’ behind St George’s Church. It was constructed in the 19th century to overcome the barabaric process where non-catholics (protestants), when they died, were required to be buried at sea at the dead of night. Due to the persistent efforts of the British Consul, an area of land outside the walls of the old city was provided to construct a cemetery. It is now also a small botanical garden – another place that has (happily) fallen into a ‘pleasant state of disrepair’, which is a pleasant oasis of calm quite close to the city centre.

  3. Ben Post author

    Hi Jules,

    Thanks for the extra info – I have heard of the English cemetry before, and wish I had remembered it this time… oh well, something to look at on the next trip!

  4. Frank

    We must have driven through, and later, around Málaga dozens of times, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that we decided to spend a few days there, and like you, quite liked the place. We have stayed just to to left of your blue area, on the other side of the river at Hotel Málaga Central on Calle Mármoles. Agree, there is something attractive about the faded glory of the old streets around that area. Also at the end of Calle Larios (top end) just off to the right in the narrow alleyways there are some nice bars, one we like to visit has large wine barrels outside.

  5. Jon Hundt

    I always drop my wife and her sister off at the Plaza de la Constitucion. They go shopping for a few hours and I just take off walking, weaving through the ‘historical center’ and out to the barrios. And it’s always a pleasure. Malaga isn’t a “world-class” city like Madrid or Barcelona, but maybe that’s part of why I like it.

  6. Jon Hundt

    oops – forgot to mention your first photo above. Looks like the air is kind of dusty – is that the Saharan sand floating over the city? I just read in Diario Sur that they’ve experienced several days of less-than-wonderful air pollution due to weather conditions blowing Saharan sand over the Costa del Sol.

  7. Uncle Drew

    “Beautiful state of disrepair” could be said of a lot of Budapest, too. The development wolves are moving in to sterilize everything, so get it while it’s gritty.

    Some places grow on you. I used to find Vienna too pristine, incredibly sleep-inducing and full of old people, but now I love it.

  8. Beachhutman

    I do like Malaga, it’s “real”. If I don’t buy a town house in a village south of Estapona, an apartment in Malaga is a possibility. Great market too.

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