Discover Malaga | By Estelle Lee
One of Spain’s most ancient naval cities, Málaga is the southernmost major town in Europe and crossroads to the historical imprints of settling Moors, Romans and Greeks alike. Their important cultural influence remains today, within the impressive Moorish hillside citadels of the Alcazaba and Castillo Gibrafaro, the weathered ancient amphitheatre of Teatro Romano or the vibrant stained glass restoration of the Atarazanas market. Centuries of history may have shaped what Malaga has become, but its rich legacy has created a deep cultural tradition that continues to turn out creativity in spades, where visitors can experience the city through its architecture, landscape, art, food and style. Indeed in this atmospheric town that artist Pablo Picasso once called home, there is a growing fashion scene and sense of sophistication previously lost in the ‘Costa del Sol’ connotations of recent times past. You might say that Malaga is having a moment when Antonio Banderas buys up the old Teatro del Soho and a resulting clutch of new eateries pop up nearby. But that’s not all.
A city that never sleeps
Where should you stay in Málaga? Opt for contemporary glamour at the palatial Gran Hotel Miramar in the smart central Caleta area of the city. Once a favourite of Ernest Hemingway and Elizabeth Taylor, the spirit is very much old school sophistication with a touch of modernity present in the contemporary interior styling and sleek rooftop bar. With sea views to die for and food to match on the terrace restaurant Principe de Asturias, you won’t be disappointed. Dress up.
It’s location, location, location at AC Hotel Malaga Palacio, ideally situated for the city’s old town where the main attractions are all within walking distance. Fashion lovers will lap up the hotel’s minimal styling and rooftop pool views from the fifteenth floor. The rooftop all-day restaurant Ático is a place to see and be seen, but if you’re staying make sure you ask for a room with a view.
Room Mate Larios is a more budget-friendly choice within the pedestrian zone of Calle Larios in the city centre. Art deco in style, there’s a buzzy feel to the joint and excellent service. Take advantage of proximity to the many tapas bars and cafes in the area, chalked up with their ‘Tapas del Dia’. Do ask for a room with a balcony overlooking the Calle Larios and take in the neighbourhood atmosphere.
A taste of Andalucia
Andalucian food, be it fine dining or tapas, is always inspired by the staples of the region. Think fresh fish caught daily, local jamón, olive oil, sweet wines and Arabic inspired pastries and desserts. Dishes you’ll often see on menus include ajoblanco (a typical cold soup from Roman times, sometimes referred to as a white gazpacho). Skewered sardines or espetos de sardinas have been eaten in Malaga for centuries. Seasoned only with a little olive oil and salt, freshly caught sardines taste delicious cooked over coals and were a staple of Phoenician fishermen hungry for a meal after returning from sea. Today you’ll still see espetos being grilled on old fishing boats along local beaches. Ensalada Malagueña is another typical salad dish, combining salt cod, eggs, potatoes and oranges – a perfect pairing with fried fish.
Book ahead for a table at the impressive José Carlos García, a Michelin-starred chef with a marina-front restaurant of the same name. Whether you’re up for the full tasting menu experience or a more modest a la carte option, you’ll experience Mediterranean food at its finest. restaurantejcg.com
Parador de Malaga-Gibralfaro next to the old Moorish castillo has a traditional grown up menu and an unrivalled view of the bay.
Other popular restaurants to try include Amador, El Higuerón, El Refectorium, Óleo and Dani García.
Things To Do
There’s much to see in one short visit, but any trip to Málaga should include a few of the following highlights…
Start by exploring Museo Picasso Málaga to see the many works of Málaga’s most famous son (museopicassomalaga.org for advance tickets without the queue!). It’s a steep climb, but worth it in order to survey both city and sea from Moorish fortification Alcazaba, built by rulers of the 11th century (Plaza de la Aduana, Alcazabilla, open daily). Later, uncover 19th century Andalucían artists at Carmen Thyssen Málaga Museum (carmenthyssenmalaga.org) or head over to Paris transplant, Pompidou Centre. This modern art feast for the senses has plenty of big names on loan (centrepompidou-malaga.eu). In a rather glamorous and unusual pairing, the Automobile Museum has both high end cars as well as haute couture on display. If you like a vintage handbag coupled with a sleek 1960s Mercedes, this one is for you (museoautomovilmalaga.com).
Foodies should visit the striking Mercado Central on Calle Atarazanas – it is an experience for the senses. Housed in a nineteenth-century wrought-iron marketplace, the stalls are groaning with produce and fresh fish. Grab a pew and eat hot tapas at one of the trader’s stalls. (open daily, except Sunday 9am-3pm). For a spot of relaxation stroll to local beach Playa de la Malagueta only ten minutes from the old town.
Ready for a new first?
Designer Outlet Málaga is the first McArthurGlen shopping destination of its kind in Spain – offering up to 70% off retail prices. The expansive 30,000 square metre space will house approximately one hundred of the most sought-after luxury brands, alongside other local Spanish designers. The open air McArthurGlen development has been conceived to sympathetically reflect Andalusian architecture of the region. The verdant landscape features open air walkways and running water fountains, all leading to a centralised luxury plaza and imaginative children’s playground – perfectly designed for shopping at leisure. With an array of stylish restaurants and barista style coffee outlets, there are convenient options for all tastes, schedules and appetites.
Designer Outlet Málaga is positioned next to MA-20 and MA-21 motorways, providing rapid access to Málaga city centre. The new retail destination is only 3 minutes from Malaga airport, 12 minutes from Malaga central railway station and 20 minutes from the Port of Málaga.