Sun-drenched southern Spain’s cultural powerhouse is renowned for its beachfront restaurants, bustling tapas bars and artistic evolution, as Fleur Rollet-Manus discovers

Travel Time 3hrs 10min

Why go?

Following the opening of the Centre Pompidou and the Carmen Thyssen Museum, Málaga has carved out a new identity as a cultural and artistic hub. With the emerging art scene exploding alongside an exciting wave of chic hotels, gone are the plastic breakfast menus and fast-food franchises. In their place are a wave of unpretentious restaurants boldly celebrating their roots. Clocking up more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Málaga is a good option year-round, but go in October to catch Pablo Picasso – the city’s most famous son’s – birthday celebrations.

What to do

At the forefront of Málaga’s revival is the vibrant Muelle Uno muelleuno.com waterfront complex, which now houses a clutch of trendy boutiques, Málaga’s only Michelin starred restaurant, José Carlos García restaurantejcg.com and the Centre Pompidou centrepompidoumalaga.eu – the only outpost of its kind outside of Paris. Wander across to Plaza de la Merced, where Picasso took his first steps. Continue with a visit to Museo Picasso Málaga museopicassomalaga.org where the cubist artist’s career is expertly documented, including some never-seen-before pieces such as Restaurant (1914). On Sundays many of the museums are free for some or all of the day including the Centre Pompidou, Carmen Thyssen museum and Museo Picasso Málaga. Afterwards, pop into Café Central Málaga cafecentralmalaga.com to enjoy a merienda (afternoon snack). As coffee prices during the civil war soared, original owner José Prado cultivated his own blend to help reduce waste, justify price and meet the demands of his patrons. Order a latte-like sombre, which is 20 per cent coffee to 80 per cent milk. For heart-racing vistas, head over to the Alcazaba de Malága – a grand 11th-century city palace.

Where to stay

Sleek and swanky boutique Hotel Molina Lario 00 34 952 062 002, hotelmolinalario.comlures the well-heeled to its buzzy rooftop bar to drink in cathedral views while sipping crisp mojitos. Nestled at the foot of the 130m-high Mount Gilbralfro and within walking distance of all the main attractions is Teatro Romano 00 34 951 204 438, hotelteatroromano.com whose rooms have a distinctive Scandi feel, while marble-topped tables and bronzed furnishings add Spanish flair. Those seeking a touch of glamour should check in to Gran Hotel Miramar Resort & Spa 00 34 952 603 000, granhotelmiramarmalaga.com – a five-star vision above the blonde sands of La Caleta beach and one-time haunt of Elizabeth Taylor. Our pick of the hotel’s four restaurants is Príncipe de Asturias, serving Spanish and international dishes.

Where to eat and drink

Fans of tapas should be sure to try the city’s most popular plates, such as gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) and ajo blanco (garlic and almond soup), along with a cold tinto de verano (red wine and lemon soda). Taberna Uvedoble uvedobletaberna.com serves up creative tapa with dishes such as foie gras with a tangy marmalade and porra antequerana (tomato and bread soup). If you can’t get a table straight away, leave your name with one of the staff and pop to Eboka ebokarestaurante.com for a glass of their home-brewed beer. At Taberna Cofrade Las Merchanas 00 34 654 744 257 pair tasty croquetas with berenjenas con miel (salty aubergine fritters served dripping in honey). Ten minutes outside of the city centre is the old fishing village of Pedregalejo, where you can gorge on beachside espeto de sardinas – sardines roasted slowly over an open fire on the sand. Some of the best can be found at Hermanos Gutiérrez 00 34 952 118 908 – the family who run the chiringuito have lived off the sea for generations and also serve superb boquerones en vinagre (anchovies marinated in vinegar). After, swing by bar Gin Tonic gintonicbar.es for1895 gin with hints of juniper and orange peel from Ronda’s El Tajo Distillery.

Time running out?

We Love Málaga offers a three-hour walking tour peppered with tapas stops. Arrive hungry as plates and glasses are continuously refilled. From £58pp. welovemalaga.com


Travel Information

Travel Information

Currency is the euro (EUR). Málaga is 1 hour ahead of GMT. Flight time from London is around 3 hours. Trains run regularly between the airport and Málaga Centro-Alameda station. The journey takes 12 minutes and costs from £1.25pp one-way.

Getting There

easyJet flies from London Gatwick to Málaga. easyjet.com

Ryanair has direct flights from London Stansted. ryanair.com


Málaga Tourist Board provides further information on attractions, restaurants and seasonal festivities. malagaturismo.com

Average daily temperatures and rainfall

Min Temp78910131720211814118
Max Temp171819212427303028242017

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