As the gateway to southern Spain the vibrant city of Malaga is well suited to its regular influx of visitors and has responded beautifully with an excellent range of gourmet tapas bars and mouth-watering seafood. Accommodation is available to suit every budget, including some truly luxurious 5-star resorts, complete with rooftop swimming pool. But this sun-drenched paradise isn’t just a great spot for relaxing while you soak up rays on the beach, it can also make an interesting and engaging city break, with its rich culture of and vibrant history providing plenty to keep the seaside sightseer happy.
As a gateway to southern Spain, Málaga is packed with a huge range of accommodation, from small, basic hostels to grand palaces. At the upper end of the scale, there’s the gorgeous five-star Vincci Selección Posada del Patio (Pasillo de Santa Isabel 7), which offers 109 rooms and deserves special mention for its lovely rooftop swimming pool. Four-star Vincci Málaga (Calle Pacífico 44) is a designer seafront option. However, there are lots of good lower budget selections too, such as the stylish Apartamentos Doña Elvira (Jinetes) and Apartamentos Marín 3 (Marín García), both of which are sleekly designed and centrally located.
As elsewhere in Spain, Málaga is a great place to buy shoes and leather goods, and Calle Marqués de Larios, near the port, is the main shopping strip, a pedestrianised street that has some good shoe shops, as well as all the major Spanish brand names, such as Mango and Zara. The surrounding lanes are also worth a browse for a mix of one-off shops and big labels. If you like a one-stop shop, there’s the huge El Corte Inglés department store (Avenida de Andalucía 4), which sells practically everything, including shoes, perfume, fashion, homeware, furniture and food.
Málaga has some excellent tapas bars and is a superlative place to eat seafood. You can go for gourmet tapas somewhere like Gorki (Calle Strachan 6), with pavement tables and stylish eats, or feast on plates laden with fish and shellfish at seaside Restaurante El Tintero (Playa del Dedo), overlooking the beach. For Michelin-star chic, try the Café de Paris (Calle Vélez Málaga 8), with creative Spanish cuisine and a Parisian-style interior. Restaurante El Refectorium del Campanario (Paseo de la Sierra 36) is close to the Bull Ring, serves up delicious tapas and seafood dishes, and is buzzing with locals.
Procesión de Los Reyes
On 5 January, the three Kings arrive at the port, and a child reads a letter to them, requesting gifts for all the children in Málaga. The parade through the city is then led by the three kings, who throw sweets into the crowds for excited children. Bands, dancers and performers join the celebrations.
This sees parades of costumed dancers and performers, accompanied by traditional murga (street bands). On La Malagueta beach, the ceremonies culminate with the traditional ‘burial of the sardine’.
This is one of the most important festivals in Málaga. There are various colourful processions, including the procession of the palomas (doves), which is followed by the release of 100 doves, and the Good Friday Procession of Silence, whereby the only sound is a slow drum roll.
Noche de San Juan
To celebrate the summer solstice, at midnight on 23 June, caricatures of public figures are burned on a bonfire. As the fire subsides, people compete to try to jump across the flames, whilst others dance around the fire.
This is one of the best times to be in Málaga, with celebrations both day and night, including dancing, food stands, children activities and flamenco performances.