Malaga harbourMalaga is often still perceived as purely a gateway city, somewhere to arrive by plane or pull into harbour, only to continue your Spanish experience elsewhere. This perception is not only dated, it is far from the truth: Malaga is a city with centuries of history and influenced by peoples, religions, and cultures from all over the world. The Alcazaba fortress, for example dates back to the 700’s and over the centuries its unique architecture has been created under the influence of the Phoenicians, Moors, Romans, Christians and of course the Spanish themselves. Other sites include the magnificent Malaga cathedral – perfect to explore with a tour guide during the day, and spectacularly illuminated at night – and many other churches, each with its own distinctive style.

 

museo Carmen Thyssen MalagaAdditionally, Malaga is home to over 30 museums the most well-know being the Picasso Musuem and the Carmen Tyson Museum. And the best news is that all these sites are located within a small walk-able area. As well as, the Alcazaba there is a second fortress in Malaga; the Castillo de Gibralfaro has stunning views of the town and bay as well as the Roman Theatre.

Spain's celebrated painter, Pablo Picasso was born in 1881 in the corner house of an elegant yellow-toned block on Plaza de la Merced. His birthplace was declared an historic-artistic monument in 1983 and in 1991 it became the headquarters of the Picasso Foundation, not to be confused with the nearby Picasso Museum. The centre has been created to foster cultural activities including the promotion of contemporary art with a special emphasis on Picasso himself. Read the plaques on the buildings as you walk down Calle Granada.

Not to be missed is Málaga's colorful market, the Mercado de Atarazanas. It is one of the most varied and enticing in all Andalucía selling fresh fish, meat, spices, deli items, fruit and vegetables; the latter according to what is in season. The typical 19th-century iron structure, reformed in 2010, incorporates the original Puerta de Atarazanas, the exquisitely crafted 14th-century Moorish gate that once connected the city with the port. Walking into the market through this arch you will be equally impressed by the magnificent stained glass window shining opposite.

Malaga CathedralThe Palacio Episcopal (Bishop's Palace), which faces the cathedral's main entrance, has one of the most stunning facades in the city and makes an evocative setting for temporary art and sculpture exhibits. The gardens nearby are a photographers delight.

The city’s impressively redeveloped port is conveniently close the city centre and within easy walking distance to all of Malaga’s cultural and historical highlights. The extensive harbour renovation was devised to develop the port area for recreational and commercial use.

Muelle Uno (Quay One) was opened at the end of 2011. The shopping and commerce centre is home to restaurants, shops, and has underground parking for over 1000 cars. The most exclusive part of the port, it is home to Malaga's only Michelin-starred restaurant (Jose Carlos Garcia's) and has a marina for luxurious yachts, known as "Ricardo Gross." Despite its exclusivity, there are also numerous other cafés and bars that cater for all tastes and budgets (including an Indian restaurant). Muelle Dos (Quay Two) showcases the beautiful waterfront promenade invitingly named “The Palm Garden of Surprises,” "Palmeral de las Sorpresas” in Spanish.

The harbour promenade is an ideal place for families, and especially those with small children as it is home to ample gardens, several playgrounds, water features, and various activities to keep them entertained for hours. There are also numerous benches and quiet corners for people to sit and soak up the atmosphere, not to mention the 420 recently planted palm trees lining the walkway and a further 7400 trees and tropical plants that make up the gardens. The whole complex is modern, elegantly designed, and offers a surreal and contemporary ambience.

malaga gibralfaroMalaga's port was also selected as the site for the Pompidou Centre. It is the first time the museum has been located outside of Paris and is home to some of the latest art installations, paintings and live performances. It is well worth checking out what’s on before you visit.

A boat trip around Malaga’s harbour is highly recommended. There are several companies offering regular outings, some with glass bottomed boats. If lucky, there are pods of dolphin to be seen. For a whistle-stop potted history of the city try one of the many pony trap tours.

With a population of nearly 600,000, it is the second-most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth-largest in Spain. Málaga's history spans about 2,800 years, making it one of the oldest cities in the world.