About this Malaga Area Guide
Below you’ll find the Realista Malaga Area Guide. It gives you a general overview of the city and what it’s like. You’ll find information about things to do, attractions, the weather in Malaga and how to get there.
Where is Malaga?
Malaga is situated almost in the centre of Spain’s southern Mediterranean coast and is the capital of the Costa del Sol.
What’s Malaga like?
Malaga, once just a gateway to the Costa del Sol and rarely visited by tourists, is now one of the most happening city-break destinations in Europe. Over the last ten years, the city has seen a transformation (that continues to take place) and now boasts a wide range of cultural attractions including the Picasso Museum, Pompidou Centre and the Russian Museum plus plenty of other things to do and see.
The city centre is mostly pedestrian and lined with fine 18th and 19th century architecture. Malaga also has a thriving foodie scene with a long list of excellent bars and restaurants as well as a large food market, one of the biggest attractions in Malaga.
The popularity of Malaga as a tourist destination has led to a surge in visitors over the last few years and Malaga now ranks as one of the most visited cities in Spain. The rise in tourism has come in tandem with an increase in hotel occupancy and a significant increase in holiday rentals in Malaga.
How big is it?
Malaga is the sixth largest city in Spain. While the city centre itself is compact and not very large, the suburbs of Malaga sprawl eastwards into Rincón de la Victoria and west into Torremolinos.
What’s the population of Malaga?
The population of Malaga is just under 570,000.
How many foreigners live in Malaga?
Despite its large size, Malaga is home to a relatively small foreign population – just 44,465 foreigners live in the city.
What’s the weather like in Malaga?
Like the rest of the Costa del Sol, Malaga enjoys a year-round pleasant climate. Days of sunshine number at least 320 a day and winter temperatures average around 18 to 20 degrees in the day. July and August can be hot with temperatures over 30 degrees, although there’s often a refreshing sea breeze.
How do I get to Malaga?
It’s very easy to get to Malaga from Malaga Airport, particularly on public transport. Regular train and bus services connect Malaga Airport with the city. The journey by train takes 12 minutes while the bus takes slightly longer (around 20 minutes).
How far is it to Malaga Airport from Malaga?
Malaga Airport lies 10km to the southwest of Malaga city centre.
How far is it to Gibraltar Airport from Malaga?
Since there’s such a good choice of flights to Malaga Airport and it’s so easy to get to Malaga from the airport, flying to Gibraltar Airport is only the best option if you’re planning to visit the west end of the Costa del Sol.
Gibraltar Airport is 135km from Malaga city centre and it takes around an hour and 40 minutes to get there by car – allow extra time to cross the border between Spain and Gibraltar.
How far is it to Marbella from Malaga?
Marbella is an easy drive from Malaga via the AP-7 toll road and the 60km journey takes just over 30 minutes.
Where are the main residential areas in Malaga?
As one of the largest cities in Spain, Malaga has a range of residential areas. The most popular with foreign residents and buyers of Malaga property are:
City centre – property in Malaga city centre offers easy access to all amenities and facilities plus the main attractions. This area also has the best buy-to-let potential, both for long-term rentals and holiday lets. There are few new-build properties in Malaga centre and many homes require refurbishment.
La Malagueta and El Limonar – this area to the east of Malaga city centre is mostly residential and has the advantage of being within easy reach of the seafront. Properties are mainly high-rise apartments – those with frontline beach views have excellent holiday let potential – or traditional early 20th homes in colonial style, often with large gardens. Some of the most expensive properties in Malaga are found here.
Pedregalejo and El Palo – the traditional fishing districts to the east of the city are favourites with local and foreign buyers. These areas offer a more relaxed pace of life but within easy reach of all the attractions in the centre of Malaga. There’s a wide range of amenities and both districts have nice sandy beaches. Property is mostly apartments, particularly on the seafront with villas and townhouses in developments such as El Candado.
Western seafront – a relatively new area in the city, the western seafront has become popular with Malaga property buyers. Some new apartment complexes are currently under construction and there are several vacant lots earmarked for frontline beach properties and hotels. Amenities are excellent and there are good public transport connections to Malaga centre.
What are the main attractions in Malaga?
Malaga has a long list of attractions and offers lots of things to do for all ages and tastes. Attractions in Malaga include several historic monuments such as the Roman Theatre and the Moorish Alcazaba Fortress whose architecture and style are reminiscent of the Alhambra Palace in Granada. The city centre is a maze of attractive streets and architecture including some fine examples of late 19th century buildings, stunning churches and Malaga Cathedral.
Malaga museums are of particular note – it’s known as the City of Museums – and it boasts several art museums showing world-class art. These include the Picasso Museum (Picasso was born in Malaga in 1881), the most visited museum in Andalusia; the Pompidou Centre, the only branch of the iconic Parisian art museum outside France; the Russian Museum with collections on loan from the Russian State Museum in St Petersburg; and the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), renowned throughout Spain for its cutting-edge exhibitions. Not to mention the recently-opened Museum of Malaga, the fifth largest in Spain, the Glass Museum, the Wine Museum, Vintage Car Museum and the Music Museum, a favourite with children visiting Malaga.
Other attractions in Malaga are the port area, recently reconfigured to create large pedestrian areas. The giant pergola that stretches along Muelle Uno, lined with dozens of palm trees, and Muelle Dos with its wide range of shops and restaurants are favourites with locals and visitors alike. Malaga has two excellent city beaches (see below) plus several other smaller ones on the outskirts.
What are the beaches like in Malaga?
Malaga boasts two blue-flag beaches, both sandy and easily accessible from the city centre. All the beaches in Malaga have good amenities, lifeguard services from April to September and lots of beach bars and restaurants.
To the east of the city is La Malagueta, the most famous beach in Malaga. Events are held here such as concerts and the annual firework display that heralds the start of Malaga Fair. At the west end of the city is La Misericordia beach with 3km of sand. Both beaches are backed by pedestrian promenades and cycle lanes.
What about eating out in Malaga?
Over the last ten years Malaga has seen its food and restaurant scene grow into one of the most interesting in southern Spain. There are several world-class restaurants in Malaga including the Michelin-starred José Carlos García Restaurante on Muelle Uno, El Tres on La Malagueta and El Refectorium in the city centre. Many new restaurants have recently opened such as Eboka Gastrobar near the Picasso Museum and Alexso to the north of the city centre.
Tapas in Malaga are a popular foodie experience and you’re spoilt for choice in both everyday tapas and more gourmet versions. The bars at Atarazanas food Market are great for fish and seafood tapas, and there’s also a good selection of tapas bars in Malaga city centre. El Pimpi, one of the most famous places to eat in Malaga, has good tapas in its atmospheric patios and rooms. Casa de Guardia on the Alameda, the oldest bar in Malaga, specialises in Malaga wines served directly from the barrels lining the walls.
What’s a typical local dish?
There are lots of typical dishes in Malaga. As in other resorts on the Costa del Sol, fresh fish and seafood are popular choices, particularly fried fish (known as pescaíto) and grilled sardines.
One of the most typical things to eat in Malaga in the winter is a dish called emblanco, a sort of fish stew with a mayonnaise base. And in the summer, a typical dish from Malaga is a cold soup made from garlic and almonds called ajo blanco.
How about shopping in Malaga?
Shopping in Malaga is excellent and you’ll find a wide range of shops, shopping centres and boutiques plus department stores such as El Corte Inglés (there are two in Malaga), FNAC, Decathlon, Leroy Merlin and IKEA.
The most popular place for shopping in Malaga is the streets around the central Calle Larios. These pedestrian streets offer a mix of high-street brands, luxury stores and smaller shops. For more unusual boutique-style shops, the area around the Carmen Thyssen Museum has a particularly good selection.
If you’re looking for shopping centres in Malaga, there are three in the centre – Malaga Plaza next to the Corte Inglés where you’ll find lots of small shops plus FNAC; Centro Larios, home to mainly high-street brands such as Zara, H&M and Pull & Bear as well as Dunnes Stores and Primark; and Centro Comercial Vialia next to the train station with a good choice of high-street stores. Outside Malaga city centre is Plaza Mayor, a shopping centre with a range of stores including several outlets such as Nike and next to bigger department stores such as Decathlon, IKEA and Maisons du Monde.