Spend a night or two in southern Spain’s coastal gem – a hotbed of culture and classic national cuisine
Malaga airport may be the gateway to beach destinations like Torremolinos or glamorous seaside town Marbella, but the southern Spanish city is so much more than a stopover destination. With historic landmarks, brilliant museums, and a food and drink scene to rival the best Europe has to offer, there’s far more to Malaga than meets the eye, and a swathe of regeneration over the last 20 years means that it’s one of the most exciting European city breaks you can choose right now. With sites, sea and plenty of sangria just a 15-minute drive from the airport, what’s not to love?
Take in some culture
At the heart of the city, Malaga’s Alcazaba is a magnificent fortress palace that dominates the landscape of the area. Originally built in the 11th century, it’s the best preserved Alcazaba in Spain. From its Moorish beginnings to Catholic conquests, the fortress is steeped in history, and a walk around with an audio guide is the perfect introduction to Malaga’s mottled past.
Fancy visiting a museum? You’ll be stuck for choice, as Malaga has a mere 38, but art lovers will want to dive straight into Malaga’s Picasso Museum. The world-famous artist is the city’s most famous export (along with Antonio Banderas) and his family have worked closely with the city to create a space for his private collection, where you can track his development from a promising young painter to a Cubism master. Elsewhere, Malaga’s history museum offers a unique look at local art and archaeological collections, while the Russian museum has a brilliant collection spanning right back from the 15th century. For modern fashion fans, the unique mix of clothing and vintage cars on display at Malaga’s automobile museum is another quirky way to spend an afternoon.
Where to stay
When you’re done soaking up the sights of the city, Barcelo Malaga’s rooftop pool terrace is the perfect way to kick back and relax, complete with a poolside food and cocktail menu, of course. There’s even an indoor slide that’s worth a visit. The building itself forms part of Malaga’s main train station, making transfers to both the airport and other Spanish cities a breeze, while its comfy king-sized beds are the best place to get some peaceful shut-eye. The in-house GastroBar menu encompasses the best of the region’s cooking, from succulent pork to fresh octopus. In the morning, tuck into a buffet breakfast with both local favourites and healthy alternatives to set you up for a day of exploring.
Food and drink
From traditional Ajoblanco cold bread soup, to local tapas picks like adobo (marinated battered fish) and plenty of Iberian ham, there are many dishes to try in Malaga. For lunch with a view over the Alcazaba, head to La Terraza de la Aduana, where you’ll find a reasonable menu of simple Spanish dishes including truffle croquettes, slow-roasted pork shoulder and octopus salad. In the evening, head to local favourite El Pimpi – a traditionally decorated bodega serving brilliant regional fare at reasonable prices. If you’re a sucker for a beautiful views to accompany your sundowners, you can’t go wrong in Malaga. Whether it’s Barcelo’s beautiful coastal sweep, or the hip central Terraza de la Alcazaba, there’s a vista for everyone. For something a little different, try sipping a mojito at Terraza San Juan – a chilled-out rooftop terrace overlooking a lovely church spire where the barman will happily share a round of Ron Miel (delicious Spanish honey rum) with you.
Hit the beach
Make like a local and pop down to Playa la Malagueta to spend an afternoon by the ocean. Catering mostly to a Spanish audience, sunbed hire is as cheap as five euros for the day, while beach sellers will offer you the chance to try out a true Malaga delicacy – grilled sardines. Invented in the late 19th century by fishermen, the cooking technique has hardly changed, with the fish being skewered and grilled over coals. Delicious!
Need to know
· Rates at Barceló Malaga start from £108 per room per night based on two sharing a Superior room. Book online at Barcelo.com/malaga
· l Fly direct from Manchester to Malaga from £159 return in September 2019, with Jet2.com