You may wonder how or why we decided to go to Malaga, Spain during our trip. There are a few reasons! One, although I studied abroad in Madrid and traveled extensively throughout the country, I never made it to the Costa del Sol. It is a beautiful area and I really wanted to see it! Two, after traveling to two large cities (Madrid and Barcelona), we thought it would be nice to take a breather near the ocean. And three, it worked out really well with our plan to go to Tangier. We were able to catch a bus to La Linea where you can walk into Gibraltar, and then took a ferry to Tangier. I’ll tell you more about that when I post about Tangier and getting to Morocco!
Malaga was very beautiful and was actually a little different than I imagined. There were hardly any tourists in the town, which was a nice change, and in general, the town felt empty. Nothing seemed to be open before 11 am or after dinner time. It was a very sleepy coastal town, but it was nice to be in a more relaxed area. At some sights, wee even felt like we had the whole place to ourselves! The only time we felt like we saw a lot of people was in the afternoon/evening, when the cafes would fill with people sharing tapas. Malaga was wonderful!
We stayed out near the Malagueta beach, so to get into town, we had to ride bikes or take the bus. It was very easy and the town is very compact. Since we really only had a day in Malaga, we dropped our things off after the flight and headed out to start the day.
Our first stop was to visit the Gibralfaro Castle and Alcazaba, the Moorish fortress. The foundation of the city has existed since Phoenician times and the castle itself was built in the 14th century. The walk up to the top of the castle is quite intense due to the sheer steepness and length. (Definitely wear comfortable shoes and bring water for this one!) If you aren’t in the mood to walk, you can take a city bus to the top (TripAdvisor has details). Once you reach the top, it is well worth it because Gibralfaro offers incredible views of Malaga and the Mediterranean Sea. You can also see the La Malagueta bullring, and if you’re lucky and a bullfight is happening, you can watch from above! You can buy a combo ticket to see both Gibralfaro Castle and Alcazaba, which is what we did. Tickets are only a few euros, so it is definitely worth it.
After leaving Alcazaba and Gibralfaro, we were more than ready for lunch and a stop to rest. We walked around Malaga through the city center until reaching Plaza de la Merced, where the home where Picasso was born is located. The home is called Fundacion Picasso, and has a large collection of Picasso works. We actually didn’t go inside because we had planned to go to the Museo Picasso later. If you are a Picasso buff, it might be worth it to see both!
Next, we had lunch in the plaza at the Cafe con Libros, an adorable cafe/coffee shop with salads, sandwiches, and crepes. We ordered a few things to share, which were all delicious, and people-watched in the square until we felt rejuvenated enough to go back and take a siesta at our hostel.
After a short siesta, we rented bikes and biked along the Malagueta beach, down the boardwalk, and back to the city center. If we had more time in Malaga, I would have loved to spend more time at the boardwalk. There were many restaurants and bars, a marina where you can take boat tours, and outdoor games for kids. One of my favorite parts was the outdoor gym! I love that there were free workout machines for the public to use. Wouldn’t it be great if we had that in America?
Once we got to the city center, we biked to the Malaga Cathedral, or the Catedral de la Encarnacion. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open so we couldn’t go inside, but it looks beautiful in pictures I have seen.
We then found a place to lock up our bikes and visited the Picasso Museum. Contrary to what the name may lead you to believe, the museum does not solely house Picasso works. It is also home to several other traveling exhibitions. You can purchase tickets to just the Picasso exhibits or the entire museum. We purchased the Picasso-only tickets and were very happy. The exhibit was gorgeous and fairly extensive. Not only were there paintings, but there were also other types of art forms by Picasso, including sculptures and even ceramic works. At the end, there was a short and very interesting video about Picasso’s life. The Museo Picasso was one of my favorite museums of the entire trip. I highly recommend a visit!
Our last stop of the night was for dinner. We ate paella at Tabierno del Obispo in Plaza del Obispo. Admittedly, it was a more touristy restaurant than we usually go to, but it was right outside of the Cathedral and had the most gorgeous views. Sometimes it is just nice to sit in a square and soak in the culture around you, even if it is a little bit touristy. After dinner, we walked around the area nearby and looked in beautiful shop windows (which were unfortunately closed) and ate dessert at Stickhouse. Stickhouse was amazing! I wish we had them in the US. They have handcrafted Italian gelato (all natural and gluten free, too!) on a stick, dipped in chocolate and other toppings. If you are a gelato fan (who isn’t??), this is another step beyond your typical gelato. Pure heaven. It looks like they are primarily in Italy, but also all over the world, so look for your nearest Stickhouse and thank me when you return!
After dinner, we biked back down the beach and got ready for an early morning bus ride to Gibraltar! Our visit in Malaga was short and sweet, but well worth it!
Cafe con Libros, Plaza de la Merced 19, 29012
Tabierno del Obispo, Plaza Obispo 1, 29015
Stickhouse, c/. Granada, 9 29015
Gibralfaro, Camino Gibralfaro 11, 29016
Alcazaba, Calle Alcazabilla 2, 29012
Fundacion Picasso, Plaza de la Merced 15, 29012
Malaga Cathedral, Calle Molina Lario 9, 29015