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Malaga Attractions - Things to Do - Day Trips in Malaga

Malaga Top Attractions - Things to Do in Malaga

OVERVIEW OF MALAGA ATTRACTIONS

This charming seaside city is often overlooked as a cultural hub but it has a lot to offer the curious visitor. Besides popular beaches such as La Malagueta, it has two fascinating hilltop fortresses in the Alcazaba and Castle Gibralfaro that go back to the city’s Moorish days. Malaga is the birthplace of Picasso and it has several museums and galleries including the Museum of Glass and Crystal and the Museum of Popular Arts. Both of these give a flavour of how everyday life used to be.

If you’re into churches there’s plenty to explore including the Cathedral known as “La Manquita”. Enjoy a night of sizzling dance at the Kelipe Centre of Flamenco Arts, and chill out among the plantlife of La Concepcion Botanic Gardens. Ancient history is on view in the Roman Theatre and there’s great shopping opportunities at Atarazanas Market and the newly redeveloped port.

Top Malaga Attractions - Paris Day Trips

Museum of Glass and Crystal (Paid)

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A fascinating place which traces the history of glass objects and their use in domestic settings from the earliest days of Malaga in Phoenician and Roman times. It is unique in that you get a guided tour from one of the owners, three men who have combined their passion for glass and their collections to create this beautiful place. The exhibits, of which there are 700 from a complete collection of 3000, are put into context by being surrounded by furnishings from their time period, helping us to imagine how they were used in daily life. The museum is housed in an 18th century palace which was owned by an Italian family, and there are many wonderful paintings. Some of the most striking exhibits are the English stained glass windows in the Pre-Raphaelite style, rescued from destruction by the owners. In terms of the knowledge and enthusiasm shown by the management, this museum is hard to beat.
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Alcazaba (Paid)

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This is one of Malaga’s biggest links to the past, a military fortification built in the 11th century, when Malaga was a Moorish city. Stunning views are to be had from the top, including the harbour and Castle Gibralfaro (link), to which the Alcazaba is connected. The walk up to the palace is not too taxing, although a lift is also available. You wind your way up through a series of courtyards, with elegant fountains and gardens. Huddled against the hill of the Alcazaba is the Roman Theatre (link), which predates it by 1000 years. Parts of the theatre were recycled for use in building the Moorish fort. The fort was built by the Hammudid dynasty. It is not the only alcazaba in Spain, but it is the most well-preserved. The name translates as “citadel” from the Arabic al-qasbah. It comprises two inner walls in order to protect against attackers, with passages doubling back on themselves in order to confuse the enemy.
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Kelipe Centro de Arte Flamenco (Paid)

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For a real taste of authentic Spanish culture while in Malaga, check out a captivating performance of flamenco dance in this centre housed in an 18th century mansion. While the night away with outstanding musicians on guitar and percussion, and passionate dancers. Shows take place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, lasting around an hour and a half. It’s also possible to enjoy a tapas meal before the show. There’s also the option of private shows during the week for groups of twenty or more. Each performance features between three and five artists, who are all dedicated to the pursuit of bringing authentic flamenco to the public, and they live and breathe their chosen art form. The Kelipe Centre is an education foundation as well as a concert venue, and they offer workshops if you want to get even more involved. So if you want to become a guitar maestro or strut your stuff as a fiery dancer, this is the place to be.
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Puerto de Malaga (Free)

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This charming port has recently undergone a major redevelopment and now it’s a pleasure to wander around, admiring the yachts, taking in some lunch at one of the many waterfront restaurants and checking out the sculptures that are dotted around. One of the best places to spend a relaxing afternoon, with the sun shining on the crystal clear water. It’s easy to get to as well, with the promenade leading from the city centre, past the lighthouse and onto La Malagueta beach (link). The port is also one of the best shopping areas and even hosts a small market on Sunday mornings. You can watch the cruise ships coming in and out. It’s great for people watching in general and there is a vibrant, friendly atmosphere. If you’re feeling more active, you can hire bikes and segways. You can also go on a boat trip or even the small solar powered train.
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La Concepcion Botanic Gardens (Paid)

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A haven of tranquillity on the outskirts of the city, these fabulous tropical gardens are more than worth the short trip from the centre. Laid out by an affluent Malagan couple in the grounds of their mansion in the 1850s, they contain a stunning wealth of trees and plants from around the globe, including magnolias, cedars, cypresses, bamboos, cacti and vines. The gardens were opened to the public in 1994 after being bought by Malaga City Council. Among the jewels of the gardens is the collection of palm trees, thought to be the largest in Europe. Malaga’s favourable climate allows many species from tropical environments to thrive here. There is also a small building that houses the Archaelogical Museum, built by the garden founders. It contains various Roman remains unearthed during the laying out of the gardens. Also to be found are a pergola with excellent views over Madrid, fountains and a monkey puzzle tree.
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Castillo Gibralfaro (Paid)

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Malaga’s other iconic hilltop fortification alongside the Alcazaba (link), to which it is connected. Gibralfaro is the higher of the two at 130 metres, affording superb views over the city, Alcazaba and sea. It is actually a foothill of the Montes of Malaga mountain range. The castle dates back to 929AD but a fortification has been here for much longer. The Phoenicians built a lighthouse on the site, from which Gibralfaro derives its name: the Arab word “yabal” meaning “hill” and the Greek word “faruh” meaning “lighthouse”. The castle was greatly enlarged by Yusuf I in the fourteenth century. He added the walled passageway to the Alcazaba. There isn’t that much left from those days, but the ramparts can be walked on, making an invigorating trek. You’ll also find the tower called Torre Blanca, a well, and a small museum housed in the former munitions arsenal. This displays uniforms, weapons and everyday objects, aimed at imparting a flavour of daily life in the castle.
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Centre for Contemporary Art (Free)

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The CAC (Centro de Arte Contemporaneo) is one of the newest and most exciting of Malaga’s galleries, opened in 2003. It showcases a wide range of modern art from across Spain and beyond, with constantly changing temporary exhibitions, so each visit will be different. Among the big stars who have been featured are Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst and Jake and Dinos Chapman. The emphasis is on the best of contemporary art from the 1950s to the present, inspired by the German Kunsthauses (Houses of Art). The museum has a floor space of 6000m², with over 400 works in the permanent collection. Entrance is free, and it enjoys the comparatively rare advantage among Spanish galleries of having a cafe. It’s situated on the bank of the dry river Guadalmedina. Housed in the old Wholesalers’ Market which was built after the war, the building is in fact well suited to its current purpose, as it was designed by one of Spain’s leading architects in a functional, Cubist style.
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Museu de Artes y Costumbres Populares (Paid)

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Known in English as the Popular Arts Museum, it focuses not just on art but also on the everyday lives of Malagan citizens through a series of displays of common objects. These include tools used in the production of iron, wine, and bread, and the working methods used are further illustrated through the collection of clay figures. The museum focuses on the era from the 18th to 20th centuries. There are also modes of transport on display including coaches, children’s toys, and much more. The building has an interesting history too, being built by the Franciscan monks of the order of Victoria in 1632, and later used as an inn. There are two paintings showing Anita Delgado, a Malagan woman who went to India and married a Maharajah but later returned to Spain. She donated a jewelled overcoat to the statue of the Virgin found in the Basilica del Santa Maria de la Victoria (link).
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Cathedral “La Manquita” (Paid)

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Malaga’s much-loved Cathedral is one of the most fascinating churches you can visit from an architectural viewpoint. Thanks to a construction period lasting over 250 years, it embraces several different styles, and the right tower is still unfinished as they ran out of money. Hence, the name “La Manquita” which translates as “One-Armed Woman”. Although work started on the cathedral in 1528, the building existed before that as a mosque (the Catholic kings dedicated it as a cathedral in 1487). The construction suffered a setback when an earthquake destroyed part of it in 1680; work began again in 1719 and halted in 1783. This tumultuous history left the cathedral with a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque design. The interior is richly decorated and there are many treasures to be found, including sculptures and paintings of the Virgin Mary and many saints, and a highly ornate altar table. The two 18th century organs have over 4000 pipes and are still in use.
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Basilica del Santa Maria de la Victoria (Paid)

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This church located just outside the historic quarter is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and has as its centrepiece a magnificent statue of her, with a camarin tower behind it for keeping ornaments and other accoutrements. The tower is sumptuously decorated with angels and plant motifs. There is also a crypt which contains the very striking tomb of the Counts of Buenavista. It features white plaster skeletons over a black background which create a macabre but intriguing image. The chapel of Santa Maria has breathtaking decoration. There is also a small museum which displays historical artefacts from the church, including a bejewelled overcoat to be worn by the statue of the Virgin. Dating from 1487 as a hermitage, it was replaced with the present church in the 17th century. Before any church was built, it was the place where King Ferdinand camped during the siege of Malaga.
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Roman Theatre (Free)

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The Roman Theatre is an archaeological treasure in the city, built in the 1st century BC but only unearthed again in 1951. The restoration is still ongoing, but nevertheless there is much to enjoy when visiting the theatre. A small museum before you enter the theatre really puts you in the context of the arena’s heyday, with interactive exhibits, a short movie and information boards. This helps you imagine the splendour that once existed once you get inside. You can sit on the portion of original Roman seating that still survives and let your mind drift to the days of gladiatorial combat and classical drama. In fact, it is possible to book tickets to see a production in the theatre, which would certainly be a unique experience. It’s free to visit at any other time, making this one of Malaga’s most enticing attractions. It’s at the foot of the Alcazaba (link), so is well worth checking out at the same time.
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Beaches of Malaga (Free)

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As you’d expect for a popular seaside resort, Malaga has its fair share of beaches. You have a few options if you want to spend a lazy day swimming and soaking up the rays - some are a little distance away from the centre, but are well worth the effort. The most easily accessible beach is La Malagueta, adjacent to the newly redeveloped port (link). It features dark sand, some palm trees, sunloungers, and plenty of restaurants along the seafront. You can also take a good long walk along its promenade. A little way along the coast you can find Playa Palo beach. It’s next to El Candado marina, which offers sailing and diving facilities, and there’s a golf club. In the other direction (west rather than east), there’s Playa Huellin, which you can reach by bus. Finally, there’s the highly popular Playa Las Acacias, located off Av. Juan Sebastián Elcano. Get there early for a good spot. 1200 metres long, it’s divided into a series of sandy coves by rocky breakwaters. The directions in this article relate to La Malagueta beach.
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Parks and Gardens Malaga (Free)

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Malaga boasts a wealth of stunning outdoor spaces, with a rich variety of plantlife which is aided by the favourable Mediterranean climate. Undoubtedly the most important in the city is the Parque de Malaga located parallel to the Paseo del Parque with beautiful views out to the harbour. In fact, the park sits on land which was reclaimed from the sea. The Parque has an array of tropical flowering trees and shrubs, which were imported from as far afield as Cuba. It’s an ideal place to unwind on a sunny afternoon and perhaps enjoy a picnic. The free concerts given each Sunday at noon by the Malaga Municipal Band are a special treat. Nearby, you can find the Pedro Luis Alonso Gardens, laid out in geometric patterns and featuring fruit trees including oranges and mandarins. There’s also the Puerto Oscura Gardens, located on the southern slopes of the Gibralfaro (link), with a charming layout over several levels featuring fountains, paths and pergolas. The directions on this page refer to the Parque de Malaga.
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Atarazanas Market (Free)

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A very popular food market with an extensive range of high quality fresh produce including fruit, meat, cheeses, fish, spices and many more. It’s all set in a beautiful iron structure that has an interesting history of its own. Originally the town’s shipyard at the time when the majority of the present city was underwater, the Moorish building’s name translates from the Arabic as “a place where ships are repaired”. The market’s impressive entrance arch is the only one of the original seven which is still in place. Inside you will find an iron arch with an attractive stained glass window portraying the maritime association. The 14th century building was resurrected in the 19th century after falling into disrepair. The iron framework was introduced and it has served as a market ever since. It was renovated again in 2008-10. This bustling centre of commerce is highly popular with locals as well as tourists and is a true slice of Malagan life.
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Museo del Patrimonio Municipal (Free)

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This museum which focuses on Malaga’s civic and artistic history is relatively small but that works in its favour as you get an idea of the figures and events that have shaped the city over the years without an information overload. It’s also one of Malaga’s newest museums, founded in 2007 by Mayor Prados, who also came up with the idea. The exhibits trace the city’s timeline from the Catholic Kings up to the era of Picasso. You follow events chronologically through the three rooms, starting with the 15th to 18th centuries and explaining how Malaga changed from a Moorish to a Spanish city. In the third room, there are some important works from Picasso with Malaga as their subject. The history is explained through paintings, sculptures, furniture and documents and there is a large library of books. The museum also holds temporary exhibitions which focus on one specific artist.
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