I was recently invited by the Spanish Tourist Board on an educational weekend city break to Malaga. Most of us get to Malaga airport turn right and head straight to either the Costa or Marbella and completely neglect this wonderful city. Major sights such as the Roman theatre and the Gibralfaro Castle hark back to the times of the Romans and the Moors, respectively. Malaga is also replete with religious monuments and churches, foremost of which is the La Manquita, Malaga’s cathedral.
Malaga is not called the “city of museums” for nothing; it has over 20 museums, 15 of which are grouped together in the same vicinity. Feast your eyes on a wide array of options from contemporary art to religious art, historical artifacts and, of course, Pablo Picasso’s works housed in the Pablo Picasso Birthplace Museum and the Picasso Museum of Malaga.
Malaga houses some of the most beautiful I have ever seen along with breathtaking parks and gardens. This wealth of botanical heritage offers you a trip to paradise – lush gardens featuring a diverse range of botanical species and coupled with historical sculptures and buildings. The major attractions when it comes to Malaga’s gardens are the La Concepcion Gardens, the El Retiro estate and the Malaga Park.
All of these and more from another fascinating facet of Malaga, one that is best enjoyed by leisurely walks on warm sunny days, La Concpecion. We visited La Concpecion as it was only a 10 minute bus ride from the city centre. It is a beautiful spot and if anyone was thinking of having a wedding in Spain this would the ultimate venue.
You will find many beach cafes (chiringuitos), restaurants and tapas bars along the esplanades. You will find food havens featuring great traditional Malaga cuisine. Be sure to try the pescaito frito, an assortment of fried fish such as red mullet and sardines (delicious). Bodegas, which are pubs or wine bars that serve local Malaga wine directly from the barrel, and the atmosphere in these areas is just fantastic. I would highly recommend lunch at Bodegas El Pimpi, great value and great food.
Party! Malagueños really know how. The party scene comes into full swing around midnight and continues right up until the break of dawn. You can easily get caught up in the fever and dance the night away in Malaga’s modern disco and night club scene. We had a drink in a bar situated on the Plaza directly in front of the Cathedral and there was a fabulous atmosphere and experience.
Then of course there is the shopping with the famed Cortes Del Ingles department store, the Mercado Atarazanas market in the heart of the city, the wide pedestrianised shopping streets and plaza's, all within a 20 minute walk of each other.
Malaga is also becoming an important base for cruise ships and there is excellent value to be found in the hotels here. We stayed in the MS Maestranza a very nice 4* hotel with excellent breakfast. The hotel is in a fantastic location as it is only 5 minutes walk to the beach and promenade. We didn't take a taxi for the whole weekend! A great way to see the city is on a guided bike tour. As the city is very flat it is no hardship and a very pleasant way to spend a few hours.
The Spanish tourist board is promoting Malaga as a city break in its own right and compared to Barcelona it is great value, very easy to get around, the people are lovely and it feels so safe. They are continuously developing the city and in January 2011 they will be opening a Cultural Theme Park called Art Natura Malaga museum which promises to be a major attraction for young and old alike.
Malaga is well served from Ireland with daily flights from Cork & Dublin and as a winter, spring, or autumn city break I would highly recommend it. I will definitely go back, if you would like any further details please drop me a line.