Although located on Spain's Costa del Sol, Malaga is completely different to the commercialised towns on the sunshine coast that attract tourists in their droves. True, Malaga attracts its fair share of visitors, but generally, they're the more refined and laid-back kind. The historic city centre has been superbly restored with the imposing Gothic cathedral looming over narrow streets lined by a host of tapas bars, bodegas and shops. Malaga is not just for lovers of history, architecture and art as the city has a large number of beautiful beaches that can be enjoyed almost all year round.
Until quite recently, Malaga was a very rundown city -- but not anymore. Major investment has seen the town centre and port area almost totally restored to its former glory. Now a lovely and lively city, Malaga has a little of everything to offer visitors of all ages.
Towering over the city are the hilltop citadels of Alcazaba and the ruined Gibralfaro which date back to the 10th and 11th centuries, and the remains of a Roman amphitheatre at the base of the Alcazaba hill is particularly worth seeing. The imposing 16th-century cathedral of Malaga also attracts huge numbers of tourists every year to admire the Baroque facade and the Alonso Cano painting within.
Probably Malaga's biggest attractions are the town itself and the local residents. Friendly and helpful, the Malagueños are proud of their town and enjoy showing it off. The city centre is an eclectic mix of architecture; Baroque churches and Moorish red-tiled houses stand shoulder to shoulder with stunning modern buildings.
The sociable Malagueños love dining out and can be found late at night in the numerous tapas bars that are dotted around the town. Tapas is a great introduction to Andalusian cuisine and very reasonably priced. For fish lovers, the famous Malaga pescaito frito, a mixture of small fish, is a must, as is a cold beer in one of the old-fashioned bodegas.
Due to the low cost of living, staying in one of the 5 star hotels in Malaga is very affordable. The Gran Hotel Miramar is located in the heart of the town, is just a minute from the beach and has a seasonal swimming pool. The Hotel Vincci Seleccion Posada del Patio is only a short walk to most of Malaga's tourist attractions with Malaga Cathedral less than ten minutes away. Sleek and modern, the Barcelo Malaga is situated close to the centre of town and has a direct link to the AVE high-speed train network as well as speedy connections to the airport.