Malaga attractions

Top Malaga sights

Malaga is the second city of the south (after Seville) and boasts some compelling attractions. The centre has a number of interesting things to see, not to mention the birthplace of Picasso and the Museo Picasso Malaga, which houses an important collection of works by Malaga’s most famous son.

  1. Indulge in Malaga’s tasty cuisine
  2. Explore the Iglesia del Sagrario
  3. Marvel at art in the Picasso Museum
  4. Explore the birthplace of Picasso
  5. Marvel at even more artwork
  6. Enjoy a pleasant stroll in the Jardín Botánico La Concepción
  7. Head to the beach!

There’s plenty of art to go around this beauty of a Spanish city. With plenty of museums about Picasso and other arty folk, this creative city oozes coolness.

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1. Indulge in Malaga’s tasty cuisine

Andalucia is known in Spain as the zona de los fritos (fried food zone) and fried fish is a regional speciality. The food scene is one of the top Malaga attractions. Chanquetes (whitebait), sardines, calamares and boquerones (anchovies) are all andaluz favourites and the seafood chiringuitos (beach restaurants) of Malaga are famous for their fritura malagueña (assorted fried fish). Fish can be sampled at tapas bars and restaurants throughout the city, as well as at the old fishing villages of El Palo and Pedregalejo, now absorbed into the suburbs, where there’s a seafront paseo lined with some of the best marisquerías and chiringuitos (beachside fish restaurants) in the province.

Best for: Food

While you’re there: El Tapeo de Cervantes merits at least one visit. Here you’ll find a cosy ambience and some creative tapas.

2. Explore the Iglesia del Sagrario

Iglesia del Sagrario, on the Catedral’s northern flank, is well worth a visit, if only for its fine Gothic portal, dating from an earlier, uncompleted Isabelline church. Inside the chapel is a restored and magnificent gilded Plateresque retablo (altarpiece), which is brilliantly illuminated during services, is the work of Juan de Balmaseda. Equally worthwhile is the climb (200 steps) up to the Catedral’s recently restored terracotta domed rooftops for a guided tour (English available - ask when you buy your tickets) round the perimeter from where you get sweeping views of the city centre. Looking for Malaga holidays? We suggest booking ahead for summer as it’s a popular time for travellers.

Best for: Architecture

While you’re there: The Malaga Park is nearby for a stroll after too.

3. Marvel at art in the Picasso Museum

Just around the corner from the Catedral is the Picasso Museum Malaga, housed in the elegant sixteenth-century mansion of the counts of Buenavista. It’s one of the top Malaga tourist attractions for sure. It was opened by the king and queen in 2003, 112 years after Picasso left Malaga at the age of 10. The permanent collection, partly renewed in 2017, consists of 120 paintings, sculptures and ceramics. The temporary collection comprises loaned works and special exhibitions (usually connected with Picasso). Though not on a par with the Picasso museums in Paris and Barcelona, the museum does allow you to see some of the lesser-known works that Picasso kept for himself or gave away to his lovers, family and friends. Don’t miss the basement archeological remains, which were revealed during the building’s refurbishment. These include substantial chunks of a Phoenician city wall and tower dating from the seventh century BC. The museum also has an excellent book store and gift shop as well as a cafetería with a pleasant courtyard.

Best for: Art

While you’re there: Among the highlights on display are a portrait of Picasso’s cousin Lola, painted when he was just a teenager.

4. Explore the birthplace of Picasso

Picasso was born in 1881 in the Pza. de la Merced, where the birthplace of Picasso is now home to the Fundación Picasso, a centre for scholars researching the painter’s life and work. An exhibition space displays lithographs, etchings and washes by Picasso - mainly with women as the subject matter - plus temporary exhibitions centred around his work. Upstairs are photos of the artist at various stages in his long life and a reconstructed reception room, furnished as it might have looked when Picasso was growing up here at the end of the late nineteenth century. Among the items on display are some embroidered bed linen by the artist’s mother, a canvas by his art-teacher father, and the infant Picasso’s christening robe used in the ceremony at the nearby Iglesia de Santiago. If you’re a Picasso enthusiast, this is number one for Malaga sightseeing experiences.

Best for: Picasso fans

While you’re there: For more works by Picasso, head to Malaga’s Pompidou Centre.

5. Marvel at even more artwork

The superb Contemporary Art Centre sits on the east bank of the Rio Guadalmedina, housed in a former market building. The tone for this modern art museum is set by an amusing sculpture at the entrance, Man Moving, by German artist Stephan Balkenhol, while inside the permanent collection displays works by international artists Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman, Damien Hirst and Tony Cragg. Frequent temporary exhibitions display the best of the world’s contemporary art scene.

Best for: A range of artist’s works

While you’re there: Don’t miss the Malaga Museum. It houses enormous archeological and fine art collections.

6. Enjoy a pleasant stroll in the Jardín Botánico La Concepción

A pleasant trip out of Malaga is to the Jardín Botánico La Concepción (Botanical Garden). A spectacular tropical garden, much of which was planted in the nineteenth century. A walk round the garden (allow two hours) is splendid. Specimens on view include exotic blooms, thirty species of palm, and other trees of all shapes and continents, such as the Australian banyan with its serpentine aerial roots. The giant wisteria pergola comes into full bloom from mid-March to the end of April, and is worth the visit alone.

Best for: Green-fingered travellers

While you’re there: A taxi costs about €15 one-way from the centre.

7. Head to the beach!

What would Malaga be without the beach? There are plenty of sandy spots to keep you going. From blingy Marbella closeby to the Playa de la Malagueta, enjoy the crystal-clear seas and lounge on the golden sand. There are plenty of watersports opportunities such as kayaking and snorkelling here. Malaga is perfect for a family holiday and adventure.

Best for: Beach

While you’re there: The Alcazaba is a must-see. It stands as the best-preserved palatial fortification in the whole of the country.

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