My Málaga Favorites
After living in Andalusia for a number of years I’ve become very accustomed to where I live almost totally forgetting at times that I’m in a country that isn’t my own. Despite this, the city of Málaga continues to surprise and charm me each time I visit. There’s something about the combination of the Andalusian people, the mix of Christian and Muslim history and the location that really brings this place to life. Every Spanish city has its own characteristics but Málaga is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite haunts in the city for anybody who plans on visiting in the near future.
Castillo de Gibralfaro
The Gibralfaro Castle is an ancient fortress that dates from the 10th century which played an important role in the reconquering of Andalusia by the Catholic Kings, removing the Muslim Nasrid dynasty from power. It has fabulous views over the city and port, positioned overlooking Málaga on the hills to the northeast of the old town. It’s an island of tranquillity in an otherwise bustling city but amazingly is only a few minutes from the prettiest parts of Málaga. It’s one of two fortresses in the city, the other being the Alcazaba of Málaga, although El Castillo de Gibralfaro is definitely my favorite. The castle is protected as a national park, with beautiful gardens and during the summer months is frequently used as a venue for musical performances by Classical, Ethnic and Jazz groups.
El Pedregalejo Promenade
The area known as El Pedregalejo is a neighborhood in Málaga about 10 minutes by car from the center on the Eastern edge of the city. The area itself is not particularly attractive however its beach promenade is the perfect blend of international and local but without the tacky touristy feel. It’s quite a young area due to the high number of language schools in the neighborhood behind but has a little bit of everything with very traditional family chiringuitos and laid back beach bars next door to each other. It’s also further away from the port compared to other beaches in Málaga which means you get an often fascinating view to watch while you sunbathe without the icky feeling of dirty seawater. The beach area is divided up into a number of manmade horseshoe coves and during the summer evenings offers picturesque sunsets with a lively atmosphere.
Museum of Art and Popular Customs
This quirky little museum was first suggested to me by a friend from Málaga whilst he tried to describe to me a typical bottle used to keep water cool in summer (a Botijo if you’re interested). He said that I should take a look if I wanted to learn more about the region and these kinds of typical things. I found an immaculate little hidden gem, well off the beaten tourist track in a building (once a 17th-century inn) that on its own was worth a visit. It only costs two Euros to enter and although it may not be the busiest of museums, you’ll learn a lot about life in Málaga over the past one hundred years as well as seeing a side to the region that most tourists never get to know.
My final place in Málaga is one of the oldest bodegas (wineries) in the city and comes with bags of character and tradition. El Pimpi is a bar/restaurant found opposite the Roman amphitheater at the foot of the Alcazaba. It’s popular with tourists and locals although bear in mind that the Spanish tend to run on a different schedule than the rest of us. For me, El Pimpi is all about the atmosphere. The buzz that you’ll find here on a night may well be down to the local sweet wine which in summer when chilled is all too easy to drink or it may be due to the labyrinth of separate rooms which I found fascinating on my first visit. El Pimpi has a very traditional style with rooms decorated with barrels signed by lots of famous visitors. Many of these visitors are national celebrities although you may see a few you recognize such as John Malkovich, Placido Domingo, Sean Connery and local boy Antonio Banderas.
The truth is that I could go on with all sorts of tapas bars and quirky little places that I’ve found but this is more of a work in progress than a definitive list. I’ll continue to explore and enjoy Málaga. Hopefully, this little list will send you well on the way to loving it as I do.
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