Malaga, Costa del Sol, Spain: must-see historical attractions, beaches, recreation. Complete city overview

Malaga is one of the oldest cities in the world. How to get there, what to see, which beach to choose for your holiday and where to eat? How much does real estate cost?
Malaga is one of the oldest cities in the world, today beyond its 16 sunny beaches, this Andalusian city on the shores of the Mediterranean has a fascinating cultural side.

And Malaga city is now a property investment hotspot, only beaten by Madrid and Barcelona.

1. History and general information

View of the port in the centre of Málaga
Málaga is one of the biggest ports in Spain
Málaga is a large port city located in the centre of the southern Spanish coast, the Costa del Sol. It is the second-largest city in the autonomous community of Andalusia and the capital of the province of Málaga. The city's population reaches 570 thousand people.

Málagais one of the oldest cities in Europe. Its history begins in the 8th century BC, with the founding of the city by the Phoenicians. At that time, the settlement was called Malaca, which means "Salty". Later, until the 3rd century BC. Malaga belonged to the Romans, then to the Byzantines and the Visigoths. It briefly fell to the Moors, becoming a prosperous and beautiful town. During Islamic rule, Málaga was part of the Caliphate of Cordoba and became a major centre of trade.

In 1487 Málaga was conquered by the Castilians, who annexed it to the Crown of Castile. Having been the centre of various rebellions, Málaga has earned many flattering titles, such as "Always Fearless". There was a rapid economic development in the 19th century, and from the 60s of the 20th century, Málaga underwent a tourist boom.

Málaga of today is not only a major tourist, industrial and cultural centre but also an important transport hub on the southern coast of Spain.

Málaga is nestled in the centre of a bay surrounded by mountain chains. Thanks to its rich history, the city has acquired a unique identity through eclectic architectural styles. The charming, winding streets of Málaga's old districts with its lush blossoming greenery coexists with the modern highrise and shopping malls. Above all, however, it is a resort city boasting fabulous beaches, comfortable hotels and excellent tourist infrastructure.
Malaga is also home to Pablo Picasso and the famous actor Antonio Banderas. Both have promenades named after them. One of the airport terminals is named after the former. In addition, there are two museums commemorating the famous artist. Antonio Banderas, an often visitor of his hometown, is purely adored by the citizens.

2. Climate and weather

View of the bullfighting rentals in the centre of Málaga
View of the bullfighting rentals in the centre of Málaga
Located in the south of Spain, Málaga has a relatively hot climate, especially during the summer months, with a long bathing season until late October. From late May to September, Málaga is hot and dry with almost no rainfall. The heat fades in the second half of September, and April and May are already quite warm.

The average monthly temperature in July and August reaches +30 degrees, while the winter climate is warm and mild, with an average of +17 degrees. The best place to escape exhausting heat is the sea, with its pleasantly cool temperature of +22 in the summer.

Malaga weather forecast for today and the following week


3. How to get to Malaga

How to get from Malaga Airport to Malaga
How to get from Malaga Airport to Malaga
There is a large international airport 8 km from Málaga. The EMT Malaga express bus service runs every 20-25 minutes from 7:00 am to 12:00 pm from the airport to the centre of Málaga. The journey time is 30 minutes, and the cost is €3.

"Renfe" trains run every 20 minutes from Málaga-Centro Alameda station to the airport and back, with a journey time of 12 minutes. The fare is €1.8-€2.6 depending on the day of the week. In addition, "Renfe" trains provide easy access to Malaga's neighbouring resort towns and take just 2.5 hours to reach Madrid.

The journey by car takes 15-20 minutes or, if you prefer to take a taxi, the fare from the airport is up to €15.

Malaga on the map of Spain

4. Malaga's beaches

View of the beach in Málaga city centre
View of the beach in Málaga city centre
Málaga's beach coastline stretches for 14 kilometres and includes 16 official beaches. The central and western parts of the coast have sandy beaches, mostly with dark sand, while the eastern part has many rocky areas. Very well maintained and clean Málaga's beaches have been awarded the Blue Flag at various times. There are toilets, showers, children's playgrounds and sports fields. Sun loungers and deck chairs can be rented at every beach, while the water equipment only at some.
Málaga sign at the La Malagueta beach
La Malagueta beach
The most popular beaches are in the centre of the city: La Malagueta, Pedregalejo, La Misericordia and San Andrés. These are crowded beaches with well-developed infrastructure and vigilant lifeguard services. In addition, numerous bars and restaurants will keep you cool and satisfy your hunger during your beach holiday.

1.5km long and 50m wide, with its sand from Sahara, La Malagueta beach is the most visited.

On the kilometre-long beach of La Misericordia, the best sight to see is the evening series of big waves crashing onto the beach from a serene sea. This phenomenon is caused by the arrival of a high-speed ferry to Málaga. Pedregalejo's beach is divided by breakwaters into lovely coves, which are home to many fish restaurants. In addition, many enthusiasts use a boat charcoal grill right at the beach. If you prefer a more secluded and quiet retreat, then the Campo de Golf and Guadalmar beaches, the furthest west from the centre of Málaga, are your best bet. The Campo de Golf, a favourite destination for kite surfers, is 2 kilometres long with truly mesmerising sea views. Guadalmar is a small, least crammed beach of 450m. There are good bars, plenty of parking and children's playgrounds. It should be noted that Guadalmar is under an airport glide path, so you will need to get used to the humming of the planes. The beaches have nudist areas.

On the other side of the mouth of the Guadalhorce River is the quiet and sparsely populated 750m long and 50m wide Sacaba beach.The beaches of Málaga, such as Baños del Carmen and Peñón del Cuervo, look like sheer paradise on earth, with their picturesque sheltered coves. The beaches of Baños del Carmen and La Arana have dark sand mixed with fine pebbles, adding to their natural charm.

5. Must-see historical attractions

View of Málaga's historic centre and Old Town
View of Málaga's historic centre and Old Town
The main sights and monuments are concentrated in Málaga's historical centre. The magnificent neo-Baroque with modernism elements town hall is the first place to start looking around and learning about the city's history and culture. It was built in 1912-1919 to replace the old building that was demolished. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city built by the architect Fernando Guerrero Rosado Strachan and was declared a Cultural and Historical Heritage Site in 2010. Entrance to the City Hall is free, and you can enjoy not only the architectural and artistic delights inside the halls but also masterpieces by both past and contemporary post-modern artists. In addition, the town hall is always open for detailed information about the city's history and upcoming events.

Together with Manuel Rivera Vera and other famous Spanish architects, Fernando Strachan was also involved in creating the famous Málaga park (Parque de Málaga), located next to the Town Hall along the Park Alley (Paseo del Parque). This central city park of almost 10 hectares is one of the city's main attractions and one of the largest parks in Europe. The park has both endemics and exotic plants from all over the Mediterranean. The numerous sculptures, monuments and fountains add to the charm of the park. The eastern part of the park is adjacent to the General Torrijos square, where the large "The Three Graces" fountain (Fuente de las Tres Gracias) is located.Behind this square is the symbol of Málaga, the 52-metre diameter La Malagueta bullfighting ground, built in the 19th century in the neo-mudejar style. There is also the bullfighting museum, named after the famous bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez. (Museo Taurino Antonio Ordóñez) The museum displays an array of material on the history of bullfighting, bullfighter costumes, posters from previous centuries, and works of art dedicated to corrida.Opposite the Town Hall, on the other side of Guillén Sotelo Street, is the ancient Arab fortress of the Alcazaba (Alcazaba de Málaga), built by the Moors in the 11th century. To be more precise, it was a fortified Muslim palace surrounded by two rings of walls, towers and gates. The fortress has been well preserved, especially its massive crenellated walls of ancient masonry, paved roads, arches and fountains. Fragments of the ruined Roman theatre were used in the construction. Around the Citadel was a housing estate that has not survived to the present day. Almost every house had a sewerage system, testifying to the high level of civilisation at that time. The Alcazaba has an archaeological museum to learn all the historical and architectural details about the fortress.Not far from Alcazaba, on Mount Gibralfaro, the name-sake fortress is connected to Alcazaba by a walled passage. The Castillo de Gibralfaro is thought to have been built in the 14th century by the Moors on the site of what may have been an older Phoenician structure. The fortress area is enclosed by three rings of defence. The upper levels offer panoramic views over the Strait of Gibraltar. Inside this fortress, there were also residential quarters, warehouses, wells and its own mosque. There is also a 40-metre deep well called "Bottomless", carved out of the rock.

The two fortresses were a formidable defence system, one of the best in all of Moorish Spain.

Just outside the Alcazaba fortress is the Roman theatre (Teatro Romano de Málaga), which dates back to the 1st century BC. After Málaga was conquered by the Arabs, the theatre material was used to build the Alcazaba. The theatre has preserved the grandstands, the 31-metre stage, the orchestra pit, galleries and corridors. The ruins of the Roman Theatre were discovered by chance in 1951. It was decided to demolish the building above it and start excavating and restoring the ancient heritage. Since 2011, performances and cultural events have been held here.The majestic and monumental Catedral de Málaga is the pride and joy of the city. The cathedral's exterior combines different styles: Gothic, Baroque and Classicist. The original building was constructed in the 16th century on the site of a former mosque. The idea of the new authorities was to symbolise the triumph of Christianity and show the greatness of the Catholic Church. The cathedral is also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Incarnation (La Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica de la Encarnación). Another common name for the church is La Manquita, which means "the one-armed one". Such a name owes to the fact that initially, the cathedral was designed to have two towers, but the second tower was never completed due to a lack of funds.

Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga, and the residents take pride in this fact. There are two museums dedicated to the great artist: the Picasso House Museum (Fundación Picasso Museo Casa Natal), where the future genius was born, and the Picasso Museum (Museo Picasso Málaga), which exhibits 233 of his works. You also can see the workshop where Picasso worked, the personal possessions of the artist and his family, and hundreds of his drawings, sculptures, and graphic works. The headquarters of the Picasso Foundation is in the same building.

In addition to the traditional historical and artistic sites, Málaga has several museums that are highly regarded by tourists. One of them is the Museo Automovilístico de Málaga, where vintage cars of such prestigious brands as Bugatti, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, Bentley, Ferrari and Packard are on display. The exhibition is divided into thematic sections, such as "Art Deco", "Dolce Vita", "the Twenties", "Dream Cars", "English Tradition", etc. The price of the ticket is €6 and Monday is a day-off.The unique interactive museum of music is a must-see. Not only can you see about 400 musical instruments from different countries and eras (from the most ancient to the most modern), but you can also literally touch them and play them! The museum's eleven fascinating halls will tell visitors about the origins of music and the earliest musical instruments, the development of music and the source of sound, outstanding composers and musical acoustics, the use of music in therapy, and much more.
For connoisseurs of contemporary art, we recommend visiting the Museo de Arte Moderna Málaga (CAC Malaga)
For connoisseurs of contemporary art, we recommend visiting the Museo de Arte Moderna Málaga (CAC Malaga)
For connoisseurs of contemporary art, we recommend visiting the Museo de Arte Moderna Málaga (CAC Malaga).

In addition to CAC Malaga, contemporary art in the city is also exhibited at the first foreign branch of the legendary Pompidou Museum in Paris.

There are works by iconic 20th and 21st-century artists such as Francis Bacon, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Frida Kahlo, Fernand Léger, René Magritte, Joan Miró, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Antoni Tàpies and others.

The museum building itself is just as unusual, a multicoloured glass cube standing in the Port of Malaga in the Muelle Uno shopping centre.
Rotunda in Málaga's botanical garden
Málaga's botanical garden
Málaga's famous botanical garden (Jardín Botánico-Histórico La Concepción) is the best place to hide from the scorching Spanish sun and enjoy an unhurried stroll and peaceful views of well-tended greenery. In the 19th century, the couple Jorge Loring and Amália Heredia decided to create a botanical garden on their estate in the best European tradition.

The French gardener Chamus, who was hired by them, laid the foundations for a large English-style garden with a variety of exotic plants, into which he successfully integrated small architectural forms, pergolas and sculptures. After a change of owners at the beginning of the 20th century, the garden acquired additional areas, and in 1990 the municipality of Malaga bought it. It takes a few hours to walk around the entire garden.

6. Cuisine

Grilled sardines espetos - a typical Málaga fast food
Grilled sardines espetos - a typical Málaga fast food
Apart from the ubiquitous traditional Spanish dishes, each region of Spain also has its own unique snacks. In Malaga, these include small sardines fried on fire and then strung on bamboo sticks, known as espetos or pescaito frito, dishes made from freshly caught and pan-fried fish.

In general, there are many good restaurants and beach cafés in Málaga, where you can enjoy delicious paella, fresh seafood, and a glass of cool, fragrant sangria. On the east end of the coastline, near El Candado beach, there is a notable restaurant called 'El Tintero', which operates without a menu - waiters carry trays of food and announce it loudly to guests while they are free to order by simply raising their hand. The bill is based on the number of plates on the guest's table.

Andalusian specialities include "cazon en adobo", tuna marinated in wine vinegar and garlic, and "coquinas", clams in white wine. The distinctive Málaga sweet wine can be enjoyed in almost any restaurant or bar.

If you just want a cheap snack while on the beach, freshly made fast-food or baked potatoes are available in the chiringuitos (beach bars). They'll cost you around €10-15. For a meal in an average cafe or more or less low-key restaurant in Málaga, you'll pay about 25 Euros. Dinner with wine in a luxury restaurant will cost you from 60 Euros per person.

7. Attractions in the surrounding areas.
What to see nearby Malaga

An ancient cave Cueva de Nerja is 60 kilometres from Malaga
An ancient cave Cueva de Nerja is 60 kilometres from Málaga
The prehistoric caves of Fundación Cueva de Nerja are located just 60 kilometres from Malaga, in the town of Nerja. They are the largest in Andalusia, with public-friendly spaces of 9,000 square metres and a volume of over 106,000 cubic metres, which is about one-third of the caves (the total area of the caves is 35,000 square metres). Archaeologists believe that these caves were formed 5 million years ago.

As evidenced by the rock drawings left on the walls, fragments of stone tools and ceramics found, in ancient times, people lived here.

The impressive spacious halls with their mighty stalactites and stalagmites amaze with their beauty and grandeur. One of the 8 halls, the Waterfall Hall, is used as an extraordinary concert hall, hosting concerts by top celebrities. The Cataclysm Hall is dominated by a 32-metre high giant column made from the world's largest stalactite. The entrance fee is €10.

Bridge in the cliffs in the Torcal de Antequera Natural Park
Bridge in the cliffs in the Torcal de Antequera Natural Park
An hour north of Málaga is the picturesque Torcal de Antequera national park of 20 sq. km. The mountain ranges of bizarre and surprising shapes were formed some 160 million years ago from different types of limestone. In addition to the unusual and fascinating rocks, there are numerous caves.

For hiking enthusiasts, there are three official trails - 1.5 km, 2.5 km and 4.5 km. The observation deck at the end of the longest trail offers panoramic views of the entire park. And on a clear day, it is said that one can see the coastline of the neighbouring continent, Africa.

Flora and fauna of Torcal de Antequera are also of interest - several hundred species of different plants, 30 species of orchids and over a hundred species of animals live in the park. Entrance to the park is free, and visits are only possible during daylight hours.

8. Real Estate in Malaga

Typical coastal and historic centre development overlooking the port
Typical coastal and historic centre development overlooking the port
The residential real estate market in the province of Malaga has survived the pandemic relatively unscathed. However, while Malaga capital experienced a price rise, there has been some slowing down on the Costa as potential international buyers of holiday homes have been unable to travel.

Several factors at once influenced the growth of real estate value. The cancellation of quarantine and the opportunities to make purchases freely played a role. On the other hand, there is a lot of demand from people who want to buy Malaga estate, either due to relocation or being attracted by the quality of life. A better-quality standard has also been launched onto the market aimed at a higher-end market segment.

In 2020 there were over 24,600 homes bought and sold in the province, half of the volume in the whole of Andalucía region. 5,000 of these were new-build, by 52% more than in 2019. The average price of a new-build home in Malaga city from 2017 to 2020 increased by 50%, from 216,713 euros to 340,387 euros.

In 2021 the property market in Malaga is experiencing a significant increase in the number of sales and in the average price, mainly due to the high interest in the most sought-after residential areas, mainly in the eastern and the western parts.

According to the Idealista portal, in November 2021, the average property price per square meter in Malaga was €2,173. This is 3.5% up in the year and 1.6% higher than Q2 2021.

Property for sale in Malaga Province, Costa del Sol

Housing costs in Malaga by property types

How have property prices changed in Malaga over the past six years?

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