Five Things You Should Know About Málaga

Eight years ago, I welcomed my parents to Spain for the first time. They arrived to Málaga via bus after several cancelled flights and a mad scramble to get them from Heathrow to Andalucía before Christmas Eve. Once they finally arrived, jet lagged, smelly and not amused with my cry of ‘Bienvenidos a España!’ we grabbed our rental car and beelined out of the Costa del Sol’s capital and didn’t return.

We missed out on the opportunity to explore what is becoming a cultural capital and a city that embodies cool, and I have yet to really get to know more than Málaga’s airport.


Paolo Trabattoni via Creative Commons

Many visitors to the golden shores of Spain’s Costa del Sol choose to bypass Málaga in favor of the nearby beach resorts. It’s a shame – this vibrant city offers a great selection of cultural sights and historic gems, plus great dining options, all on the Mediterranean Coast. If you’re visiting for the first time, you may be surprised by these five facts about one of Spain’s up-and-coming cities.

Picasso’s Mark on the City

Arguably the most influential artist of the twentieth century, Picasso remains one of Malaga’s most renowned citizens. Nestled in the heart of the city’s historic center, visitors can explore the artist’s birthplace and family home during his formative years.

An exhibition displays artifacts from his childhood and personal mementos from his family. From here, art fanatics can visit the Picasso Museum located in the 16th century, Buenavista Palace. Showcasing over two hundred and thirty pieces, it’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity to marvel at some of Picasso’s best works. Plus, it’s just a stumble from great tapas joints (and we stayed at an awesome AirBnB nearby for my despedida de soltera!).

Feria de Málaga

I mean, it’s no Feria de Sevilla, but Málaga’s beachside feria is allegedly just as much fun (and without all of the pomp). The annual fair takes place in August and was established to commemorate the Catholic reconquest of the city in 1487. The weeklong celebration is the time to enjoy authentic Andalusian cuisine, marvel at the trajes de gitanas and take part in a sevillanas dance if you’re fueled by rebujito.

La Feria en Crisis

And it’s ok to go in street clothes – this fair is far more low-key than Seville’s, so you don’t have to put on the airs or sneak your way in to a private tent.

Antonio Banderas and his Devotion

Picasso isn’t the only famous malagueño: another notable native is Hollywood A-lister, Antonio Banderas. Born in 1960, the famous actor began his studies at the College of Dramatic Art in Malaga. Although he no longer resides in Spain, Banderas does return every year to celebrate the Holy Week festivities.

Taking place from Palm Sunday through to Easter Sunday, Banderas joins in several of the processions as a costalero, or a brother charged with carrying the heavy floats through the streets of the city.

Biznagas Malagueñas

Spend a short time in Malaga and you’re sure to come across the handcrafted flowers, Biznagas Malagueñas. Traditional to the region, these are often sold by street vendors, known as biznagueros who are often dressed in an outfit comprising of a white shirt and red waistband.

The floral creations are famed for their sweet smelling scent, usually made with a combination of dried thistle and freshly picked jasmine. Many people are unaware that they have a secondary purpose – they’re also said to repel mosquitoes.

An endless summer

It may come as no surprise that the capital of Spain’s Costa Del Sol receives some of the best weather in Europe, and that it’s not limited to the summer months. With roughly 300 days of sunshine every year, this destination is perfect for a sun worshiper’s fall getaway. The winter also stays pleasantly warm with very few days of rain and highs reaching an impressive 20 °C. The vitamin C alone is worth it.


Laura Flores used under the Creative Commons

With so many affordable flights to Malaga, there’s never been a better time to explore this beautiful city. From the winding streets and traditional tapas restaurants,  lively nightlife and 

Read more about Málaga: Cooking in the Malagueño Countryside // Ronda, the White Village Capital // Walking the Caminito del Rey near Málaga // Málaga’s El Tintero Restaurant


I need a weekend escape to Málaga – what should I see, do and eat?

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. Fun article, Cat, enjoyed it. And yes, Malaga is definitely worth a proper visit. As to what to do, see and eat, how about a copy of our Malaga guide to whet your appetite?

  2. I studied abroad in Malaga and while I did like it, it’s not a city I really need to return to. The beaches aren’t that great and the old historic district is really cute but small. You can pretty much see everything in a day. The one thing I would have liked to experience is Semana Santa but I was only there during the fall semester. However the fact that I got to see the Mediterranean every day on the bus while going to class was nice. I grew up on the coast and seeing the ocean all the time is what I’m used to.

    Also it does get pretty cold. Nothing like 5 degrees cold but the temperatures dipped into the 30s at night and my host mother didn’t have any AC or heat in her house. So it was super hot when I got there, but I was chattering and freezing at night by the time I left (despite the extra warm blankets given to me!).
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    • The heat is so relevant for all of southern Spain – and the cold for that matter! I keep hearing amazing things about the city reinventing itself, and there is so much to do around the province, too.

  3. Kristen Woods says:

    So far I’ve been very impressed with Malaga! I’ve lived most of my life in very large cities and I was worried that I would get bored here, but that’s definitely not the case. Right now I am living just outside the city on the beach (Pedregalejo), which has a “suburban” vibe, but I love that I can take a quick bus ride into the city, party until 3am (which apparently is early) and take a night bus back home where it’s quiet. Great food, tons of museums, beautiful sights, large expat community. I have some complaints, but those are overall specific to Spain, not Malaga. Let’s get a cana when you visit :)

    • Pedragalejo is such a great area – quiet and still close! Glad to hear you’re settling in – and definitely a caña or two!

  4. I’m heading to Spain for the first time this winter and would LOVE to see Malaga some time! It’s not on the itinerary this year but hopefully in the future it will be! :)
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  5. Loved our recent trip to Malaga and will be back before we know it, I’m sure. One night was but a taste of things to come!
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  6. To this day I still regret not making it over to Malaga considering how close I was. I’m also a huge Picasso fan and know I would have loved visiting the museum, especially since when I was in Paris, the Picasso museo was closed for renovations (lasting more than a couple of years). Just another place to add to the list for my big Spain re-visit trip un dia :)
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