The city was founded by the Phoneticians, who built a settlement near the hill on which the Alcazaba stands today. During Roman times, Malaga obtained the benefits of being declared a confederated city of Rome.
Under the rule of the Moors, the city enjoyed an era of great progress, however, in 1487 it was re-conquered by the Catholic Monarchs, following which it fell into relentless decline.
By the end of the 18th century, beginning of the 19th, a high-class bourgeoisie had been formed, comprised mainly of two families: the Larios and the Heredia, thanks to whom Malaga became the second most important industrial centre in the country.
Converted into a world capital of tourism, thanks to the development of the Costa del Sol, today Malaga continues to grow.
Eating just-caught sardines by the sea is one of life’s great simple pleasures, and the beaches either side of Malaga are the perfect place to do it – particularly after a morning at the Picasso and Carmen Thyssen museums. Unlike some Spanish cities, it does not wind down in summer, and is particularly lively during the Malaga Fair in mid-August, when even the most reserved visitors might find themselves joining the locals for a twirl in the streets.
If you haven’t been for a while, you’ll be amazed at how it has been spruced up. Chic boutiques, gastrobars and cool cafés have sprung up alongside the traditional taverns in the winding lanes in the heart of the city, while the waterfront has been developed with a promenade, bars, restaurants and shops. Although there is plenty to see and do, Malaga is really a place to kick back and just enjoy the laidback Mediterranean vibe.
Standing on the site of Malaga’s main mosque, the cathedral (2) was begun in the 16th century. However, one of the towers was never completed, resulting in the lop-sided effect you see today. Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural elements reflect the long period of construction. Inside, have a look at the carved choir stalls and the two 18th-century organs, as well as sculpture by Pedro de Mena and a painting by Alonso Cano.
Address: Calle Molina Lario 9.
Contact: 00 34 952 215917.
Opening times: Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm; Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun, 2pm-6pm.
Admission: €5, free Sun.
Strategically situated overlooking the sea and the city, the Alcazaba (3) is a fortress, built in the 11th century by Malaga’s Arab rulers, which also served as a palace. Inside there is an archaeological museum where exhibits include Roman mosaics and Moorish ceramics. Parts of the structure are reminiscent of the Alhambra in Granada.
Address: Plaza de la Aduana, Alcazabilla 2.
Contact: 00 34 952 227230.
Opening times: Summer, Mon 9am-8pm, Tue-Sun 9am-8.15pm. Winter, Mon 9am-6pm, Tue-Sun 8.30am-7.30pm.
Admission: €2.20. Combined ticket with Gibralfaro €3.55. Free Sun after 2pm.
Rising above the Alcazaba is the Gibralfaro castle (4), built in the 14th century to protect the fortress. There is an exhibition area charting its history inside. The outdoor café is a great place to enjoy the panoramic views.
Address: Camino Gibralfaro 11.
Contact: 00 34 952 227230.
Opening times: Mon-Sun, 9am-6pm (until 8pm in summer).
Admission: €2.20. Free Sun after 2pm.
At the foot of the Alcazaba hill is a Roman amphitheatre (5), which dates back to 1BC and was discovered by chance in 1951. Parts of the tiered seating, the stage and access corridors have survived.
Address: Calle Alcazabilla 8.
Contact: 00 34 951 501115.
Opening times: Summer, Tues 12pm-8pm, Wed-Sat, 9am-8.30pm., Sun 10am-4pm. Winter, Tues 10am-6pm, Wed-Sat 9am-7pm.
Carmen Thyssen Málaga Museum
The museum (6) occupies the 16th-century Palacio de Villalón in the centre of the city, and displays the collections of the widow of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. Most of the works on display are from the 19th century, with the emphasis on Andalusian art. Artists include Zurbarán, Sorolla and Romero de Torres.
Address: Calle Compañia 10
Contact: 902 303131; www.carmenthyssenmalaga.org.
Opening times: Open Tue-Sun 10am-8pm.
Admission fee: €6 to permanent collections; €4 temporary exhibitions; €8 combined ticket.
CAC Contemporary Art Centre
Malaga’s contemporary art museum (7) has gained quite a reputation internationally for the quality of its exhibitions. Spanish artists in the permanent collection include Miquel Barceló, José María Sicilia and Juan Muñoz, while international names include Louise Bourgeois, Frank Stella and Tony Cragg. There are usually at least two temporary exhibitions running. Good shop and café.
Address: Calle Alemania 2.
Contact: 00 34 952 120055, www.cacmalaga.org
Opening times: Tue-Sun, 10am-8pm. Summer opening (end of June to second week of September), 10am-2pm, 5pm-9pm.
La Concepción Botanic Garden
Rated as one of the best botanic gardens in Europe, La Concepción is a tropical paradise which combines formal gardens with a lush green forest. Created in the mid-19th century by an aristocratic couple, Jorge Loring Oyarzábal and his English wife Amalia Heredia Livermore, the gardens fell into decline but have been restored to their former glory by Malaga City Council. Following the basic route takes around an hour and a half, but you could easily spend all day there.
Address: Camino del Jardín Botánico 3, Carretera de Las Pedrizas, Km 166. Get there on the Malaga Tour bus, on bus 61 at weekends or on bus 2 daily.
Contact: 00 34 952 252148, laconcepcion.malaga.eu.
Opening times: April-September daily, 9.30am-8.30pm; October-March daily, 9.30am-5.30pm.
Annie Bennett – (Telegraph destination expert)
Palacio de Buenavista,
C/ San Agustín, 8, 29015 Malaga, Spain
GPS: N 36.72169º W 04.41852º
General information: (+34) 952 127600