48 hours in Malaga, Spain | Travel and Food Guide

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48 hours in Malaga, Spain | Travel and Food Guide

Art, tapas, beaches and rooftop bars – the ultimate weekend guide to the sunshine city

Numerous explorers have embraced the Gothic magnificence of Barcelona or strolled along the majestic avenues of Madrid; a considerable number have indulged in plates of patatas bravas and crunchy croquetas at tapas bars throughout the country. However, beyond the prominent destinations and popular rankings, less noticed cities like Málaga present an alternative Spain—an Andalusian Spain where history, nature, and culture converge to create distinctive experiences and culinary delights unique to the region.

Thanks to its bustling international airport, catering to the entire Costa del Sol, Spain’s sixth-largest city is easily accessible for quick weekend getaways or as a convenient stopover during extended visits. Boasting the warmest winters among major European cities, it serves as a welcoming year-round introduction to a sophisticated southern European town, subtly influenced by the dust of North Africa. If you find yourself with a weekend to spare, be sure not to overlook these cultural, historical, and gastronomic highlights.

DAY 1

Down at the Plaza de la Merced, the atypical Malagueños who rise early to breakfast (the first meal often only takes place around 11 a.m.), head to Byoko for an extensive selection of breakfast options, ranging from traditional favorites to innovative twists. While not exclusively plant based, BYOKO provides numerous healthier choices such as Buddha bowls and buckwheat galettes. Select from their pre-made salad bowls or galettes and customize your meal by adding protein and/or a side dish to suit your preferences.

The Museo Picasso, housed in the nearby Palacio de Buenavista where Picasso was born, showcases 285 works from Spain’s renowned artist. Beneath the Andalusian tiles lies a rich history, with the ruins of Phoenician culture dating back to the eighth century B.C. when the city was known as Malaka, making it one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Exploring the archaeological exhibit in the basement provides insight into the foundational history that shaped the city’s development.

Next, you should head to La Alcazaba, the fortress-palace constructed by Muslim governors atop Mount Gibralfaro in the 11th century. At its base lies a Roman theater that remained active until the 3rd century CE.

If hunger strikes, make your way to lunch at the monumental Mercado de Atarazanas, an impressive 19th-century hall bustling with crowds ordering plates of Malagueño specialties. Inquire about the most quintessential Malagueño dish, and you might be served succulent pieces of conchas finas (locally caught smooth clams) or almejas (small clams) marinated in Spanish-style garlic butter enhanced with parsley and local sherry. Alternatively, you might indulge in the vibrant seafood paella, brimming with juicy tomatoes and infused with aromatic Arabian saffron.

Mercado de Atarazanas
Mercado de Atarazanas. Photo: Malaga Tourism

A fantastic way to conclude your day of sightseeing is by witnessing the sunset at the nearby Castillo de Gibralfaro, connected to La Alcazaba. If you don’t have access to a car, the most convenient way to reach the castle atop the hill is by taking the number 35 bus from Paseo del Parque. Upon arrival, you’ll find a visitor center where you can learn about the castle’s history. However, the highlight awaits with the breathtaking views overlooking the city, the Bay of Malaga, and La Malagueta bullring. The renowned viewing point of Gibralfaro is situated adjacent to the castle and the Parador hotel.

If you’re considering dinner plans in the area, don’t miss El Pimpi, a beloved establishment in Málaga. Situated conveniently with a spacious terrace opposite the Alcazaba, it’s a tourist favorite that retains its authenticity and remains popular among locals. The cuisine lives up to its reputation, featuring plates of the finest Iberian ham, delectable tomato salad, and expertly marinated fish. Cap off your meal with a glass of typical Málaga moscatel wine. For other iconic bars in the city center, consider Antigua Casa de Guardia or Restaurante El Chinitas. About a 15-minute walk from Alcazaba, you’ll find numerous trendy restaurants in the artistic neighborhood of Soho. One popular spot is Mamuchis, where owners Marcel and Leiticia aim to recreate a cozy “mama’s kitchen” vibe, serving up healthy sharing plates inspired by their global travels, such as courgette burgers and dim sum.

Longing for Indian cuisine? Just a five-minute stroll from Palacio de Buenavista and a seven minute walk from Alcazba lies Amigos Grill in Malaga Centro, a fusion hotspot blending Mexican and Indian flavors. Start with tantalizing tacos and delve into a feast of curry for the main course. At Amigos Grill, indulge in heavenly onion bhajis (fritters) served with delightful accompaniments like mint yogurt, chutneys, and salsa for dipping. Don’t miss out on their classics like Tikka Masala with fragrant pilau rice, lamb Madras, chicken masala and chicken biryani. The Indian And Mexican Restaurant, a 12-15 minute walk from Palacio de Buenavista, also offers a delightful fusion of Indian and Mexican cuisine. Indulge in signature Indian dishes such as butter chicken, palak paneer, and garlic naan. The food is not only delicious but also reasonably priced, and the service is friendly. It’s the perfect option for anyone seeking a satisfying dining experience.

Also Read: 72 Hours in Barcelona | Travel And Food Guide

DAY 2

Before departing Malaga, be sure to explore its extensive beaches that line the city’s coastline. Begin your day with a visit to the cathedral affectionately known as La Manquita (the one-armed woman) by locals. This cavernous baroque structure boasts a blend of classical fluted columns, Gothic towers, and opulent interiors. Guided tours, including a rooftop walk, can be arranged through the cathedral itself.

Malaga

Outside, the bell tower overlooks a neighborhood where you can discover culinary delights like the famous Andalusian spice cake known as Tarta Malagueña, made with almonds, fruit, and wine. Venture towards the port area, where the landscape opens up, dominated by the hilly backdrop of the Montes de Málaga,

If you happen to visit the port on a Sunday, you’ll find bustling market stalls brimming with handmade jewelry, vintage clothing, and local delicacies such as the unique lightbulb-shaped jars filled with golden honey, locally sourced and adorned with Andalusian almonds. The port marks the beginning of Playa de la Malagueta, a beach that stretches eastward for seven kilometers toward the El Chanquete beach area. On Sundays, the entire city of Málaga flocks to stroll, jog, scooter, and cycle along this stretch of the Costa del Sol, a picturesque corner of Spain where the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean merge with the shores of Europe, echoing the influence of Africa.


One of the highlights of this region is the abundance of vibrant bars and restaurants (known as chiringuitos) that dot the coastline. Along the beaches, you’ll often find small, refurbished boats transformed into barbecue stations for grilling locally caught fish. Don’t overlook spots like Andrés Maricuchi, where you can enjoy the seaside ambiance while savoring the traditional dish of espeto: sardines grilled on skewers until the skin is crisped and charred, seasoned generously with flakes of sea salt. El Cabra, located on the promenade, is another beloved spot for families, offering succulent mussels, garlic-infused clams, and a variety of fried fish dishes—all while providing excellent opportunities for people-watching. After your meal, consider visiting the boat building workshop near the beach entrance for a unique glimpse into the local craftsmanship.

Indian food lovers find solace in Taj Tandoori y Vegano, a charming Indian restaurant nestled close to Playa de la Malagueta. Here, they can relish in authentic Indian dishes alongside a variety of vegan and Mediterranean offerings. Patrons flock to relish classics like Samosa, Pakoda, Bombay aloo, vegetable curry, and Dal tadka, as well as specialties including Tandoori chicken and chicken tikka masala.

If there’s one culinary adventure in the city that’s truly exceptional, it’s venturing all the way to El Chanquete, a destination so remote from the center that even the tireless beach seems to run out of energy. Here, you’ll discover El Tintero—a bustling seafood restaurant resembling a supermarket in size and energy. Don’t expect a conventional menu; instead, waiters circulate with trays of the freshest catches from the kitchen. This dynamic, interactive style of dining embodies the essence of Spanish gastronomy—a celebration of food amidst the company of friends and family.

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