Málaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol, has over 300 days of sun per year, 14 kilometres of beaches, and 40 different museums, making it a shining example of both cultural and museum excellence.
A 48-HOUR TRIP AROUND THE UNMISSABLE SITES OF MÁLAGA
Got a free weekend ahead? Then keep reading – this guide is about to tell you everything you need to see and do for an unforgettable 48-hour getaway in Málaga. It includes time for cultural visits, relaxing on the beach, and trying some of Málaga’s delicious cuisine.
Day one: The history and culture of Málaga
There’s no better way to start your day than with a good breakfast. A classic local option you can enjoy is churros con chocolate, or a pitufo mixto (basically a ham and cheese sandwich) in Casa Aranda, a traditional café that’s been open since 1932.
Right by Casa Aranda is Mercado de Atarazanas, a large local shopping plaza open Monday to Saturday, which thousands of locals and tourists alike visit. Stepping into Mercado de Atarazanas, smelling the fresh fruit sold there, and admiring the stained glass windows adorning the building, is a real treat for the senses.
After a trip to the market, I recommend a stroll along one of the most beautiful streets in Málaga, Calle Larios. The city’s biggest events such as the Holy Week parade, the Feria de Agosto (August Fair), and the renowned Christmas lights display, take place here.
One place you can’t miss on this 48-hour trip to Málaga is the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación. Construction never finished and it’s still missing one of its towers, so we locals call it La Manquita (meaning “the little ‘one-armed’ cathedral”).
Just 200 metres from the Cathedral, you’ll find the Teatro Romano and Málaga’s Alcazaba. The former was constructed in 1 AD on Phoenician remains, and it’s the oldest site in the city. The Alcazaba was built by Arabs in the 11th century and it’s connected to Gibralfaro Castle, which served as a temporary residence for King Ferdinand the Catholic.
After an intense morning of tourism, I’m sure your belly will be rumbling. I recommend taking a pitstop at the historical Bodega El Pimpi, an old house from the 18th century which opened as a bar in 1971, and whose rooms have been visited by numerous figures and personalities from the art world.
El Pimpi has a wide and varied menu, but if you fancy trying some local cuisine, allow me to suggest the ensalada malagueña (a typical dish consisting of potatoes, orange, and roasted cod), aubergine fried with cane honey, the Campero Pimpo (a toasted sandwich), or a portion of pescaíto frito (fried fish), using fish prepared in a local marinade or anchovies.
Now you’ve refuelled, you can carry on your 48-hour trip around the unmissable sites of Málaga by dedicating the afternoon to one of the area’s most distinguished celebrities: Pablo Picasso.
Take Calle Granada after leaving El Pimpi, and in 50 metres you’ll find the Palacio de Buenavista, which has hosted the Picasso Málaga Museum since it opened in 2003. Entry to the museum is 9 euros, and inside, the more than 230 works on show will take you on a journey through the different creative stages of this amazing local painter.
Once you’ve gotten to know this artist’s extraordinary body of work, you may be more curious about his personal life. To learn more about that, just head over to the nearby Plaza de la Merced, where you can snap a selfie with the man himself (well, an identical statue, at least) and visit the house where he was born.
To polish off your first day of this 48-hour trip round the unmissable sites of Málaga, I recommend pulling up a seat in any of Plaza de la Merced’s many terraces, or sitting down in Restaurante Vino Mío (next to Teatro Cervantes), where you can eat well for reasonable prices and enjoy a live flamenco show.
Day two: Contemporary Málaga, open to the sea
The second day of this weekend trip to Málaga starts in the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, commonly known as CAC Málaga. This free museum, located in the city’s old Mercado de Mayoristas, has since become a reference centre for contemporary European art. In its halls you’ll find an extensive permanent collection, and other temporary exhibitions covering the different art trends of the 20th century.
After that, I’d suggest meandering around Málaga’s Soho district, where you can have some brunch, try some craft beer, see a musical in the Antonio Banderas theatre, or take some snaps of the area’s surprising street art, signed by Obey, D*Face, ROA, and other internationally-renowned artists. Málaga’s Soho district is basically an open-air museum!
As you stroll down to the port, you should take a bit of a detour and stop at the Antigua Casa de Guardia, Málaga’s oldest bar, founded in 1840. Distinguished guests as Queen Isabel II, Gregorio Marañón, and writer Antonio Gala, have visited this bar to try local wines from the province (such as Moscatel, Pajarete and Pedro Ximénez) with some prawns or mussels.
And when you’ve made your way down to Málaga’s port, I’d suggest visiting some more museums – there are two very different, but equally interesting, options to be found in el Palmeral de las Sorpresas. On one side you’ll find the Alborania-Aula del Mar Museum, which is perfect for visiting with kids as it’s full of aquariums, boat models, and collections of various sea life illustrated through different games. On the other side, there’s the Centre Pompidou Málaga, displaying select works from Frida Kahlo, Picasso, Francis Bacon and Miró, amongst other artists, across the centre’s 6,000 square metres.
Now, it’s time to eat. I’d personally recommend opting for one of the many bars and restaurants in Muelle Uno. There are options to suit everyone’s tastes and budgets, so there should be no issue finding somewhere to sit down and enjoy lunch overlooking the port.
To help you digest your food, there’s nothing better than having a lie down on the sand or going for a stroll around Playa de la Malagueta. If you come in summer, be sure to go for a refreshing dip in the Mediterranean. But don’t worry if you’re arriving in winter, because temperatures in Costa del Sol are warm year-round, so you can kick off your shoes and enjoy the sea even in January.
To end this 48-hour trip around Málaga, you absolutely have to try espetos de sardinas (sardine skewers). They’re a classic delicacy of Málaga’s cuisine, adored by locals and tourists alike. You can order them at any beach bar, but I’d recommend going to either the Pedregalejo or El Palo districts, both boasting a strong fishing tradition.
We hope you’ve found this 48-hour trip around Málaga interesting. Get looking for a flight to Málaga and let the capital of the Costa del Sol surprise you!