Malaga Attractions - What to do in Malaga as a foreign student?
Situated on the southern coast of Spain, Malaga is known as a city that enjoys sunny, hot summers and a mild climate throughout the rest of the year. But Malaga is not just about good weather – this Mediterranean cultural hub offers attractions and activities for all tastes, from historic buildings and monuments, to palm-lined boulevards, shopping, contemporary and classical art, music and theatre.
The large number of cultural attractions and activities, and the fact that Malaga remains largely unaffected by the tourist crowds of the nearby towns, make it a great, authentically Spanish destination for foreign language students.
Pedregalejo and El Palo
The Pedregalejo and El Palo neighbourhoods, where the Malaga University Language Campus is located, are vibrant old fishing districts with plenty of traditional Andalusian character. The beaches here are frequented by locals in the summer, and in the winter they are usually quiet – this is not a holiday resort, but a city beach in a residential area.
There are excellent local fish restaurants and cafés on the beachfront here (read more about these in our Restaurants section). In the summer, the scent of freshly caught fish grilled on an open fire, mixing in with the sea air, is simply magical. This area is also known for great little bars and nightlife venues that offer music and dancing until the early hours of the morning. (You can find out more about those in our Nightlife section).
Pedregalejo and El Palo are less than 2 miles from Malaga’s historic city centre. There is a regular bus service on the number 3 and 11 buses, and after midnight on the N-1 night bus. Or you can take a 30-minute leisurely stroll to the centre along the beach promenade.
Malaga’s old centre
The historic city centre of Malaga has been pedestrianised and refurbished to a high standard in the last few years, and is nothing short of charming. The central area starts in the south, at the Malaga-Centro Alameda commuter train station. This trains station is named after the leafy central boulevard it is located on, the Alameda Principal. Here, you’ll also find Malaga’s central post office, as well as the city’s biggest department store, El Corte Inglés, both well-known landmarks in the city.
If you walk down the Alameda towards the west, and towards Malaga Port, on your left you’ll find the historic centre. It’s best-known points of interest are the central Plaza de la Constitución, the Malaga Cathedral, and the city’s main shopping street, Calle Marqués de Larios (known simply as Calle Larios to the locals).
Calle Larios and the winding old streets that surround it positively team with boutiques, teterías (Moorish tea houses), ice cream parlours, tapas bars and salsa dancing venues, all the way up to Plaza de la Merced where Picasso’s birth home is.
Enclosed within this area you’ll also find the modern Picasso Museum, the Teatro Romano archaeological site, and the start of the hill that leads up to Malaga’s Gibralfaro castle and Alcazaba fortress.
The Alcazaba and Gibralfaro
Attesting to Malaga’s Moorish period, the fortress of Alcazaba and the castle of Gibralfaro stand tall on the hilltop that overlooks Malaga port. To visit, you must first enter the walled Alcazaba from Calle Alcazabilla. The walk up the hill to the castle is long and steep, so avoid midday heat if you can. You can always use the disabled access lift to the top, but if you are able to go by foot, the walk is well worth the effort because of the impressive Moorish gateways you will pass through on the way.
The Gibralfaro Castle, inside the Alzcazaba fortress walls, attests to the long Moorish reign in Southern Spain. Its towers, ingenious water storage system, and the way the fortress is perfectly adapted to the contours of the hill, ready to ward off attacks from land and sea, make it an architectural masterpiece. The interior holds an elaborate main entrance, the “aljibes”, or water cisterns, as well as the remains of a mosque. From the castle you can also enjoy magnificent views over Malaga city and the port.
The Teatro Romano, or Malaga's Roman theatre, lies right at the foot of the Alcazaba fortress on Calle Alcazabilla – the same street where the castle tour begins. Malaga’s Roman theatre was accidentally discovered in 1951 during city hall construction works. Since then, it has undergone a high-tech architectural restoration and is now open to the public, free of charge. The amphitheatre dates back to the 1st century, and was built by Emperor Augustus. Interestingly, some of the columns supporting the arches in the Alcazaba fortress were taken from this theatre.
After the Moors were banished, many churches and cathedrals were built in Spain during the Christian reign. Thus, Malaga Cathedral now stands where the city's main mosque was found in the Muslim era. Building work on the cathedral was started 1528, and continued to the 1700’s, but even today, the cathedral’s main façade and southern tower are unfinished. Inside, you will find more than 40 sculptures, and the original pipe organs, dating back to the 18th century, still work. The adjoining Cathedral Museum complements the visit.
Museums and galleries
If art, museums and galleries get you going, Malaga has a staggering 28 of these! While you definitely must visit the Pablo Picasso Museum, found on Calle San Agustín, and the Malaga-born Picasso’s home on Plaza de la Merced, Malaga also has a whole host of excellent alternative museums and galleries. Be sure to check their websites for free-or charge midweek visiting days and student discounts.
The Contemporary Art Musuem, known as the CAC, on Calle Alemania, and the Thyssen Museum on Calle Compañía are on the must-see list, but there is also the African Art Museum, Interactive Music Museum, Automobile Museum, Glass Museum, Wine Museum and many more… You can find details of all of these on the Malaga Tourism Office’s website, on their museum page.
La Térmica Málaga
La Térmica is the latest addition to Malaga’s growing cultural portfolio. It is a space dedicated to art, culture, education and leisure, and here you’ll find many exciting events, shows and exhibitions - from photography, art cinema and concerts, to debates, conferences and crafts workshops. The stunning old building that houses La Térmica was previously an orphanage. It is now divided into meeting hubs, classrooms, auditoriums and children's play areas. For news and upcoming events, visit their website, or just pop in at Avenida de las Guindos, 48.
For theatre enthusiasts, Malaga offers the Cervantes Theatre on Calle Ramos Marín, which puts on an incredibly wide variety of plays, small operas, concerts by national and international musicians and traditional and contemporary dance.
Shopping, leisure and cinema
Malaga’s historic centre, around the Calle Larios area, has numerous shops and boutiques selling clothes, shoes, jewellery and accessories of all kinds, as well as all the main Spanish high street stores, like Mango, Zara and Bershka. Shopaholics won’t be disappointed on Calle Larios, although many are surprised to find that Malaga centre’s shops shut between 2pm and 5pm for siesta.
If you walk up the Alameda principal to Avenida Andalucia, however, you will find the El Corte Inglés department store open all day from Monday to Saturday. Another 5-minute walk from El Corte Inglés is Centro Comercial Larios, the biggest shopping centre within the city centre, and just behind it, at the Malaga Maria Zambrano railway station, is a smaller shopping centre called Vialia, complete with a Yelmo Cines multi-screen cinema.
Muelle Uno is the name of Malaga’s latest shopping and restaurant development, situated in the port. Here you will find pleasant walkways, restaurants, ice cream shops and cafés.
MALAGA TOURIST OFFICE:
Tel. (+34) 952 122020
Address: Plaza de la Marina s/n, Malaga