Málaga is the capital of the Costa del Sol and offers everything that you would expect from a great city, with its international airport, the newly opened high speed train station that links Madrid in two and a half hours using the 300+ kph "Ave", the recently extended port that now receives the largest cruise liners in the world, including the new Queen Mary, its world famous "Picasso" museum, top quality shoping centers, cinemas, restaurants, nightlife, bullring, and much more.
Birthplace of Picasso, the attractive, cosmopolitan city of Malaga lies on a beautiful sweep of bay in Andalucia. Blessed with sunshine and a spectacular quality of light, Malaga is a city of wide boulevards, swaying palm trees, lively nightlife, good museums and excellent seafood restaurants.
The coastal area enjoys a privileged Geographical position: protected from the North winds by the mountains, it benefits from the highest average temperatures in Spain and over 300 days of sunlight per year. Rugged and irregular in the eastern part, with rocky projections of land that penetrate the sea, it is milder and sandier in the western area, with large beaches that make it one of the most developed parts of Andalusia, thanks to its demographic and tourist appeal.
The Moors occupied Malaga until the mid fifteenth century, after which it grew to become one of the foremost merchant centres in the entire Iberian Peninsula. This illustrious past has left its imprint on the historic centre, particularly around La Alcazaba, a fortress which dates back to 1065 and is now a fascinating archaeological museum.
Also worth a visit is the nearby castle which was rebuilt by the Moors and is today a traditional parador (state hotel) with superb panoramic views. During the nineteenth century, Málaga was a popular winter resort for the wealthy famed for its elegance and sophistication. The impressive park on Calle Alameda dates back to this era and is recognised as being one of the most celebrated botanical collections in Europe. During the winter, open air concerts are held here every Sunday which makes a refreshing change from the bucket and spade scenario on the coast.
Pablo Picasso is the city's famous son (not counting Antonio Banderas of course!) and there are several galleries showing his work, including the 16th century Museum of Fine Arts, adjacent to the Cathedral.
His birthplace in Plaza Merced is today an archive of his life and works and open to the public; the entrance is absolutely free (so are all the services: Documentation Centre, exhibitions, museum, video projections, etc.).
Museo Picasso Malaga opened a few years ago and is a moving experience of Picasso's lifetime of works. This has become one of Malaga´s prime attractions. The museum is located in an old palace converted into an amazing art experience. It felt very natural and authentic. It must have been the doors and the roof which was done with lots of love and precision by the craftsmen. Seemed they all wanted to pay tribute to their fellow countryman and superior artist. The permanent collection is made up of donations of his grand son and his wife. It was amazing to see the quality of the brush stroke and the maturity of the compositions in works he painted at the age of 16. What is so amazing with Picasso is that there was nothing like him before and nothing like him after. Seeing it here concentrated gives an even greater respect for one of the greatest men of the 20th century.
Málaga's main theatre is the Teatro Cervantes where the actor Antonio Banderas once trod the boards. He still visits often.
As well as being a cultural centre, Malaga is also a great place to eat out. The Malagueños love their food and the bars and restaurants here are where the real social life takes place. The choice is unlimited and, on the whole, reasonable with some bars offering a menu of the day with bread and wine for as little as 6 euros. Tapas, small portions of many different dishes are an Andalusian tradition and a wonderfully inexpensive way to try a variety of local food.
Malaga is famous for its "pescaito frito", a selection of small fried fish such as sardines and red mullet, best washed down with a glass of ice cold fino at one of the many old fashioned bodegas in town. But it is El Palo, to the east of the city which is a typical fisherman's village and the place to go if you want that veritable "catch of the day" freshness..
In the centre try a tapas and a glass of Malaga wine at Malaga's oldest tapas bar called "Antigua Casa de la Guardia". Keep to the north side of the Alameda and find no. 16.
Malaga is always closed for the siesta period, so this is a perfect time for a long relaxing lunch.
Malaga boasts one of the highest concentrations of world class golf courses, to the extent that it is often dubbed "The Costa del Golf". For families there are theme parks, including water parks, go-karting, safari parks and many beautiful public gardens. For younger visitors the main areas of attraction are Benalmadena's Puerto Marina & '24 hour square' and Marbella's Puerto Banus. Both are very trendy and chic, but be warned the bars and clubs don't get busy until near midnight and stay open till dawn.
These days, Málaga prides itself on being a modern city with the heart of commerce dominated by Calle Larios which is the local Bond Street equivalent. This is the recommended place to start exploring the city as it is surrounded by attractive small streets and plazas, as well as the magnificent cathedral (Renaissance cathedral with a Baroque faade and choir by Pedro de Mena) which offers daily guided tours.
Garden lovers won't be disappointed in Malaga either. In the centre of the city is the beautiful Alameda Gardens, and just outside on the way to Antequera one finds the extensive Jardines de la Concepcion.
Málaga airport is of course one of the major airports in Spain due to the number of tourist arrivals on charter flights from Northern Europe using Malaga airport as a gateway to the Costa del Sol. The recent addition of the new high speed train from Madrid to Málaga, the journey takes just two and a half hours (reduced from four hours and twenty minutes), the extended port of Málaga together with a brand new underground Metro system, currently under construction, makes Málaga one of the leading pioneering cities in the whole of Spain in terms of access and transportation.