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Málaga is a large city in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia and capital of the Malaga Province. The largest city on the Costa del Sol, Malaga has a typical Mediterranean climate and is also known as the birthplace of famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.
The city offers beaches, hiking, architectural sites, art museums, excellent shopping and cuisine. While more laid back than Madrid or Barcelona, Malaga is still the center and transport hub for the hugely popular Costa del Sol region, which is flooded with tourists in the summer, and the city has certainly cashed in on the sun and sand, with lots of new construction as well as hotels and facilities geared to tourists. However, Malaga also offers some genuinely interesting historical and cultural attractions in its old city and its setting on the coast is still beautiful.
The main bus station is right across the street from the train station, a km or so west of the city centre on Paseo de los Tilos. The station serves buses from all over Spain and is a major transfer point if you're passing through this region.
María Zambrano, the city's sleek new railway station, is about a km west of the city centre and served by RENFE's high-speed AVE service, which zips travelers to Madrid in 2.5-3 hours, Cordoba in 1 hour or Seville in 2 hours, with multiple trains running each line daily. Slower (and cheaper) trains are also available. For Granada, take a train to Bobadilla and change to a Granada-bound train there.
RENFE also operates two Cercanías commuter rail lines out of Malaga, one west along the coast to the airport and the nearby tourist towns of Torremolinos and Fuengirola and one inland. Both lines make two stops in Central Malaga: one at the María Zambrano station and one at the end of the line at Centro-Alameda, located closer to the city center where Avenida de Andalucia crosses the Guadalmedina River.
Málaga has the fourth biggest international airport (AGP) in Spain, which many budget airlines fly to. There are even summer flights to New York.
Public transport from the airport: you can get a train, a bus or a taxi into town, or hire a car. The train is very convenient, running every 30 minutes and stopping at Alameda Principal and Paseo del Parque, where most of the local buses that serve the city stop as well.
Renting a car at Málaga's airport is relatively cheap, but it is advisable to book in advance.
Cycling in Malaga
Málaga is making big improvements when it comes to cycling. Nowadays Malagueños use their bikes more often to go to work or for recreational use in the weekends. Also Málaga established a cycling association supported by the local public transport association.
What to see in Malaga
Alcazaba, C/ Alcazabilla 2. A Moorish castle built in the 11th century on a hill in the middle of the city, this old fort is the best-preserved of its kind in Spain.
Roman Theater, C/ Alcazabilla 8 (next to the Alcazaba). Situated under the Alcazaba facing a small plaza are the beautiful remains of an old Roman theater.
Castillo de Gibralfaro, C/ Gibralfaro 11. Another Moorish castle and the counterpart to the Alcazaba, the Castillo sits on a larger hill behind the Alcazaba and offers an incredible view of the city and neighboring suburbs from the ramparts that encircle the castillo.
Looking up at the tower of Malaga cathedral
Interactive Museum of Music, Muralla Plaza de la Marina. Has one of the largest collections of musical instruments in Europe.
Centro de Arte Contemporáneo. Closed Mondays. Located in a former wholesale trade market, it houses a good collection of works of art and installations.
Plaza de Toros de la Malagueta, Paseo de Reding. Malaga's bullring.
La Conception Botanical & Historical Garden, Camino del Jardín Botánico 3. Botanical and historical garden with beautiful views of the city from this garden; worth a visit.
What to Eat
Along the coast there are dozens of restaurants and chiringuitos (beach restaurants) where you can have fish, seafood, paella, sangria, etc. One of the most famous chiringuitos is El Tintero, at the east end, where there is no menu: the waiters sing out what they are carrying and they leave you a plate at your signal.
The most typical thing to eat in Malaga is espetos, sardines skewered on a bamboo stick and grilled over a fire; and pescaíto frito: all types of deep-fried fish from anchovies to squid. A specialty of Andalucia is fish marinated in a garlic and vinegar preparation.
Famous sweet Malaga wine can be tasted in popular pubs in the city center, like the famous old La Casa del Guardia (Avenue Alameda Principal) or the very typical El Pimpi where everyone, from celebrities to local teens meet.
Malaga has a typically sweet wine called Mosto made from muscat grapes.
Malaga nightlife will make you think that nobody sleeps in this town even during the work week! However, it is especially busy from Thursday to Sunday, where people buy their drinks in the supermarkets and have them at night in controlled areas known as "botellodromos" in the city center, before going into the clubs:
Metropol, Cosa Nostra, Vaticano, Andén (big busy Latin club)
Velvet Club (aka Sonic, plays metal, hardcore, punk) [not open Sundays]
Nyx, Urbano, Village Green (Rock, Indie, etc).
White, Abyssinia, Bar El Sound (Rap, Hip Hop, R&B)
Paradise/Punto G, Warhol (gay)
ChillHouse (house-dance music)
El Pimpi, Calle Granada (Around the corner from the Picasso Museum). Famous for its sweet yet strong local wine. Tapas and other bites.
There are several nice Moroccan-style tea houses in town, serving an amazing variety of teas in addition to other interesting non-alcoholic drink