If you’re heading to Andalusia, chances are that you’ll arrive at Málaga Airport, which means you’re conveniently located for visiting this gorgeous city with wonderful beaches. Even if you’ve got a tight schedule or tiny budget, make sure to spend at least a day in Málaga – there are plenty of things you can do for free to get a taste of the city.
Your first stop is Gibralfaro, a 14th-century castle, built just above the city. It’s a fantastic place for views of the beaches, the port, and the rest of Málaga city. The views are especially beautiful in the morning, when the city is bathed in sunlight.
As well as the view, there are also other things you can do at Gibralfaro. It was built as a fortress, so if you are into this kind of architecture, go inside for a good look around. You’ll find a well-curated museum dedicated to the naval and armed forces of the city as well as a plastic model of the city – combined with the view from the Gibralfaro, this will give a good idea of what to visit. The Gibralfaro also has a pretty garden, and each type of tree is identified in Spanish and English. Have I mentioned that all this is for free?
Next on the list of free must-do things in Málaga is the Paseo Marítimo, a long walk along the beach, with views of the port. The Paseo is also called Paseo Antonio Banderas (for fans). The view is amazing and beachlovers might find it quite hard to resist the urge to just relax on the beach – but you should move along, there is still plenty to visit.
Near the Paseo Marítimo you’ll find Paseo del Parque, which is also spectacular. This long marble road (yes, you read it right, marble) is lined with palm trees, and features lots of tropical plants – it feels a little bit like a jungle! If you follow this Paseo, you’ll get a good view of the Ayuntamiento (the city hall), a colonial-like building. As you walk through the city, pay attention to the palm trees, as they are full of little, colorful parrots which you’ll hear singing as you wander through the city.
Although you have to pay to enter the cathedral, admiring it from the outside is completely free! The cathedral has only one tower, the other one was never built (it’s said that the then-archbishop stole the money to help fund the American Revolution!). If you decide not to go inside the cathedral, there are some other things you can do nearby, such as admire the Plaza de la Constitución – the square in front of the cathedral. It’s surrounded by beautiful colored buildings, and in the center of the plaza there is cute fountain.
There is also a museum (free to enter) that changes its theme seasonally – for example it could document the history of celebrating Easter in Málaga or the history of Roman conquest of the city. It’s worth a visit, as it is located in a well-preserved colonial house, the exposition is quite large, and of course – it’s free!
By now, it’s probably time for lunch. Head back to the Paseo Marítimo, where you’ll find plenty of restaurants and bars, as well as fast-food restaurants if you’re not a fan of Spanish cuisine. I suggest you grab a sandwich (make them yourself if you’re tight on budget) and go to the beach to eat. The beach is really close to Paseo Marítimo and even in late autumn it’s still warm enough to sunbathe. For a real Spanish feel, buy a bocadillo de jamón y queso (ham and cheese sandwich) and just relax on the beach while watching the sunset.
- The airport is connected with the city by bus: buy your ticket from the driver. It costs €2, and use coins if possible, as the driver won’t give more than €10 in change. If you’re arriving by bus, you’ll be dropped at the Estación de Autobuses (the bus station), which is a little out of town. There’s a regular bus service into the city centre.
- Málaga has beautiful weather, but it can be hot! If you visit in summer, take sun lotion, glasses, a hat and lots of water with you, as the temperature frequently reaches 41º Celsius. In winter (February-March), there can be some serious rainfalls, so come prepared.
- Although Málaga is a pleasant, relaxed city and the people are warm and open, don’t think that there aren’t any rules. For example, no matter how relaxed or thirsty you feel, don’t carry or drink alcohol on the streets or on the beach, as it is prohibited by law. If you feel like drinking, go to a nice bar near the beach.