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Trip Report Malaga – Enjoying a Spanish vibe on the Costa del Sol

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This was a trip report I put together about my 3 day stay in Malaga on the South coast of Spain, a beautiful city with history going back a couple of Millennia...

Part 1

My flight down to Malaga was meant to leave Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris at 7am, so I had taken the train out to stay at a hotel a few minutes by bus from the airport the night before, completed most of my repacking and then decided to call it a night.

With the first bus leaving the hotel at about 5.08am that left 10 minutes or so to get to the airport and then get processed in for my EasyJet flight down to Malaga and so I set the alarm for 4.30am and off to bed I went.

As often happens when I have an early flight I don’t sleep that well in anticipation and I woke up about 3.30am or so and so just decided to lie in bed and try and doze off or rest. After what seemed a decent amount of time and not hearing any alarm I decided to get up and check my phone only to see – 5.20am!!!

DOH!!! I have rarely moved so fast out of bed, several items I had left around the room expecting to do a last pack in the morning disappeared into the bag at near light speed and 4 minutes later I was exiting the room in a hurry!

Luckily there was another bus leaving about 5.28am and I think the driver might have chosen to take a rest room stop at the hotel and so I made it out and onto the bus at the front of the hotel. A ten or so minute ride later of course had me setting down at a terminal several away from where I needed to be so again it was time to get moving to find where EasyJet departures were.

Thankfully I had online checked in so I just needed to line up to drop my bag off and get my boarding pass, which still took a bit of time, before heading to the line for passing through security. This was now snaking back 4-5 times along taped barriers and then out the end where people had started lining up through another couple of loops.

I duly took my place and the line seemed to move very slowly until I then realised that some of the people behind me were starting to push forward into the entrances near the barriers rather than wait their turn in the line.

I’ve tended to find this lack of waiting in line to be a bit of a European thing, people would still attempt it in the US or Australia but I think would be told pretty quickly to get back to the end of the line.

Here there was only one attendant and when I asked why she wasn’t policing the line better or maybe getting some more barriers to put up she replied there was nothing she could do, although I suspected it was largely that she didn’t really care.

So if it was to be a free for all, I had to start moving myself forward as well. Having eventually got into the area where the erected barriers snaked around I only got about half way before I had to call over one of the staff to show that my flight departure time was going to come and go before I reached the scanners, and so was allowed out of the line to go to a scanner that had only a light load and was able to be processed through.

So much for a nice relaxed plan to get up and finish packing, arrive at the airport and make it into the gate boarding area with some time to spare!!!!

After that crazy start to the day the couple of hour flight down to Malaga was largely uneventful and on arriving and exiting the terminal there was just a 15-20 minute wait for a bus from the airport towards the city centre.

At this point I realised I had a rough idea where my accommodation was, but not a good idea of where the bus route went and where I needed to get off. After a bit of talking to the bus driver and sitting near the front of the bus, he was able to tell me what stop was best to get off and I was able to pretty quickly get my bearings and make it to where I was staying.

After not much sleep the night before and all the nervous energy expended on the day so far a nice lay down wouldn’t have gone astray, abut it was 11am and the check in was at 2pm so a bed wasn’t forthcoming.

The manager did say, however, that there was a daily tour of Malaga and they guy who ran it would be along any minute, so after stowing my luggage away about 5 minutes later he turned up and off I went with a couple of people to a central square to await the arrival of other parties.

If I couldn’t have a lay down this was about as good an introduction to Malaga as I could hope for and over the next 2-3 hours our guide was able to provide a good oversight of the city and its extended history.

Now, about why I had chosen to visit Malaga. I have to admit that Spain is one of my favourite countries and one of the few that I would consider living in if I didn’t live in Australia. It just has a vibe I like, they seem to be night owls like me where dinners might not start till 9.30pm or later and I have seen soccer matches start at 10pm.

The weather is also usually beautiful and warm and that suits me down to the ground, while other cities are amazing around the world, I couldn’t put up with 6 months of snow and sleet coming from a warm country like Australia.

And this made Malaga especially likeable, the guide said it had something like 320 days a year of sunshine, and lying on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) in the south of Spain it has nearly double the hours of sunlight a year of many northern European cities.

Its history is also long and interesting going back some 2,800 years to the period of the Phoenicians and making it one of the oldest cities in the world. It was originally established under the name Malaka around 770 BC.

A century or so later it became a city of the Carthaginian Empire before being taken in 218 BC by the Romans when they defeated the Carthaginians in the Punic Wars. The Roman period lasted until the fall of the Western Roman Empire after which it was ruled by the Visigoths and then the Byzantine Empire before being conquered when the Islamic Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsular from North Africa in 711.

It was to remain under Islamic control for almost 800 years until the Reconquista when it was retaken by the Christians in 1487 largely completing their conquest of the Iberian Peninsula with the fall of the city of Grenada and the signing of the Treaty of Grenada in 1492 setting out the conditions for the final surrender.

In more modern times two of the most famous sons of Malaga have been the famous artist Pablo Picasso and the famous actor Antonio Banderas.

Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga in 1881 but moved away to Barcelona when he was 14 and last visited the city when he was 19. Living mainly in Paris during his life he was an opponent of the dictator Francisco Franco whose forces won the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and he never returned to his homeland dying 2 years before the dictator’s death.

One of Picasso’s most famous works is his depiction of the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

Picasso was also lone of the most influential artists of the 20th century being the co-founder of the cubist movement, the co-inventor of collage and a wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

Antonio Banderas was born in Malga in 1960 and is a Spanish film actor, film director, film producer and singer and has starred in over 80 movies.

The tour of the city started at the Teatro Cervantes (a theatre named after the writer of Don Quixote, one of the most famous bits of literature history) and went through the Plaza de la Merced (with its statue of Picasso sitting on a park bench) then near the base of the Alcazaba of Malaga (or palace/fortification) then down near the Roman Theatre (which was discovered during works in 1951 but dates back to the 1st century AD) before having a stop and then heading past the Cathedral of the Incarnation with lots of information being given about the city along the way.

By the time the tour was over I was back at the accommodation and able to check into my room and have a bit of a rest before heading out a bit later to explore around some more and have some dinner before turning in for the night.

The report including pictures can be found at

Part 2

After a bit of a sleep in to recover from the previous day and then having some breakfast it was time to be out and about for the day.

I wanted to go and visit the Castle of the Gibralfaro that dominates the city from the hill of the same name, but I decided to go for a bit of a walk around the older part of the original city, looking at some of the shops, the alley ways and having lunch.

There is a river that previously ran through the city (but that is now dry) very imaginatively named Guadalmedina, or City River, and its former left bank constitutes the rough boundary of about where the old city limit used to be and on its former right bank the newer parts of Malaga have been established.

After walking around here for a bit I decided to make my way down to the port area and to have a look along some of Malaga’s beaches all of which looked tempting with a temperature that day of mid 20s, but in the end I decided not to go in.

The Port of Malaga now constitutes a major area of business for the city, struggling like much of Spain with high unemployment, and some 40 tourist ships a year now dock releasing tourists, and their dollars, into the local community.

On each of the days I was there a cruise ship arrived and then departed, and maybe I might come back and visit Malaga this way sometime, although its environment and temperatures are so nice that I think I would rather enjoy it for several days rather than just a quick stop.

After doing all that it I walked past the bull fighting ring (a sport I just can’t get into) and then it was time to commence the climb up the hill to the castle to experience both it and the panoramic views it provides of the city area.

The Castle of Gibralfaro is a part of the former fortifications of the city and there have been various fortifications in this location going back to Phoenician times.

The current structure dates back to the 14th century and was commenced by Yusuf I, Sultan of Grenada, and a member of the Nasrid Dynasty.

The castle dominates the city and had a connecting wall to the lower Alcazaba, or fortified palace, but this is now unpassable and entry to the two structures is from different areas.

The hill it’s situated on is certainly quite steep, but as you climb it there are several look out points affording a good view of the city down below and as you enter the castle and walk around some of its strong points there are some amazing views.

Within the castle there is a room providing some of the military history of the castle through the centuries and also some models showing the extent of the original older city and its limits.

After a good look around it was time to head back down to the city and have something for dinner and afterwards I grabbed a gelato from one of the shops, I chose a white chocolate, almond and coconut version of a Ferrero Rocher, I think they’re called a Raffaello, and it was simply delicious, good enough that I had to talk about it here.

After that it was just another balmy evening to enjoy before turning in for the night and getting ready for the next day.

The report including pictures can be found at

Part 3

For the final day I had a few things I wanted to see so after breakfast the first thing was a visit to the Cathedral of the Incarnation. The cathedral was built in a Renaissance style, but with a Baroque façade, and was constructed between 1528 and 1782.

The Cathedral is situated within what used to be the old historical part of the city of Malaga and fronts onto one side of the the Plaza del ,or Bishop’s Square, which also has the Episcopal Palace fronting another side of the square (the palace often has temporary exhibitions on display).

One of the features that stands out is that the South Tower remained unfinished and is lower than the North Tower at the front of the building. There are a couple of reasons given for why the funds weren’t available to complete the other tower including that they were donated to the American’s during their fight for independence from the British.

Its incomplete state has led to the cathedral being affectionately referred to as La Manquita (loosely interpreted as “one armed woman”).

Entrance to the Cathedral and Museum costs 5 euro and the gardens by the ticket office are free.

After having a look around the cathedral I decided to go and visit the Alcazaba of Malaga. This is the lower part of the cities fortifications constructed during its Moorish rule in the 11th century which used to be connected to the Castle of Gibralfaro up above it.

The Alcazaba was more of a palace fortification, originally designed to defend against pirates, and is composed of both an inner and outer citadel and exhibits some interesting Moorish/Islamic design elements throughout.

There are also some interesting gardens as you follow the winding path up into the fortifications and a number of elaborate fountains throughout the palace.

The Alcazaba of Malaga is also the best-preserved Moorish fortress palace in Spain, although it fell into a state of decay through parts of the middle ages and has been undergoing restoration since the 1930s. It’s well worth a couple of hours to have a look around and explore the buildings and grounds.

Entrance to both the Castle and the Alcazaba can be bought on a single ticket for a very reasonable 3.50 euros but you have to visit both attractions within 24 hours.

After the Alcazaba I decided to go and get something to eat before visiting the Museo Picasso Málaga, which was opened in 2003 to celebrate the artist in the city he was born in and houses some 285 pieces by him. These include paintings, engravings, sketches and ceramics of Picassos.

Paintings in the museum include Olga Kokhlova with Mantilla (Barcelona 1917), Mother and Child (1921-1922) and Portrait of Paulo with white hat (1923). Picasso and his styles may not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, but they certainly do challenge the viewer and the Museum should definitely be on your list of things to see when visiting Malaga.

The museum is housed in the The Buenavista Palace which was built in the 16th century over the remains of a Nasrid palace of which some elements still survive and if you go down to the basement there are also several examples of archaeological finds dating back to the Roman and Phoenician periods.

The museum itself has 12 halls of permanent exhibition gallery and is easily navigable and thankfully wasn’t too packed when I was there, although they say in peak periods there can be lines waiting to get in. Entrance was only roughly 10 euros.

After the museum visit and some souvenir shopping plus some dinner I decided to walk around the city and the port at night and just capture some photographs of Malaga as I love to do a bit of night photography.

After this it was back to my accommodation to pack up the gear and be ready for my departure tomorrow morning.

The report including pictures can be found at

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