I spent this week enjoying some sun and beach in Pedregalejo. At one time this was a quiet little fishing village but now it has been eaten up by Malaga city and become, effectively, a suburb of Malaga. You can walk into the city proper in around 45 minutes from here on a night (too hot to do it during the day) or catch a bus number 11, which takes around ten minutes and costs 1euro30.
The beach isn’t the best in the country (it’s too near to Malaga port and can get a little dirty) but it’s perfectly adequate for a day or two’s sunbathing/swimming.
If you haven’t been to Malaga city in a while you will probably be quite pleasantly surprised by how much they have cleaned it up and transformed it into an international destination.
Malaga is the birth place of Picasso and the city doesn’t let you forget this for a second. The Picasso museum is well worth the effort. Carmen Thyssen museum nearby is good too, particularly if your artistic tastes veer more to the old masters and fin de siècle style (mine doesn’t but I still enjoyed it; lots of Andalusian scenes).
There is also the Gibralfaro castle on top of the hill (go early to avoid the worse of the heat, or cheat and take the bus up), which offers some great views of the city.
There are a few shopping streets, if shopping is your thing, plus a plethora of bars and restaurants and the kind of vibrant social scene that you would expect from a university town.
The visitors who do make it here are predominantly Spanish, which gives it a very authentic Spanish feel (as opposed to many other nearby towns). And the prices are more backpacker friendly as well