I finished off my month is Spain with four days in Malaga. If you haven’t been to Malaga in a while you really should go again. I said that when I last came here three years ago (yes, time passes so fast), and it’s even more true now.
Malaga City attracts a lot of domestic tourism, which does help it retain the Spanish feel (although whilst I was here there were two visiting cruise liners, which deposited a pile of foreign tourists and made the place really busy).
Malaga is Picasso’s birthplace and the city doesn’t let you forget that. It contains his first home and also the Picasso museum. (Malaga is also the birthplace of actor Antonio Banderas, although he doesn’t have a museum in the city, yet).
There is also the contemporary art museum, (amazingly still free) plus the Carmen Thyssen (offering more ‘traditional’ art, mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries, with a lot of Andalusian scenes).
Since I was here last they have added a Pompidou centre to their little collection of galleries, the only one outside of France. The Pompidou name and many of the artworks are on loan to the city, costing a million euros a year. Clearly, Malaga is taking its art and culture reputation very seriously now. The gallery is small but excellent. It costs 9 euros to go in, but comes with a great little audio guide.
There is also an emerging street art scene in what has become known as the art triangle. The little area known as Soho, between the river and the port, now boasts a small selection of street art. This is the work of MAUS (Urban Art in Soho, Malaga), a project aiming to develop street art in the area. It wasn’t as extensive as I’d been led to believe, but I’m sure it’s a work in progress. Let’s give it another year or so and see how it develops.
On the first Saturday of the month there is an art and crafts market in Soho, on the main pedestrian street. It is, however, quite small and you can walk through it in five minutes. There were a lot of handmade/artisan products, although there were also some that were most likely imported from China; not strictly a craft market.
Of course along with its new-found status as a centre of arts and culture, there has also been a steep rise in prices. Scouring through booking.com looking for the hotel I stayed at last time (cheap and basic) I found rooms there now go for 90 euros a night. I can’t remember what I paid before but it wouldn’t have been anything remotely in that region; let’s hope they’ve fixed the sockets that were hanging off the walls for that price.
In the end I found an Airbnb room for nearer my price range (£27 a night), sharing a bathroom and kitchen with three others, with a crazy Russian host who lived upstairs but appeared in his dressing gown every morning to drink tea and use the shower. Good old Airbnb; you get what you pay for.
Malaga still has the somewhat indifferent beaches (they’re ok, but being a working port can make them a bit dirty. If you are coming just for the beach you are better travelling up or down the coast a little).
It still has the big, imposing moorish castle.
Being a university city it has good nightlife with lots of bars and restaurants. There are enough shops to satisfy most things you need (and plenty of crap you really don’t need at all, if that’s your thing).
How I got there: bus from Granada, takes 1hr 45 mins direct. The mild climate makes Malaga an all-year destination and prices drop drastically at the end of September. My timing, as ever, wasn’t good.