Málaga is undoubtedly a huge commercial and touristic centre of Andalusía, connecting many cities on the Costa del Sol but in my opinion it does not share in the historic beauty and grand architecture of many other cities in Andalusía, hence the somewhat unfair title to my article!
On our free walking tour (operated by the blue-adorned Spaniards in Plaza de la Constitución everyday at 11am), our guide Luís informed us that Calle Marqués de Larios (the main shopping strip in Málaga) charges the 2nd-highest amount for rental real estate in all of Spain (only behind Madrid), a whopping €2000 per square meter.
So if you’re after high fashion or bargain-hunting then stick around but I feel that Málaga is not your ideal destination if you’re seeking the fascinating clash of Moorish and Spaniard culture which defines much of the Andalusían province. The historical centre is quite small and punctuated with only a few highlights; the museum for contemporary art is free and located just on the outskirts of old town.
Malagueñas are also very proud of their native talents, the most famous being Pablo Ruiz Picasso – the main exhibition at his musem costs €7 to visit. Another native of Málaga is Antonio Banderas however I don’t believe he has his own museum….yet.
However apart from these few things and a nice walk to get a view from one of the castles, Málaga is quite an underwhelming place.
I do have one fact that may have compromised my opinion on Málaga: the AirBnb here was hands-down the worst accommodation experience of my life. We arrived at 2pm on a Sunday and stumbled through some of the host’s English skills to realise the room was still being cleaned and would only be ready at 3pm. After leaving our bags, doing some sightseeing (realising quickly that Málaga is not the crowning jewel of Spain), we decided to come back at around 6pm and freshen up at our accommodation. Wrong.
Room was in the same condition as when we left and we peered down the corridor, above host is asleep on his bed. When he wakes up and apologises for the room not being ready, he informs us there is actually half a tribe of tourist invaders staying in the flat….for free via Couchsurfing! One girl on the couch in the living room, another couple in the next room etcetera etcetera.
The shower doesn’t drain properly so you end up standing in the rest of the tribe’s grime and dirt whilst you shower. The bathroom also has multiple ‘tip jars’ with notes from the host asking for donations to help repair his flat and pay his bills. The bedroom has a permeating odour of half-washed sheets that were likely bought before the Spanish Civil War and never replaced.
Anyway, we couldn’t stay. We swallowed our pride and lost the money from the third and final night and booked a whole apartment via Booking.com for €51 for our final night in Málaga. After we left, we read through more reviews on AirBnb from that property and turns out we were not alone and we actually had a comparably nice experience – some travellers got a drunk host who yelled at them or a host who watched porn loudly from his room next door. So really, I consider us lucky!
I don’t want to finish the post like that so I’ll summarise Málaga as a decent Andalusían city good for a 1-2 night stay (in an adequate room) but don’t expect too much. If you’re on a tight schedule, skip it altogether and head for Córdoba, Cádiz or Granada.
Tip #1: The bus to Málaga Airport from the city is Línea A and costs €3. It stops at the main bus station as well as lots of stops along the Paseo del Parque.
Tip #2: Don’t stay 3 nights just to explore the city. You can stay 1 night and see more than enough in my opinion.
Tip #3: Walk up the Castillo de Gibralfaro. Its a great panoramic view of the city and its totally free.
Tip #4: Foreign films in Spanish cinemas are generally all dubbed, not subtitled. Trip to the cinema costs around €6 but be prepared to practice your Spanish as the English-speaking films are dubbed over.
Tip #5: Don’t get complacent with accommodation! Check the reviews thoroughly before booking anything….A novice traveller would know this but it pays not to forget.