Malaga was the perfect European destination for a 3-day weekend in February. The weather was perfect the entire time, the food was great, and the sights were gorgeous. Malaga lies on the Costa del Sol of the Mediterranean, about 100 kilometers east of the Strait of Gibraltar and about 130 km north of Africa. Malaga’s history spans about 2,800 years, making it one of the oldest cities in Europe and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
I stayed at Atarazanas Malaga Boutique Hotel in Malaga city center. The hotel itself wasn’t anything too special, but it was conveniently located. It is located near the Atarazanas Market. The Malaga Cathedral is a 7-minute walk, the Gibralfaro Castle is a 23-minute walk, the La Marina metro station is a 5-minute walk, and the Maria Zambrano train station is a 14-minute walk. The beach is also within-in walking distance so I opted to stay in the city-center vs. closer to the beach since I would be spending most of my time seeing the sites in the city and catching public transportation to Ronda.
I flew from London Stansted to Malaga Airport (AGP). The most efficient option of getting into the city center is by getting a taxi from the taxi stand, which cost about 25 euros and took about 15 minutes. However, the train is also a quick option, taking only 12 minutes and costing 1.80 euros. Additionally, there is a bus that costs about 3 euros and takes about 20 minutes.
Malaga’s central market is a restored historical building which had been closed for years. It hosts a daily market where locals go to get some fresh fruits, vegetables, and other local produce. The market is closed on Sundays.
This theater is known to host amazing events almost every day of the week, ranging from classical dramas to flamenco performances. Get more info here.
Basilica of Santa Maria de la Victoria
This ornate Baroque church is a bit of a detour, but I enjoyed looking at the street art on the way.
El Pimpi Restaurant
This wine bar has a really good selection of wines and tapas and a lovely atmosphere. It is very crowded so it is recommended that you book in advance. However, even though we didn’t have a reservation, we were still seated relatively fast since it is so large. The prices are also reasonable.
The climb up to Gibralfaro Castle was not as easy as it seemed initially as it was quite a ways up. However, the hillside gardens made for a lovely walk along the defensive walls. The castle offers great views of the city. Admission price is typically 2.20 euros, but luckily I went on a Sunday, which is free after 2PM. The castle is open daily from 9AM to 8PM.
The castle overlooks Malaga city and port and dates back to the 10th century. Inside the fortress itself you will find some buildings and courtyards. The ramparts have been well restored and you can walk all the way around them. At one point, you can get a good view down into the bullring. Some visitors linger here for a free view of the bullfight.
There are three ways to reach the entrance of the castle. One is from the Alcazaba: This follows the fortress’s outer wall and joins a cobbled path, which traces the hill’s contours and passes through the pine trees on the Coracha.
Another way is to climb the zig-zag steps which lead from the Plaza del General Torrijos at the east end of the Alameda Gardens to join the same cobbled path.
The third way is to take a taxi or the tourist bus which uses the road around the back of the hill.
Take a bottle of water, as there is no kiosk until the top.
Bullring and Bullfighting Museum
La Malagueta is the bullring in Malaga which has been around since 1876. It is located in the eastern district alongside the Paseo de Reding. Tickets are available at the UniCaja bank or at the box office at La Malagueta.
This beach is the most popular and populous one in the city. It is just a short walk from the bullring.
After taking a stroll on the beach, I walked over to the huge waterfront complex and had a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants. Shops and cafes also line the pier.
Centre Pompidou Malaga
Parque de Malaga
Alcazaba of Malaga
This monumental Moorish citadel with its origins in the 11th century has a great strategic position with views over the city and over the coastline. It is probably the best preserved citadel in the whole of Spain. Admission is 3.50 euros or you can get a combined ticket with the castle that costs 5.50 euros.
Malaga Roman Theater
These remains of a Roman theatre were discovered in the 50’s. The Arabs used its blocks to build Alcazaba.
This is one of the largest public squares in Malaga’s city center, and is also known for containing Pablo Picasso’s childhood home.
Artist Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in Malaga. The Museo Picasso Malaga opened in 2003 in the Buenavista Palace, and has 285 works donated by members of Picasso’s family. Admission to the museum costs 7 euros.
Cathedral of Malaga
The Cathedral of Malaga is a Roman Catholic Church and is in the Renaissance architectural tradition. Entrance to the cathedral costs 6 euros. You can get a great view of the cathedral from the AC Marriott Hotel.
AC Hotel Malaga Palacio
The rooftop bar at the AC Hotel Malaga Palicio, called Atico Bar & Restaurant, is one of the oldest in the city and a perfect place to enjoy the views from above. The rooftop is perched on the 15th floor giving it an incredible view over the city, harbor, and the Mediterranean Sea.
Both stylish indoor restaurant with panoramic windows and lovely open-air terrace, one of the best things about this rooftop is that its open all day long. You can have your lunch, cocktails, dinner, or dessert here. If you stay at the hotel, you can swim in the rooftop pool. Additionally, there’s occasional live music and flamenco shows here to keep you entertained. When I went, there was a DJ.
It costs 10 euros to go up to the rooftop, but the first drink is free. The biggest downfall to the bar is that they only had one bartender so it took a really long time to get the drinks. There is also limited seating on the main side of the bar, however there are couches on the opposite side, which are positioned under heaters.
Sala Premier is a pub in downtown Malaga. Its decor is based on the world of cinema. Oscars-style red carpet, chairs with the names of famous directors, and stools with the faces of famous actors and actresses…any movie fan will be happy. This is the ideal establishment if you are looking for a fun place to have some drinks. It offers a great selection of beers and cocktails. Dried fruits and nuts are usually served with the drinks and there are board games available if you’re up for that.
Sala Gold was a fun club to go for a few drinks and dancing. It got very crowded very fast though so it was hard to move around.
Malaga’s main shopping street is an awesome promenade to walk through at night with its lively atmosphere and bright lights.
Ronda is a village in the Spanish province of Malaga located about 105 km (65 mi) west of the city of Malaga. It is one of the town and villages that is included in the Sierra de las Nieves National Park. This small city is perched on the edge of Tajo Gorge, which is the main sight that made me want to take a day trip from Malaga.
Transportation to Ronda from Malaga is not as convenient and frequent as most other European day-trips. However, it was still very easy and well worth it. You can either take a bus or the train. I was going to take the train, but it actually ended up being a bus. I’m still not sure what happened, but I’m assuming that there was a problem with the regular train so they substituted it with a bus. ASLA bus company has buses running every day, 7 days a week. The cost for a round trip ticket is 32 USD and takes about 3 hours. The winding roads and rugged terrain make for a very scenic and enjoyable drive. The Malaga Bus Station is centrally located in the city and is right next to the train station.
The train is a faster way to travel versus the bus. The journey takes just under 2 hours and a round-trip ticket is roughly 29 USD. The earliest train from Malaga to Ronda leaves at 6:45 and the latest leaves at 18:20. Not every trip is direct, but there is usually one direct train per day. However, even though my phone said that there was a direct train to Ronda, when I arrived at the train station, they said there was no train that day and that I had to take the bus. It worked out because it was leaving at the time I was expecting and only took 1 hour 20 minutes. It departed at 9:40 AM and arrived in Ronda at 11:00 AM. The bus back to Malaga departed Ronda at 4:10 PM and arrived at 5:30 PM. The drive was super quick and had some pretty scenery. The downfall to this was that there is only one option to and from so I was worried about missing it. It left enough time to see everything, but I still felt rushed and couldn’t take my time just strolling around Ronda. If I were to do it over, I probably would have stayed the night in Ronda.
Church of Our Lady of Mercy
Parque Alameda del Tajo
The Alameda del Tajo Park dates from the early 19th century and looks out over the edge of the Tajo cornice.
One of the oldest bullrings dates back to the 18th century and today it is also one of the most symbolic places of bullfighting. Unusual for its size and architectural style, this place is draws plenty of visitors, especially in early September during the Pedro Romero Fair when Goyesca Bullfight takes place.
A ticket costs 7 euros to enter or 8.50 euros if you wish to have an audioguide. It is open daily except on bullfighting days in September.
Restaurant Don Miguel
The reason that I chose this restaurant for lunch was the amazing view. However, the menu did not have a whole lot to choose from, and therefore I went with a salad to be safe. The prices are high, however the waiters were very friendly. I recommend this place for a nice place to have a drink, but it is not worth it for the food.
El Tajo Bridge
Built between 1751 and 1793, this symbolic bridge is the newest and largest of three bridges that span over the Guadalevin River in a deep gorge, Tajo de Ronda. It connects the old and modern area of the city.
The 18th-century Puente Nuevo bridge is one of the most important monuments in Ronda and one of my favorite sights in all of Spain! The bridge is nearly 100 meters high. The best view is from Camino de los Molinos, the road that runs along the bottom of the ravine.
Plaza del Socorro
The Plaza del Socorro is a central square in the new part of Ronda. It is surrounded by many restaurants, bars, and the church of the Virgen del Cocorro. Its main point of interest is a beautiful fountain with a statue of Hercules.
Santa Maria de la Encarnacion Church
This church is a rebuilt mosque.
Ronda City Hall
Located at the Duchess of Parcent Square, the current Ronda city hall was formerly a military quarter, built in 1734.
Arab Public Baths
Ronda’s Arab Baths, known in Spanish as “Banos Arabes” were a bit underwhelming, especially for the 3.50 euro entry fee. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but when the castle in Malaga was free, I would have rather paid for the castle than the baths.
The baths started around the 13th and 14th centuries and followed the Roman model of thermal buildings: cold water, warm water, and hot water bathrooms.
Jardines de Cuenca
The Jardines de Cuenca is a winding staircase from Puente Viejo to the top of El Mercadillo. After each handful of steps, you arrive at another walled terrace offering incredible views of the gorge and the 238 foot El Tajo bridge. The gardens are full of flower beds, palms, Cyprus, succulents, and evergreen trees.
Malaga and Ronda, Spain were the perfect combination for a 3-day weekend, especially in February to get away to somewhere warmer. If I were to have more time or go back, I would like to visit the Aqueduct of El Aguila, Balcony of Europe, King’s Walkway, Nerja Caves, and Colomares Castle.