Querida Málaga: A quick guide to Spain’s south coastal pearl*

When I first arrived in the capital of Andalucía in 2010, I had no idea what to expect. Seven years later, no other European city has come close to impacting me in the same way. Málaga is one of the oldest cities in the world, and its vivid nightlife, architecture, art museums and palm trees all contribute to its unique charm.

Headed to Málaga soon? Make sure to drop by the following places…

Alcazaba
The Alcazaba, photo source

1. The Alcazaba

An historical monument, this fortress palace was built in the early 11th century. Its impressive military architecture and interiors of beautiful Arab characteristics make this place a must-see, so get ready to climb some serious stairs. It might seem intimidating at first, but the views from this masterpiece looking over the entire city will give you chills. Once back on the ground, turn right to admire the Roman Theatre, located right next to the fortress. Currently under restoration, it dates back to the 1st Century AD.

2. El Pimpi

Across the street from the Alcazaba lies this Andalusian gem. You can’t go to Málaga and not visit El Pimpi. It’s a city landmark, and despite being notoriously crowded seven days a week, it’s the ultimate Malageño culinary experience. Enjoy a politically incorrect hamburger made of bull tail, accompanied by a glass of their famous sweet wine. Also, don’t forget to take a selfie with Antonio Banderas when you run into him, because you will (his apartment is next door).

Cafe con Libros
Café con Libros entrance, photo source

3. Café con Libros

At first glance, you might think you just walked into a questionably decorated bookstore. Once you’ve taken a closer look at the place though, and at the menu, you’ll change your mind. Located at the popular meeting place of Plaza de la Merced, Café con Libros offers delicious coffee (served with a cookie on the side), freshly pressed orange juice, and homemade bocadillos, along with a large selection of Indie literature. Simply throw yourself on one of their inviting couches, grab an alternative media magazine, and get into siesta mood while waiting for your order.

Carmen Thyssen
Interiors of the Carmen Thyssen Museum, photo source

4. Museo Carmen Thyssen

Although there is a Picasso museum in the city (his birth place is located right next to Café con Libros), I highly recommend the Thyssen museum for a more varied style range. Expositions in the past have included works of Monet, Goya and Van Gogh. The real treat though, at least if you’re an art nerd like me, is the broad representation of Spanish artists, like Santander-born Francisco Iturrino. Their depictions of gypsy life set in local landscapes provide a unique cultural experience unlikely to be found anywhere else.

Pedregalejo
Pedregalejo, photo source

5. Pedregalejo

If you’re a seafood lover, this picturesque fishing village is a must, and only a 10 minute cab drive away from the city centre (although many locals go by bike). Spared from tourism exploitation, Pedregalejo possesses an old-school enchantment with colourful houses and beachfront restaurants. My favorite is La Galerna, mainly because of their customized salads served in giant porcelain bowls.

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