Málaga, in the Andalusian region of southern Spain, is often thought of as merely a gateway to the beaches of the Costa Del Sol. But there’s plenty about this city that makes it a great destination in its own right, from its rich cultural heritage to its burgeoning restaurant scene and some of the balmiest weather in Europe. With direct United flights from New York/Newark beginning next month, there has never been a better time to go. Here, our guide to Málaga’s distinct neighborhoods.
Centro is the heart of Málaga and the oldest part of the city. It is home to many historic landmarks, including the Alcazaba, a fortified complex dating back to the 11th century; the Renaissance-style Cathedral of Málaga; and the Roman Theatre, which dates back to the first century but was only uncovered in 1951. For those looking for more modern attractions, Centro is also a hub for bars and restaurants–albeit not the most affordable in the city.
Malagueta is a beachfront neighborhood just a short walk east of the city center, making it a popular attraction for both locals and visitors. Art lovers will enjoy the Center Pompidou, a little sister to the famed Paris gallery. But the neighborhood is best known for its namesake beach, with its chiringuitos (beachside restaurants) and La Farola lighthouse. The area is also home to many high-end hotels and restaurants, making it a popular destination for tourists who want a relaxing, luxury break.
The birthplace of Pablo Picasso, La Merced remains Málaga’s coolest neighborhood and the place to head for buzzy nightlife and outdoor dining. Today, guests can visit the Museo Casa Natal, the home in which the famed artist was born. His hometown’s creative spirit lives on in the adjacent Plaza de la Merced, with its street performers and statue of Picasso.
El Palo is a traditional fishing village on the eastern outskirts of Málaga, where a day is best spent eating fresh espetos (sardines) at one of the area’s laid-back outdoor restaurants. Here, you’ll enjoy some of the best chiringuitos in the city and get a taste of the most authentic side of Málaga.
This district just west of the city center is known for its street art, trendy cafés, and boutique shops. One of its most popular attractions is the Contemporary Art Center, which features rotating exhibitions by local and international artists such as Joan Cornellà.