Spanish days and nights always feel like they run a little longer than in the rest of the world, and on Malaga cruises, you’ll soon discover why this humble city of around half a million people feels just right in terms of size and things to do. Western Mediterranean cruises will typically take you to multiple destinations in Italy and Spain, and spots like Malaga prove just how delectable slowing down and enjoying the simple pleasures in life can be. On Malaga cruises, that might look like a hike through the Montes de Malaga Natural Park or a day at the Wine Museum. Art lovers can’t miss the Picasso Museum—he was born in Malaga, after all—that honors his works and life.
In Southern Spain along the Costa del Sol, Malaga is quietly and steadfastly making a name for itself as an unforgettable place to enjoy life, get up close and personal with art and historic sights, and see breathtaking scenery along the way. Plus, Spanish tapas and a strong coffee culture contribute to a rapidly booming foodie scene for both hole-in-the-wall joints and upscale, special occasion dining. Malaga strikes just the right balance of artistic and coastal, making it a relaxed and luxurious vacation destination for all ages and interests.
For a real break from city life, head to Montes de Malaga Natural Park, where you’ll walk among waterfalls, mountains, and beautiful Spanish forest on the way to a stunning summit vista. The hike up isn’t too strenuous, but comfortable shoes are a must. The park is located about an hour outside of Malaga.
While on Malaga cruises, visit the Wine Museum to learn about the history of wine production in the region and discover how moscatel, the area’s signature dessert wine, is made. The museum tour concludes with a well-earned tasting.
Take a long walk on the grounds of Gibralfaro Castle in the center of the city, and stop for a break in the nearby cafe for an afternoon of sun and relaxation. The castle was built in the 14th century and remains impressively well kept. Its location on a winding hill makes for an unexpectedly beautiful walk.
El Palo Beach is one of Malaga’s most welcoming, where you can dive, swim, or simply lounge on the sand. For a unique local experience, board a local fishing and rowing boat, called a jábega, to get the full lay of the land.
On Malaga cruises, part of the fun is getting to eat like a local during your visit. At the Mercado de Atarazanas, you can browse stalls selling produce or taste some of the best tapas in the city, which specialize in authentic Andalusian dishes. Come hungry and come early for the best options. The market closes at 3pm.
Over 200 works by Picasso are housed in this museum, which opened in 2003 to international acclaim. Picasso was born in Malaga, and the museum is a tribute to his prolific career. It’s a can’t-miss experience for art lovers, Picasso fans, and anyone wanting to understand Malaga a little bit better.
Address: Edificio CAC, Calle Alemania
The chic Oleo, housed inside of the city’s contemporary art museum, offers an interesting fusion of sushi and Mediterranean cuisine. The sushi bar offers dozens of nigiri and roll options to choose from. Reservations are recommended.
Address: Carretería 44
For an affordable snack and coffee, there’s nowhere more enticing than Julia Bakery, where the espresso is strong and the baked goods are fresh. Scones, sweet pastries, and baked breads are the highlights here, whether you stop by for breakfast or want a small bite to eat before lunch.
Address: Calle José Denis Belgrano, 17
Raff is a go-to spot in the historic center of Malaga for affordable tapas, proving that tapas don’t have to be made of the fanciest ingredients to be delicious. The atmosphere is cozy and almost pub-like, so you’ll feel right at home ordering a cold beer and a set of tapas for the table.
Cafe Con Libros
Address: Plaza de la Merced, 19
Sometimes on vacation, you just want to find a quiet spot where you can sit, people watch, or enjoy a good book. Cafe con Libros is just the answer to that. In addition to coffee and breakfast foods, you’ll find a variety of savory snacks to enjoy.
Malaga was settled thousands of years ago by the Phoenicians and then the Romans. Later, Malaga fell under the Moors and then under Christian rule. The city didn’t thrive again economically until the 1960s, when tourism brought new industries and types of people to the area. Today, Malaga is one of Spain’s largest cities, with a population of over a half a million people, and is home to the country’s second-biggest port.
The port facility is well equipped with a tourism information center, free wifi, a souvenir shop, and other amenities. If you want to stretch your sea legs, you can walk to the center of town, which is about a mile away. Otherwise, hop on a shuttle or ride a taxi to Plaza de la Constitución.
It’s easy to traipse around Malaga without a car, and many cruise ships visiting Malaga recommend that passengers walk around the city. There’s also a bike rental service and taxis available from the cruise port. A hop-on/hop-off bus for tourists runs frequently, too.
Malaga’s best shopping is found in the center of the city, specifically along Calle Marques de Larios. There are many shopping centers located throughout the city for those looking for department store finds, designer goods, and other wares at varying price points. Souvenirs are available for purchase at the terminal where Malaga cruises stop, which many people pick up before heading back to their ship.
The euro is the official currency of Spain. Passengers on cruise ships visiting Malaga will find plenty of currency exchanges and ATMs in the city. Tipping is considered unusual in Spain for the most part, but rounding up to the nearest euro for your cab driver or giving 5% to 10% at a restaurant is considered more than polite in most circumstances.