What to see in Málaga
The sites of Málaga tell their own story. Incidentally, Málaga is considered to be one of the most ancient cities of Spain. Its lands have been settled by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Moors, amongst others. All of these settlers have left their mark on the main sites of Málaga, namely the Alcazaba, Roman Theatre, Gibralfaro Castle and the Cathedral.
Thanks to its port, in the nineteenth century it became one of the most relevant industrial areas in the peninsula. Produce was exchanged, but it also became a cultural and ideological meeting point. Therefore, when visiting the city, do not miss out on the historic sites of Málaga. They will enable you to learn about its origins and you can also discover the customs over time.
Something else that you must see in Málaga are the urban sculptures, which are a number of outdoor figures that pay tribute to several local personalities. They are the living memory of those who showed the charm of Málaga to the whole world through their paintings, verses or songs. Additionally, there are the urban sculptures that you must not miss due to the messages they transmit or the artistic value of their makeup.
When walking through the centre of Málaga you will find them along the way, therefore you do not have to go looking for them deliberately. Getting to know the history and meaning of each one of the local urban sculptures will help you learn more about the city’s past, as well as get to know the persionalities who were born here. We recommend adding to your list of things to see in Málaga the nine urban sculptures detailed below.
Statue of Picasso
The statue of Picasso is located in the central Plaza de la Merced, just a few metres from the artist’s birthplace. It represents Pablo Ruiz Picasso with a notepad and pencil sat on one of the benches in the plaza. You cannot leave the city of Málaga without having your photo taken next to him after admiring his works at the Picasso Foundation. The Picasso exhibition in Málaga is quite vast, so why not use your trip to discover this legendary painter?
The statue of El Cenachero in Málaga has to be on your list of things to see in the city of Málaga. The locals feel great affection for this sculpture, as it represents one of the most characteristic figures of the history of Málaga. It represents a man who sold fish through the streets in the centre (fresh fish which had been caught from the local sea) and he carried it in two baskets hanging from his arms. You can find it in Plaza de la Marina, right in the historical centre of Málaga.
You might have heard about the chiromantic bird of Málaga before planning your trip to the city. The sculpture is the representation of half of a pigeon and half of an open hand and it pays tribute to Rafael Pérez Estrada, a local writer and illustrator who was strongly involved in the cultural and artistic development of the city. In fact, the chiromantic bird symbolises the support for artists in the area and the peace between all the coexisting cultures. You can find the sculpture in Calle Bolsa.
Along the renowned Calle Larios you will find many living statues – you are sure to make a stop before them. Every day many people gather together in this central area and make it a walkway of admirable statues. Their costumes, positions and gestures look like they have been extracted from silent theatre scenes. Some make passers by smile, others give them a small fright and many will pose so you can have your photo taken with them.
Salvador Rueda in Málaga
The monument in tribute to Salvador Rueda in Málaga is situated on the roundabout of the Málaga Park or Alameda Park. It is obelisk shaped and represents the bust of this local poet crowned by a phoenix. The small town of Benaque, approximately 30 kilometres from the centre of Málaga, is the birthplace of this writer and today it has been made into a museum housing the artist’s posessions as they were left before his death.
Bust of Rubén Darío
This bust in tribute to Rubén Darío commemorates the year when this poet, originally from Nicaragua, lived in Málaga with his wife. It was back in the year 1904 when he used the light and scenery of Málaga as inspiration for his works. Nowadays there are many creative professionals who come to Málaga for inspiration for new creations, the same as this writer did. This monument in memory of Rubén Darío is in Paseo de España, surrounded by the botanical gardens of the Málaga Park.
Sculpture of Miguel de Molina
The sculpture of Miguel de Molina is located in the district of Capuchinos, central to Málaga and the singer’s birthplace. From a young age he would sing on flamenco stages and he went on to become one of the most renowned Spanish copla singers in Andalucia. He moved to Buenos Aires after being pursued for being homosexual and was unable to return to his country of origin. His legacy is exhibited in Málaga at the Museum of Municipal Heritage – do not miss it!
Ninfa de la Caracola
This sculpture is located on one of the roundabouts in the Málaga Park. It is a cast iron figure which is the work of engineer José María de Sancha and is elevated upon one of the park’s fountains. It underwent serveral years of restoration in a heritage workshop due to acts of vandalism which damaged it, but now it shines in this symbolic spot worthy of visiting. Next to this sculpture is one of the special corners that you must not miss during your trip.
Ninfa del Cántaro
This is another urban sculpture worthy of visiting. It belongs to one of the fountains of the Málaga Park which, in addition to its Sevilian style tiles, perfectly represents the rich art heritage of Andalucia. We recommend walking and relaxing in this park as an activity to do in Málaga. The Málaga Park or Alameda Park has over 30,000m2 and it is very pleasant to take a stroll under the warm local sun.
The museums in Málaga that are not to be missed are the ones detailed below. If there is something to highlight about the city is its varied art heritage. There are many historic characters who have left their mark in the city, all commemorated in 40 exhibitions of different themes. Due to the large number of museums it has to offer, the city has been known as “the city of museums”. The majority of them are in the historical centre, so they are easy to get to.
If we had to choose between some of the museums in Málaga, undoubtedly we would select the Picasso Musem, the Russian Museum, the Pompidou Centre and the Carmen Thyssen Museum. Add the one which best suits your art interests to your list of places to see in Málaga. If you are religious you may prefer to visit the Semana Santa (Easter Week) Museum, or wine lovers may be interested in the Wine Museum in Málaga. Discover our list of museums not to miss.
The Málaga Museum
The Málaga Museum is one the largest provincial museums in Spain. Within it a countless number of ancheological pieces are exhibited, plus a vast collection of painings dating back to the fifteenth century up to today. In total the museum houses over 15,000 pieces of incalculable artistic value. It is located in Palacio de la Aduana (Customs Palace), a neoclassical building whose architecture takes us back to the Italian Renaissance. If you are passionate about archaeology, you must pay it a visit.
The Picasso Museum of Málaga
Visiting the Picasso Museum in Málaga has got to be one of the main things to do during a trip to Málaga. Not only because Picasso was local to Málaga, but also because it is the largest art gallery dedicated to the artist in the whole world. Upon visiting this museum you will immerse yourself in a tour through the different styles that the artist worked with, from cubism to his last creations. You will discover the most classical side of Picasso but also the most avant-garde.
Picasso’s Birthplace is another museum in Málaga which you must visit. Please note that the Picasso Museum is different to Picasso’s Birthplace Museum. The latter is the heardquarters of the Picasso Foundation of Málaga. It is a building comprising of six rooms that show the painter’s strong link to the city of Málaga. You will learn about his family and much more about his daily life in the city through images, post cards, etc.
Pompidou Centre in Málaga
The collection of the Pompidou Centre of Málaga exhibits the most avant-garde and innovative art movements of the time. At present this museum houses about 70 works that demonstrate how the history of art has developed over the past two centuries. The building where it is located is interesting with facades in the shape and colours of a Rubik’s cube. Due to this fact, it is locally known as “the cube”.
Flamenco museum in Málaga
We recommend the museum of the artform of flamenco to everybody who is passionate about the genre. Not only does it house one of the largest flamenco record collections in Spain, but it also has posters, instruments, paintings and clothing related to the world of flamenco, totalling 5,000 pieces. It is located in the headquarters of the Juan Breva Group, the most renowned flamenco group in the city, named after the most famous flamenco singer in the history of Málaga.
Russian Museum of Málaga
The collection of the Russian Museum of Málaga is of great significance. Málaga was the first city in Western Europe to open a Russian State Museum due to its wide offer of international culture. The exhibition houses many Medieval, Romantic and Realist works which are a faithful representation of the country’s history. Most of the works represent scenes of everyday life and portraits of renowned personalities, historic moments and prominent sceneries.
Contemporary Arts Centre
The contemporary arts centre is a place to visit in Málaga if you like modern art. The centre is dedicated to plastic arts and visual arts from the end of the twentieth century until today. The centre constantly arranges avant-garde art exhibitions, which are worthy of visiting if you are looking for something different to do in Málaga. It values the talent of legendary artists as well as that of current artists. Why not add this visit to your trip?
Carmen Thyssen Museum of Málaga
The Carmen Thyssen Museum of Málaga is located in the Villalón Palace, a palatial residence with a significant background which is just as valuable as the collection itself. In this museum you will discover many of the most representative works of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century in Spain. It is a must-visit due to the importance of the pieces exhibited here. Authors such as Francisco de Zurbarán, Joaquín Sorolla, Julio Romero de Torre and Ramón Casas are amongst them.
The aeronautical museum is located in the airport area, which means that you can easily get to it via any means of public transport. This museum exhibits the framework of an aeroplane but also its history, in addition to many other interesting facts on military use. This is an ideal visit for the inquisitive seeking interesting things to do in Málaga. Additionally it offers activities such as opening a black box and communicating in Morse code.
The automobile and fashion museum in Málaga houses a large collection of luxury vehicles, haute couture items of clothing and jewels of incalculable economic value. It is located in the former tobacco factory of Málaga, a symbolic building built at the end of the nineteenth century. If you are wondering what to do in Málaga, we recommend visiting its automobile museum – you can return home with a photo of yourself standing next to a Ferrari or Rolls-Royce.
The Easter Week Museum or Brotherhood Museum is situated upon a Renaissance building which was formerly the headquarters of the hospital of San Julián. It displays the vast heritage and a tour through the history of local Easter Week, one of the most renowned in Andalucia. It houses over one hundred pieces distributed over six different rooms, each one with a different theme. If you find this unique way of worshiping statues interesting, we recommend a visit to the Easter Week Museum.
Museum of Arts and
We have detailed below the most idyllic parks and gardens. We recommend choosing at least one when planning things to do in Málaga. You are sure to be surprised. Upon visiting them you can enjoy many activities related to nature which will help you switch off from your daily routine in the fabulous atmosphere of the Costa del Sol. Take a walk, do some sport or have a picnic.
The geostrategic location of the city, which is surrounded by the mountain range of Montes de Málaga and the Mediterranean Sea, enrichens the environmental heritage that it offers. The parks and gardens of Málaga are also a way of learning about the area’s past, therefore they require a lot of maintenance all year round. Seek information on the hiking trails within the activities that Málaga offers and discover the nature reseves.
Botanical gardens of Málaga
The botanical gardens of Málaga are located on Finca de La Concepción and they are considered to be one of the most important gardens in the Iberian Peninsula within the category of tropical and subtropical gardens. The area is home to over 25,000 plant species, amongst which we can find insectivorous plants, cacti, over 90 types of palm tree, water species, an impressive black bamboo forest, etc.
Finca de La Concepción has 23 hectares to walk through and it is also home to very peculiar buildings, amongst which you will find the palatial house, the gardener’s house, the property manager’s house, a small school and the old hothouses. Do not forget to look for one of the most magical places within this complex, this being the historical mirador. It is a bandstand with a regionalist style dome boasting magnificent views of the city. Do not miss it!
Natural Park Montes de Málaga
The Natural Park of Montes de Málaga has the most diverse natural scenery in the city. It has an area of almost 5,000 hectares and you can get to it very easily as it is just a few minutes from the centre. It is also close to the surrounding coastal towns. This mountain range has a very characteristic relief, boasting natural elevations which cross through tributaries of the Guadalmedina River.
The main activities that are held in the Montes de Málaga are related to sport, hiking or cycling. If you are looking for something different to do in Málaga, you might like to plan a hiking trip through its trails. The main ones are the trails of Torrijos and Umbría de Contadores, which take approximately half an hour, and the trails of Pocopán ad El Cerrado, which will take about an hour and a half to complete. It is the best choice to immerse yourself in the nature of Málaga.
The Málaga Park or Alameda Park is a must-visit. It is so rich in exotic plant species that it is deemed one of the most significant public gardens in Europe. It connects the Plaza of General Torrijos with Plaza de La Marina through three pathways, totalling a length of two and a half kilometres. The botanical gardens are on both sides boasting species from every continent.
We recommend taking a walk through the Málaga Park to observe all the statues located along it. The most renowned are the fountains housing La Ninfa del Cántaro and La Ninfa de la Caracola, the sculpture of El Burrito Platero or the monument in tribute to El Fiestero, amongst others. Additionally, all types of shows full of charm and magic take place here. By relaxing and enjoying the fresh air at the Málaga Park you are sure to return home full of energy.
The English cemetery
The English cemetery in Málaga is a beautiful site in gorgeous surroundings which is worth a visit if you are looking for interesting things to do in Málaga. It was built in 1831, making it the oldest in the Iberian Peninsula. Each year it is visited by hundreds of tourists seeking to contemplate the classic, neogothic and modernist architectural elements it offers, which have an incalculable artistic value in this cemetery.
Additionally, the English cemetery of Málaga is home to the graves of renowned personalities of the city’s past. Philologist Mr George Stephens, Lieutenant Robert Boyd and General Torrijos and Uriarte are buried in this protestant cemetery. It is located just a 15 minute walk from central Calle Larios and you are bound to enjoy learning about the mysteries held within this graveyard.
Jardines de Puerta Oscura Málaga
The gardens of Puerta Oscura in Málaga are situated behind the town hall, right in the city centre. They were built in the lower part of the Gibralfaro Mountain, which means that from them you can admire the Alcazaba of Málaga as well as other symbolic buildings in the old town. The terraces of the gardens of Puerta Oscura are distributed over different levels due to the elevation of the land upon which they are situated, so do not forget to wear comfortable shoes for the visit.
Without a doubt, these gardens are one of the favourite places to visit in Málaga to take a break along the way. Use your visit to the Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle and Roman Theatre to enjoy the gardens of Puerta Oscura, as they are all in the same area. In the gardens you will find pathways, viewpoints, plentiful vegetation, small stairways and mysterious fountains which you are sure to enjoy. All of this makes these gardens the ideal place to relax before resuming your tour around Málaga.
The churches in Málaga are great proof of how the city has lived its religiousness over time and, in fact, they are included in any guide of things to see in Málaga. If anything characterises Málaga it is its long historical past, due to the different cultures that have left their mark. The churches of Málaga have been used as shelters during crucial times throughout history.
When the Catholic Monarchs conquested Málaga in 1487, many Catholic temples were built. Some of them were constructed upon Islamic buildings, remains of which can still be found at the Cathedral of Málaga and the Church of El Sagrario, for instance. Nevertheless, all the churches in Málaga have an immense heritage and architectural value as they belong to different artistic styles. We have detailed below some of the most distingued ones.
Church of Santa María de la Victoria
Title of Minor Basilica (Pope Benedict XVI)
This church in Málaga preserves the image of the Virgin of La Victoria, who is the patron saint of the city. It is located in the district of La Victoria, about 20 minutes from the main buildings in the centre. When you look at the façade, it is difficult to imagine that it is a church. The style of it is similar to the seventeenth-century architecture found in Madrid, very influenced by the Counter-reformation ideas. This church is the canonical see of the Brotherhoods of Humility and Love. Its interior houses the vault of the Counts of Buenavista, another one of the interesting and unusual things to see in Málaga. It is one of the most impressive burial places.
Church of El Sagrario in Málaga
This church in Málaga is annexed to the Cathedral of Málaga. Its imposing façade belongs to the Isabelline Gothic style and it is one of the most impressive things to see in Málaga city. Its interior comprises of just one rectangular nave with several plateresque altarpieces representing the images of the Virgin of Lourdes and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, amongst others. If you are a fan of art history, you must visit this church. You will be surprised by the golden Barroque adornments in the temple, in addition to the silence within its walls. Undoubtedly, it is another place to add to your list of places to visit.
Church of San Agustín Málaga
His pastoral and sacramental activity is very numerous
This church in Málaga belongs to the convent with which it shares its name, and it is located next to the Picasso Museum, just a few minutes’ walk from the Cathedral of Málaga. The building is divided into the Church of San Agustín, home to the members of the religious order of Padres Agustinos, and the old convent used for teaching activities. This church is the see of the Brotherhood of La Pollinica and from here during Easter Week the procession of Jesus entering Jerusalem takes place. It is the only church in the city of Málaga with a bell gable and its gardens are truly beautiful.
Church of Santo Cristo de la Salud
This church in Málaga is a true wonder which must be seen. Its plan is circular and finished off by a dome with an iconography considered to be one of the most important in Andalucia. Its illustrative paintings consist of murals boasting mannerist influences, which have been used as research material in many humanistic studies. The decoration on its walls, its many chapels and other artistic elements are sure to impress you. This church is the see of the Brotherhood of Students and Painful Slavery. It is a few metres from the Carmen Thyssen Museum in the centre of Málaga.
Other churches and chapels of interest
Málaga is a city full of surprises. There is always something to do, somewhere to visit and a new dish to try. When preparing your list of things to see in Málaga city, do not forget to consider visiting these places anytime during the day when you do not have anything specific planned.
They can be short visits that will enable you to learn something new about this charming city. The old town of Málaga is buoyant every day, which is reflected in the bars, shops and central sites. Consider a short visit to the places detailed below during your trip. You will not regret it!
Atarazanas Market in Málaga
The central market of Atarazanas in Málaga is a symbolic place which is very buoyant every day. The origins of the building date back to the fourteenth century, when it served as a boatyard. Subsequently it was used as a warehouse, military hospital and encampment. Most visitors’ favourite part about it is the colourful glass window on the façade.
This market has recently been named one of the top ten best markets in the world by The Guardian. Do not miss out on the chance to discover this unique and charming spot to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere.
Soho district in Málaga
The Soho district in Málaga is the arts district of the city. It is a place that supports urban art and where the artistic and enterprising create their works on the street. This district is bordered by the Málaga Port, Guadalmedina River and La Alameda Principal, therefore belonging to the city’s central district.
Amongst its streets you will find the Contemporary Arts Centre (CAC), but it is not necessary to enter this museum to be able to contemplate the talent in the area. You will be amazed by the original works of art by urban artists such as D*Face, OBEY and Faith 47, which you will find along your walk through the Soho district.
Calle Larios of Málaga is one of the most renowned streets in the whole city. It is 350 metres long and houses the most prestigious shops in Málaga. Furthermore, during Christmastime, Feria or Easter Week, this street is one of the must-visits in the city because it plays a very important role during these festivities.
Alongs its 350 metres you will find magnificent buildings of different styles. It links the historical centre from Plaza de la Constitución to Plaza de la Marina, which is very close to the famous lighthouse of Málaga, right next to the sea.
Muelle Uno de Málaga
Muelle Uno is somewhere to stroll along when you are looking for something relaxing to do in Málaga. It is an open shopping centre located on the Málaga Port with many boutiques, terraces and restaurants to enjoy a day out. From Muelle Uno you will be able to enjoy wonderful panoramic views of the city, encompassing the Gibralfaro Castle and the Cathedral.
It is one of the main tourist areas in Málaga because many cruise liners and boats stop here every day. A stroll along Muelle Uno and a meal at one of its extraordinary restaurants is a perfect arrangement to enjoy with your partner, family or friends.
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