Malaga is one of Spain’s most laid-back destinations, as well as one of the easiest to visit.
The leisurely Andalusian lifestyle and gorgeous weather make it an ideal place for vacation at any time of year, and as soon as you arrive, you’ll see how easy it is to fall in love with the Costa del Sol capital. That being said, there are a few things you should know before you visit in order to make the most of your trip and enjoy the city as much as possible. Here are your six things to know before traveling to Malaga so you can start planning your best vacation yet.
1. Malaga is old
Nearly 3,000 years old, to be more precise. That just means we’ve got plenty of history for you to geek out over. Plenty of the most storied civilizations have left their mark on the city in the form of famous local icons like the Alcazaba (the Moors), the Roman Theater (the Romans, obviously), and a plethora of tasty seafood dishes (the Phoenicians).
And for all you wine-loving travelers, we didn’t forget about you, either. Malaga also boasts one of the world’s oldest wine regions, with the star product being the deliciously sweet local wine. Stop by Antigua Casa de Guardia, the city’s oldest wine bar, to sip on a bit of history as you enjoy your straight-from-the-barrel wine.
2. You can enter monuments and museums for free
Not only is Malaga full of history and culture around nearly every turn, but you can experience it, in many cases, without spending a single euro cent. There are plenty of free things to do in Malaga, including a handful of its 20 world-class museums (the Picasso Museum is free Sunday afternoons, and the CAC is free every day!). Other famous monuments, such as the Alcazaba, also offer free entry at certain periods, so be sure to plan your visit accordingly so you can save a few bucks.
3. Malaga loves to celebrate
Spain’s party-ready culture is especially evident here in the sunny, laid-back south, and Malaga’s prime coastal location makes it the ideal spot for a fiesta.
Without a doubt, the biggest party of the year is the annual fair, or feria, which takes over the city for a week every year in the middle of August. Expect music, dancing and more lasting long into the night.
Some of the other important holidays here have strong religious ties, but you don’t have to be Catholic (or even religious at all) to enjoy them. Holy Week is an unforgettable spectacle, with dozens of processions parading elaborate floats throughout the city over the course of the week. If you visit during this time of year, keep in mind that some shops and businesses observe modified hours due to the celebrations.
4. ‘Siesta’ exists
Forget breakfast—here in Spain, lunch is the most important meal of the day. In fact, you won’t find anyone eating at their desk or grabbing a quick bite on the go. Lunch is meant to be shared among family, so most workers throughout Malaga head home for a midday break.
If you plan on running errands in the afternoon, keep in mind that many places—especially small businesses—close up shop from roughly 2–5 p.m. so their employees can go home and enjoy a leisurely lunch (and, yes, probably a siesta as well). This break allows them to rest, refresh and recharge before heading back to work for the afternoon.
5. There is a lot of good food
As a company centered around food, we wouldn’t tell you to go to Malaga if the gastronomic delights weren’t there. Food is such an integral part of local culture that even locals have their own foodie nickname: boquerones! These salty little fish are one of the most tasty typical foods from Malaga, where seafood and other fresh products are king. For a truly authentic experience, head to one of the best markets in Malaga to rub elbows with the locals as you shop for tasty gourmet goodies.
6. Malaga eats late
Last but not least, if you’re going to eat here in Malaga, you need to start adjusting your schedule. We tend to enjoy meals later than most of the rest of the world, which means most malagueños won’t sit down for lunch until 2 p.m. at the earliest, and dinner won’t be served until at least 9. On weekends, things run even later—don’t be surprised if your local friend suggests meeting for dinner past 10!
Even after midnight, the city can still be filled with people enjoying food and drinks together. Children stay up late as well, enjoying meals out with their families even on regular weekdays. Here, the social aspect of being out together is important, no matter what your age is!
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