With its prime location in Costa del Sol, Malaga is a city that mastered the art of self-reinvention instead of being the sleepy port that it was once famous for. As we were based in Marbella, we took a day trip to Malaga, mainly to experience the annual Feria de Malaga, but also to see the city’s exquisite architecture, delicious food and learn about its history.
If you’re wondering what to do in Malaga, Spain in one day – then this guide is for you!
Feria de Malaga
The main reason for going to Malaga was to experience the best and biggest fiesta in town. The Festival of Malaga is the ultimate summer fiesta in the province of Andalucía and takes place in the middle of August each year. The festival dates back to 1487 when Catholic Monarchs Fernando II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile triumphally rode into the city to reclaim Malaga as part of Catholic Spain from its Moorish occupants. We learnt that the Spanish love a good party as it runs for a full seven days and nights. It kicks off with fireworks and concerts on the beach and then there are energetic daily street parties throughout the city centre. The city comes alive and showcases its vibrant culture in a mix of music, traditional dresses and horses carriages. I loved how the locals dress up in their traditional clothing – especially women walking around in the Flamenco dresses and the men as Vaqueros (Spanish cowboys).
Alcazaba de Malaga
After experiencing some fiesta, we explored the main sites of Malaga. Alcazaba is probably the most well-known tourist attraction of the city. Situated atop some of the city’s highest hills, Alcazaba is a Moorish fortress and palace and was home to the Muslim rulers. It was built in the 11th century atop a former Roman bastion. Whilst walking around, you can see some of the materials used by the Romans, like the columns. I was particularly impressed with how well-preserved and maintained it all was. We walked past courtyards, patios, fountains and beautiful garden.
It also offers lovely views of Malaga itself from its towers and walls.
After spending so much time on our feet, we decided to do a bit more of a relaxing activity and visit the Roman Theatre, located just below the Alcazaba. Completely free to enter, we viewed the little exhibit in the visitors centre, read the plaques and took a seat within the theatre itself. The Roman Theatre is the oldest site in Malaga and was built in the first century AD by Augustus but was used as a theatre a century later. It was then abandoned for years and was only discovered in 1951, when the building that was built on top was destroyed. Nowadays, many outdoor performances are taking place there.
The cathedral is one of the tallest in Andalucía and can be seen from miles away. It started to be built in the 16th century, on the foundations of the city’s old mosque. The construction lasted for 200 years but then halted due to lack of funding. Consequently, the cathedral was never fully finished and has only one bell tower (two were meant to be built). You can also climb the 200 steps to go up the 87m high tower. We didn’t have time to go up but you can see 360° scenic view from up there.
Another place you must visit in Malaga is the Gibralfaro castle. Its very close to Alcazaba and also offers the best scenic views over the city. The castle was built in the 14th century to protect the Alcazaba. It has a barrack to house soldiers and a lighthouse (Gibal is an Arabic word meaning mountain and Greek word of faro light). On clear days you an even see the Strait of Gibraltar from up there.
Do you have any questions about travelling to Malaga that I didn’t answer? Be sure to leave them in the comments, and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible 🙂
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