When in Rome or when in Marbs… it felt remiss not to visit Malaga or Malaguela as the Spanish call it. Happily it was out of season, in term time and with travel still only slowly coming back – I was excited to explore somewhere I’d not considered before.
The uber from Marbella was about an hour and a little more expensive than the airport transfer at £60. But with big suit cases we decided not to attempted public transport and be princesses. If you are coming from the airport then the C1 train takes you in minutes into the city.
I picked a Room Mate hotel smack in the city on the Marina – obviously with a rooftop bar (and a little plunge rooftop pool). I had held a few hotels as I scrambled to read reviews as so many seemed similar (yes also with rooftop bars – first world decisions!) But finally settled on the Room Mate Valeria.
I had initially been put off by the room décor and feared it was a bit bold possibly hiding an old and tired room. Happily I was proven wrong. Beds were generous in size and super comfy. Bathroom had a walk in shower and all the amenities needed.
Breakfast was downstairs in a little room with a basic but an adequate choice.
The Rooftop bars
So it seemed Malaga is quite the rooftop bar city. I managed to do 9 and still there were more!
Our hotel rooftop bar, La Terraza de Valeria, was perfect with a small selection of sun beds by day for guests only and a party vibe by night for all. Though you wouldn’t want to be staying on the floor below as the music does go on it 1am. Frustratingly the only food was a margarita pizza in the day and sushi by night which did restrict the amount of time I spent there. The massive plus though was how the hotel always ensured its guests were seated over visitors.
For all rooftop bars click here but I’m going to pull out two of the nine for special mention. First goes to The Top for its amazing cathedral views. It’s a chilled rooftop vibe, with a pool for guests but it definitely won the wow factor being so close to the cathedral.
And the other goes to the Parador de Gibralfaro for its incredible rooftop pool and restaurant. It has an old school style and charm about it. Elegant and calming up away from the bustle of the city. The restaurant has strict rules that you must eat if you want to enjoy the views. However you can just pop in to their terrace downstairs for a drink and it holds pretty much the same views. Or you can stay and enjoy this pool too! Pool goals for sure!
Being a spontaneous Spanish seaside adventure I hadn’t done proper restaurant research and this was a mistake. Despite the city being littered with tapas taverns, rooftops and restaurants some were definitely not so great to choose without reviews.
A few good ones were: for traditional tapas, Lola’s. The popular celebrity hang out, El pipi which is owned by Antonio Banderas and Cambara at the Marina – it’s got a delicious but slightly quirky menu.
For breakfast there’s super cute cafe called Cereal Boom that has every cereal box and tasty menu.
Theres a vast range of beach chiringuito bars / restaurants which all seemed a much of a muchness. Our hotel recommended to avoid the ones nearest the marina and booked us at the Cachalote. A 10 minute walk along the beach.
It was perfectly nice, the loos were not! The vibe is much more relaxed than the fancy beach clubs of Marbs! The beaches did feel a bit more of the image I had of ‘Costa Del Sol’ but we had just been spoilt in Marbella. For a beautiful beach restaurant head a little further out to El Balnerio and again I’d advise booking.
The birth place of the incredible artist Picasso meant I couldn’t not have the obligatory photo with the man himself.
His statue is located at the Plaza de la Merced – Casa Natal Picasso his birth place – just a few mins walk up from the museum. The museum is well worth the effort but do book a time slot as there was always a queue for those that hadn’t.
The cathedral of Málaga towers over the Old Town near the harbour. Its official name is: Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica de la Encarnación. But it’s more commonly known as ‘La Manquita’, which means, ‘the one-armed woman’.
There’s a pretty impressive Roman amphitheatre – Teatro Romano which leads to the climb to the 10th Century Castillo de Gibralfaro. And it’s a good climb up from the city. I wouldn’t recommend that in the height of summer – get an Uber or go early. You can reward yourself next door at Parador de Gibralfaro for that drink or lunch!
There’s also a colourful Pompidu centre at the Marina which is an offshoot of the one in Paris though less impressive and no rooftop restaurant on it! But it’s quite unusual but I was assured it wasn’t a giant rubix cube.
Like any good city, Malaga is great for shopping. My suitcase definitely was a few kilos heavier on the return!
Calle Larios – is one of the most expensive streets in Spain though I prefer the small independent shops that are dotted around every street. The marina is also pretty dangerous with cute market stalls and shops!
It’s a small perfectly sized city that you can get from the beach to the castle to the city all on foot. With the micro climate, rooftops, beaches, culture and shopping this makes Malaga the perfect mini break destination.
If you fancy a longer break then head down the Marbella coast for some R&R or head up into the mountains to Ronda or Grenada. There’s so much to explore. What are you waiting for…