We stopped in Malaga, Spain, for a day to check out the town after hearing from other travelers that it was a “not-to-be-missed” destination. While this may be true for the more wealthy of travelers, it is not a hot-spot, so to speak, for backpackers. We have had several people comment that we absolutely need to give Malaga a second chance, so I hope we can make it back during our holidays to Spain 2014. With prices in Euros, and the Euro-dollar conversion not in the our favor, we found Malaga to be an exorbitantly expensive town full of cafés, corny souvenir shops and an excess of establishments that catered directly to those disembarking of luxury yachts and cruise ships. On the main drag, several men and women painted their bodies the color of silver or bronze and stood still in various positions, pretending to be monuments. It was interesting to see so many talented people, several musicians, dancers and people in costume. We watched the chaos on main street for a while before heading towards the Picasso museum and exhibit, which we found swamped with tour groups and costing $10 a person for entrance, so we continued to walk around town, simply enjoying the unparalleled architecture of the coastal area.
We happened upon old town by accident and in the heart of the back alleys, churches and pubs we found Malaga Citadel and castle, which we paid a few Euro to enter. The castle rests atop a hill overlooking the harbor, and offered astonishing views of the town’s center as well. It was built by the invading and conquering Muslims, whose architecture varies from that of the rest of the town, making it a striking piece of architecture. The interior of the castle was recently renovated and looked as if the entire thing has been built only last year. With pools of fresh water cascading down into tiny gutters that ran the length of the walkways, it was as if we were walking inside the Prince of Persia video game, which was set in a Persian castle.
In the harbor we could see a galley ship made of wood and hammered metal and ventured down after our climb through the citadel to have a closer look. It was indeed a very old wooden ship, complete with sails, lockable window hatches and tones of rope. It could have been right out of a pirate movie.
The town was pleasant enough, but expensive and ridiculously clean and organized. After having traveled through Central Asia and the Caucus, the cleanliness and costs of the city were shocking!
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I hope the Euro-dollar conversion change soon. I would like to travel to Spain next year, but with this high Euro I am not sure if I am able to.
Malaga is quite pricey and over touristed, I prefer the more rural regions!
I hope to see those more rural regions next time I am in Europe!
I lived in Malaga last year as an international exchange student – and do not recognise the city I called home at all in your description of it.
Expensive? Really? Have you been to Sevilla? I had a year filled with great wine, amazing seafood and great shoes – and all on a student budget converted from Australian dollars. Sure the streets around Calle Marquez Larios are a bit on the pricier side – but wander off the beaten track and there is so much to see. Glorious dive bars, great tapas, clubs that stay open till 8am, food you don’t forget in a hurry. A day is definitely not long enough. A year wasn’t either.
We didn’t spend enough time in Malaga, that is true. We were on an Asian backpacker’s budget…but in Europe – not the best time to be there. We would love to go back and experience it in full like you did. I wish we would have known about all the hidden dive bars and food you mentioned!
I agree with Sophie: the place you describe does not sound like the city I know and love. I’m sure it would have been a much more pleasant experience, had you made a bit of research.
(I also don’t see how being clean and organized would be a bad thing.)
Anyway, the province of Málaga has much better to offer, like Ronda, Sierra de las Nieves, la Axarquía, etc.
I hope you have a nicer time in a future visit :o)
Thanks for the tip, when we visit Malaga again we’ll be sure to do more research and maybe contact a few locals or expats for ideas on what to see and where to stay. Sorry we didn’t do your city justice.
We must have been in all the wrong areas — this can happen when you visit a place without a guide book and for only a short amount of time. Sorry we missed out!
I am living in the city centre of Malaga and saw this posts and I really had to leave a comment. A backpacker usually find the cheap spots to stay and eat – but as I can see in your description you have been following the classic tourist rute and therefore seen all the expensive restaurants, bars ect. And we do have expensive places – like everywhere – but there is no way I can recognize your description and I most say you are mistaking totally. You can find this post on LonelyPlanet as well and I would really recommend you to delete it – because there is no way that you did your homework goood enough. Sorry.
Well the Lonely Planet is for tourists and, although we were much more in depth in other parts of the world, we even mentioned in the post, we were in Malaga for a very short period of time – about 1 day. It is great to have this much feedback, but I urge that people write about where to go in the comments, and not how we are wrong. As we already stated that we did not have an accurate perception of the city. That is really one of the purposes or this site: a communication ground for people to share their experiences, correct others’ mistakes, and describe the best places to go.
we will be in malage in a few months. i hope, i will be fine.
I spent three weeks in Vietnam recently and it’s ridiculously inexpensive there. I imagine prices in Europe would be a shock after traveling cheaply in Asia. I hope to visit Spain someday – when the exchange rate ($) improves. Maybe I shouldn’t wait? Speaking of tourist traps, I saw plenty of them in Vietnam. Although, I did manage to get off the beaten path and have some great adventures. Good luck to you two. I admire your courage.
To the people that want to travel to Spain and especially Andalucía I give you a good tip. There is a great hostel where you can crash! In the White Nest Hostel in Granada, recently opened, you can find a young international group of like minded people, in fresh vibrant surroundings. You will have a great time to remember your entire life…..Based at the foot of the Alambra, the area is both central and historical.Full of tapas` bars really close and everywhere!!. I recommend you to stay in Hostels Granada and experience the life of Albayzin, Sacromonte and the heart of Granada itself.
Alaga Citadel and castle looks really exotic in your picture. Too bad you found the town so expensive. I’m shocked that you would be shocked that a destination is clean though -that’s a twist! I’d love to get to Asia sometime but that’s not going to happen for a year or too probably. I really enjoy reading about your adventures in the meantime.