Sunday, December 5

Malaga Local Guide: Five Great Things to Do | Holidays in Andalusia

TOfter moving to the Costa del Sol six years ago, Mark Holness opened Black Market Coffee, near the port of Malaga, with his partner José Luis Gallardo. A popular meeting point for locals and visitors alike, the café also showcases works by local artists.


Malaga is full of wonderful tapas bars and restaurants, as well as food markets like the dazzling Central Market of Atarazanas. But for a less touristy experience and a true taste of local life, I prefer El Carmen Market in the Perchel district, near the María Zambrano station. You would probably walk past the boring building, but inside there are stalls displaying the fabulous fruits and vegetables of Andalusia, as well as butchers and fishmongers where you can choose your products and have them cooked immediately, then eat them at high tables or in an outside terrace.
Calle la Serna 3, open Mon-Sat 8 am-4pm


A view through an ornate window in the Moorish fortress of Alcazaba, Malaga, Spain.
A view through an ornate window in the Alcazaba. Photograph: Getty Images

I often turn to Alcazaba (€ 3.50 adult ticket, book online), the old Arab fortress, for a contemplative walk. The gentle climb from the old town, through the gardens with their comforting fountains, transports me to Moorish Andalusia. The view of the city and the Mediterranean from the top is definitely worth the climb. Another surprisingly interesting place is the Episcopal Palace, in the square in front of the cathedral. Devotional customs are part of the fabric of life in this city. A member of one of the brotherhood (lay brotherhoods) took me to see an exhibition of the artifacts that are transported during the Holy Week processions. As I got closer, I was amazed by the volume, complexity and sobriety of the figures.

Fast guide

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Night life

It’s a bit like having access to a private club when you go to the Cobalt 15 Rooftop Cocktail Bar in Soho – You need to take the elevator in the hallway next to the Soho Nono Charming Stay tourist apartments. The crowd is usually a mix of elegantly coiffed ladies and casually well-groomed guys in their 30s and 50s. But despite its ostentatious pretensions, the atmosphere is laid-back and on more than one occasion I’ve walked in a bit scruffy and still feel just as welcome.
Campos House 15

Green space

Lakeside Engineer's House (Casa del Ingeniero) in the turquoise waters of the Conde de Guadalhorce Reservoir, Spain.
Lakeside House of the Engineer (Casa del Ingeniero) on the turquoise waters of the Embalse del Conde de Guadalhorce. Photograph: Rod Jones / Alamy
Malaga local guide - Guardian Travel
the Guadalhorce estuary It is home to 200 species of birds … including the white-headed duck. Illustration: Hennie Haworth

It’s a very open-air lifestyle in Malaga, with miles of beaches to the east and west, and great weather for most of the year. A quick escape for me is the Guadalhorce estuary nature reserve, which attracts more than 200 species of birds (including the white-headed duck) to the delta formed by two arms of the river where it empties into the Mediterranean. I cycle along the promenade, the Paseo Marítimo Antonio Banderas, then I follow the river bank and cross a new bridge. There is a bike park at the entrance and a selection of various walking routes within the reserve. When customers of the cafeteria ask us about bike rental, we recommend Bike rental in Malaga just around the corner from us.


I live and work in soho neighborhood, where there is a lot of dramatic street art, but I also like to look at the graffiti in El Ejido, the university neighborhood north of Plaza de la Merced, where Pablo Picasso was born. Interesting places to eat include the Alexso Restaurant on Mariblanca street, but I usually end up in Fonzo, a small place on Calle Peña, where mainly local and organic products are used in dishes influenced by many cuisines: Moorish lasagna (€ 14.50) for example, is a spicy, eggplant and vegan version. However, it is probably best to go during the day; It is not a dangerous area, but after dark it is easy to get lost in the crisscrossing streets.

To stay

Near the Café de Estraperlo in the Soho neighborhood, Roommate Valeria (double rooms from € 130 single room) is a stylish and fun place to stay with a large rooftop terrace with a plunge pool.

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