Exploring the enchanting allure of Malaga’s old town

by Lorraine Williamson
Malaga Ayuntamiento

MALAGA – Nestled along the sun-kissed shores of the Mediterranean Sea, Malaga’s Old Town stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. This enchanting neighbourhood, with its labyrinthine streets and well-preserved architecture, offers visitors a captivating journey back in time.

As one of the most sought-after destinations on the Costa del Sol, it is no wonder that it has become a prominent attraction for tourists, including those arriving on the majestic cruise ships that dock at its bustling port.

Historical Marvels

Stepping into Malaga’s Old Town is akin to entering a living museum. The area boasts an eclectic blend of architectural styles, ranging from Roman, Moorish, and Renaissance to Baroque and Gothic. One of its most iconic landmarks is the Alcazaba, an ancient fortress that dates back to the 11th century. Perched on a hill, it offers breathtaking views of the city and the sparkling Mediterranean below. Adjacent to the Alcazaba lies the awe-inspiring Roman Theatre, a historical gem rediscovered in the 1950s after centuries of being buried beneath the earth.

Roman theatre and Alcazaba

In the heart of Malaga’s Old Town lies a fascinating archaeological site – the Roman Theatre. Dating back to the 1st century BC, this ancient amphitheater once played host to grand performances and gatherings. Today, visitors can wander through its well-preserved ruins, transporting themselves to a bygone era of entertainment and culture.

Adjacent to the Roman Theatre stands the mighty Alcazaba, an imposing Moorish fortress that provides an enthralling glimpse into the city’s Arab heritage. Its impressive architecture and lush gardens offer panoramic vistas of Malaga’s skyline and the shimmering Mediterranean Sea.

Roman theatre and Alcazaba


Malaga Cathedral

Dominating the city’s skyline, the Malaga Cathedral, also known as La Manquita (the one-armed lady), is a masterpiece of Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Its construction began in the 16th century and continued over the centuries, resulting in a blend of architectural styles. The interior houses ornate altars, intricate stained glass windows, and valuable religious artifacts, making it a significant pilgrimage site.

Castillo de Gibralfaro

Overlooking Malaga’s Old Town and the Alcazaba, the Castillo de Gibralfaro sits atop Mount Gibralfaro, offering spectacular views of the city and the Mediterranean. This historic fortress was originally built in the 10th century to protect the Alcazaba. Visitors can explore its ramparts and enjoy a “leisurely” walk up the hill to reach this remarkable vantage point.

Please note however, although tickets can be bought for both Alcabaza and Castillo de Gibralfaro, they are not connected. Furthermore, if it is very hot, the walk up hill from The Alcazaba to the Castillo is anything but leisurely. However, there are street vendors on the way selling water, fans and hats among other things. But, if you prefer not to walk, there is a taxi near the exit of the Alcazaba which will cost around €6-8, or bus number 35 which can be found on the main road opposite the ayuntamiento building, will cost only €1,80 per person, and drops you right outside the entrance.


For art enthusiasts, Malaga’s Old Town is a paradise, boasting an array of exceptional museums. The Museum of Malaga is a treasure trove of archaeological and fine art collections, showcasing the region’s history through various artifacts and masterpieces.

The Picasso Museum is a must-visit for art aficionados. This museum pays homage to Pablo Picasso, one of the 20th century’s most influential artists. Visitors can admire an extensive collection of his works, providing insights into his artistic journey and evolution.

For wine connoisseurs, the Wine Museum is a delightful stop, offering a glimpse into Malaga’s winemaking traditions. Learn about the region’s grape varieties, production techniques, and, of course, enjoy some tastings of locally produced wines.

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Also read: Exploring the rich heritage and unique flavours of Malaga wine


The Bullring

As a city deeply rooted in Spanish traditions, Malaga’s Old Town is home to its very own bullring – Plaza de Toros. Even if you don’t attend a bullfight, visiting the bullring gives a fascinating insight into the cultural significance of this controversial and age-old tradition in Spain. The bullring also plays host to many concerts and events such as the recent Brisa festival.

The bullring

History and culture

Beyond the prominent attractions, Malaga’s Old Town houses an array of smaller, yet captivating, museums. From the Interactive Music Museum and the Automobile Museum to the Contemporary Art Centre, each one offers a unique perspective on various aspects of history, culture, and art.

Meandering through the streets

Malaga’s Old Town is a cultural odyssey, seamlessly blending ancient Roman heritage, Moorish influence, and vibrant Andalucian traditions. With its captivating landmarks like the Roman Theatre, Alcazaba, and Malaga Cathedral, along with an assortment of exceptional museums, the neighbourhood provides an enriching experience for visitors seeking to immerse themselves in the city’s rich history and artistic heritage. So, come, embark on a journey through time and explore the captivating wonders of Malaga’s Old Town.

The streets of Malaga’s Old Town beckon visitors with their charm and vibrancy. It´s a fantastic place just to wander and “get lost”. Calle Larios, the main boulevard, entices shoppers with its boutique stores, stylish cafes, and lively atmosphere. Wander further, and you’ll encounter hidden squares such as Plaza de la Merced, where Pablo Picasso, the renowned artist, was born. The plaza pays homage to its most famous son with a statue of the artist and a museum showcasing some of his early works.

The streets of Malaga

Also read: Museums commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pablo Picaso´s death

Gastronomic delights

No exploration of Malaga’s Old Town is complete without savoring its culinary treasures. The area is brimming with traditional tapas bars and restaurants, where visitors can indulge in mouthwatering local delicacies. From sizzling sardines and succulent jamón ibérico to refreshing gazpacho, every dish is a celebration of Andalucian flavours.

Tuna and prawn salad

Gateway to the Mediterranean

With its proximity to the bustling port, Malaga’s Old Town welcomes thousands of cruise ship passengers year-round. The well-connected transport network ensures that these visitors can easily navigate their way to the heart of the city. Once ashore, they are greeted by an array of guided tours and excursions, allowing them to explore the historical treasures of the Old Town and beyond.

The port

The Fiesta Spirit

Malaga’s Old Town comes alive during its numerous festivals and celebrations. The Semana Santa (Holy Week) and the Feria de Malaga (August 12-19) are two standout events that offer an immersive experience of the region’s vibrant culture. Streets are adorned with colourful decorations, and locals don their traditional attire, creating a lively atmosphere that is both infectious and unforgettable.

Also read: Antonio Banderas opens new restaurant in one of Malaga´s top locations

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