After Granada, Sara, Chad, and I hopped on a bus and headed even farther south to the coast and the city of Malaga. It was not our best bus experience. There were two buses headed for Malaga at the same time and the Granada station mislabeled which bay each would be in. The resulting confusion caused people to crowd instead of queue and by the time we boarded, the three of us had to sit separately. But it was only about a two and a half hour journey, so that wasn’t a big deal.
Malaga Arrival Day
We got to Malaga around 12 p.m. and went straight to our hotel, which was close to the bus station and right across the street from the train station. We were able to check in and decided to start our time in Malaga with a trip to the beach for lunch and a swim. The only item on my “Malaga foods” list was espetos, which are flame-roasted sardines they serve at beachside restaurants called chiringuitos. The closest to our hotel was Chiringuito La Pacheca, on the beach just south of the city, Playa de Huelin.
It was a fun and tasty meal, though the reasonable prices caused us to over-order again (this has been an ongoing issue for us in Spain). But we got to try the espetos served on skewers among other things. And we had a nice view of the beach and the water.
After lunch, we went down to the beach, which on a Saturday afternoon was quite crowded. Also, the sand was dark, so very hot, and the water pretty murky. Honestly, it wasn’t a great beach experience. Sara ventured farthest into the water of any of us. Then we headed back to the hotel to clean up and explore more of Malaga.
We walked down to the main part of town and found Malaga to be much more like a typical European city than Granada, which had a more Arabic feel to its streets and buildings. Malaga felt newer, bigger, and wealthier. We enjoyed seeing all the people out and caught a view of the ruins of a Roman theater.
After our walk, we decided to have a light dinner on our hotel’s terrace rather than doing a second big meal out that day. We picked up a bunch of tasty items at the Carrefour Express across the street and had a lovely evening. Malaga was hot during the day, but not nearly as hot as Madrid or Granada and had nice breezes and cooling temperatures as the sun went down.
Full Day in Malaga
Chad decided to skip Malaga sightseeing in favor of reading and emails at the hotel (we typically don’t do so many days in a row of sightseeing and travel). Luckily I had Sara to venture out to the Malaga sights. We got a fairly early start and walked through the parks in downtown Malaga to the end with Malaga’s Pompidou Museum. From there we called an Uber to take us up the winding roads to the Castillo de Gibralfaro, the ruins of a Moorish castle. The ride was around 7 euros.
There is a small fee (3.5 euros) to enter the castillo, which is paid at automatic ticket machines that take cash or credit card. For just a couple euros more, you can also include entry to the Alcazaba (medieval Moorish fortress) down the hill. Even though we’d just visited an alcazaba as part of the Alhambra in Granada, we were still interested in seeing both. Plus I’m a sucker for a deal.
The castle itself was pretty typical (in fact, very similar to the fort that Chad and I visited in San Juan, Puerto Rico), but had wonderful views of the city and the sea. We spent maybe 30 or 45 minutes wandering around and taking photos.
From the castle we were able to walk down a path directly toward the alcazaba. Seeing the people huffing and puffing walking up the hill, we were glad we chose the Uber option (though I’m sure the walk up is great exercise!).
We really enjoyed the Alcazaba too, which had even better architectural details, similar to the Alhambra but not nearly as beautiful. The person at the entry did a cursory check of the tickets we’d bought at the castillo and we spent about 45 minutes seeing the fortress and the Roman Theater connected to it from a different angle than we’d experienced the night before.
By then it was getting to be lunch time, and we were undecided whether we’d be better off finding lunch near the town center (which felt pretty touristic) or closer to our hotel by the train station (which didn’t have a ton of restaurant options). But as we were starting to look at restaurant options, we encountered one of the parades that was happening for Corpus Christi. We learned later that the holiday involves moving the gorgeous alters between different churches. These are moved from the cathedral and displayed at different churches following Holy Week (i.e. Easter) and then moved back during Corpus Christi. It was fun seeing the procession of people and all the fanfare, and getting an up-close look at the alters.
After seeing the (very slow) processions, we were definitely hungry, but Sara found us a fun spot for a light lunch and wine. It was fun to have some time hanging out just the two of us.
After a several hours break, Chad joined us for the evening, which started with fun tapas at a bar called La Taberna del Pintxo Larios. They have a cold tapas buffet and waiters bring hot tapas around and they charge you by the piece based on the type of toothpick that is in the tapas. This allowed us to try several things, though we arrived somewhat early (I think around 5 p.m.) and had quite a wait before they started bringing hot tapas around. But it was a fun experience.
Then we went to one of Malagas rooftop bar. We chose the one at the top of the AC hotel. They charge 8.5 euros to access the roof, but they give you a drink coupon for up to that amount. Chad had a work call scheduled for that time that ended up taking most of the 90 minutes we spent there, but was able to join us for the end of our second round.
Finally we went out for one more round of tapas at a restaurant in the tourist area. Chad and I tried gambas al pil pil (spicy garlic shrimp; Sara has a seafood allergy so she abstained) and we all shared a few other local dishes. Then we ended the evening with ice cream.
Staying so close to the train and bus station made it convenient for Sara to just take the commuter train out to the airport for her flight to Venice the next morning. Chad and I left Malaga by bus in the early afternoon, heading to our long stay in Ronda. We spent the morning at the hotel and managed to get in one last walk at the Picasso Park several blocks north of our hotel.
I’m glad we got to experience an Andalusian coastal city and felt Malaga was a great choice. Though the beaches weren’t great, there were plenty of other things to do and we ate lots of fun seafood. And our last night in Malaga was a fun end to our time with Sara.
Hotel Review – Hotel Las Américas – Would be 10/10 if it weren’t for ending on a bad experience. Great location across from the train station and easy walk to the main attractions of Malaga. We loved the shared terrace area and even ate a meal there. Rooms very clean, wifi worked. The front desk person who checked us in was very friendly and provided helpful information and a Malaga map. In contrast, the different front desk person who was there on our departure day rushed us out 30 minutes prior to the stated 12 p.m. checkout time. We were able to store our luggage there for those 30 minutes, but if the check out time is 12 p.m., they should not ask you to leave at 11:30.