City guide to Malaga,
capital of the Costa del Sol


Malaga is the principal city to which most visitors to Southern Spain will travel and although Seville is the capital of Andalucia, Malaga is the capital of the Costa del Sol.

The international airport is the main port of entry for 15 million or so annual visitors who jet into the Costa del Sol. Most will then choose to ignore the city and instead head either west or east to one of the numerous coastal resorts.

With a population of over half-a-million the city is located to the very east of the Axarquia region and whilst not strictly within the region's boundaries most visitors will at least pass through the second city of Andalucia.

However should you choose to pay a visit to Malaga during your stay on the Costa del Sol then you will discover that wandering leisurely through the city offers a pleasant mix of modern and traditional architecture, some interesting sights and of course an opportunity to shop.

The past has seen Malaga's economic fortunes change and fluctuate. During the 19th century the thriving port area became an important and strategic trading post upon which the city grew and prospered.

Things began to change with the start of the civil war and during 1937 the city, which was loyal to the Republican movement, was taken by the Nationalist side. What followed was a period of instability and the city fell into a period of economic decline.

It wasn’t until the early 1960's when, despite still being under Franco's dictatorship, that the promotion of the Costa del Sol as a haven for tourists began and with it a slow return to prosperity upon which the Malaga of today has grown.


There are a number of interesting places to see that make a visit to Malaga very worth while. These include the 16th century Cathedral located at the heart of the city’s old quarter. Known locally as La Manquita or 'the one-armed one' due to the fact that of the two towers originally planned only the western one was ever completed. To the east of the cathedral stand the remains of two Moorish palaces. The Alcazaba which dates from the 11th century is also where you will find the Museo Arqueologico housing important artifacts from the Phoenician, Roman and Muslim occupation of the city.

Above the Alcazaba and connected by a hilly path is the Gibralfaro fortress which dates from the 8th century, although most of what remains today dates from the 14th century.

For more information on sightseeing in the region please see our sightseeing page.


Not surprisingly a city the size of Malaga plays host to some of the largest fiestas and festivals on the Costa del Sol.

Therefore should your stay coincide with one of the major fiesta celebrations then this would be a good time to plan a visit to the city.

The three main fiestas are the February Carnival the holy week of Semana Santa and the city's Feria in August.

For more information on fiestas in the region please see our fiestas page.


Located between the mountains and the sea means that there are a variety of ways to spend your time in Malaga. When you have had enough of sightseeing, shopping and the bustle of the city centre you can either head to the peace and quiet of the Montes de Malaga a Natural Park area or to one of the city's own beaches.

In terms of spectator sports Malaga has both a national league Basketball team, Uincaja who play at the Martin Carpena indoor arena and a football team Malaga CF who play in Spanish premier league La Liga against the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Malaga CF stadium La Rosaleda is located in the centre of the city on the banks of the Rio Guadalmedina.

The city's bull ring Plaza de Toros is located on the east side of the city below the Castillo Gibralfaro. It is one of only two on the Costa del Sol (the other being in Benalmadena) and the bull fighting season runs from March to October.

For more information on activities and sports in the region please see our activities and sports page.


Malaga city centre is a pleasant place to shop and offers everything a keen shopper would expect from a modern day city. The main shopping district centres around c/ Marques de Larios a wide pedestrianised street in the historic old quarter. Here and in the intersecting streets you will find small boutiques along with some of Spain’s larger chain stores such as Mango and Zara.

From this area take the bridge across the river to another of Spain's shopping institutions El Corte Ingles department store.

Within walking distance of El Corte Ingles is the undercover shopping centre Centro Comercial Larios which is located just behind the bus station.

For more information on shopping in the region please see our shopping page.


Malaga's two main beach areas are at Pedregalejo and El Palo. However it would be fair to say that at the weekend most locals head a little further along the coast to Cala de La Moral and Rincon de la Victoria.

For more information on beaches in the region please see our beaches page.

Food & Drink

As you would expect there is a good choice of places to eat and drink in Malaga. A number of tapas bars and cafeterias are to be found on and around c/ Marques de Larios.

Also popular are the Friedurias or fish restaurants located on sea front at Pedregalejo.

For more information on food and drink in the region please see our food and drink page.

Travel Advice

With the popularity of the Costa del Sol continuing to grow Malaga remains one of the most popular destinations for travellers looking to book holiday rentals in Spain as well as Hotels in Malaga city and the nearby beach resorts.

Aeropuerto Malaga the international airport located to the west of the city which is connected to the city centre by both a regular bus and train service.

Within the city the RENFE Train Station, the closest to the Axarquia area, and the nearby Bus Station provide good links to the local region and the rest of Spain.

For more useful information to help plan your next trip to the Axarquia please see our travel advice page.