City by the sea: Malaga

With its flourishing cultural calendar, we reveal why the Andalucian beachside city of Malaga makes an ideal spot for a second home

Malaga blog

For decades Malaga was seen as little more than the gateway to the beaches and resorts that line the Costa del Sol but today, following a considerable revamp orchestrated by a proactive mayor, it has emerged as the capital of culture for southern Spain. It boasts 30 museums and galleries as well as a renovated waterfront and pedestrianised old town.

Anyone looking to buy a property on the Costa del Sol that combines a vast range of cultural and artistic events, excellent restaurants and a lively central market not to mention having watersports and beaches on the doorstep, Malaga is one of the best destinations in Spain. The city enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year and it’s often warm enough to sit out and enjoy lunch during December and January. Finally, for those who enjoy skiing or cycling in the mountains, you can drive up to the resorts in the Sierra Nevada in a couple of hours.

Cultural hubs of Malaga

It took until 2003 for the city to recognise its most famous son, Pablo Picasso, and open a museum in his name. Set in a pretty 160th century palacio, it charts Picasso’s career through 120 works. Nearby, is the house where Picasso was born, which is also a museum. Today, that’s been joined by the Pompidou Centre—the first outpost of the Parisian museum–which boasts works by the likes of Frida Kahlo, Marc Chagall and Francis Bacon. In the same year that this opened, the first overseas branch of the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg launched in a former tobacco factory, and a fine arts and archaeological museum opened its doors in the Aduana Palace. Another local gem is the Carmen Thyssen Malaga Museum, a sister to the larger Madrid-based museum. The collection largely dates from the 19th century and there’s a strong emphasis on Andalucian art. Finally, there’s the contemporary art museum which focuses on works from the 20th century.

Meanwhile, street art pervades the walls of the once gritty Soho district. The Spanish actor, Antonio Banderas, has bought the Teatro del Soho and the first season has just begun with Banderas both directing and starring in the Broadway hit, A Chorus Line.

For those interested in plants, La Concepcion is one of Europe’s finest botanical gardens which combines formal planting with a looser, tropical paradise. It was first laid out in the mid-19th century but then fell into decline before the local council gathered the necessary funds to restore the garden to its former glory. There is also the little-known gardens of the English cemetery, St George’s, which was the first protestant cemetery to be built in Spain.

Malaga: brimming with history

Off season or away from the beach, there’s plenty of history to soak up in the city. It’s one of Spain’s oldest and signs of its rich past are visible throughout from the cobbled streets of the old quarter to its Roman amphitheatre up on the mountainside and the Moorish citadels of Alcazaba, which dates back to the 11th century and was used as a fortress and palace. The cathedral, known by locals as “La Manquita” is lop-sized thanks to a second tower that was never built. You can take a guided tour of the rooftop for spectacular views.

Finest beaches in Malaga

The closest to the city, just ten minutes’ walk from the old town, is Playa de la Malagueta, but further down the coast are the former fishing villages of El Palo and Pedragalejo, famous for its seafood restaurants. Heading west out of town are the beautiful beaches of Mijas, a pretty whitewashed town. Of them all, the most popular is Calahonda, a half-mile stretch of sand and crystal blue sea. Read about further Costa del Sol beaches here.

Properties for sale near Malaga

Contemporary villa in Santa Clara Golf
Surrounded by three golf courses and within easy access of both Malaga and Marbella, the villas in this new development come with five bedrooms and bathrooms and a saltwater swimming pool with views towards the coast. Prices from €1.2m through Winkworth Spain.

Santa Clara golf


Pied-a-terre apartment
Forming part of a modern development at the foot of the Sierra Blanca, overlooking Marbella, the apartment is an easy drive from the main motorway network offering speedy access to both Malaga and its airport. The apartment has two bedrooms and owners have the use of a communal pool. €270,000 through Winkworth Spain.

Pied a terre


Townhouse in Marbella
Set in the heart of the town, this six-bedroom, traditional style villa with a pool enjoys a private setting with easy access to the shops and restaurants. Malaga city centre can be reached in under an hour. €1.475m through Winkworth Spain.

Town House