I don’t know about you, but after a couple of days soaking up the heat on the beach I’m raring for something a bit more substantial. Whether it’s a walk around some pretty botanical gardens or a recce of some Old Town ruins, as long as it gets me out of my sun lounger and into some culture, I don’t really mind.
Malaga is the perfect place to combine relaxation and education, as the Costa del Sol city serves up beaches, blue skies and history as easily as it does the chilled gazpacho slurped down by its residents every lunchtime.
I’ve put together a list of the best cultural bits of Malaga, in particular its museums. It’s best to save these for those days when the sunburn’s got a bit too much to handle and you could do with a few hours in the shade. I find the best way to get around the city is to hire a car at Malaga airport, and I would recommend this mode of transport if you’re going to be in Malaga for longer than a week.
Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares
Start off at the restored 17th-century inn on Pasillo de Santa Isabel in the centre of town for a look at the customs and artefacts of Malaga. This charming two-floor museum is designed to offer an insight into the lives of the people of the region, with the first rooms displaying items from agriculture and explaining how farming in Andalucia used to work.
The museum is open between 10am and 1.30pm Monday to Saturday then from 4pm to 7pm Monday to Friday in the winter. It shifts its afternoon hours to between 5pm and 8pm in the summer months, and is closed Saturday afternoons, Sundays and bank holidays. Entry costs €2 per adult with concessions priced at €1, and children under 15 go in free.
Museo Picasso Malaga
A trip to Malaga isn’t complete without learning more about its most famous son, Pablo Picasso, and the museum dedicated to his life and work is the ideal place to do so. Head across the sun-dappled mosaic courtyard on Palacio de Buenavista to find yourself in the cool white rooms of the museum, where more than 200 pieces of work by the Cubist artist are on display. The extensive collection features paintings, sketches, sculptures and ceramics brought to life by Picasso, and shows his journey from a young man dabbling in oil on canvas to an established artist at the height of his blue and rose periods.
In the heart of Malaga is a reminder of its ancient past: the ruins of the old ampitheatre preserved by modern science. An interactive film brings the old stone structure to life, and you can actually wander around the site and touch the very seats that once housed the bottoms of Roman citizens. It is free to enter and – being open air – a great way to soak up some culture in the sunshine.
Take a look around the exhibition, which has touchscreen surfaces that you can interact with to find out more about the origins of Roman theatre. Look up at the imposing Alcazaba on the hill above you – and if you have an hour or two to spare, make your way up there for a closer glimpse of this Moorish fortification.