A Local’s Guide to Málaga
In addition to fantastic restaurants and pubs serving tapas, Málaga also has a number of vibrant food markets, for example the enthralling Mercado Central de Atarazanas. Mercado El Carmen in the Perchel area near Mara Zambrano station, on the other hand, offers a less touristic alternative. There are vendors inside that showcase Andaluca’s fantastic fruit and vegetables, as well as butchers and fishmongers where you can select your stuff and have it prepared immediately, then enjoy it at tall tables or on a patio outside. You’d probably pass right by this uninspired edifice.
For a quiet stroll, I often visit Alcazaba, a former Arab stronghold in Seville. My mind is transported to Moorish Andalucia as I make my way up the hill from the ancient town. Climbing to the summit for the view over the city and the Mediterranean is well worth it. The Bishop’s Palace, located on the plaza in front of the church, is another unexpectedly intriguing stop. This city’s way of life is infused with religious traditions. During the Easter week processions, I was taken to a display of processional artifacts by a member of a cofradia (lay brotherhood). As I got closer, I was astounded by the figures’ sheer size, complexity, and restraint.
To get to the Cobalto 15 rooftop cocktail bar in Soho, you have to use the elevator in the corridor adjacent to the Soho Nono Charming Stay tourist flats. It seems a little like entering an exclusive club. There’s generally a mix of seoras with perfectly coiffed hair and well-groomed men and women in their 30s to 50s in the throng. I’ve been fairly disheveled on more than one occasion without being turned away because of the laid-back ambiance despite the fancy pretensions of the establishment.
Málaga is known for its laid-back atmosphere, kilometers of beaches to the east and west, and mild temperatures throughout most of the year. Guadalhorce estuary nature reserve, where more than 200 bird species (including the white-headed duck) congregate in the delta created by two branches of the river as it runs into the Mediterranean, is a convenient getaway for me. It’s a short bike ride from where I live along the riverfront to a new bridge that crosses the Paseo Martimo Antonio Banderas. There is a bike parking area at the entrance, and the reserve offers a variety of walking paths. The café recommends Málaga Bike Rentals to guests who inquire about renting bikes.
Despite the fact that I now reside and work in the Soho neighborhood, which is home to some of the city’s most striking street art, I also like exploring El Ejido, the university district just north of Plaza del Merced, the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. The famous Restaurante Alexso is a notable option, but an unusual favourite is Fonzo. It is a small restaurant on Calle Pea, where the menu features dishes inspired by a variety of cuisines, such as the Moorish lasagne, which features spicy aubergine and other traditional ingredients. It’s probably safer to visit in the daytime since, although it’s not a dangerous place, the maze of little streets might be confusing after dark.
Room Mate Valeria (doubles from €130 room-only near Café de Estraperlo in Soho) is a stylish, lively place to stay with a fantastic rooftop patio and a plunge pool.