As the snow is falling outside my window, I am once again reminded of sun-filled days of relaxation on the Costa del Sol. Recharging in a place like Málaga seems to suggest that you should just lay on one of the beaches for hours on end and sipping some cheap, but effective grocery store wine. While that is how I spent several afternoons during my time there, my favorite moments of self-care were actually in the nooks and crannies of the city center.
The Courtyard of the Málaga Cathedral
This is my sacred space—present tense. There is no other place in this world where I have gone and left feeling rejuvenated even on my worst days. The sound of the acoustic guitar can be heard either on a bench or the cathedral steps nearby, while the fountains bubble in reply. Locals come and gather in the serenity of the space– it is literally an outdoor space of worship. Come here for solace after a long day of shopping or doing nothing at all.
Looking for a trendy, insta-worthy brunch spot? This is it. After a midmorning of strolling down the now silent streets that usually lined with clubs and bars, this space is a refreshing environment for tostados, salads, and fresh juices.
This is an authentic look at the unique ways Málagans order their coffee. It’s not usually a quiet place, but if you like to people watch from either inside or on the tables facing la Plaza de la Constitución, this is the place for you. It reminds me of the movie La Colmena a story about a café in Madrid in the 1940s, right down to the meseros. You have eight different options ranging from very specific rations of milk to your café con leche.
Mercado Central Atarazanas
Browsing through the wares of the local farms and orchards, it is impressive to see what abundance is available; you don’t need to go all the way to La Boqueria in Barcelona, to see saturated cherries, strawberries, piles of spices and nuts. The Málagan almendras and pasas are the specialty in this market, so be sure to try them out.
This is probably my favorite way to recharge and the most unique experience I’ve had by far. The Málagan Arab Baths, are a step back in time and reveal what the ruins of the Hammams in Ronda or elsewhere in Spain might have been like. There are three different types of pools, cold, hot and temperate. A guide will make suggestions for you if this is your first time! The intricate tile and ambiance exquisite and are complemented with figs and traditional Moroccan tea. Enjoy this while you wait for your massage where you pick an oil that will enhance your mood based on various criteria. All of this couple with the fact that there’s a student discount, there is no reason to leave Málaga without this!
The Botanical Gardens
If you have a chance to get to the Botanical Gardens, they are a little off the beaten path, but they do offer a wonderful escape from the city. You can access this by bus, but you will have to walk for about 15 minutes on a road, so I would suggest taking a taxi if you can from the city center.
Free Museum Sundays
Home to a multitude of museums, Málaga is a wonderful place to take in all sorts of breathtaking culture. You can visit for free as they are open to the public after 4:00 on Sundays. The Picasso Museum, Carmen Thyssan, Pompidou, and the Museo de Málaga are my favorites. Pick a different one every Sunday if you can, but be sure to get there early, since the lines start to get crazy.
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Those mid-mornings and afternoons spent exploring and healing after a long week were some of my favorite moments in Málaga. I hope this guide can offer a little reprieve from the usual spaces!