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Five Things to See and Do in Málaga, Spain

So, you’ve got 24 hours to spend in Málaga city before your next UpTrek art retreat in the region? Here are the best five things to spend your time on while staying in Málaga.

1. Visit the Catedral de la Encarnación

Cathedrals all over Europe are cultural gems, jam-packed with history, meaning, and gorgeous art all wrapped in stunning historic architecture. 

Also known as La Manquita, the Catedral de la Encarnación is one of the best Andalusian Renaissance temples. Located at the heart of Málaga, in the historic center of the town, the cathedral is one of the town’s most important monuments, reflecting the region’s expansive and turbulent history. The cathedral has been built on the site of a former mosque in the once existing Moorish quarter. The work spanned more than three centuries, beginning in the 16th century in the Gothic style, and being refined in the 17th and 18th centuries with Rennaisance and Baroque influences. The building remains unfinished to this day, and the incomplete south tower and main façade add depth and character to this historic monument. 

2. Soho Málaga — the Art District

This is the best place to explore everything art-related — from innovative street art to inspiring art museums. 

Take the pulse of the city’s vibrant street art scene in the lively Soho Málaga district. The neighborhood is located close to the historic center and easy to explore on foot. An icon of underground culture and urban art, the Soho district flaunts large-scale murals by important graffiti artists such as Obey and D*face. Walk around the neighborhood and admire its strong sense of identity. Take pictures and perhaps step into one of the many boutique shops for a boho-chic, vintage, and hand-made shopping spree. 
The area also boasts more than 30 museums (you can find a list of the top ten here) and private art galleries, ready to be explored.

3. Museo Picasso

If you’re short on time, a classic and essential pick would be the Picasso Museum. The famous Málaga-born artist is one of the most influential 20th-century artists, and whether you enjoy his prolific art spanning a wide variety of styles (some of which he created) or not, seeing his artwork in person is an experience to remember, and well worth it. The permanent exhibition is made possible by two of Picasso’s relatives, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso and Christine Ruiz-Picasso, who fulfilled the artist’s wish to have his work on display in his home city. The museum is hosted in a beautiful building, an excellent example of Renaissance civil architecture in Andalusia. When visiting, just remember to buy your tickets online ahead of time, as lines to this popular museum can be very long.

4. The Alcazaba Fortress

History lovers will have a blast at Alcazaba, an Arab palace and stronghold built by the king of Granada in the 11th century. The fortress is surprisingly well preserved and visitors walking its ramparts will feel drawn back to another time full of excitement, turmoil, and adventure. At the foot of Alcazaba lies Málaga’s Roman amphitheater, a relic from the times of emperor Augustus in the first century A.D. After the Arabs used parts of the theater to consolidate the Alcazaba fortress, the theater was buried underground for centuries before its rediscovery in 1951.

Conveniently located in the old town of Málaga, both the fortress and the Roman amphitheater are extremely accessible and easy to include in any short visit to the city. 

5. The Food Market — Mercado de Atarazanas

You’re probably going to get hungry at some point, so why not combine your need for nourishment with a feast for the eyes in Málaga’s famous Mercado Atarazanas

The stunning building façade dates back to the 14th century when it served as a Nasrid shipyard during the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. The building has been used in turn as a warehouse, an arsenal, a military hospital, and a barracks, and in the 19th century has been turned into the city’s grandest market. Nowadays you can walk through the colorful stalls abundant in fresh produce and fish, and taste the best morsels the region has to offer, straight from the producers. Take a break at one of the bars in the market and indulge in tapas and fresh “pescaíto” (typical small fried fish) or delicious marinated seafood if you’re feeling adventurous. Enjoy the picture-worthy mounds of herbs and spices, impressive fishermen’s captures, and exotic fruit. Have a refreshing cerveza (beer) by the beautiful stained-glass window, and enjoy some quality time before your art retreat. After all, your UpTrek journey has already started — you’re in Spain!

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