Malaga is Picasso’s hometown – and the Picasso Museum Málaga, which opened in 2003 in the 16th-century Palacio de Buenavista, is a must for art lovers. Alongside the impressive permanent collection, a superb temporary exhibition (until 10 February) explores the grotesque in art, with pieces by Francis Bacon, Max Ernst, Cindy Sherman and many more.
Walking around the ramparts at the Castillo de Gibralfaro affords a bird’s-eye view of the city below; you can even see inside the bullring. Lower down the hill, the Alcazaba is one of the city’s great landmarks. It’s a beautifully preserved Moorish citadel, most of which dates from the 11th century. It was built on the ruins of a Roman fortification; by the entrance, the Roman Theatre remains.
Having celebrated its 80th birthday last month, Casa Aranda is an institution. Its speciality is churros – fried, sugar-sprinkled strips of dough, which you dip in a cup of rich, thick hot chocolate.
Take a walk along the seafront to the attractive, palm tree-lined Palmeral de las Sorpresas walkway and garden, open year-round and located at Pier 2; there’s ice-skating in winter.
Parador de Málaga Gibralfaro (rooms from €105) sits atop Gibralfaro alongside the castle and has stunning vistas of the city and bay.
The stylish, well-appointed Silken Puerta Málaga (rooms from €69) lies a short walk from the main rail and bus stations, and within walking distance of the Old Town.
The myriad winding streets and alleyways of the Old Town take in plenty of interesting shops. Calle Molina Lario is a good place to start, with a varied line-up of fashion stores that include an outpost of Camper.
Young and old drink at the sociable El Pimpi, famed for its sweet wines and superior tapas. Decorated with old wine kegs and black-and-white photos of famous visitors, its small, beamed interior is charming.
Antigua Casa de Guardia is another old-timer, dating back to 1840. This is the drinking spot of choice for many a Malagueño, with barrels of sherry and sweet local wines stacked behind the bar; just point to a likely looking tipple. Most cost between €1 and €3 a glass.