View of the Alcazaba fortress in Malaga, Spain
Ascend to the top of La Alcazaba, the medieval Moorish fortress that towers over the city. This palatial fortification was built by the Hammudid dynasty in the early 11th century and is the best-preserved Moorish castle in Spain. From here, you can wander down to the Roman Amphitheatre that sits beneath it, before you gaze up at the 16th-century cathedral that sits right in the city center.
The Malagueta beach sign in Malaga, Spain
It just wouldn't be a trip to the Costa del Sol without a little coast and sun. Most tourists stick to the convenient La Malagueta Beach, but if you've got more than a couple hours in Málaga, you can take a taxi to less crowded but equally beautiful beaches to the east, like Playamar or Playa de Burriana.
The most obvious way to follow Málaga's Picasso trail is to visit the Picasso Museum, which has many pieces you won't find anywhere else. You can also visit the artist's birthplace, or take a "Ride With Picasso" bike tour that features Picasso-focused city sightseeing, including Plaza de Merced, where the formidable painter took his first steps as a child.
Seafood is the focus of gastronomy in Málaga. Don't miss the city's signature dish of gambas al pil-pil, flash-fried fresh prawns with garlic, paprika and chilies. During your Málaga cruise, order a basket of pescado frito, an array of local white fish, clams and other seafood breaded and fried. Finish up with tarta malaguena, a cake made with almonds and raisins, and a glass of Málaga dessert wine.
Pop into a local wine shop to take a bottle of Málaga dessert wine back home with you. Málaga cruises provide access to an eclectic range of other souvenirs, like hand-painted Andalusian ceramics or handmade fans to help you beat the heat. You can also find some of Spain's best olive oil here — pick up some of this cloudy, spicy liquid gold from the Ataranzas Market.