Malaga – 13 tips for Sustainable Tourism and Luxury Travel in 2024
Malaga is a winner, a smart city. I’ll come back to the smart part. Having experienced the Costa del Sol capital since childhood, I can attest to its transition into a world-class destination. Now, I love the whole of Andalucia, from the glitz of Marbella, the cultural gems of Seville, Granada and Cordoba, the Atlantic melting pot of Cadiz, and to the whitewashed villages in the mountains. The region, my friends, has it all. For a winter averse Swede, there simply is no better weather in Europe from November to April. Add the food, the scenery, the Spanish culture and a general air of positivity and you have a sizzling atmosphere. Malaga goes beyond idyllic beaches. Inhabited for 2800 years, the city has some serious historical chops, a rich cultural tapestry and a razor sharp focus on protecting its customs. And with Malaga having earned the designation of European Capital of Smart Tourism in 2020, together with Gothenburg in Sweden, I am eager to find out how it’s doing on sustainable tourism.
Malaga – a fusion of sustainable tourism and luxury travel
The city has near 50 hectares of protected natural areas, over 400 hectares of green space, and has revitalised nature, such as its wetlands, creating ideal spots for birdwatching and trekking. Further examples of ongoing environmental efforts include public LED lighting, bike hire stations, cycle lanes, smart watering systems, air pollution reduction, and improved noise quality. On the social and cultural side, the museum footprint has expanded, old dilapidated zones like the port have turned into vibrant and exciting neighbourhoods. As a testament to the progress of sustainable travel, Malaga will become the HQ for the Future of Tourism Coalition, comprising six global NGOs.
From December 20222 through early January 2023, Maral and I spent a month in the region and, without a doubt, for those seeking luxury and sophistication, Malaga won’t disappoint. Indulge in world-class accommodations blending opulence with sustainability. From eco-friendly boutique hotels to luxurious resorts, there is no need to compromise on comfort or style. Unwind in a tranquil spa, savour delectable farm-to-table cuisine, or sample the freshest seafood.
We put together a list of tips for discerning travellers pursuing the perfect balance between luxury travel and sustainable tourism in Malaga. Enjoy and let us know in the comment section which places you would like to add.
Restaurante José Carlos García
Located in the port area of Malaga, this Michelin-starred restaurant is known for its innovative cuisine and commitment to sustainability. Chef José Carlos García focuses on using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create his dishes, respecting Andalucian flavours. The establishment is part of the “Km 0” movement, due to the use of local produce.
Squeezed into the vibrant streets of old town Malaga, El Pimpi is an artistic and cultural haven that beckons the curious traveller. When you step into this iconic establishment, you feel part of a living canvas, where the spirit of Andalucia’s rich heritage is celebrated through its food, wine and artistry. If these walls could talk..
Adorned with historical charm, it boasts a labyrinthine layout which begs you to explore. Just when you think you reached the end, there is another room, bar, floor, or courtyard. The corridors sport an eclectic collection of artwork and photographs, encapsulating the essence of Malaga’s history. Murals painted by local artists breathe life into the bodega, the heart of El Pimpi. Sample from a treasure trove of wines and pay homage to the region’s viticultural prowess. Barrels, weathered with time, line the space, creating an enchanting ambiance which invites endless sips of the Moscatel sweet wine enjoyed with cured hams.
El Refectorium del Campanario
Situated in a restored 17th-century convent, El Refectorium del Campanario offers an elegant dining experience with mind-blowing views. The restaurant showcases traditional cuisine from the region with a modern twist, using organic and regional ingredients. The menu features a range of dishes, including fresh seafood, meats, and vegetarian options.
Art, Spa & Beach
Pablo Picasso, Malaga’s most famous son, died 50 years ago. The anniversary sees exhibitions around the world, and of course in his hometown. During our recent 5 month trip through Portugal, Spain, France and Italy, Picasso was like a third companion. Being Maral’s favourite artist, we visited every exhibit housing his art. Naturally, Malaga, with two significant museums dedicated to the fiery genius, became a focal point.
The Picasso Museum, housed in the Palacio de Buenavista, a beautifully restored 16th-century palace, showcases an impressive selection of Picasso’s works across different periods of the long career. As you wander through the galleries, you’ll encounter paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and drawings, each showcasing extraordinary talent and an ability to push artistic boundaries. From the somber tones of his Blue Period to the vibrant and fragmented forms of the Cubist masterpieces, the collection is a testament to the artist’s immense versatility and entrepreneurial spirit.
Casa Natal Picasso
Another must-visit destination in Malaga is Picasso’s childhood home where he spent the early years. Located in the heart of the city, the humble museum became a favourite of ours, as the living quarters and wall quotes made Picasso come alive. It showcases a collection of personal items, photographs, and memorabilia, offering a glimpse into the artist’s formative period and the influences that shaped the artistic journey. One often thinks of Picasso as an artist who painted from a vision in his mind, but here we learned how meticulous he was in planning masterpieces and how he mastered the classic forms of painting before breaking the norms and conquering the art community with his own style.
Hammam Al Andalus
The traditional bathhouse in Malaga is a sanctuary of tranquility and rejuvenation, deeply rooted in the rich cultural heritage of the city. Inspired by the ancient bathhouses of the Islamic world, Hammam Al Andalus is a testament to the Moorish influence, which once shaped the region. You can see it in the vaulted ceilings, arches, murals and mosaics, amplified by the amazing skylights and latticework.
The establishment offers a range of health and wellness benefits. The combination of steam, heat, and massage techniques promotes relaxation, detoxification, and improved blood circulation.
Al Andalus holds great cultural significance, representing the historical and social importance of communal bathing in the Islamic tradition. People gathered to cleanse their bodies as well as their minds. It provides an opportunity to connect with oneself and embrace ancient traditions and mindfulness. In a world driven by haste and stress, Hammam Al Andalus offers a sanctuary where time slows down and self-care takes centre stage. Sustainability for the soul.
La Malagueta Beach
La Malagueta is one of the most popular beaches in the city. The beach has obtained Blue Flag status, which recognises its commitment to water quality, recycling initiatives and environmental practices, a way towards more sustainable tourism in Malaga.
Worried about crowds on the sand? The University of Malaga and Costa del Sol Tourism has launched an app which allows visitors to monitor overcrowding, from Marbella to Malaga. It offers real-time information, such as temperature, whether there is any seaweed or jellyfish, what the height and direction of the waves will be and the speed of the wind. You can also get relevant insight here. Way to reduce friction!
NH Malaga blends luxury with a commitment to sustainability. Placed in the heart of the city, this five-star hotel offers elegance, comfort, and eco-consciousness for discerning travellers. Not to mention spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea.
NH has implemented a range of initiatives to minimise its environmental footprint and greenhouse gas emissions with science-based targets. It furthermore places a strong emphasis on sourcing local and organic ingredients for its culinary offerings.
Gran Hotel Miramar
On Malaga’s picturesque coastline, this iconic five-star hotel offers a haven of elegance and comfort while prioritising eco-conscious practices. From energy-efficient systems to responsible waste management, Gran Hotel Miramar embraces sustainability as part of its operations. Guests can indulge in opulent amenities, exquisite dining experiences, and superb sea views, knowing a stay supports a pledge of environmental stewardship.
Hotel Vincci Selección Posada del Patio
Housed within a restored historic building, five-star Hotel Vincci has a stated commitment to sustainable tourism. It combines the allure of luxury with a strong focus on sustainability where guests kick back in elegant rooms and savour gourmet cuisine, making it an ideal choice for conscious travellers seeking both indulgence and environmental responsibility.
Sustainable Tourism Sights in Malaga
The site, located in the heart of Malaga, right below the fort, is a captivating archaeological representation of the city’s ancient Roman past. The remarkable open-air amphitheater dates back to the 1st century BC and offers a great backdrop to alfresco work sessions. I recall sitting in the tiered seating doing Skype calls with my team before the pandemic.
It once served as a venue for theatrical performances, public gatherings, and spectacles, entertaining the Roman citizens of Malaga. Preservation efforts and ongoing archaeological excavations ensure the remarkable site remains intact for future generations to appreciate..
Amidst the ruins, I feel a sense of awe and reverence for the place. Past and present merge, and stories of ancient civilisations intertwine with the vibrant energy of modern Malaga.
We adore the Soho District for its street art and cultural initiatives. It has undergone a transformation into a sustainable and creative hub, showcasing a mix of urban design, community engagement, and environmental consciousness. Local organisations hosts events and markets, demonstrating an alternative side to Malaga. Soho is your chance to delve deeper into the social fabric of the city.
Muelle is a waterfront area in Malaga where we walk every time we come to town. Previously an industrial part of the port, it’s now a bustling hub of entertainment, shopping, and dining. It prioritises pedestrians and cyclists, encouraging visitors to explore on foot or by bike while minimising the use of cars. Ample walkways and cycling paths offer a pleasant and eco-friendly way to navigate the space, reducing carbon emissions and promoting a healthier lifestyle.
Smack in the middle you can find a fresh addition to the local art scene, Centre Pompidou Malaga, a branch of the famous Paris original, supporting contemporary works.
The siren call of Malaga
Explore the historic landmarks, indulge in luxurious accommodations, and savour gastronomic delights. Malaga holds its own in a region where spectacular cities, scenery and culture are plenty. With a solid commitment to sustainable tourism, the city allows you to experience the perfect blend of sunlight, sea, and sustainability. Come to Malaga and create memories that will linger long after your trip ends. We’re counting the days until we stroll along the sun-kissed promenades yet again.
Have you been to Malaga? What did you like best about it? Let us know in the comment section! Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter and benefit from tips, interviews, and inspirational examples of sustainable travel.