Last year, I unexpectedly found myself alone in Malaga for the Easter weekend (it’s a long story!). Clearly I never got round to writing about it at the time, but I’m slowly working through my backlog of posts and can at least get this one written in time for anyone who may be planning their own Easter there! I discovered that Malaga is a surprisingly cultural city break destination if you ignore the Costa del Sol’s reputation for cheap package holidays. So keep reading for some more highbrow things to do on a long Easter weekend in Malaga…
I hadn’t realised quite how much Easter weekend is steeped in religious ceremony in Spain, and rather unwisely, I arrived on an evening flight on Good Friday. Because I was travelling alone I’d arranged a car to take me from the airport to my rooftop apartment, but what I hadn’t foreseen was the extent to which the city centre would be thrown into disarray by a series of very big, incredibly loud and exceptionally slow-moving processions centred on gigantic floats bearing the Virgin Mary. My taxi could get no closer to my apartment than the opposite side of this dried up river, leaving me to battle my way – wheelie suitcase in tow – through the hordes of people you can see in this photograph, taken from my bedroom window when I eventually made it to my apartment.
Each sombre procession consists of lots of figures in creepy conical hats (see the photo after the video below), marching brass bands, a Virgin Mary float supported by many men, and then of course the crowds of people following them. Every so often a bell rings and they all stop to have a bit of a rest. I took this video at about 10pm and it was hours before the procession moved on. And then, just as I was finally drifting off to sleep, it became apparent that another one was inbound and that took forever to go past as well. This went on until about 4am. So if you’re staying in the centre of Malaga at Easter, don’t expect to get much sleep!!
Having witnessed all this on my first night, I was keen to see it all in the light of day, and so I ventured out for a walk on Easter Sunday and it didn’t take me long to find a procession. These outfits look singularly sinister, and naturally put one in mind of a certain US hate group, but these hoods (the capirote) are a long-standing tradition (more here if you’re interested).
It’s quite an extraordinary sight. No wonder they have to stop for a rest every so often, and move at a glacially slow pace!
Here’s a video to give you a better idea.
These processions happen throughout Holy Week, so bear this in mind if you’re thinking about travelling to Malaga over the Easter period.
Away from the solemn processions, I found Malaga’s old town a pleasant place to stroll through.
I wasn’t blessed with brilliant weather – it was, typically, much warmer back home that weekend – but I managed to have some good long walks to acquaint myself with the place.
There’s a beach if you’re into that sort of thing – you can tell how cold it was by how few people there were on it!
Alcazaba and Castillo Gibralfo
The cultural highlight for me was an afternoon spent scrambling all over the Medieval Moorish fort – the Alcazaba – and the adjoining Castillo Gibralfo, which both have amazing views over the city and sea. You can get one ticket for both and I highly recommend doing so.
It’s a lot of walking, but the views are worth it. This is the city’s bullring.
Museum of Malaga
A good place to retreat to if you get unlucky with the weather, the (free) Museum of Malaga is a great introduction to the city’s history, and there are even some Picassos in there. (Picasso was born in Malaga and has his own dedicated museum, but I didn’t make it into there because I took one look at the queue and decided I couldn’t be bothered to stand in the rain waiting!)
There’s also loads of stuff from the city’s Roman past, which naturally appealed to me!
Continuing on the Roman theme, there’s a wonderful little Roman theatre that you can go and see, free of charge, nestled up against the side of the Alcazaba.
I took the train along the coast to Torremolinos for a change of scene, and while it’s not exactly authentic Andalucia, there were a few nice scenes for me to photograph.
I whiled away a couple of hours with some cheap local wine and tapas overlooking the sea. The tapas was interesting – a Malaga speciality of tomatoes, tuna and orange. Not something you’d have thought to put together, but it really worked!
Finally, I must make some mention of where I stayed. I rented an apartment so I’d have a home from home, and I was glad I chose this one with a huge roof terrace offering amazing views over the city.
It was the perfect place to sip Cava at the end of a day’s exploration – or at least it would have been, had the weather been warmer!
This was the sunrise on my final morning.
Here’s the link if you’re interested in booking!