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Málaga may be the gateway to the Costa del Sol – but there is much more to this vibrant city than its airport.

Revamped and totally revitalised, Málaga is now one of the best destinations in Europe for a city break, with a host of fascinating historical attractions, superb restaurants and a modern port area that attracts cruise ships from all over the world.

Remnants of Moorish rule are alive and well in Málaga, including its two breath-taking hilltop citadels that loom over the skyline, the Alcazaba and the ruined Gibralfaro. The city’s soaring Renaissance cathedral is nicknamed La Manquita (one-armed lady) because one of its towers was curiously left unbuilt.

Planning to spend 48 hours in Málaga? We recommend the following things to see and do:

Day one

No trip to Málaga is complete without sampling a delicious breakfast of chocolate and churros – long, sugar-crusted and deep-fried doughnuts with a cup of thick hot chocolate to dunk them in.

Make the most of the sugar-rush and explore the cathedral, Málaga’s most prominent building, which boasts a wealth of influences from Renaissance to Baroque and Gothic. Enjoy a guided tour of the restored rooftops – the amazing views make the 200-step climb worthwhile.

Head to the Mercado Central, Atarazanas Market, voted one of the top-10 markets in the world by the readers of UK newspaper, the Guardian, and is a must-visit attraction for foodie travellers. Watch the fishmongers at work on the latest catch, choose from a vast range of exotic fruits, juices, local cheese and award-winning meats or sample the freshest seafood at one of the lively tapas bars within the market. A great place for people watching.

In the afternoon, walk off your lunch with a steep stroll up Mount Gibralfaro to the Alcazaba. Yet another hallmark of Málaga’s Moorish past, the citadel dates to the 11th century and boasts an incredible Roman amphitheatre by the entrance.

Fashionistas and shopaholics are spoilt for choice in this bustling and colourful city. The wide, marble-laid Calle Marqués de Larios is lined with famous brands, while the narrow streets surrounding it are home to independent boutiques, quirky cafés and antique shops. If department stores are more your thing, walk over to El Corte Inglés – a high-end department store that has been delivering luxury shopping experiences throughout Spain since 1945.

Round off your first day in Málaga with a typical Andalucian tipple of sweet local wine in the Antigua Casa Guardia, Málaga’s oldest bar, which dates to 1840, followed by dinner in one of the typical Málaga restaurants in the old town. If you want to enjoy delicious Andalucian cuisine, try the Rabo de Toro, slow-cooked oxtail in a rich red wine gravy or Fritura Malagueña, a plate of mixed fried fish, served with Aioli, garlic mayonnaise and lemon.

CLC World Málaga on Spain’s Costa del Sol is just a 30-minute drive to Málaga city centre.

Day two

Start the day with a typical southern Spanish breakfast of coffee with a mollete (a special type of flat bread) that is toasted and served with olive oil, tomato, ham cheese, pate or any other combination, in one of the vibrant pavement cafés in Plaza de la Merced – one of the most beautiful squares in the city.

After breakfast, visit the Museo Casa Natal de Picasso, the birthplace of the great artist, Pablo Picasso, which is situated at 15 La Plaza de la Merced. Die-hard Picasso fans should also stroll over to the Museo Picasso in C/San Agustin, 8, which is housed in an elegant 16th-century mansion and exhibits 120 of his works in constantly changing exhibitions.

The beauty of Málaga travel is its diversity; and with over 300 average days of sunshine each year, the city’s vast beaches are a huge attraction. If you are lucky enough to be visiting in spring or autumn, you can avoid the crowds and enjoy the balmy Mediterranean temperatures on the Playa Malagueta – a long, sweeping beach with sunbeds and water sports. Pedragalejo beach is home to some of the province’s best seafood restaurants and beach bars (chiringuitos). Sample the fresh sardines cooked on a bamboo skewer in front of you over a boat full of charcoal.

After an afternoon soaking up the sun, why not ‘do as the Spanish do’ and enjoy a refreshing siesta before the nighttime activities?

Rejuvenated, wander down to the Port area, which boasts a fabulous choice of cocktail bars and restaurants with roof terraces, where you can enjoy a sundowner or two. Muelle Uno is an impressive open-air complex with a variety of contemporary shops and eclectic eateries along a vibrant waterfront promenade.

If you still have some energy after dinner, drag yourselves to Plaza Uncibay, which is home to most of Málaga’s nightlife, including the area near the Cathedral of Malaga and the streets around the square. If you want to dance ‘til dawn with the ‘in-crowd’, go to La Malagueta, where you will find some of Málaga’s most exclusive establishments.

Check out our CLC Club La Costa World reviews to give you an insight into our resorts near Málaga on the Costa del Sol.