For a master class in how to have a good time
The week-long Feria de Malaga takes place each year in the middle of August and is a hedonistic clash of colourful flamenco costumes, elegant horse shows, bullfights and loud, seductive music. The soundtrack to the feria is Sevillanas, which foreigners often confuse with Flamenco. I prefer the day feria (midday until about 6pm) where the historic centre’s atmospheric streets are the backdrop for a massive street party. Be warned, it gets very busy and very hot! Others prefer the night feria (6pm until 6am), which consists of a huge funfair and hundreds of impromptu bars and clubs playing everything from salsa to Lady Gaga.
To see what inspired a genius
Malaga-born Picasso, the genius behind the world’s priciest pictures, adored his home city and at the Picasso Museum you’ll see some of his best-loved works (mostly donated by his family) and learn how the city’s famous natural light, architecture and cheeky spirit, influenced the great man.
For the history
In my opinion, Malaga will easily give Seville a run for its money when it comes to historical monuments. The oldest, Gibralfaro Castle, which was founded by the Phoenicians, has a museum inside chronicling the city's history over the centuries, but the over-riding reason for a visit is that it has the best views in town. On your way down from the giddying heights, take in the 11th-century Alcazaba fortress, whose aromatic gardens will take you on a meandering route down to the web of the 19th-century lanes and to the imposing 16th-century cathedral that dominates the city's skyline.
For the tapas route
I like to do as the locals do and spend lunchtimes or evenings calling into different bars – sampling different tapas along the way. By doing the same you will experience the heart and soul of this historic city; it will be almost like dining with the city itself. From contemporary, Michelin-rated venues like La Moraga to the oldest bar in Malaga, El Pimpi, there’s no shortage of great places to choose from.
To experience a botanical masterpiece
Set in the 250,000 square metre sub-tropical grounds of a palatial 19th-century home on the city’s outskirts and with more than 3,000 different plants and countless streams and fountains, I rate Jardín de la Concepción as one of the most stunning gardens in Europe. You’ll have to tear yourself away from the jaw-dropping views when it’s time to leave.