I believe that Malaga is one of the most elegant and effortlessly cool cities in Europe.
Although it’s known for its museums, architecture, and galleries, it’s at night, when the streets and squares are thronging with people meandering between the bars, restaurants and clubs, that Malaga comes into its own.
You’ll find traditional 'spit and sawdust' type watering holes, swanky lounges, flamenco bars, elegant belle époque era venues, and all manner of night clubs spread throughout the city, but I recommend checking out these areas: Plaza de la Merced, Calle Larios/‘centro historico’ and the Port/La Malagueta.
My favourite bars and clubs
Built around a series of interlinked interior patios, El Pimpi (Calle Granada, Malaga; +34 952 228 990; www.bodegabarelpimpi.com) is one of the oldest and most popular bars in Malaga. The likes of Sean Connery, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot have all sipped sherry and speciality wines in the historic, barrel-lined surroundings.
The intimate bar, Calle Bruselas (Plaza de la Merced, Malaga; +34 952 603 948), right next door to Picasso’s birthplace, draws in an eclectic mix of artists, fashionistas, students and a gay crowd.
For something more elegant, try the 19th-century Bar El Jardín (Calle Cañon 1, Malaga; +34 952 220 419; www.eljardinmalaga.com) located opposite some of the city's most beautiful gardens and the imposing cathedral.
For live music with a rock/blues vibe, check out ZZ pub (Calle Tejón y Rodriguez, Malaga, www.zzpub.es) - Mondays and Thursdays are particularly good.
If you want somewhere to dance until the early hours, and something more contemporary than the traditional flamenco clubs, head to White’s (Calle José Denís Belgrano, Malaga), where the latest commercial dance with a hip-hop/RnB edge is played.
For general information on what to expect of nightlife on the Costa del Sol, see my Costa del Sol nightlife page. For more advice on nightlife in resorts across the Costa del Sol, see Benalmadena nightlife, Estepona nightlife, Marbella nightlife, Nerja nightlife and Sotogrande nightlife.