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How to Spend Your Downtime in Málaga


There are as many versions of Spain as there are types of wine in the country. If you live in the mountains on the border with France you could not be farther away from the lifestyle of a person in the Castilian plateau, between Burgos and León, or that of someone in a small fishing village in the Cantabrian. Conversely, life in Andalucía is totally different to life along the northern or eastern coasts in Spain.

As a matter of fact, life in one part of Andalucía is often very different to life in other parts of Andalucía. That much is true of Málaga, the second largest city in the Autonomous Community and the primary commercial centre of the region, second only to Sevilla. With over half a million people, only a handful of cities in Spain are larger than Málaga, a millenary coastal settlement that, somehow, despite its major port and bustling economy, still retains an old-fashioned charm that never fails to appeal.

Spanish Language as a Cultural Stepping Stone

There are many reasons why you should take the time to get to know Málaga.

Andalucía in general, and Málaga in particular, feature a unique blend of cultures and traditions that are both intrinsically connected to the history of the place, of course, but that are also determined by the specific geography, weather and similar characteristics of the area. Furthermore, while local customs link Málaga with a past that reaches as far back as 3000 years into the past, these traditions are deeply embedded in the reality of the city, so much so that they continuously shape the future of the population, as well.

In other words, in few other places in the world is the future and the past so evidently and so closely connected by the everyday routine of a population that is at once cosmopolitan and deeply traditionalist. Therefore, Málaga stands out as a perfect stepping stone to gain an insight into Spanish culture and to understand the dynamics that come into play in the formation of Spain.

In this respect, learning Spanish in Málaga could be the perfect catalyst to cap a long-term affair with Spanish culture or to bring to fruition an ingrained interest in related subjects, from fried fish to Flamenco. The language is, doubtlessly, the first and, arguably, most important step to come into close contact with a foreign society, but among the primary uses for it, once it has been learned, is the possibility to actively partake in the expressions that define such culture and join Spaniards and your classmates in different activities and traditional events.

In Málaga, for instance, such expressions include a highly varied and richly developed culinary culture, which is understandably shaped and dominated by the city's coastal location. Pescaíto frito, 'fried fish', is a local favourite, and is considered a delicacy by those who usually dwell far from the beach. A more elaborate version of the dish, the autochthonous fritura malagueña, or 'Málaga fried dish', includes not only small fish, such as sardines and anchovies, but also squid, shrimps and the traditional chopitos, a smaller type of squid.

Traditionally, nightlife across the Iberian peninsula, but more emphatically so in the southern regions of Spain, interweaves drinking and eating to a degree where they are inseparable. A night out, visiting the bars along the Calle de Larios in the city centre, or coasting through the promenade along La Malagueta, the city's main beachfront area, you will discover the true meaning of 'tapas', a complimentary ration of food served with each drink, just because drinking should always be done with a bit of food in the stomach.


Málaga offers a unique opportunity to delve into the practical joys of Spanish living: fresh seafood, plenty of wine, warm weather and miles upon miles of beachfront. Nevertheless, there is another side to culture in Málaga – a side intrinsically linked to cultural icons of Spanish history, such as Pablo Picasso, whose birthplace, any Málaga city guide will tell you, was here in this city.

Currently, the Picasso Museum exhibits some of the less known pieces by the painter, a true sample of the origins of a genius who transcended the natural boundaries of artistic expressions. If you spend a season in a Spanish school in Málaga, it offers a priceless opportunity to learn the intricacies of the environment that formed one of the largest personalities in the history of western civilization.

Another characteristic expression of culture prevalent in Málaga is Flamenco. The most intrinsically Spanish of all musical forms, Málaga even gives its name to the malagueñas, one of the important palos or styles of Flamenco. Further to your language skills, an interest in painting or music, a liking for the sun, the beach and the good life will make your passage through Málaga much more rewarding than perhaps you at first could ever have imagined.