Not the obvious charm
"Second in the size among Andalusian cities, Malaga is the least interesting."
Such, at least, was the view of English travel author A. F. Calvert in 1908.
True, Málaga cannot compete with Seville's Giralda, the Alhambra, or the Mezquita in Córdoba. But then, it never really tried. For decades it was content with its role as an industrial and trading city and being the entry port to the Costa del Sol.
Málaga goes back to one of the oldest settlements in Andalusia but today it is one of its youngest, most contemporary and cosmopolitan cities.
Several thousand years of foreign influx have created a fascinating mix of Malagan identity with Phoenician, Berber, Arab, Norman, and, since the development of the Costa del Sol, Northern European influences.
A city rediscovered
After Franco's death in 1975, and with the subsequent economic boom, many Spaniards left the cities for the housing developments in the suburbs and the 'urbanisaciones' on the hills of the Costa.
But recently the city is being reclaimed not least by well-off Northern European immigrants who prefer the real world of the city to the concrete deserts along the coast.
Málaga's transformation happened largely over the last fifteen or so years. But while cities such as Valencia or Bilbao invested in landmark architectures - losing their novelty appeal after a few years - Málaga went about its rejuvenation more carefully and with considerably sustainable success.
Málaga more than made up for its relative lack of striking landmarks.
Cars were banned from the inner city, rigorous building codes enforced, and a severe heritage protection programme was largely successful in preserving not only individual buildings but the appearance of the old town as such.
Much remains to be done and you will come across more than just a few ruins waiting to be brought back to life. EU, Russian, Swiss, and Arab capital is starting to profit from the bargains.
Málaga still needs more quality hotels. Something we set about improving.
New bars and restaurants appear to be popping up everywhere and prosper throughout the old town.
Málaga always had a lot to offer. It just wasn't very good at doing so.
For decades, for example, Paris did a much better job at marketing Picasso. Now, his hometown has caught up with a Picasso museum and the casa Picasso, the artist's birthplace.
Today Málaga boosts more museums than any other town in Southern Spain.
The Centre Pompidou recently chose Málaga to open its first museum outside France.
Málaga has a vibrant nightlife with more cafés, bars, restaurants, and discotheques than you can possibly try out during your stay.
And it is not just for tourists.
Locals flock to the Teatro Cervantes and the Echegaray theatre. They rediscover their tapas bars and the fresh look at traditional food by a new generation of chefs.
The Festival de Málaga Cine Español, the country's largest film festival after San Sebastián, takes place here in April every year to promote Spanish films.
Spendthrift tourists and a surprisingly crisis resistant wealth among a good deal of the locals have attracted international brands and flooded parts of the city with Zara & Co. A blessing to some, a curse to others.
But with a bit of luck you can still find some places to stock up on local products.
Ask us where to go.
The place to visit
Only 15 years ago, hardly anyone would have recommended a trip to Málaga capital.
Now, it is about to become one of the top destinations in Spain.