In recent years, the bustling city of Malaga has undergone something of a transformation – from lacklustre and unremarkable, to vibrant, chic and, well, quite remarkable.
Its wide selection of contemporary art museums, such as Museo Picasso, The CAC and the eye-catching Pompidou found in the city’s trendy Muelle Uno port, have increased tourism in the city tenfold. And with that, Malaga’s nightlife has grown into a glittering attraction of its own.
From gourmet tapas bars and lively salsa joints to nightclubs that rival even some of Ibiza’s trendiest venues, there probably aren’t too many bets safer than Malaga for a terrific night out.
On a typical night out – if you aren’t either holding or attending a botellón (pre-drinks at home) – you’d probably start by filling up on tapas, then progressing to a trendier hangout or two, before finally winding up in a reggaetón-blaring bar or club where, if so desired, you could dance and down shots till dawn (reggaetón is a repetitive and sometimes mildly offensive form of Spanish pop music).
Here are our picks for the best bars and clubs for each 'stage' of the night.
Best Tapas Bars in Malaga
Bodega El Pimpi
There a few better – and more quintessentially Spanish – hangouts in Malaga than Bodega El Pimpi. The place heaves with animated punters and a general, healthy dose of buena honda at the weekend, which, given El Pimpi's size, is quite an impressive feat – it spans a plaza-sized patio, two floors, several private rooms, two bars and of course an enormous kitchen.
The décor is captivating too, with countless framed photographs of celebrities who've paid their visits in the past (Antonio Banderas and La Duquesa de Alba among them) nailed to the walls, and old barrels of fermenting Malaga wine stacked to the ceiling, each with its own celebrity autograph scribbled on the front.
For tapas, you can’t go wrong with the verduras fritas (fried vegetables) or rollo de manzana y queso de cabra (apple and goat’s cheese tortilla wrap).
Details: C/ Granada, 62; elpimpi.com
This stylish dining space was previously run by locally renowned chef Kisko Garcia, who, evidently, made it his mission to bring to Malagueños an original fusion of Spanish and international cuisine with dishes like the glazed pork rib taco and creamy patatas bravas.
Thankfully, most of the dishes that earned KGB its reputation have remained despite the change in personnel in the kitchen, and a few others, just as exciting, have been added. Unsurprisingly, KGB gets very busy most nights so you may have to wait for a table, but this is a tapas bar definitely worth waiting around for.
Details: C/ Fresca, 12; facebook.com
Cerveceria Los Gatos
Having earned its reputation through relentless, high quality food and service, Los Gatos is now firmly one of the most popular tapas bars in Malaga. Dishes tend to be based around traditional Spanish cuisine but are often finished with a unique twist; solomillo al whiskey con patatas fritas anyone? (Whiskey glazed pork and chips!)
Los Gatos is open all day long but is best at the beginning of the evening when people are readying themselves for a night out.
Details: C/ de Jesús, 2; facebook.com
Madeinterranea Bar de Tapas
The menu at Madeinterranea is rich and varied, from Spanish classics such as Salmorejo (creamy tomato and bread based soup), ensaladilla de queso de cabra (goat's cheese salad) and croquetas de puchero, to the Japanese inspired tataki atún (tuna). The portions are generous in size but taste so good that you're bound to order at least three tapas here.
Madeinterranea isn't too big, but the smaller size makes for a cosy atmosphere and more attentive service and the prices are very reasonable.
Details: Plaza de Uncibay, 3; facebook.com
Best Cocktail Bars in Malaga
Merced 14 Café
Although most visitors to this centrally located bar/café rave mainly about its exquisite breakfast menu, Merced 14 also boasts an impressive cocktail menu at affordable prices. Location wise, Plaza de la Merced is unbeatable, so taking half an hour to enjoy a cocktail here is a worthy addition to any night out in Malaga.
Details: Plaza de la Merced, 14; facebook.com
Breakfast At Tiffany's
Presumably so-called in order to draw in local expats and holidaymakers, Breakfast at Tiffany's wasn’t always a cocktail bar. It actually started out as a DVD rental store but when sales slumped to an all time low, rather than shutting its doors it decided to get a license to sell alcohol and combine the two enterprises. What a wonderful idea that turned out to be, as the bar is now almost certainly regarded as one of the hipper joints in Malaga city centre.
What's more, it's just a stone's throw from the centrally located Roman ruins, offering a splendid view in the evening.
Details: C/ Alcazabilla, 11; facebook.com
Cafeteria Teatro Romano
Sharing the same area as Breakfast at Tiffany's, Cafeteria Teatro Romano also does great cocktails, in even greater quantity. It gets busy early on so the service can be a bit slow, but if it’s value for money you’re after then this is perfect. The menu is varied, the prices are cheap and the glasses are enormous.
Details: C/ Alcazabilla, 7; tripadvisor.com
If you want a decent cocktail and to go out dancing, this is the place to come. At least on Wednesdays it is, when free salsa and bachata classes take place from 21.30-22.00 and 22.30-23.00. There is always a great ambience in Chiquita Cruz and it doesn't matter if you've never danced salsa before – everyone is more or less a beginner and those who aren't enjoy helping out.
Cocktails are priced at 4-5€ and the mojito, in keeping with the Cuban theme, is as good as it gets.
Details: Plaza de las Flores, 7; facebook.com
Best Nightclubs in Malaga
Probably Malaga's most popular nightclub, Liceo is quite elegant in its appearance and requires punters to be appropriately dressed. There is a VIP air about the place what with the old, Spanish mansion look it seems to have gone for, but it's still easy to relax and chat with friends downstairs.
Details: C/ Beatas, 21; liceoflamenco.com
The main dancefloor, where you can dance to Spanish and international chart music, and on other nights watch Flamenco, is upstairs. But be careful if you’re wearing high heels (and have been drinking), as there are a lot of stairs!
'Gold' being the keyword here, this Malaga nightclub is decked out with slick, modern furniture and décor, attracting a well-dressed crowd. There are three different-sized areas available for private hire, a large stage and a giant LED screen in Sala Gold
The music is usually house and Spanish chart but there is a different theme each night. On Saturdays they sometimes have a saxophonist or electric violinist playing over the music on the stage to add that extra cool factor.
Details: C/ Luis de Velazquez, 5; discotecasenmalaga.es
In contrast to most other nightclubs in Malaga, Malafama is small and a bit cramped as a result at times. But a full a club is a good club, and despite the size there are usually plenty of people queuing up outside on a chilly winter's night. The combination of great music, decent drinks offers and occasional free shots keeps punters coming back for more!
Details: Pasaje Mitjana, 1; facebook.com
Theatro Club Malaga
Having only opened its doors for business a year ago, Theatro Club has firmly established itself as one of Malaga's leading nightclubs, thanks to the original thinking behind many of the themed nights. Just this month the club celebrated its 1 year anniversary with a night dedicated to the famous Moulin Rouge club.
The interior has a jazzy, 50s look to it but doesn’t come across as pretentious. There are regular live concerts, shows, theatre and jazz nights.
Details: C/ Lazcano, 5; facebook.com
The next day you'll probably want some good, wholesome food to help restore some colour to your cheeks! For some ideas of what to cook, head over to our post on traditional Malaga cuisine.
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