As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the south of Spain, you’d expect Malaga to provide just about everything you need for the perfect holiday by the sea. And, fortunately, it delivers in every respect. From the flawless beauty of the Andalusian coastline, to the warm waters of the Mediterranean and the year-round sun, Malaga seems most at home when it is playing the welcoming host to visitors from around the world.

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There’s so much to do in and around the city that you’ll be hard pressed to take in all of its historical sites and see everything you want to see in a single visit. Pick up your car hire from Malaga Airport and it will allow you to dash from the Montes de Malaga mountains and the banks of the Guadalhorce and Guadalmedina rivers, to the city’s many museums and monumental buildings. But the magic of Malaga is found by taking your time to soak in the atmosphere at a leisurely pace. And if you are looking for ways to indulge your senses, there are few options more appealing than by sampling the local cuisine.

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Tapas is the cuisine that Spain is most famous for. The numerous dishes of intensely-flavoured appetizers are the nation’s most renowned dining experience. And in Andalusia, the locals take a special pride in all their food. The great thing about eating tapas in Malaga is that it is all so fresh. The nation’s fishing industry is based largely around the city’s busy port, so some of the freshest seafood in all of Spain is found here. Anchovies are especially popular here – though you might be glad to discover that these are not the small, incredibly salty ones you find on your pizza back home. Fresh anchovies are usually served lightly-spiced with olive oil and garlic.

Anchovies are also commonly used in the popular delicacy of fried whitebait. The tiny fish are rolled in breadcrumbs and fried whole. Served with lemon and dipping sauce, these make the perfect bar snack on a hot afternoon. And the dish seems to illustrate perfectly what dining in Malaga is all about: selecting the choicest ingredients in the comfortable surroundings of one of the many bars or restaurants throughout the city. It is said that the tradition of tapas actually originated in Andalusia, before spreading northwards throughout the rest of Spain. And when you see how ingrained this culture of food is in the city, you will probably believe the claims.

In Malaga, as with the rest of Andalusia, the most important meal of the day is almost always served in the middle of the afternoon, from about 2pm onwards. Although this means you can take your time over a multitude of courses and dishes, you should also be prepared to squeeze yourself in amongst the throng of customers! But this is simply a sign that the restaurant serves good food. In Malaga, the locals tend to eat their tapas in a single bar, whereas in the north of Spain, diners can visit as many as five or six restaurants in a single meal, so that they can find find the best dishes.

Whilst the Andalusians may boast the most enduring traditions in tapas, there are many delights to be discovered in Malaga which have their origins in places all across the Iberian peninsula. Visitors will quickly notice that Manchego cheese is ubiquitous throughout the region, yet it has its roots in the arid La Mancha region. Try to find somewhere offering this sheep cheese in its unpasteurised, or “Artesano” form, as the authentic flavour is unlike any Manchego cheese found in other parts of the world.

The other eating experience that seems almost impossible to avoid is chorizo sausage. This cured meat is hung for more than a year and spiced with rich, smoky pimenton to give it its distinctive colour and taste. Any Spanish restaurateur will tell you that chorizo sausage, accompanied by a glass of Rioja, is the true taste of Spanish cuisine.

The thing that visitors love most about the tapas in Malaga is the excitement that comes with every meal. The number of courses, the range of flavours and ingredients, plus the sense of community that goes with it, means that everyone is sure to find a taste of Spain that they will never forget.