City Discovery: The Many Cultures of Malaga

Discover Malaga

Malaga is one of the oldest cities in the world, having been founded  around 770 B.C. by the Phoenicians. Throughout the centuries, the city has been ruled by a handful of different groups including the Phoenicians, Byzantines, Romans, Moors and Christians. Because of this, the city is filled with diverse cultural infrastructure.

Speaking of infrastructure, while the city itself is only the sixth largest in Spain, the Malaga Airport is the third largest in the country, behind only the airports in Madrid, Barcelona. So, students who travel to and from Malaga will have an easy connection to other major destinations across Spain and Europe.

Malaga is also the capital of the Costa del Sol and is filled with some of Spain’s greatest beaches!

Don’t miss these Discovery Compass activities in Malaga!

Intercultural experiences highlight exposure with the local culture, promoting a multilateral exchange of ideas, language and opinions.

Visit the Alcazaba of Malaga. This fortress, built during the 11th century, is one of the best preserved alcazaba’s in Spain. Visiting will give students the opportunity to see an important part of Malaga from the Reconquista of Spain by the Catholic Kings (Reyes Catolicos).

Take a trip to the Beach! It’s impossible to visit Málaga without enjoying its wonderful beaches. During the summer, students will find that many Malaguenos take advantage of the warm climate, sun, and sand to sunbathe and swim.

Enjoy one of the city’s many events. Throughout the year numerous cultural events take place, including: Certamen Internacional de Pintura al Aire Libre in October, Conciertos Clásicos en Navidad in December, Carnaval in February, Semana Santa in March/April, and Festival Terral in July. These events help visitors to better understand the city and get a feel for it’s culture.

Photo by ISA Student Adrianne Ciuba

ISA excursions and cultural activities highlight historical parts of the local culture to help students better understand their new environment.

Discover the city’s incredible art scene. Malaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and visitors can tour his home, which has been converted into a museum. In addition to this, Malaga is home to many places of art including: Museo de Picasso, Museo Carmen Thyssen, Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, Museo de Bellas Artes and, recently opened, Pompidou (an extension of the original museum in Paris).

Stop by La Catedral de Málaga. This famous cathedral was left incomplete with only one tower and is now often referred to as La Manquita or “one-armed.” Legend has it that the city of Malaga sent the money that which was originally intended to be used to complete the cathedral to aid its countrymen during the American Revolution.

Sociopolitical discovery highlights social and political activities or experiences.

Take part in Community Service opportunities. Community service opoprtunities are great ways to understand some of the social aspects of a study abroad experience. In Malaga, one of the volunteer options allows students to help at a soup kitchen to observe the social reality of the city.

Professional experiences provide exposure to professional development opportunities during an ISA program.

Take part in an internship! There’s no better way to gain practical and cultural experience than doing an internship abroad. Through the Universidad de Málaga, students can dtake part in an internship 1-day a week with a local business (this depends on the course in which the student is enrolled and is not available for all students).

Become an Auxiliares de Conversación. This program run through the Spanish government allows students to assist a local teacher with teaching English language classes at a local public school.

Photo by ISA Student Adrianne CiubaEnvironmental
Environmental experiences expose students to different environmental aspects of the host country.

Be sure to Recycle! Recycling throughout the city is a priority. There are a number of recycle bins spread across the University of Malaga campus as well as the ISA office to help students to recycle appropriately.

Take a hike. Just north of the city lies Natural Park Montes de Malaga. Enjoy a day hike through the dense pine forests that were part of a reforestation effort by the city of Malaga that took place between 1930 to 1950.

With it’s long history, diverse culture and desirable coastal location, Malaga is the perfect place to study abroad. Learn more about Malaga and how to start your study abroad experience.


The 2015 City Discovery Series aims to showcase one of ISA’s program locations each week. Facts about each location and Discovery Compass activity examples are given, highlighting the areas of Intercultural, Historical, Sociopolitical, Professional and Environmental discovery. The Discovery Compass aims to help students have the best possible study abroad experience by helping them to gain a better understanding of the local environment, customs and people through a variety of experiences.


Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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