This blog post was originally posted on April 19, 2016 and was updated on May 18, 2017.
It's hard not to love a good market: the action, the smells, the sounds of people bustling about, and the air of confidence that the people running the stands seem to have.
It's the best place to get a feel for the city, the local foods, and it’s wonderful for people watching to boot. The concept of eating and preparing delicious foods with local, seasonal ingredients is centuries old, but it seems as if the marketplace as a concept is having a true renaissance. Want to get in on the fun? Here are some of the best markets in Malaga to enjoy it.
The Ultimate Guide to Markets in Malaga
The Mercado Central de Atarazanas is probably the best-known market in Malaga. It's located in the center of town just steps away from Calle Larios, with an impressive entrance that's impossible to miss. This is one of the best markets in Malaga for both people watching and learning about the city’s history.
Back in the time of Muslim rule in Malaga, the water from the sea reached the door to the market. The word atarazanas translates to “arsenal,” or the place where military ships were constructed and repaired. This is exactly what the original building was used for, although the only part of that original naval site still standing is the huge marble door. In 1868 it was turned into a marketplace that was then completely renovated from 2008–2010.
Make sure to check out the stained glass in the back of the market, which illustrates the history of the city of Malaga. The beautiful high ceilings and wrought iron supports give the market an open feel, similar to that of the Boquería market in Barcelona. There's no doubt about it—this market is a working one, complete with a lively atmosphere thanks to the crowds of locals coming each day to buy their fresh fish. Many of the vendors speak a little bit of English, but a few words in Spanish will always be appreciated.
Once you've finished shopping, don’t miss the bars along the edges of the market where you can enjoy a drink and a tapa. When the weather is nice, grab a seat at the tables outside and enjoy that warm Malaga sun, even during the winter months. Fresh produce, cerveza and tapas certainly qualify the Mercado de Atarazanas as one of the best markets in Malaga.
Address: Calle Atarazanas, 10
The Neighborhood Market
The Mercado del Carmen is located in the quintessential Malaga neighborhood of El Perchel. This area was one of the first areas outside the Hispano-Arab city walls, born out of necessity so that the city residents would not be bothered by the smell of fish drying (an unwelcome consequence of the growing fishing industry). The name of the neighborhood actually comes from this: perchas (hangers) are what the fisherman would use in order to hang and dry the fish.
For more than 140 years, the Mercado del Carmen has been a place for the people of Malaga to buy freshly caught fish brought in that same morning from the port. The old market was closed in 2010, but the new, renovated marketplace still has today the same good quality seafood that malagueños love!
If you want to try some of the market's produce on site, there's also a little bar where you can order up the catch of the day along with an ice cold beer. In fact, make it a point to have at least one tapa at the bar, as they do fried fish right (meaning that it doesn’t taste too fried or heavy). Good fried fish can be hard to come by, even on the Costa del Sol, so this place is a treasure in and of itself.
Address: Calle de la Serna, 14
Off the Beaten Path
The Mercado de Salamanca (Mercado Molinillo) is a smaller market, and a bit off the beaten path in terms of the touristic sites in Malaga. However, it's worth seeking out, and not just for the food. The building itself is impressive, taking up a whole city block and showing off neo-Arab architecture with huge brightly colored archways.
Once you get inside the market, there are stalls where you can buy fish, meat, bread, and vegetables. But if you ask a local, they will tell you that the thing to buy here is fish. Far from a tourist attraction, this is a great place to come to get a sense of neighborhood life in Malaga. It's filled with locals and the hustle and bustle of daily life.
There's a little bar on the side of the market where you'll likely find the vendors themselves enjoying a drink after work. Here, you can order an ice cold beer and a tapa or two—nothing fancy, and certainly nothing touristy. This is your best pick if you want to get yourself off the beaten path, only 10 minutes' walk from the city center.
Address: Calle San Bartolomé, 1
There's a new trend in Malaga: buying organic, locally grown produce and baked goods at farmers markets in the streets. One favorite is the Guadalhorce Organic Market, which is found on the Paseo de Reding on the second Saturday of each month.
It's a gorgeous market located underneath a canopy of trees, with friendly vendors who are willing to chat about the produce and baked goods they are selling. It's also a lovely walk just back from the beach and not far from the city center, either.
Address: Calle Cervantes-Paseo de Reding, La Malagueta
Shopping with Tapas
The newly renovated Mercado Merced has been a marketplace for years, but after falling into what can only be described as a lack of customers, they decided to renovate and reinvigorate. Basing their design off the successful Boqueria market in Barcelona and Mercado San Miguel in Madrid, the Mercado Merced is still a place where you can buy your groceries with local stalls for the butcher, fruit and vegetables, as well as fish, bread and dry goods.
However, it is now also home to many stands where you can order tapas. You can find anything from traditional Spanish choices like tortilla and seafood, to more modern and international tapas like sushi and burger. An of course, there's plenty of local wine to wash it all down. Centrally located and beautifully redone, this is one of the best markets in Malaga if you're looking to nibble while you shop or simply have a drink in the evening.