Befitting Picasso's birthplace, Málaga has an art collection to rival those of Seville and Granada, particularly in the field of modern art, where galleries and workshops continue to push the envelope. It wasn’t always thus.
Little more than 15 years ago, Málaga’s art scene was patchy and understated. The first big coup came in 2003, when, after 50 years of on-off discussion, the city finally got around to honouring its most famous son with the opening of the Museo Picasso Málaga. More galleries followed, some focusing on notable malagueños such as Jorge Rando and Félix Revello de Toro, others – such as the Museo Carmen Thyssen, which shines a light on costumbrismo (Spanish folk art) – taking in a broader sweep of Spanish painting. Then, in 2015, Málaga earned the right to be called a truly international art city when it opened offshoot galleries of St Petersburg’s prestigious Russian State Museum and Paris’ Pompidou Centre. Around the same time, edgy street artists put forward the idea of MAUS, an urban-renewal project that has fostered a free creative space in the Soho neighbourhood for street and graffiti artists.
The finishing touches to this colourful canvas were added in December 2016: after 20 years in the dark, Málaga's 2000-piece-strong fine-arts collection was reinstated in the city's beautifully restored old customs house down by the port.
Bicycles have been fighting back against Málaga’s traffic for years, with some success. Indeed, following pioneering examples in Seville and Córdoba, Málaga can now be called a bona fide bike-friendly city. Climate and geography help. With 320 sunny days a year, Málaga is never particularly cold, and, unless you decide to head up to the Castillo de Gibralfaro, there aren’t too many hills. Even better, proper bike infrastructure has finally started to be put into place. Allocated bike lanes (painted green) now characterise many of Málaga’s streets, and in 2013 the city set up its own experimental bike-sharing scheme, MálagaBici (http://malagabici.malaga.eu/webpublica), aimed primarily at residents. Visitors are generally better off hiring bikes on an hourly or daily basis from several well-run bike-rental shops, or partaking in an organised bike-sightseeing tour. Málaga Bike Tours offers particularly enjoyable excursions. There are even special bike-themed cafes like Recyclo where you can stop off to fuel up on coffee, cakes and other sweet gasoline substitutes.