14 fun facts about Málaga you might not know

Did you know Málaga has its own dialect and even way of ordering coffee? Find out more such fun facts about this Andalusian port city!


3 minute read
Updated on 21 Mar 2024

Málaga is a peculiar place. Did you know they have their own dialect and even way of ordering their coffee? But don’t worry, we won’t spoil too much just yet. You can find all about it yourself by reading these 14 fun facts about Málaga!

Fact 1. Málaga is one of the world’s oldest cities.

Málaga was founded by the Phoenicians in 770 BC and named Malaka. That means that its history spans about 2,800 years!

Fact 2. Málaga used to be under the rule of the Roman Empire, the Arab Caliphate and the Castilian crown.

Málaga’s main attractions – Roman amphitheatre, the Cathedral and the Alcazaba with Gibralfaro – represent these three cultures.

Fact 3. The Cathedral of Málaga is nicknamed La Manquita, which means one-handed.

Actually, its full name is Santa Iglesia Catedral de la Basílica de la Encarnación. Contrary to the plans, its second tower was never completed due to the lack of financing so locals gave it this ironic nickname.

Fact 4: Málaga has the warmest winters of all large European cities.

The mountains in the North block the cold weather, making Málaga’s winters the warmest among all European cities with over half a million inhabitants. The absolute minimum temperature ever recorded in Málaga is -4°C!

Fact 5. The sun shines 300 days a year in Málaga.

And it only rains about 50 days a year. Good mood guaranteed! That's one reason why Málaga is one of the best cities in Spain to live as an expat.

Fact 6. Pablo Picasso is the most prolific artist according to The Guinness Book of World Records.

The Málaga-born artist created 13,500 paintings, 100,000 engravings and drawings, 34,000 book illustrations and about 300 sculptures and ceramics, earning his spot in the records book.

Fact 7. Málaga is named the “'City of Museums”.

Málaga boasts around 40 museums, which is the second largest number after Madrid!

Fact 8. There are 7 Michelin-starred restaurants in the province of Málaga.

Only one of them is actually in the city of Málaga. But Fuengirola, Marbella and Ronda are only a short trip away!

The list of the Michelin-starred restaurants in Málaga is as follows:

  • Restaurante José Carlos García * Málaga
  • Sollo * Fuengirola
  • Messina * Marbella
  • El Lago * Marbella
  • Nintai * Marbella
  • Skina ** Marbella
  • Bardal ** in Ronda

Fact 9. In the province of Málaga, there’re 45 wineries (bodegas) and 265 brands of wine (denominación de origen).

The province of Málaga has been producing wine since the arrival of the Phoenicians. Today Málaga is home to more than 3,800 hectares of vineyards!

Málaga is especially known for its 3 D.O.s (Denominaciones de Origen):

  • D.O. Málaga (sweet fortified white wines)
  • D.O. Sierra de Málaga (white, rose and red wines)
  • D..O Pasas de Málaga (raisins).

It’s also very popular to drink sherry (D.O. Jerez, D.O. Manzanilla)!

Fact 10. Málaga’s residents are anchovies.

Just kidding … sort of. Málaga’s (human) residents do however call themselves boquerones, which is the name for fresh anchovies and popular tapas.

As for the reason why, they answer that they are just as beautiful, nimble and like to gather in a company, much like fish in a joint.

By the way, be sure to try the tapas made out of marinated boquerones and fried anchovies when in Málaga. It’s the city’s special!

Fact 11. Every Good Friday, Málaga releases one of its prisoners.

Yes, you read it right! This tradition dates back to 1759 - the time of the plague epidemic in Spain.

Legend has it that prisoners were so outraged by the cancellation of Easter processions that year that they started a riot and broke out of jail. They went to the streets carrying Jesus’ image and praying for salvation from the plague. And later they peacefully returned to their cells.

King Carlos III was so impressed that he gave the brotherhood of Jesús El Rico the right to release one prisoner each year!

Fact 12. The clocks in Málaga's new subway stations only count 58.5 seconds.

They follow the Swiss system, displaying only 58.5 seconds instead of 60. As it marks 58.5, the second hand stops and waits for the minute hand to strike and then resumes.

What actually happens is the central master clock sends an electronic pulse to the station clocks at each full minute, while the second hand is driven by an independent electric motor. This system ensures that all the station clocks are synchronised and trains depart precisely on time!

Fact 13. Malagueños have a peculiar dialect, unlike the Spanish.

There are hundreds of words and expressions that are spoken only in Málaga.

Here’re some of them:

  • Perita: a word for nice/ cool.
  • Chalao: a word for the Spanish tonto, meaning something/someone is crazy or an idiot.
  • Chorra: used instead of the Spanish word suerte, meaning luck (e.g. «Qué chorra!»).
  • Estás alobao: when everything goes wrong, you can say you’re feeling alobao (spaced out/out of it).
  • Esmallao: used to say that you’re hungry.

Fact 14. There are 9 ways of ordering a coffee in Málaga

Málaga has a very particular way of classifying coffee which you won’t find in any other city. Each name represents the proportion of coffee to milk in your cup.

To order your favourite coffee you better familiarise yourself with:

  • Solo: a short single espresso without milk.
  • Largo: a double espresso with a little milk.
  • Semi Largo: 70% coffee, 30% milk.
  • Solo Corto: 60% coffee, 40% milk.
  • Mitad: 50% coffee, 50% milk.
  • Entre Corto: 40% coffee, 60% milk.
  • Corto: Just under half a glass, or “short” on coffee.
  • Nube (“cloud”): 25% coffee, 75% milk.
  • Sombra (“shadow”): 20% more coffee than a nube.

© Café Central Málaga

That was fun, wasn't it? We hope you’ve learnt something new. Now you can impress your friends or use these facts about Málaga as a conversation starter!

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