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Shopping in Malaga

Shopping in MalagaShopping in Málaga is a fascinating mix of the old and the new. Years ago shopping for the malagueños was a fairly parochial, low-key affair but economic booms and the increase in tourism, has resulted in more contemporary and chic shopping options, including international chains and shopping malls.

If this all sounds worryingly anonymous, don’t worry. Málaga is still home to plenty of small idiosyncratic shops, many of which have been in the same family for several generations and seem to charmingly thrive on selling just one or two specialties. It is this diversity in era and style that is one of the great aspects of shopping here; the fact that right next to a cutting-edge designer boutique you can still find a stuck-in-a-time warp haberdashery buzzing with elderly ladies scouring racks of buttons, bobbins and bows. In addition there is an increase in enterprising individuals opening interesting and unusual new shops that would be quite at home in New York or London. Inevitably, however, the Coast is home to the souvenir strips, selling the same kind of imported shells, saucy slogan T-shirts, cheap jewellery and kitsch ornaments that you find in tourist resorts all over the world.

If you do plan on shopping on the Costa del Sol, then head for the weekly markets where you can still pick up inexpensive souvenirs and gifts, including ceramics and leatherwear.

Back in the Costa capital, Spain’s famous department store El Corte Ingles (Avenida de Andalucía) is the usual multi-storey confusion of, well just about everything, including shoes, perfume, fashion, homeware, furniture and food. Alternatively, head for the city’s shopping heart: Málaga’s swanky shopping street, Marqués de Larios is traffic-free and luxurious with glossy marble pavements and expensive shops. On either side are alleyways and tiny squares and a number of churches and museums, all within close range. Atarazanas, Malaga Central Market is absolutely not to be missed.

Even if you don’t plan to buy, Larios is a window-shopping wonderland. All the major Spanish retailers are here, including Mango (Marqués de Larios, 1) selling smart streetwise women’s fashion and evening wear. More fashionable threads can be found just down the street at Blanco (Puerta del Mar 13). This Spanish chain sells savvy urbanwear, plus spray-on-style tiny T-shirts and funky outfits for clubbing. Be warned that the sizes here range from extra small to …small!

 For stylish men’s fashion, Massimo Dutti (Marqués de Larios 4) is where Málaga’s elegant, 30-something man heads when he wants a special-occasion suit or similar, well cut with very little synthetic materials used.

Although leather goods are not quite the rock bottom bargain they used to be in Andalucía, check out the new Autumn range of handbags, briefcases and custom accessories at Martín Sáenz (Marqués de Larios 2) – if the weather catches you out, you can pick up a classy umbrella here as well – (always a good gift in the UK).

Nobody likes to wear a pair of shoes for more than a season in this town, which is why there is a spoilt-for-choice number of shoe shops around. Nicolas (Marqués de Larios 3) is one of Andalucía’s best-loved shoe chains with a great range of fashionable footwear for stepping out in style. For less expensive shoes head to nearby Cache (Puerta del Mar 3) which has a good range and year-round sales. Malagueños like to shop, almost as much as they like to eat and the good news is that here, they can do both. Throughout the city, you can buy fresh roasted almonds from street vendors and, during the winter months, chestnuts and sweet potatoes are sold by stout aproned women. Málaga is also home to some superb delicatessens selling typical Spanish goodies which make great gifts for around the tree.

Málaga wine is comparable to sweet port.In Plaza de la Constitucíon (which leads into the old centre from Larios), the Café Central (Calle Santa María 2) has a next -door deli selling all kinds of savoury and sweet treats, including turron; the classic Xmas confection based on almonds and honey. Across the square Mallorquina (Calle Sagasta 1) sells Jamon Serrano (ham) for around €25 a kilo and wedges of aged and crumbly Manchego cheese. Across the road, a second-branch Mallorquina, (Plaza de Felix Saenz 7) is where to pick up a few bottles of sweet Málaga wine. A favourite tipple among Victorian ladies in England, this rich raisiny wine is similar to a sweet sherry and was first made here in 600BC by the Greeks. Don’t just palm this off as a good gift for Gran, Málaga wine is comparable to port and makes a great Christmas pud accompaniment.

Olive oil is another popular purchase in Andalucía, but is not usually associated with the bathtub! Hand-made soap based on olive oil is the sudsy speciality at En Jabon Arte (Calle San Juan 33) with ‘flavours’ including pineapple, cinnamon and chocolate. For something far more traditional, head for a business that has been in operation since 1724: Cerería Zalo (Calle Santa Maria 10) – near the tourist office – is a heady shop that sells religious incense, perfumed candles, Jesus figurines and similar. For more good smells, Espejo Hermanos (Plaza Constitucíon) has the full monty of cosmetics and perfumes.

Spanish ceramics make great gifts and Cerámica Fina (Caller Coronel 5) has a vast showroom choice ranging from hand-painted thimbles to decorative plates, tiles, religious plates and wall lamps. For something less fragile to pack, Málaga has several shops that sell beautiful hand-painted fans. At Ceylan (Calle Nueva 2), they also sell exquisite mantons (shawls), stitched by hand in pure silk (around €555) or the cheaper machine-made picos (a smaller, triangular version) from just €18.

Finally if you fancy the foot-stomping señorita look, Málaga can easily compete with Seville in the frilly frock department. Viva La Fería! (Calle Cisneros 4) has several racks of dresses, with prices ranging from around €180 to €600 and more. El Rocio (Calle San Juan) and La Castañuela (Calle Cisneros 8). And for the flamenco guitar accompaniment, Málaga Musical (Calle Compañia 33) have long been one of the city’s most respected outlets for traditional Spanish guitars.

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