This blog post was originally posted on April 19th, 2016 and was updated on May 18th, 2017
We love a good market; the action, the smells, the sounds and people bustling about, and the air of confidence that the people running the stands seem to have.
It is the best place to get a feel for the city, the local foods, and it’s wonderful for people watching! The concept to eat and prepare delicious foods with the ingredients that are locally available and in season is centuries old, but it seems as if the marketplace as a concept is having a true renaissance, so here are the best markets in Malaga to enjoy it.
The Mercado Central de Atarazanas is probably the best-known market in Malaga. It is located in the center of town steps from Calle Larios and it has an impressive entrance that is impossible to miss. This is one of the best markets in Malaga for both people watching, as well as learning about the city’s history — it was an obvious choice to include a visit here on our Tastes, Tapas & Traditions of Malaga Food Tour!
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 place where military ships were constructed and repaired. This 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 high ceilings and wrought iron supports are beautiful and give the market an open feel, similar to that of the Boquería market in Barcelona. There is no doubt about it – this market is a working market, complete with a lively atmosphere and all thanks to the crowds of locals coming each day to buy their fresh fish – and the rest! Many of the vendors speak a little bit of English, but a few words in the local language 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 yourself 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. Open 8am-2pm Monday – Saturday.
Address: Calle Atarazanas, 10
The Neighborhood Market
The Mercado del Carmen is located in one of the quintessential Malaga neighborhoods : “El Perchel.” This area was one of the first areas outside the hispano-arab city walls. It was 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), and the name of the neighborhood actually comes from this – “perchas” (hangers) is what the fisherman would use in order to hang and dry the fish.
For over 140 years, the Mercado del Carmen has been a place for the people of Malaga to buy fish caught fresh and brought in that 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 us malagueños love!
If you are wanting to try some of the market’s produce on site, there is also a little bar where you can order up the catch of the day along with an ice cold beer. In fact, we recommend you to 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. Open Monday-Saturday 8am-3pm.
Address: Calle de la Serna, 14
Off the Beaten Path
The Mercado de Salamanca (Mercado Molinillo) is a smaller market, and it’s a bit off the beaten path in terms of the touristic sites in Malaga. However it’s worth seeking out, not just for the food. The building itself is impressive, taking up a whole city block and showing off neo-arab style architecture with huge brightly colored archways.
Once you get inside the market, there are stalls where you can buy fish, meat, bread, and vegetables. However, if you ask a local, they will tell you that the thing to buy here is fish. Far from being a tourist attraction, This is a great place to come to get a sense of neighborhood life in Malaga as it is filled with locals and the hustle and bustle of daily life.
There is a little bar on the side of the market where you will 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, but it’s located only 10 minutes walk from the city center, making a visit here perfectly achievable! Open Monday-Saturday 8am-2pm, Mondays 4pm-7pm and Tuesday-Friday 4pm-8pm.
Address: Calle San Bartolomé, 1
There is a recent trend in Malaga to buy ecological and locally grown produce and baked goods at farmers markets in the streets. Our favorite is the Guadalhorce Organic Market, which is found on the Paseo de Reding the second Saturday of each month. It is 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. Open 10am-2pm, Second Saturday of the month.
Address: Calle Cervantes-Paseo de Reding, La Malagueta
Shopping with Tapas
The newly renovated Mercado Merced has been a market place for years, however after falling into what can only be described as a lack of customers, they decided to renovate and reinvigorate market. Basing their design off the successful Boqueria market in Barcelona or 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 to seafood, along with more modern and international tapas like sushi and burger, and of course, 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 are looking to nibble while you shop or simply somewhere to have a drink in the evening!
We love Malaga’s markets so much that one of these iconic markets is featured on our Tastes, Tapas & Traditions of Malaga Food Tour. Explore the market — and more! — with us and meet some of the friendly local vendors along the way.