One of the oldest cities in the world, boasting 3 millenials of history, this bustling location has much to offer. There are Roman and Moorish architectural influences in the intimate centre and miles of beaches with year-round sub-tropical climate. Heather Lawry is your guide to the fast-growing vegan scene…
Published on 11 Jul 2017
Where to eat
Home to many wonderful innovations, such as the guitar, flamenco dancing and sangria, the traditional Spanish cuisine is ‘tapas’, which is simply small portions of food. Ordering tapas is a very sociable event, as you can order many dishes and share with your fellow diners. For the average vegan, the choices in traditional eateries are mostly limited to bread, olives or ‘patatas bravas’ (fried potatoes covered in a spicy tomato sauce).
Do not despair as Malaga is one of the most vegan-friendly places in Spain and here, tried and tested by yours truly, are my recommendations based on choice, quality, atmosphere and value for money. Just remember to check times as Spain works on ‘siesta’ hours, with many establishments closing between 2.30-5.50pm daily and closed completely on Sundays.
Vegetarian & Vegan only
With plant-based eaters being known to be more health conscience than the average Joe, these places offer gluten-free, raw or sugar-free options, and some with organic/vegan wine on the menu too. Also look out for ‘el menu del dia’, an affordable three course menu – an incentive introduced since the start of the financial crisis to keep people dining out and supporting local business.
This café and Bio-shop offers a totally vegan ‘menu del dia’ Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, with a different cuisine theme daily. With superb staff and a high quality of food delivered every time, this is my favourite lunch spot in Malaga.
Calle Tomás Heredia 19. Wifi available.
El Karmem Vegano
Situated nearer the commercial shopping centre, this café and Bio-shop is like visiting a treasured Auntie’s house. There is cosy, front-room furniture and Lola the owner cooks all the food from scratch herself. All food is fresh and organic where possible, and she serves tea in proper tea pots.
Calle Ancha del Carmen 35. Wifi available.
Macrodulces La Espiral Bakery
Although not a café, this place deserves a mention because all the produce is vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free. With a large selection of different cakes and other treats, you can enjoy (almost) guilt-free.
Calle Dos Aceras, 24.
El Vegetariano de la Alcazabilla
Next to the old-worldy ‘Cine’ cinema in centro, this is a family run affair serving an extensive homemade veggie and vegan menu with delicious homemade breads. Try the vegan platter which varies daily.
Calle Pozo del Rey, 5.
Vegetariano El Calafate
Centro location, this snug restaurant serves a reasonable ‘menu del dia’ with vegan options. The kitchen serves all day, which is a rare find in Malaga. Open Monday-Saturday, 1-11pm and Sundays, 1-4pm.
Calle Andrés Pérez, 6.
Set amongst the bars of lively Plaza de la Merced, there is sunshine all day and fun all night on this square. This restaurant offers tasty veggie and vegan food only, including a consistently satisfying vegan chocolate cake for dessert.
Plaza de la Merced, 21. Wifi available.
For a quick bite
Although not totally vegan, these are the best alternative places. Most modern cafés offer non-dairy milk, and for a traditional breakfast, opt for ‘pan con tomate’ (bread, olive oil and tomato) or ‘mermelada solo’ (fruit jam only).
This place has, to me, the best coffee in Spain! They have delicious vegan bagels, scones and cakes daily, as well as a fantastic menu available if you want something bigger.
Calle Carretería 44. Wifi available.
Brunch It Organic
Recently extended, this modern café has a hip new interior. Workspace friendly, with plug-points near every table, they have delicious vegan options as well as fresh juices. Open all day.
Calle Carreteria, 46. Wifi available.
Teteria El Haren
This tea-house has eclectic decor, cosy corners and candlelight, set in a quirky old house. There’s an extensive tea menu served in unusual pottery (think hobbit land), crepe menu and salads.
Calle Andrés Pérez, 3. Wifi available.
If you like card or board games, this is the place. A US diner themed menu has some vegan meals – McCartney burgers, nachos with guacamole and vegan chilli or vegan chorizo tapas. A great place to interact with friends.
Calle San Lorenzo, 18.
Luis’ pizzas are the freshest and tastiest in the city! He also offers vegan pizza by the slice – take out only.
Calle Madre de Dios, 43.
Recyclo Bike Café
Funky bike rental café with great atmosphere and music. Plenty of vegan options on their tasty menu and fresh smoothies available.
Plaza Enrique García-Herrera, 16. Wifi available.
A fun bar with friendly staff, a cool vibe and delicious food. They’ve recently added more vegan menu options and all meals are freshly made in-house.
Calle Ramón Franquelo, 8. Wifi available.
Situated near the Roman theatre and cinema, try a sangria in this funky crepe bar. The menu is South American influenced and has plenty of vegan tapas options. Blankets or fires on the large terrace area for chilly nights, or comfy cinema seats inside.
Calle Pozo del Rey, 7. Wifi available.
Astrid Taperia Organica
Quirky Spanish organic restaurant offering vegan and vegetarian options. Nice dining experience.
Calle Calderón de la Barca, 6. Wifi available.
Amigos Mexican & Indian
I was surprised to find the menu options are not only tasty, but easily veganised. There are outlets in the centre or in the port, looking out on the yachts.
Calle Bolsa, 6 or Puerto de Malaga. Wifi available.
Luckily for native English speakers, Spanish is phonetic, so you are able to pronounce a word relatively correctly just by reading it. It is always courteous to at least try and communicate in a country with their native language and, although most people speak English, you will find people will be a lot more receptive and helpful if they see you are making an effort. Here are some useful phrases:
- I am vegan – Soy vegano/vegana (m/f)
- I don’t eat meat/fish/milk/cheese/eggs – Yo no como carne/pescado/leche/queso/huevos
- With / without – Con / sin
- Do you have soya milk? – Tienes leche de soya?
- No butter, just jam please – sin mantequilla, solo mermelada por favor
Top five places to visit
1. Historical centre or ‘Centro’ You will find all types of interesting architecture, such as the Cathedral, the Gibralfaro Castle and the Roman theatre steps. Also check out the Atarazanas market, open until 2pm, and the museum of Malaga’s very own born and bred famous artist Pablo Picasso.
2. Puerto de Malaga This is my favourite sun-trap part of Malaga. If you walk down to the harbour from Centro you will walk through some beautiful gardens with fountains, sub-tropical trees, plants and squabbling wild parakeets. Check out the art gallery café under the Pompidou (colourful cube) where they have cool bands playing.
3. The beach The beaches of Malaga Province stretch for miles whether you explore Malagueta by the port or go east to El Palo or west to Torremolinos or even further to the beautiful Benalmadena (easily reachable by train).
4. El Caminito del Rey Set in the steep gorge of El Chorro mountain, this notorious walk was at one time the second most dangerous hike in the world, but it has been reconstructed and is now incredibly safe. This really is a beautiful place and easy to reach by train from Malaga. It will take a full day with travelling time, so make sure you book as far in advance as possible to ensure a place.
5. Ronda Again this is outside of Malaga, so set a day aside but it’s truly worth the visit. The ‘El Puente Nuevo’ bridge is an incredible spot with an interesting history. If you like rock climbing, take your equipment to do the via ferrata down to the fountain below the bridge – there are routes for various abilities, including beginners. Otherwise there is a walkway available also.
With so many incredible things to do in Malaga make sure you use Isango! to book in advance. You can go on a dolphin trip, experience flamenco dancing is centuries-old caves, try out a street food tour, and much much more.
Where to stay
Dulces Dreams Boutique Hostel & Café Gallery
I recommend this gorgeous little hostel, at a fantastic location in Centro and that serves a fabulous soy matcha latte.
Plaza de los Mártires Ciriaco y Paula, 6. www.dulcesdreamshostel.com
There are no vegan hostels in Malaga, but check HappyCow for updates and vegvisits.com, which is like an Airbnb for vegetarians and vegans.
Getting to Malaga
Check out Google Flights or Skyscanner to find cheap flights from the UK normally with Ryanair or Easyjet. Tickets are as cheap as £30 and it is only a 2½ hour journey. From the airport you can catch a train direct to Centro in 11 minutes for €1.80 each or catch a taxi for €25.
About the author
Heather Lawry is originally from Oxford, England, and after many years travelling is now the founder of plant-based fitness holiday company City & Beach Wellness Retreat, running courses in Spain and Portugal. Passionate about nutrition and fitness, Heather hopes to gently help conquer the stigma against veganism, promote health through a plant-based diet and teach people to live overall more compassionate lives.
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