Before you start your Erasmus journey, you are probably overwhelmed with all the information and preparation. We get it. As you might know, Malaga is a vibrant city that is situated in a perfect location for a lot of traveling in the South of Spain. To make the most out of your Erasmus in Malaga, we collected the best places and useful, practical tips that incoming Erasmus students must know!
Must-know places for Erasmus students in Malaga
1. Camden Lock Malaga
Camden is the unofficial gathering place and the heart of social life for all Erasmus students and interns in Malaga. This bar has an English theme full of international people and cheap drinks. On the weekends and during happy hours, Camden is absolutely full but the atmosphere is always enjoyable. Also, there is a foosball table, beer pong, and a big dance floor where you can dance to the best Spanish and international songs! So if you are new to town and want to meet new people, this is your place. Check out our pub crawl tour, Camden is one of the bars you could visit with us!
2. Cheap supermarkets
Grocery shopping makes a huge difference in your Erasmus budget. If you want to spend most of your money on traveling instead of groceries, we recommend you pay attention to where you shop in Malaga.
The most expensive option is Carrefour/Carrefour Express. Now, in the historic city center, you can find Carrefours everywhere. Supermercado MAS and MAS & GO are just the same as Carrefour. These stores usually have very convenient opening hours and they are accessible if you just need to grab one or two things. But for your big weekly grocery shopping, I would definitely not recommend it. Their selection is usually limited because of the limited space in the city center, and the prices are higher than in other bigger supermarkets outside the city center.
For bigger grocery shopping, I would suggest you check out Lidl or Mercadona. If you are from Central Europe, you are probably familiar with Aldi and Lidl, the German supermarkets. They have a huge selection of foods and goods and cleaning supplies, and they have themed promotions every week. Mercadona is basically the Spanish version of these supermarkets. It is huge, it is relatively cheap and you can find a number of Mercadonas in mainly the residential areas of Malaga. You can also find a lot of Supermercado Dia here. In my opinion, Dia represents the midrange, as it falls between the more expensive Carrefour and the cheaper options such as Lidl and Mercadona. It depends on the product and whether it is more affordable elsewhere or not.
In Spain, you get the best deals if you buy fruits and vegetables at the local Fruteria. These fruit stores have fresh produce and great prices compared to big supermarkets. Additionally, part of the Spain culture is that you buy fruits and vegetables and bread daily so that they are fresh. Therefore, you will always see the locals lining up before bakeries and fruterias, chatting with the owners. So if you want to support local businesses and also save money, try buying food at the fruterias. In the residential areas, you will find at least one on every street.
4. Home décor
If you are looking for home décor items, such as new bedsheets, pillows, lamps, towels, etc., I have two places for you. These places usually have low prices for things you have to buy for your college dorm room or rented flat, but you probably will not bring them home with you.
The biggest shopping center, Larios Center, has a Primark in it. Primark is a UK retail store chain that offers very low prices for clothes, cosmetics, and home goods. For household items, the price range is usually between 1€-10€. There is also an IKEA, the Swedish furniture store, a little outside of Malaga. If you take the long-distance bus for 1.50 euros, you can get there in an hour. Enjoy the nice displays and the Swedish meatballs in their restaurant!
5. Stationery store
If you arrived at Malaga to study at the University of Malaga, you will be in need of some new stationery. For cheap options, I would recommend TEDi. TEDi is a German store that has a wide selection of daily household, party, DIY, and electrical goods, but also stationery, toys, drugstore, and cosmetic products. You can find pens, notebooks, washi tapes, glues, highlighters, sticky notes, and so on and so forth.
In case you wish to find quality stationery, DisOfic Center – Martínez is for you. This beautiful stationery store is near the port and just a few minutes of walking from the city center. They have everything that you can imagine. DisOfic Center has pens and pencils in every shape and size and color, but also beautiful notebooks, journals, pencil cases, printers, even suitcases, and travel mugs. Even if you choose to buy cheaper stationery for your university classes, it is a good idea to buy useful gifts and souvenirs from this store, as I am sure their elegant display will impress you.
Tips for Erasmus students in Malaga
1. Erasmus in Malaga: Bring warm clothes during the winter period!
Be aware of the weather in Malaga before you arrive! Depending on your Erasmus period, you can expect very different weather. Malaga has a warm Mediterranean climate, meaning that it has long, hot, usually dry summers and mild, sometimes rainy winters. The weather is the coldest and most unpredictable during the winter season, from the end of November to early February, sometimes even until March. January is the coldest month out of all of them. During this time, don’t be surprised if you encounter fogs, sudden rains, Sahara dust storms, and cold sea winds everywhere in the city. For the rest of the year, the weather is generally mild and pleasant with a lot of sunshine.
Because of this, I would recommend you bring a variety of sweaters and at least one warmer jacket or coat if you come to Malaga for Erasmus during the winter period. If you are from Northern/Eastern European countries/Scandinavia, you do not have to bring your winter clothing to Spain. It can get cold, especially during the night, but if you bring all your wool sweaters and lined winter coat, you will definitely die of overheating when outside. If you are from a Southern European country, just bring whatever you would wear in your home country for winter. And be aware that most student housing apartments do not have or use central heating, not even during winter! You might get a mobile heater but that’s it, so make sure you bring warm and casual clothes for home.
2. You can take day trips by bus for a very cheap price!
From Estación de Autobuses de Malaga, which is the bus station near the port of Malaga, you can hop on a number of buses and have a cheap day trip nearby to Malaga! For under 2€, you can get to Mijas, Torremolinos, Benalmadena, Fuengirola, Marbella, Nerja, Frigiliana… the list goes on. There are so many wonderful seaside towns near Malaga, that you cannot miss visiting them, especially not for such a cheap and quick round trip! The buses are also very frequent so you have nothing else to do but just go to the bus station, think of a destination, buy the ticket either on the bus or at the ticket office, hop on the bus and you will be on your way to one of these amazing Andalusian towns!
3. Time is different in Spain
You are probably already familiar with the Spanish siesta. Siesta is usually between 2 pm and 5 pm, but it can be anywhere between 1.30 pm to 6 pm, depending on the establishment. So be aware that during this time, shops, pharmacies, cafes, bars, offices, schools, and even restaurants close for siesta. Spaniards spend their siesta with lunch and a quick nap in the middle of the day.
This custom originates from the period of the Roman Empire, but more recently, after the post-civil war period in Spain. People usually had to work two jobs, one in the morning and one in the afternoon/evening. So the siesta, the middle-day break, served to reinvigorate and energize the workers. Siesta has proven to increase the workforce’s efficiency by 34%! Also, the more practical explanation is that in Southern Spain, during the early afternoon hours the heat is unbearably hot and sometimes dangerous.
Other than the siesta, in general, the Spanish approach to time and punctuality might surprise other Europeans or tourists from other cultures. More often than not, people are late (10-20 min) but this is considered to be normal. For instance, don’t expect a meeting to start exactly on time unless it’s been specified. Meeting up with your friends for a drink at 7 pm will likely mean that no one will be there before 7.30 pm or even 8 pm. When Spaniards have to complete a task or assignment, don’t be surprised if they take their time instead of stressing and hurrying. That is why they are such a happy nation! As a consequence, public transportation, in general, is also not very reliable. So expect frequent delays and from time to time cancellations.
4. Pay attention to the electricity hours!
This is a unique one. Although this does not apply to every student accommodation, the electricity bills depend on the hours of the day in most Spanish flats. There are three price categories you should remember. On weekdays, the electricity is cheapest between 00:00-08:00, it is a little more expensive between 08:00-10:00, 14:00-18:00, and 22:00-00:00. It is the most expensive between 10:00-14:00 and 18:00-22:00. On weekends and national holidays, you can use the electricity all day without having to worry about the price because it is in the cheaper category. So this is certainly important to keep in mind if you want to save money on the bills.
5. Free activities in Malaga
Malaga has many great museums which you can usually visit for free on Sundays!
Malaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso so you can find two museums honoring the artiste: The Picasso Museum Málaga presents the work of Picasso while the Picasso Birthplace Museum commemorates the home where the world-renown painter was born and continued to live in. You can visit the Picasso Museum Málaga for free every Sunday between 17:00 and 19:00!
For contemporary art lovers, we recommend the Centre Pompidou and the CAC or Contemporary Art Center of Malaga. Both museums exhibit modern paintings, photos, and statues. The entrance to CAC is always free so it is definitely worth checking out. The Centre Pompidou is the sister museum of the Paris museum, and the entrance is free every Sunday from 16:00 to 20:00.
Last but not least, if you like history and paintings from Romanticism, and want to learn more about Malaga, we suggest you check out the Carmen Thyssen Museum and the Museum of Malaga. Both museums exhibit huge collections of paintings, while the Museum of Malaga also displays archeological pieces. The Carmen Thyssen Museum is free every Sunday from 17:00 – 20:00, and the Museum of Malaga is always free for EU citizens.
If you want to discover other free things to do in Malaga during your Erasmus, click here!