Things to Do in Malaga: The 15 Best Places to Visit (All Highlights)
You’re planning to visit Malaga during your trip to Andalucia and you’re looking for the best places to visit?
In order to help you plan your stay, i have prepared this guide of the best things to do in Malaga and its surroundings. In addition to the must-see attractions and points of interest, I will also give you all my best tips as well as my list of the best accommodations in town depending on your budget.
Let’s plan your trip!
- Things to Do in Malaga: The 15 Best Places to Visit (All Highlights)
- Visit Malaga: the 15 Must-See attractions
- The 5 best things to do around Malaga?
- How many days to visit Malaga?
- 1 day in Malaga
- 2 days in Malaga
- 3 days in Malaga
- 4 days in Malaga
- Where to stay in Malaga
- Where to eat in Malaga
- How to go to Malaga?
- Malaga tourist map
- You’re traveling to Andalusia? These articles will help you!
Visit Malaga: the 15 Must-See attractions
1. The Alcazaba of Malaga
The Alcazaba is probably the most well-known tourist attraction in Malaga.
Built in the 11th century by the Moors, this palace was both the home of Muslim rulers and a fortress to protect and defend the city from the Catholics.
The site is very well preserved and maintained. During your visit you’ll discover the courtyards, patios, fountains and sumptuous gardens. As it’s built on a hill overlooking Malaga, it offers a lovely view over the sea and port.
There’s also a small archaeological museum showcasing Moorish pottery and ceramics.
If you want to know more about the history of the place, you should book a 1h30 guided tour of the Alcazaba. It even includes the Roman theater ruins (see below). You can book it here.
2. Gibralfaro castle
Another place you must visit in Malaga is Gibralfaro castle.
From the Alcazaba, you can go to the castle on foot via a path offering great views over the city. It is however a bit steep, so if you prefer, you can take the bus #35 from the Avenida de Cervantes to go there.
The castle was built in the 14th century to protect the Alcazaba. It had a barrack to house soldiers, as well as a lighthouse. That’s actually where the castle got its name from: Gibralfaro means “mountain of light”.
There is a building right at the entrance to learn more about the history of the castle, but the visit is mainly worth it for the view over Malaga and the sea from the ramparts. On clear days it’s even possible to see the Strait of Gibraltar.
It’s the best scenic view over the Malaga, and it’s also very nice at night with all the city lights.
3. Malaga Roman theater
Another great thing to do in Malaga is to visit the Roman theater located at the bottom of the Alcazaba.
It’s the oldest site in Malaga: it was built in the first century AD by Augustus and was used as a theater during the 2nd century. Then, it was converted into a cemetery to finally be abandoned. Some of the rocks from this site were used to build the Alcazaba.
The Roman theater ruins were only discovered in 1951, when the building that was built on top was destroyed.
Nowadays, many outdoor performances are taking place there.
Entrance is free.
Don’t forget that if you book a guided tour of the Alcazaba here, it also includes a guided visit to the Roman theatre.
4. The Malaga Cathedral
The cathedral is one of the best places to visit in Malaga.
It’s one of the tallest in Andalucia, you can see it from far away! Construction work started in the 16th century, on the foundations of the city’s old mosque.
Construction lasted for 200 years, and got suddenly halted because of a lack of funding. As a result, the cathedral was never completely finished, and has only one bell tower (whereas 2 were planned to be build). Locals even call it “La Manquita” (meaning the armless one).
You can climb the 200 steps to go up the 87 meters high tower: you’ll be able to enjoy a 360° scenic view over the whole city, the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro castle.
Don’t miss out on the interiors either to see the decorated ceiling, the beautiful stained-glass windows, the chapels or even the 4000 pipes organ.
For more information about prices and opening hours, you can have a look at the official website (in Spanish).
5. Museums to visit in Malaga
You may not know about it, but there are a lot of museums in Malaga. Actually, with almost 30 museums, the city has proudly become the cultural capital of Andalucia.
Here is a list of museums to visit during your trip to Malaga (depending on your tastes and interests):
- Picasso Birthplace Museum (get you tickets here): where he was born in 1881. You’ll learn more about his life and will see some of his personal belongings on display.
- Picasso Museum with more than 200 artworks from the artist
- Carmen Thyssen Museum with its extensive collection of Spanish and Andalusian paintings
- Pompidou Centre Malaga, is a branch of the famous Pompidou Centre in Paris
- Russian Art Museum offers a collection of Russian art pieces in an old tobacco factory
- Museo de Malaga with an archaeology section, a Moorish section and a Spanish paintings section.
- Flamenco Art Museum dedicated to the traditional Spanish dance.
- Museum of Glass and Crystal to see the private collection of an Andalusian aristocrat
- Malaga Centre for Contemporary Art dedicated to 20th and 21th century art
- Automobile Museum Malaga and its 85 perfectly renovated vintage cars.
- National Museum of Airports and Air Transport
- Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions
6. Malaga beaches
During your trip to Malaga, it would be a shame not to enjoy the beaches close by. They are perfect to relax a bit!
Here is a selection of the best beaches around Malaga:
- Malagueta beach located next to the port, it’s the closest from the city center
- Pedregalejo beach, located a bit East of Malagueta
- La Caleta beach, very crowded during summertime
- El Palo beach, a family-friendly beach located in the fishermen neighborhood
- La Misericordia beach, a large sandy beach, one of the most popular in Malaga
- El Campo de Golf beach very popular among kite-surfers
- San Andrés beach, another popular beach, there is also a grassy areas and a playground
- Penon del Cuervo beach: young people love it, it’s a great place to party and have a barbecue!
7. La Concepción Historical Botanical Gardens
Malaga botanical garden is located in the Northern part of the city.
You can take the bus #2 to go there from the city center, get off at the last stop and walk for another 15min to reach the garden entrance.
It’s one of the largest tropical and subtropical garden in Spain and even Europe. You’ll see there more than 2000 species of trees and plants spread over about 250 000 m². Malaga botanical garden is the perfect spot for escaping the hustle and bustle of the city!
It’s clearly one must see attractions in Malaga.
For more information, you can visit the official website. Guided tours are also available: you can choose between 3 types of themed tours, lasting from 1 to 4 hours.
8. The Atarazanas market
Let’s continue this guide of Malaga with Atarazanas market.
When you travel somewhere, whether it’s in Spain, Sicilia or even Greece, the market is always the best place to get some delicious local products. In Malaga, I recommend going to the Atrazanas market.
This covered market is located in a stunning 19th century building with colorful stained-glass windows. It’s a very vibrant place with plenty of fresh produces stalls, Spanish cured meat and cheese.
You’ll also find tapas bars close to the main entrance, a nice way to try all these fresh and tasty products!
The market is open Monday to Saturday, from 8:00 to 14:00. It is closed on Sunday.
9. Soho neighborhood
Running out of ideas about what to do in Malaga? You should go for a walk in Soho district!
Once a decaying neighborhood, it has been totally transformed and renovated by street artists. Some buildings and facades are today completely covered with street art, the biggest painting being a few stories tall! The area is also called the art district.
Most art works are located close to the Contemporary Art Centre of Malaga, along the banks of the Guadalmedina river and in nearby streets. Wandering in this part of the town is really pleasant.
In this neighborhood you’ll also find handicraft shops, art galleries, restaurants serving world cuisine and a few trendy bars.
10. Montes de Malaga Natural Park
During your stay in Malaga, you should really go to Montes Natural Park. It’s really the perfect place to enjoy some fresh air not too far from the city!
Considered as “Malaga’s green lung”, it’s located about 25km up North from the city center.
The park is 5000 hectares wide, with marked paths for hiking. Most of the hiking paths suit all levels and are not very long, so you can easily combine a few during a day.
It’s also possible to rent mountain bikes and ride along the 2 mountain bike trails. You can choose between a 7km or a 14km itinerary.
The park is well equipped with picnic areas and even a few restaurants serving “plato de los montes“. This mountain dish is a local speciality: it’s made of pork loin, sausages, blood sausage and eggs, with a side dish of potatoes and fried bell peppers. Needless to say it should satisfy your hunger!
You can also go see the ecomuseum located in the visitor center, explaining how wine, bread or olive oil are made.
All the necessary information to plan your trip to Montes de Malaga Natural Park is on the official website.
The 5 best things to do around Malaga?
If you’re done exploring Malaga itself, you should go visit its surroundings. Here are my favorite places to visit around Malaga.
11. Caminito del Rey
The caminito del Rey is located about 1h driving from Malaga.
It’s a very spectacular hiking path, once considered the most dangerous one in the world. But don’t worry, it has been completely secured and rearranged so it’s 100% safe now.
However, as the path is more than 100 meters above the ground, it’s still very impressive!
Beware if you’re afraid of heights: once you’ve started the hike, you can’t go back. The path is only one way so you must finish it.
If you want, you can book a guided tour to the Caminito del Rey. The guide will be with you during the whole hike and will give you information about the site’s history. These kind of tours are often fully booked weeks in advance, so you must book it in advance here.
And if you also want to have transportation from Malaga to the Caminito, you can book a day-tour. Fare includes transportation by minibus from Malaga to the Caminito del Rey, entrance ticket and hiking with a guide. It needs to be booked there.
12. Nerja caves
Around Malaga, you can also go to Nerja, about 50min away by car.
Going to see Nerja caves can be a great family excursion to do in the area! The caves were discovered by chance in 1959, and are home to one of the widest and tallest column in the world.
A regular visit (without a guide) lasts about 45min. There are audioguides available to learn more about the history of the caves and their discovery. There are many steps and it’s quite cold, so remember to wear warm clothes and comfortable shoes
To see prices and opening hours, check out the official website.
Marbella is located 1 hour driving from Malaga.
It’s the most chic and trendy costal resort of the Costa del Sol, in Andalucia. There, you will find plenty of luxury shops, VIP bars and clubs along with 20km of beach to relax all day long.
If you like to party, Marbella is the best place to go to near Malaga!
Ronda is another great place to visit around Malaga, at only about 1.5 hours driving.
This lovely village located on the top of a hill is mostly famous for the bridge that connects the old and the new parts of the village. It’s featured on all the postcards you can find in the area!
To access the best viewpoints, you will need to go to Plaza Maria Auxiliadora, then go down the path. You can take a perfect photo of the village and the bridge from there.
In Ronda, you can also go for a walk in the narrow streets and visit the bullfighting arena, Mondragon palace or La Casa Del Rey Moro.
If you’d like to go to Ronda on a guided tour, you can book one that will start from Malaga.
Transportation, guided tour of Ronda, the arena and visit of a wine cellar are included in the price of the tour. You can book it here.
Fore more information about Ronda, you should read my detailed guide about the village: The 10 best things to do in Ronda
Granada, one of the most famous city in Andalucia is located only 1h40 away from Malaga.
The city is known all over the world for its famous Alhambra. It’s the most visited tourist site in Spain.
It would be a shame not to go spend at least 1 day in Granada while you’re in Malaga!
Besides the Alhambra, you can also visit:
- The Albaicin neighborhood
- The Sacromonte
- Granada cathedral
- The Basilica of San Juan de Dios
- La Cartuja monestary
If you’re in Marbella and don’t want to rent a car, you should book a day-tour to Granada.
The price includes transportation, entrance tickets for the Alhambra and the Nasrid palaces as well as a visit of the Albaicin neigborhood. It needs to be booked here.
For more information about Granada, you should read my detailed guide: The 15 best things to do in Granada.
How many days to visit Malaga?
If you just want to visit the city itself, 2 days are enough to visit Malaga. You’ll have enough time to see most of the places I talk about in this guide.
If you want to visit several museums or explore the city’s surroundings, you can of course stay for 3 or 4 days in Malaga.
1 day in Malaga
If you’re in Malaga only for one day, here is my recommended itinerary:
- Start with Gibralfaro castle
- Then go down to the Alcazaba
- Stop by the Roman theater
- Lunch break
- Visit the Picasso museum or another museum depending on your tastes
- Go see Malaga Cathedral
- End the day at the beach
If you don’t want to walk too much but still want to see as many tourist sites as possible within a day, you should opt for the hop-on hop-off bus. You need to book it here.
During your booking you can also choose the “Malaga Experience Card” option: it includes the bus ticket, but also free entrance to most museums in the city, a 1 hour boat tour and a ticket to see a flamenco show.
2 days in Malaga
For 2 days in Malaga, add the following activities to the 1 day itinerary above:
- Visit Carmen Thyssen museum or the Pompidou Centre
- Go explore Atarazanas market
- Lunch break in one of the market’s tapas bar
- Go for a stroll in Soho neighborhood
- By the end of the day, head to the botanical garden
3 days in Malaga
You’re planning to visit Malaga in 3 days? Great!
I recommend following the 2 days itinerary above.
On the 3rd day, rent a car to go to Montes Natural Park. You’ll be able to go on a few short hikes there and enjoy the surrounding nature.
In the afternoon on your way back, stop by one of the beaches such as Pedregalejo or del Palo beach.
4 days in Malaga
If you’re lucky enough to spend 4 days in Malaga, you can go explore the city’s surroundings.
- If you have children, you can visit Nerja caves, they will love it!
- If you like thrill, a day trip to the Caminito del Rey will be perfect for you.
- In the mood for a day at the beach and party? Head to Marbella.
Of course, you can stay 5- 6 days or even a week in Malaga and visit absolutely eveything I talk about in this article, with day trips to the Caminito del Rey, Ronda and Granada.
Where to stay in Malaga
- The Lights Hostel: This hostel located 400 meters from the cathedral. A bed in a dorm starts from 20.50€/night with a breakfast at 1.50€. Strong points: clean, nice rooftop, very friendly staff.
- Ibis Malaga Centro Ciudad: Located next to the cathedral and 5 min from the Picasso museum. Modern double room (typical style of this hotel chain) starting from 65€/night, breakfast for an additional 7.95€. Its best features: very central location to visit Malaga on foot, many breakfast options. friendly staff. It’s my favorite hotel for its exceptional value for money!
- Barceló Malaga: located 10 min walking from the historic quarter and 600 meters from the Center for Contemporary Art. Comfortable and design room starting from 135€/night, breakfast for an additional 18€. Best features: Rooftop pool, location, beds are very comfortable. It’s a great place to stay in Malaga.
- Gran Hotel Miramar: This 5 stars hotel is located 10 meters away from the Malagueta beach. Very elegant and beautifully decorated room, starting from 250€/night, breakfast for an additional 25€. Its best features: the decoration of the hotel and the rooms is truly stunning, the pool, the Spa, the breakfast is delicious. The best choice for a luxury stay in Malaga!
Where to eat in Malaga
- Buenavista Gastrobar & Tapas: located next to the plaza de la Merced. This restaurant serves delicious and unique tapas. The paella is also very tasty and the staff is very friendly. You can be sure to have a good time there, just remember to book a table in advance!
- La Proa de Teatinos: If you’re looking for an authentic restaurant that is the opposite of a tourist trap, go eat at the Proa de Teatinos. The food is tasty and the value for money is excellent. The paella is delicious.
- Pampa Grill Restaurante Argentino: The best restaurant in Malaga for meat lovers. The meat is super tender, tasty and perfectly cooked. It’s located close to the plaza Spinola, not far from the cathedral.
How to go to Malaga?
The first option is to directly fly there, as there is an international airport in Malaga.
In Andalucia, there are 2 international airports: Seville and Malaga. Granada, Jerez and Almeria airports are only for domestic flights.
You should check fares now with our flights price comparator. It’s a fast and easy way to get the best deal!
When you get the results, don’t hesitate to look at several websites to make sure there are no added fees.
Malaga tourist map
I have created for you a tourist map of Malaga, listing all the must see attractions and points of interest I have talked about in this article. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button, the one with a little arrow on it.
And you, what do you plan to visit during your trip to Malaga?
Andalusia travel Guides
- Buy the DK Eyewitness Andalusia guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
- Buy the Lonely Planet Andalusia guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
- Buy the Rick Steves Snapshot Andalusia guide on Amazon.com
You’re traveling to Andalusia? These articles will help you!
Discover all my articles about Spain: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Spain are listed there.
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