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A sun-kissed city in the stunning Costa del Sol, Malaga is one of the most beautiful places in Andalusia. This vibrant port city has a 2,700-year history, so visitors will find many fascinating palaces, churches, and buildings to explore.

Malaga also boasts fantastic beaches that can be enjoyed all year round, thanks to the mild climate. In this guide, you will find the 10 best things to do in Malaga, Spain, so you can organize your next trip without much effort. 

From Moorish fortresses to an astonishing number of museums to culturally rich neighborhoods, Malaga is loaded with things to see and do. There’s so much to discover here that you are in for a surprise. So let’s discover together how to make the most of your time in beautiful Malaga.

BEST TIPS FOR TRAVELING TO MALAGA

Things To Do In Malaga

daytime citywide view of malaga spaindaytime citywide view of malaga spain
Photo via Unsplash by Tabea Damm

Let me help you figure out what to see in Malaga by listing the city’s top attractions so that you can decide what best suits your travel style and budget.

#1 Tour the Alcazaba

alcazaba malaga with poolalcazaba malaga with pool
Image via Unsplash by Fernando Távora

With little to envy, Seville’s Real Alcazar, Malaga’s Alcazaba palace is an absolute must-visit. Built in the 11th century when the region was under the reign of the Berber king Badis-al-Ziri, the Alcazaba is one of the finest examples of a Moorish palace in the world

This astonishing building historically had a double purpose: it was a palatial fortress to defend Malaga from the Catholics, and it was the main residence of the Muslim rulers. Due to its defensive role, the Alcazaba has a strategic position at the base of Mount Gibralfaro, overlooking the city and the sea. The fortress is a proper citadel with defensive walls and towers. 

The royal palace is located in the inner part of the fortress complex. After having enjoyed the incredible vistas from the hill, step inside the Alcazaba to discover all its beauty. In this well-maintained building, visitors will discover sumptuous gardens filled with orange blossoms in the spring and bougainvillea in the winter. 

The palace also features three stunning patios with pools and fountains, all a must-visit. Particularly special is the Patio de los Surtidores, which leads to the Torre de la Armadura Mudéjar, its 16th-century carved wooden ceiling, and the Torre de Maldonado. This second tower boasts marble columns and balconies to enjoy the best views over Malaga. Inside the Alcazaba is also a small archaeological museum displaying Moorish pottery and ceramics. 

There is so much to discover about the Alcazaba, so a great idea is to take this guided tour to learn the palace’s history and the Moorish rule over the Andalusian region.

Hours: Winter season (November – March): 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Summer season (April – October): 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Price: General admission is €3,50

Tips: If you’re interested in visiting the Alcazaba as well, purchase the combo ticket for €5,50 on the official website

#2 Gibralfaro Castle

gibralfaro castle with trees growing throughgibralfaro castle with trees growing through
Image via Flickr by Nicolás Cabrera

Another building of the Alcazaba complex to visit is the Gibralfaro Castle. This is the proper defensive part of the citadel, built in the 14th century to garrison the troops protecting the Alcazaba under the foothill.

The castle has two distinctive parts, the upper courtyard and the lower part, the soldiers’ dedicated area. We suggest starting your visit from the courtyard, where you will find a small museum showcasing artifacts and historic trivia. Behind the museum is a lovely cafe with a pergola and a huge fig tree perfect for a midday break. 

On the right of the museum is the staircase that leads to the castle walls. Take a leisurely walk on the defense walls, passing by the 8 towers and admiring beautiful vistas over Malaga and the sea. The lower part of the castle offers additional panoramic views. On clear days, it’s even possible to see the Strait of Gibraltar.

The Castillo de Gibralfaro, as it is called in Spanish, is indeed the best spot in Malaga to take in jaw-dropping vistas. Giving its best at sunset, to get to the castle from the Alcazaba is no direct route. Visitors will need to climb to the top of the hill, which takes around 40 minutes on foot. If walking uphill isn’t your jam, you can catch the public bus (#35) from Avenida de Cervantes in Malaga’s center.

Another way to get to this wonderful ancient landmark is by joining this fun segway tour of Malaga’s historic center, which includes a visit to the Gibralfaro castle. 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Address: Camino de Gibralfaro, 1, 29016 Málaga, Spain

Hours: Winter season (November – March): 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Summer season (April – October): 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 Price: General admission is €3,50

Tips: If interested in visiting the Castle of Gibralfaro as well, purchase the combo ticket for €5,50 on the official website

#3 See the Roman Theater

best things to do in malaga roman theater best things to do in malaga roman theater
Image via Flickr by Natalie Mayer

Just below the Alcazaba is one of the top free things to do in Malaga, the Roman Theatre. Built in the first century CE, it is considered among Europe’s oldest theaters.  

Erected under Roman Emperor Augustus, it was used as a theater until the third century AD. Subsequently, after the Romans the theater was basically abandoned until the Moors took over the rules of Andalusia. At this point, the amphitheater became a stone quarry to excavate the material used to build the Alcazaba fortress.

Over time, the theater became buried under dirt and rubble, and it was rediscovered only in the 1950s. However, the building was abandoned again in 1995 and not reconstructed and open to the public until 2011.    

Of incredible archeological and historical significance, the Roman Theater has been the venue for theatrical performances. Rumors say that famous actor Antonio Banderas, who grew up in Malaga, performed at this theater as a child, but in total secret. In fact, those shows were technically banned under Francisco Franco’s ruling on the country in the 1970s.

Today, the Roman Theater hosts performances and shows during the summer. Throughout the year, visitors can access it for free and enjoy the venue at their own pace. For an extra educational experience, you can join this guided tour of the Alcazaba and the Roman Theater.

#4 Malaga Cathedral

ground view of malaga cathedralground view of malaga cathedral
Image via Flickr by nestorboscanf

If you are wondering what the 10 best things to do in Malaga, Spain are, be sure that one of them is Malaga Cathedral. This striking church is one of the tallest in the Andalusia region, and you will spot it from many angles around the city.

Its construction started in the 16th century and lasted for around 200 years as it was stopped suddenly for lack of funding. Due to this reason, Malaga Cathedral remains unfinished. In particular, it only features one bell tower instead of two. This peculiarity earned it the nickname “La Manquita” (“the armless one”), as the locals affectionately call it. 

The cathedral, built in an old mosque, boasts a wonderful mix of Renaissance and Baroque styles, which you can admire both in the external façade and inside. Enter Malaga Cathedral to marvel at opulent decors, beautiful stained-glass windows, ornate chapels, and a 4000-pipe organ.

Another must-do when visiting the cathedral is climbing the 200 steps to go up the tower. Eighty-seven meters high, from up there, you can enjoy a 360-degree view over the whole city, all the way to gazing at the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro castle.

Get to know in detail this UNESCO-listed monument and its history with this guided tour with skip-the-line entrance.

#5 Shop at the Atarazanas Food Market

stained glass windows front entrance to atarazanas food marketstained glass windows front entrance to atarazanas food market
Image via Flickr by Johannes Schwanbeck

There are many beautiful markets in the city of Malaga. One that visitors should stroll through is the Atarazanas food market, locally known as the Mercado Central de Atarazanas. Besides finding mouthwatering fresh produce, the market’s building is unique and worth visiting.

The market’s edifice originally had another purpose. Surprisingly, it was constructed as an Arabian shipyard, and it changed the destination of use over the centuries. It was only in the 19th century that it became the central market that we know today. This lively market’s architecture is peculiar since it mixes the original Moorish style with modern cast iron elements. 

Once you’ve taken your time admiring the building, step inside to savor the local cuisine and shop for exceptional products. The Atarazanas food market features three sections. In the produce department, you will find locally grown fruits and vegetables along with produce from across Spain. The stalls in the fish section sell locally caught fish and offer samples to taste. While here, you should try “boquerones en vinagre”, a delicious tapas made of anchovies marinated in vinegar, parsley, and garlic. Then, head to the meat department, where you will want to taste the goat cheese made with milk from Cabra malagueña.

The Atarazanas market is one of the best places in Malaga for indulging in Spain’s tapas culture. This excellent tour with a local chef of Malaga’s tapas bars includes a stop at the Atarazanas market to sample the authentic culinary tradition of the city.

#6 Malaga Beaches

malagueta beach sign in front of beachmalagueta beach sign in front of beach
Image via Flickr by Bogdan Migulski

Malaga has perfect weather all year round, so stopping by one of its many beaches is always a great idea. 

Among the 10 best things to do in Malaga, Spain, is visiting the city’s most famous beach, Malagueta Beach. The closest beach to the center stretches for 1200 meters and is Blue Flag awarded. Malagueta Beach used to be the place to meet the fishing boats, but nowadays, it has a completely different feel and look.

A beautiful palm-lined promenade with many beach bars and restaurants to enjoy some of the region’s favorite drinks and meals. At Malagueta Beach, you will find many amenities, such as umbrellas, sun loungers, volleyball courts, and a kids’ playground. 

A leisurely stroll from Malagueta Beach by the seaside promenade is La Caleta Beach. Slightly less crowded, it is perfect for enjoying the sun and a good swim. One-kilometer-long, La Caleta Beach offers immaculate sand, umbrellas and sun loungers to rent, and kiosks to order cool drinks or hire water sports equipment. 

If you are looking for a less busy spot, Peñón del Cuervo Beach is perfect for you. Overlooked by a 450-meter-high cliff, this sandy beach is divided into two parts dotted with tall palm trees. Ideal for relaxing and taking leisure swims, the shallow waters of Peñón del Cuervo Beach make it a beloved one by families. At nighttime, this beach gets busy with youngsters who host bonfire parties.

A unique way to enjoy Malaga’s section of Costa del Sol is by venturing on this catamaran sailing adventure animated by a DJ set and with swimming stops.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Don’t forget these important beach essentials: 

#7 Check out the Picasso Museum

best things to do in malaga picasso museumbest things to do in malaga picasso museum
Image via TripAdvisor by Experience821610

One thing that might surprise you about Malaga is its impressive number of museums. Around town, there are 30-something museums and art galleries, so much so that Malaga is considered Andalusia’s cultural capital.

With so many museums and contemporary art collections, you will need to make up your mind and choose which to visit. If there is one to consider, it is the Picasso Museum. Malaga is the birthplace of the famous painter Pablo Picasso, so it’s only normal that a whole museum is dedicated to his life and works in the city. 

The Picasso Museum displays a collection of more than 200 art pieces organized in both chronological and thematic order to really show the evolution of the artist’s work. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions in a dedicated space upstairs. Besides the collections, this museum boasts a beautiful location. You will find it inside the Buenavista Palace, a stunning Andalucian-style building in the heart of Malaga’s historic center.

You can explore the interesting Picasso Museum at your own pace or join this excellent guided tour with skip-the-line-ticket for a more in-depth experience. 

#8 Explore the SoHo Neighborhood

painted buildings in soho neighborhoodpainted buildings in soho neighborhood
Image via Tripadvisor by Anna M

Among the things to do in Malaga old town is explore the various neighborhoods that make it up. One of the coolest neighborhoods for a stroll is SoHo. Sharing its name with New York City’s famous art district, Malaga’s SoHo used to be a decaying area. 

This neighborhood was completely transformed and renovated by residents and business owners to transform it into a cultural center. Through the work of the civic association “Soho Málaga,” the neighborhood began as a venue for many artistic projects, including music festivals and flea markets. 

But what renders SoHo a must-visit is the overarching presence of street art by famous national and international artists. Walk around the neighborhood, and you will see the entire façades of buildings covered with amazing graffiti.

Among the most interesting (and photographed) street art pieces are the ones on the Colegio García Lorca’s edifice, a public school. On the left side of the building, you can see D*Face, representing a fighter pilot made by British artist Dean Stockton.

On the right side of the edifice, you can see instead the image of a woman and the words “Paz y Libertad” (Peace and Freedom). This second graffiti is the work of famous American artist Shepard Fairey.

In addition to mind blowing street art, in SoHo, you will also find new-wave coffee shops, bars serving craft beer and cocktails, small artist-owned galleries, and artisan shops. 

See epic graffiti and listen to the stories about its creation with this guided tour of Malaga’s Soho and Lagunillas neighborhoods.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Location: Next to Málaga harbor, just north of Alameda, the Heredia docks, Plaza de La Marina, and the river Guadalmedina.

Other info: 

  • Soho Market is open the first Saturday of each month
  • Due to the skatepark, this is a very popular area for skateboarders
  • Easy to tour on foot and close to the main tourist area of Malaga 

#9 Automobile and Fashion Museum

car on display at automobile and fashion museumcar on display at automobile and fashion museum
Image via Flickr by Jorbasa Fotografie

Malaga has museums for all tastes and interests. A great idea if you want to see something different is to visit the renewed Automobile and Fashion Museum. Located inside an old tobacco factory, this museum houses one of Southern Europe’s biggest collections of vintage cars

Step inside the Automobile Museum to admire over 100 car models displayed in different themed areas, such as the Belle Époque, Crazy Years (1920s), and La Dolce Vita (1950s). Alongside legendary Rolls Royce’s, Bentleys, and Ferraris, visitors will find mannequins wearing fashion-appropriate clothing and accessories for the time the car was built.

The exhibition offers insights into how cars and fashion have changed throughout history, starting from the 1900s to futuristic models. If you are more into fashion than cars, two rooms are a must-visit. One showcases many designers’ hats, while the other is about fashion designers’ outfits. While in this second exhibition room, look for the surrealist hat-shoe designed by Dalí for Gala, his wife and muse.    

Enjoy your time and marvel at incredible cars and haute couture with this ticket to the Automobile Museum with optional guided tour.

#10 Hike El Caminito del Rey

el caminito del rey rocky mountainsideel caminito del rey rocky mountainside
Image via Flickr by José Balsas García

The last entry on this ’10 best things to do in Malaga, Spain’ list isn’t technically in the city, but it is so iconic that it’s an absolute must if you have the time. Only 1 hour’s drive from Málaga City is the Caminito del Rey. 

The Caminito del Rey is a series of ridge trails and bridges clinging to the steep cliffs along the Guadalhorce Valley. Stretching for 7.7 kilometers, this spectacular hiking path was once considered among the most dangerous trails in the world. After several people had died hiking it, the government temporarily shut it down to make the trail safe for visitors. 

The Caminito del Rey traced back to the early 20th century to connect the opposite sides of the valley. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is ideal for those looking for a good thrill!

The walking path is located more than 100 meters above the ground, and once you begin it, you have to get all the way to its end. In fact, the trail is only one-way, and in some spots, is so narrow that it doesn’t allow two people to walk side by side. 

To hike the Caminito del Rey, you will have to wear a hard hat for extra safety, but again, the path is now completely safe and easy to do. Get ready to feel like you are defying gravity with this round-trip tour to the Caminito del Rey from Malaga. This tour is fantastic as you will be accompanied by a local guide explaining interesting facts about the unique trail.

OUR RECOMMENDED TOUR

Address: Meeting point at Aloratur Meeting Point, in Heroe de Sostoa Street 2 , Malaga 29002, Spain

Hours: The tour departure is set at 8:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

Price: Starting from $62.59

Tips: 

  • The tour duration is approx 7 hours, perfect for day-tripping
  • Meals and drinks are not included in the price
  • The tour includes the entrance ticket to the Caminito del Rey, transport from/to Malaga, and accident insurance for people under 65

Where To Stay In Malaga

When planning your visit to beautiful Malaga, check out the following four accommodation options for your stay.

HISTORIC CENTER

junior suite room with striped walls and bed next to large widowjunior suite room with striped walls and bed next to large widow

Room Mate Valeria

This wonderful 4-star hotel boasts the best features for a luxury and comfortable stay. At Room Mate Valeria, guests will find soundproofed design rooms, a seasonal rooftop plunge pool, and a fitness center. A this hotel, you will also find a good breakfast served daily until noon. This hotel is also close to Malaga Cathedral and within walking distance of La Malagueta Beach.

HISTORIC CENTER

atarazanas malaga boutique hotel standard roomatarazanas malaga boutique hotel standard room

Atarazanas Málaga Boutique Hotel

Located in a renovated historic building, this hotel has a perfect location in Malaga’s center. From it, you can easily reach beautiful attractions such as Malaga Cathedral and the Museo Carmen Thyssen Malaga. This boutique hotel offers modern rooms with top-notch amenities, highly-rated services, and an on-site cafès serving daily breakfast.

LA MALAGUETA

hotel ms maestranza malaga standard roomhotel ms maestranza malaga standard room

Hotel MS Maestranza Málaga

Steps away from Malagueta Beach and Center Pompidou, the MS Maestranza Málaga welcomes guests in a venue with stylish décor and many comforts. This 4-star hotel has a rooftop terrace with a hot tub to relax while admiring panoramic city views. Moreover, guests can enjoy a sauna with a Turkish bath, two restaurants on-site, and an airport shuttle.

SOHO

soho boutique urban main lobby front desksoho boutique urban main lobby front desk

Soho Boutique Urban

This 3-star accommodation provides colorful and modern rooms with many amenities. All rooms have air-conditioning, high-speed Wi-Fi, a coffee machine, and a city view. Soho Boutique Urban is close to Malaga’s best attractions, and guests have a delicious breakfast and airport transfer at their disposal. It is also pet-friendly.

Closing Thoughts

Malaga is one of the best destinations to visit in Southern Spain. With endless charm, more museums than the ones you can see in a single trip, sandy beaches, and delicious food, taking a vacation to Malaga is the right choice. 

Thanks to the excellent weather all year and the high temperature in summer, Malaga is ideal for those planning a beach vacation and trying to escape the cold winter of their hometown. It is also a great idea to time your trip around one of the many Feria’s (fairs) held throughout the year

This extensive guide about the 10 best things to do in Malaga, Spain, is designed to let you know what you can plan in your Malaga itinerary and activities you should consider adding in.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Malaga, Spain, worth visiting?

Absolutely yes. Malaga is unbearably charming, with its old ruins, gorgeous buildings, countless museums, and many sandy beaches. Whatever type of tourist you are, you will find plenty of things to see and do in Malaga.

At what time do people in Malaga eat?

Generally speaking, people in Spain tend to consume their lunch and dinner later than in other European countries. In Malaga, the locals enjoy lunch after 2 p.m. and dinner from around 9 p.m.

Are there free things to do in Malaga?

Malaga is a city rich with interesting things to do, and some of them can be enjoyed for just a couple of euros or for totally free! Among the best free things, there are the over 30 museums of the city, which are free to enter every day or on selected days, and the Roman Theater. 

When is the best time to visit Malaga?

Malaga is a perfect destination all year round, but it gives its best in Spring and Fall. These two seasons boast warm temperatures, around 20 to 25 degrees Celcius (68 to 77 F), perfect for staying outside, visiting the city, and also going to the beach.

How many days do you need in Malaga?

Malaga isn’t a huge city but boasts amazing attractions. All in all, you will need at least two full days to visit this fantastic Andalusian destination.

What you should read next

Travel Resources For Your Next Trip

If you’re in the process of planning your trip and putting together your itinerary, these are genuinely the best resources that the Going Awesome Places team stands by 100%.

Credit cards: Don’t get burned by hidden fees on top of terrible exchange rates. When we travel now, we use the Wise Card. Simply load it with the currency you need before you go and use it as a regular VISA or their digital wallet card. Use their free app to track how much you have and top up when you need to.

Flights: Of all the booking search engines, Skyscanner is the most helpful and easy to use thanks to their Everywhere feature. Kayak is also another that’s we will often check as well.

Car Rental: If you’re looking to save money, these car rental coupon codes will be a true game-changer. Otherwise, DiscoverCars and RentalCars are great places to start.

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Airport Parking: You’ll need a spot to leave your car at the airport so why not book a spot at a discount. Use code AWESOME7 to get at least $5 off at Airport Parking Reservations or Park Sleep Fly packages.

Data: We’ve been a huge fan of wifi hotspot devices like PokeFi because their rates are so good and you can use it globally but recently, we’ve really loved using eSIMs. The best one is Airalo. Save money by getting region-specific eSIMs and use referral code WILLIA9500 to get $3 USD credit on your first purchase. Ubigi is another one that we’ve had success with where they uniquely offer 5G coverage. Use code AWESOME10 to save 10% on your first order.

Hotels: Our go-to is Booking.com because they have the best inventory of properties including hotels and B&Bs plus they have their Genius tier discounts. The exception is Asia where Agoda always has the best prices. TripAdvisor is also useful for reviews and bookings.

Vacation Rentals: Your first instinct will be to check Airbnb but we always recommend checking VRBO as well if you’re looking for a vacation rental.

Tours: When planning our trips, we always check both Viator and GetYourGuide to at least see what’s out there in the destination that we’re going to. They often have different offerings and prices so check both.

Travel Insurance: Learn how to buy the best travel insurance for you. This isn’t something you want to travel without.

  • Insured Nomads – Popular insurance provider for frequent travelers and comes with great coverage and special perks.
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  • InsureMyTrip – Best for seniors, families, and those with pre-existing conditions.

If you need more help planning your trip, make sure to check out our Travel Toolbox where we highlight all of the gear, resources, and tools we use when traveling.



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