Known for its pristine beaches and vibrant nightlife, Malaga is the ultimate beach destination in Europe for many. This Spanish coastal city is rich in culture and delicious food and is a great destination to visit outside of peak summer holidays. As Malaga is on the Costa del Sol, it receives about 300 sunshine-filled days per year. Temperatures are pleasant year-round however are cooler during the winter months. Despite this, Malaga is still a pleasant city to visit out of season.
The city is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes and is packed with parks and beaches. Malaga is an affordable destination, particularly for those based in Europe, as flights are often rather cheap. Once in Malaga, expect more budget-friendly offers such as free museum entry at certain points in the day and lower-priced yet still delicious food in comparison to other major Spanish cities. Many attractions are free to enter on Sunday afternoons.
Locals in Malaga are affectionately called boqueron, which translates to anchovy. This is due to the traditional fishing port bringing in mainly anchovies. Expect to find anchovy appearing in many fish dishes. Try local delicacy pescaito frito, fried fish, to sample some of the day’s freshest catch. While in Malaga, make the most of its artistic history and visit some of its inspirational art museums. Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga. In the city, there is a statue to the famous artist and a museum dedicated to his life’s work.
Malaga is also a great base to see more of the Costa del Sol, Andalusia and the surrounding regions. Hire a car and visit Ronda, a beautiful hilltop town, or venture further afield and explore the unique British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. There are plenty of exciting and interesting things to do in Malaga to add to your travel wish list. Here are 20 to get you started.
- Malaga, Spain
- Top Tours
- 20 Things To Do In Malaga
- 1- Discover Moorish Architecture At Alcazaba
- 2- Get Lost in the Old Town
- 3- Taste Local Food On A Tapas and Wine Tour
- 4- See The City From The Water On A Sunset Sail
- 5- Explore Montes de Malaga
- 6- Explore The Port of Malaga
- 7 Step Back Into History At Castillo de Gibralfaro
- 8- Admire Cathedral de la Encarnacion de Malaga
- 9- Visit Museo Picasso Malaga
- 10- Visit The Roman Theatre
- 11- Relax On The Beach At El Pedregalejo
- 12- Wander Around La Conception Botanical Gardens
- 13- Visit Ronda
- 14- Shop At Mercado Central de Atarazanas
- 15- Stroll Through Parque de Malaga
- 16- Enjoy Art In Centre Pompidou Malaga
- 17- Explore Plaza de la Merced
- 18- Search for Street Art in Soho
- 19- Attend A Festival In Nerja Caves
- 20- Admire Old Masters In Carmen Thyssen Museum
20 Things To Do In Malaga
1- Discover Moorish Architecture At Alcazaba
Sitting above Malaga on a hilltop is Alcazaba.
This Moorish fortress is Malaga’s most important historical landmark and is the best-preserved Moorish fortress in Spain.
The fortress was constructed on top of a ruined Roman fortress.
Abd-al-Rahman I, the first Emir of Cordoba, had the fortress constructed between 756 and 780 AD.
It was perfect for defence thanks to its high location and lookouts over the sea and towards Africa.
On the grounds of the fortress is an archaeological museum that holds Roman artefacts and examples of Moorish ceramics.
Alcazaba is at C/ Alcazabilla, 2, 29015, Malaga. This tour will help you explore.
2- Get Lost in the Old Town
Malaga’s Old Town is a true reflection of the city away from its bars and nightlife.
The old town is a delightful warren of densely packed narrow streets perfect for exploring on foot or tour the city by electric tuk tuk.
While exploring, look for the remnants of Roman, Moorish and Andalusian Christian civilisations.
Many important historical locations within the Old Town include the cathedral and the Roman theatre.
The Paseo del Parque is at the centre of the Old Town, a park inside a former harbour promenade.
Throughout the Old Town, plenty of street vendors serve everything from sangria to tasty churros and slices of pizza.
3- Taste Local Food On A Tapas and Wine Tour
What better way to see the city than to explore by foot on a food tour?
A tapas and wine tour of Malaga will have you exploring excellent tapas restaurants in the city.
Tours last a few hours, and you’ll sample a cornucopia of Spanish delicacies, such as grilled sardines, spicy Spanish sausages and popular favourite patatas bravas.
As your expert guide shares culinary facts with you, you will also learn more about the history and culinary heritage of the area.
Depending on your preferences, tours can take place during the evening or afternoon. At night, you may want to see a Flamenco show at Tablao Alegria.
4- See The City From The Water On A Sunset Sail
One of the attractions of a coastal city is the opportunity to take to the water.
See the city from the Mediterranean on a luxury catamaran tour at sunset.
The trip offers luxury and relaxation as you gently ride the waves with a glass of Spanish Cava.
Relaxing music plays throughout the journey adding to the overall atmosphere.
Malaga is perfectly positioned to watch the sun set beyond the horizon.
Make the most of this magical evening by enjoying a dinner at the harbour after returning.
5- Explore Montes de Malaga
The spectacular Montes de Malaga nature park is five kilometres (3.11 miles) from the centre of Malaga.
The park covers the eastern slopes of the Guadalmedina river basin.
This area is a rugged and jagged mountain with steep slopes.
The area went through mass reforestation during the first third of the 20th century to make up for previous harm caused by humans, which resulted in devastating floods.
Today the nature park is a lush and thriving pine forest consisting primarily of Aleppo pine trees.
Within the nature park are tawny owls and short-toed eagles.
Montes de Malaga is a must-visit location for nature lovers, hikers and those wanting to spend more time outdoors.
Montes de Malaga is at Casabermeja-Colmenar, Malaga.
6- Explore The Port of Malaga
The Port of Malaga is an international port where visitors to the Costa del Sol would traditionally explore the city and its beaches in a day after disembarking from cruise ships.
The port is rapidly developing into a worthwhile destination for tourists and locals alike.
The port is the oldest continuously operated port in Spain, and the area is dotted with reminders of its distinguished maritime history.
Port of Malaga has plenty of shopping opportunities, particularly from designer stores, and is packed with various restaurants, including those serving freshly caught fish.
Spend an afternoon at the port, enjoying a drink, eating tapas, and watching the world go by.
Port of Malaga is at Paseo del Muelle Uno, 29015.
7 Step Back Into History At Castillo de Gibralfaro
The origins of Castillo de Gibralfaro predate the Roman occupation of Malaga.
The castle was developed during the Roman period and fortified during the Arab rule.
In 1494 the Catholic Kings placed the castle on the city’s coat of arms and since then, Castillo de Gibralfaro has been a symbol of Malaga.
The castle is ideally located high up as a lookout post, and today it offers spectacular views across the city and out towards the Mediterranean.
Tickets are available at the castle, however, take advantage of Sunday afternoon free admissions from 2 pm.
Castillo de Gibralfaro is at Camino Gibralfaro s/n, Camino de Gibralfaro, 11, 29016 Malaga.
8- Admire Cathedral de la Encarnacion de Malaga
A short walk from the Museo de Malaga and Museo Picasso Malaga is Cathedral de la Encarnacion de Malaga.
Cathedral de la Encarnacion was designed in the Renaissance style by Diego de Siloe in the early 1500s.
Its construction lasted from 1528 to 1782.
But despite this long construction period, the cathedral’s south tower still needs to be completed.
The vast arched ceiling is supported by intricately carved pillars creating an open and welcoming space for worshippers and visitors.
Inside are many incredible sculptures, including the neoclassical altarpiece within the Chapel of the Incarnation, which sculptor Juan de Villanueva carved in 1785.
Cathedral de la Encarnacion de Malaga is at Calle Molina Lario, 9, 29015 Malaga.
9- Visit Museo Picasso Malaga
Pablo Picasso always wanted his work to be displayed in the city of his birth, and Museo Picasso Malaga does just that.
More than 200 of Picasso’s works are displayed in the museum.
The collection covers the vast array of media the artist worked with during his lifetime.
Look out for ‘Olga Kokhlova with Mantilla’ from 1917 and ‘Mother and Child’ from 1922.
The museum is housed inside a Renaissance-style building and is right in the city’s centre, with Alcazaba Fortress and Gibralfaro Castle nearby.
The museum is also close to Casa Natal, the house where Picasso was born and grew up.
Museo Picasso Malaga is at Palacio de Buenavista, C San Agustin, 8, 29015, Malaga. Skip the line and get your tickets here.
10- Visit The Roman Theatre
In Malaga’s cultural heart is the Roman Theatre, the oldest monument in the city, which lies at the foot of Alcazaba fortress.
The theatre is one of the only surviving Roman ruins in Andalucia following centuries of war, construction, and bombings.
Emperor Augustus built the theatre during the 1st century BC.
It was left to ruin before being adapted as a quarry by Moorish settlers between 756 and 780 AD.
It soon became lost among the rubble and was only rediscovered in 1951.
Within the site is an interactive visitor centre showcasing ancient finds and teaches visitors about the ruin’s history and importance to the city.
Roman Theatre is at C/Alcazabilla, s/n, 29015, Malaga.
11- Relax On The Beach At El Pedregalejo
For sun, sea and relaxation, head to El Pedregalejo and Playa Pedregalejo.
This is one of Malaga’s best beaches and a short walk from the city’s centre.
The beach stretches for 1.2 kilometres (0.7 miles) of soft golden sand.
Along the beach are many excellent seafood restaurants serving the latest catches from the port.
The beach can get busy in the summer, so arrive early to get the best spot on the sand.
If you head to El Pedregalejo on an evening, make the most of its bars and clubs.
El Pedregalejo is at Playa Pedregalejo, Malaga. After a day at the beach, try a hammam and a relaxing massage.
12- Wander Around La Conception Botanical Gardens
La Conception Botanical Gardens is a great thing to do in Malaga for nature lovers, as its unique vegetation gives it the feeling of a jungle in Europe.
The garden houses more than 25,000 plants of a range of species from all over the world.
It covers 55 hectares and has waterfalls, streams, ponds, and several historical buildings.
The Loring Family created the botanical gardens more than 150 years ago.
This part of the garden is still standing today.
The garden was private until 1990 when the city council purchased it and opened it to the public.
You could easily lose yourself in the gardens and spend an entire day there.
Explore the incredible historical viewpoint, and look for the Nymph’s pond during your visit.
La Conception Botanical Gardens is at Camino del Jardin Botanico, 3, 29014, Malaga.
13- Visit Ronda
Ronda is a beautiful hidden gem town in Spain at the top of a deep gorge that separates the old and the new towns.
The old town dates from the Moorish rule, while the new town is from the 15th century.
The most famous view of Ronda is from the bottom of the gorge, looking up towards the 18th-century Puente Nuevo bridge spanning its width.
Ronda is the birthplace of modern-day bullfighting.
Head to the Plaza de Toros to learn more about bull fightings history.
Surrounding the town are caves populated more than 5000 years ago, which are well worth hiking too.
Ronda day trips offer hotel pick-ups across the city.
14- Shop At Mercado Central de Atarazanas
One of the greatest ways to explore a Spanish city is by visiting its central markets.
Mercado Central de Atarazanas is a great place for fresh fruits and vegetables, bakery items and a wide range of local cheeses and cured meats.
The building itself is also a lovely place to visit.
It is constructed from elegantly curved iron and is finished with glass. A colourful stained glass window adds to the magical allure of the market.
The market is a great place to purchase a range of items that would be perfect for a picnic at the botanical gardens or to take down to the beach.
While there, make the most of the takeaway items, including a range of tapas items.
Mercado Central de Atarazanas is at C. Atarazanas, 10, 29005, Malaga.
15- Stroll Through Parque de Malaga
After a visit to the market, take a stroll through the beautiful Parque de Malaga.
The park is the perfect place to visit on a hot day, as there is plenty of shade from the palm trees towering over the walkway.
Inside the park are beautiful and ornate baroque and renaissance sculptures.
There are also plenty of fountains to relax by and subtropical plants to enjoy.
The park runs along the front of the City Council building. This section of the park features a beautiful rose garden surrounded by fragrant orange trees.
Parque de Malaga is at Paseo del Parque, 1, 29015.
16- Enjoy Art In Centre Pompidou Malaga
Sister to the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Centre Pompidou Malaga features a permanent collection of artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries.
More than 90 pieces of work form the main collection.
In the collection are works from Joan Micro, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti and Frida Kayla.
The museum also houses temporary exhibitions for photography, architecture and design. And recently exhibited cinematic productions and dances.
These multidisciplinary programs are designed to interest younger people in the creative arts.
Centre Pompidou Malaga is at Pasaje Doctor Carrillo Casaux, s/n, 29016, Malaga.
17- Explore Plaza de la Merced
Visiting the city’s main square is an essential thing to do in Malaga, and indeed in any Spanish city, to watch daily life.
Plaza de la Merced is a vibrant square in the city’s centre that is a popular meeting place.
The square is lively throughout the day and evening, with cafes and bars swapping coffees for sangria.
The square becomes home to open-air events during the summer months and festivals.
Look out for the Monumento a Torrijos, a neoclassical obelisk from the 19th century, and a Picasso statue designed by Francisco Lopez Hernandez.
The Picasso statue was installed in 2008 and is cast of solid bronze, featuring Picasso sitting on a marble bench taking notes.
Plaza de la Merced is at 29012, Malaga.
18- Search for Street Art in Soho
A visit to Soho in Malaga is a must for art lovers as the area is an urban hub for street art, graffiti and creativity.
Spend a sunny afternoon exploring Soho and taking photographs of the incredible street art covering the buildings.
Several large murals across Soho cover entire buildings.
Artworks along Somera Street feature works from Catalan artist Aryz and the French and Spanish duo Remed and Okuda.
19- Attend A Festival In Nerja Caves
Nerja Caves is a staggering natural formation known locally as the Natural Cathedral of the Costa del Sol.
The caves are a short drive away from Malaga, however this is easily achievable with a hire car or on a guided tour.
Nerja Caves stretch for almost 5 kilometres (3.11 miles) and is home to one of the largest stalagmites in the world.
The rock formation is 32m (104.99ft).
The caves are famous for their spectacular rock formations, cave paintings and archeological sites.
Each year, the International Music and Dance Festival is held inside the cave in July and August.
Nerja Caves is at Carr. de Bajada a Playa de Marco, 29787, Malaga.
20- Admire Old Masters In Carmen Thyssen Museum
Another jewel in Malaga’s art crown is the Carmen Thyssen Museum. The museum is inside the Palacio de Villalón, a 19th-century building.
Opened in 2011, it houses works of art from Old Masters, Romantic Landscape, Precieux Style and Naturalist Painting.
Artists who have their work on display include Diego de Regoyos and Julio Romero de Torres.
Alongside its permanent collection, the museum also holds temporary exhibitions, cultural events and educational programs.
Carmen Thyssen Museum is at Plaza Carmen Thyssen, 29008, Malaga.
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