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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Diaz

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Malaga, Spain

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Malaga, a stunning city situated on the Costa del Sol, is a traveler's delight. The city offers a unique blend of architectural styles that are complemented by picturesque sandy beaches and the glistening blue sea. A few days in Malaga can be spent exploring the large boulevards, admiring the historical center, indulging in swimming at the local beaches, and embarking on several fantastic day trips from the city. This comprehensive travel guide will help you discover all the top things to do in Malaga, from shopping to sightseeing and everything in between.


Getting to Malaga, Spain

To visit Malaga, you can fly directly to the city's international airport from major destinations in Europe. If you are traveling from outside of Europe, you may need to take a connecting flight from Barcelona or Madrid. Another option is to drive to Malaga, or take a train to the city.


Getting Around in Malaga, Spain

To get around Malaga, you can use the metro system if you need to move between different neighborhoods or go to the beaches. There are also taxi services like Uber, Cabify, or Bolt. We discovered that Uber and Bolt were the cheapest options, but Cabify had more cars available. Additionally, if you prefer a more eco-friendly way to explore the city, you can rent a bike for the day from one of the many bike rental shops in Malaga and ride through the various cycling routes in the city and along the coastline.


Things to Do in Malaga, Spain

Malaga is a city that offers a diverse range of experiences to visitors. The old town, with its intricate network of cobblestone streets, stands as the heart and soul of the city. In contrast, the modern shopping center and wide boulevards provide a different perspective. Several green parks within the city offer a serene retreat for nature lovers. The city beach is perfect for relaxing and soaking up the sun while feeling the refreshing sea breeze. The towering mountains surrounding the city are home to the iconic white villages of Andalusia, offering an ideal day trip or stopover during an Andalusia road trip. I suggest staying for three nights to make the most of Malaga's top attractions. However, extending your stay might be worthwhile if you wish to explore the surrounding areas.


An interesting fact about Malaga's Old Town is that it is a car-free zone. This makes it an ideal place for leisurely strolls while admiring the city's historical architecture, with each building as beautiful as the next. However, if you're traveling by car, you'll need to park outside the area as cars are not permitted in this zone.


Alcazaba de Malaga

The Alcazaba de Malaga is one of the most popular sites in the city and a must-visit attraction. It is an impressive fortress built during the Nasrid Kingdom period of Islamic rule in Spain, similar to the Alhambra in Granada, albeit on a smaller scale. The fortress sits atop a hill, offering breathtaking views of the city. The architecture features beautiful Moorish archways, tilework, and gardens filled with fountains, orange trees, palms, and the pleasant scent of jasmine. It is an ideal place to spend a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of the city. To learn more about the history of the Moorish period, it is recommended to take a tour of the Alcazaba. The site is open from 9 AM to 8 PM during summer (April to October) and from 9 AM to 6 PM in winter (November to March). The last entry is 45 minutes before closing, so plan accordingly.


The entry fee to the Alcazaba is 3.50 EUR (3.50 USD), and a combined entry ticket with the Castillo de Gibralfaro costs 5.50 EUR (5.50 USD). Tickets are not available online and can only be purchased in person at the entrance. Please note that there might be queues during weekends and peak season.


On Sundays, visitors can enter the site for free after 2 PM, making it an excellent option for budget travelers.



Malaga Museum (Museo de Malaga)

If you're interested in art and archeology, don't miss a visit to the Malaga Museum (Museo de Malaga). Previously an art museum, it has now been combined with an archeological exhibit. The fine art collection is superbly displayed with a colorful backdrop, and most pieces are exhibited without glass front protection, allowing you to fully appreciate the vivid colors. The fine arts collection boasts over 2000 pieces, and the archeology section showcases over 15,000 artifacts.


Take a moment to appreciate the museum's architecture, as the entrance is surrounded by palm trees, reminiscent of a palm-lined beach in Sri Lanka!


The entrance fee is 1.50 EUR (1.50 USD), but EU citizens can enter for free.



Gibralfaro Castle (Castillo de Gibralfaro)

Another must-visit site in Malaga is the Castillo de Gibralfaro, built in the 8th century. It served as a military fortress to protect the Alcazaba. It is positioned even higher than the Alcazaba and provides a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. You can take a walk on the ancient walls, which form a circular loop, to catch a bird's-eye view of Malaga's iconic landmarks like the bull arena.


After a tour of the castle, you can relax and enjoy refreshments at the on-site cafe before heading down to the city. Accessing the Castillo de Gibralfaro requires a 25-minute uphill walk from the Alcazaba. Alternatively, you can use a rental car or take a bus as there is parking at the top.


The castle's entry fee is 3.50 EUR (3.50 USD) or a combined ticket with the Alcazaba for 5.50 EUR (5.50 USD). The Castillo de Gibralfaro is open from 9 AM to 8 PM during summer and until 6 PM during winter.


Malaga Cathedral (Cathedral de la Encarnación)

Malaga Cathedral stands out as one of the city's most distinctive and attractive buildings. It resembles more of a grand palace than a religious structure, with its smooth domed shapes, rosy-pink stone, and surrounding palm trees. The cathedral was constructed over a period of 150 years, resulting in a mix of different architectural styles, ranging from Baroque to Renaissance. Inside the cathedral, hundreds of candles light up the beauty of the place. What sets Malaga Cathedral apart is its single bell tower, as opposed to the usual two seen in most cathedrals. The absence of the second tower earned the building the nickname 'La Manquita,' or 'the one-armed lady.' However, The bell tower stands 84 meters high, making it Spain's second tallest bell tower, after Seville.

Here's an interesting fact: Malaga Cathedral offers visitors a unique chance to climb to the rooftop of the structure. Unlike other religious buildings, which often only allow access to their bell towers, visitors can go up to the cathedral's flat rooftop, providing them with a stunning panoramic view of the city. It's a climb of 200 steps, but the view is worth it!


The entrance fee for the cathedral is 8 EUR (7.91 USD) for a general ticket and 12 EUR (11.87 USD) for a ticket that includes a rooftop tour. With your admission, you will receive a complimentary audio guide and a kid's version for families traveling with children. Avoid the queue and book a guided tour to Malaga Cathedral.




Mercado de Atarazanas

Indulging in Spanish cuisine at a local food market is always a treat, and the Mercado de Atarazanas in Malaga is a prime example. The market features numerous stalls selling fresh local produce, including fruits, vegetables, spices, fish, meat, bread, and olives. You can also immerse yourself in the vendors' vibrant atmosphere while eating. However, keep in mind that, like many markets in Spain, it closes at 2 PM and remains closed on Sundays. It's best to visit in the morning, starting at 8 AM, to avoid disappointment. Besides the mouthwatering food, the market's building is a sight. It's an impressive structure made of iron and glass, and one side features colorful stained glass.


Malaga are Málaga Park and Jardines de Puerta Oscura

If you're in Malaga, taking a stroll and appreciating the beautiful plants, flowers, and water features in one of the city's many parks is a top-rated activity. The parks are great spots for escaping the heat, and you might even spot colorful birds like Parakeets. The most renowned parks in Malaga are Málaga Park and Jardines de Puerta Oscura.


Picasso Museum

Meanwhile, visiting the Picasso Museum is a must-do while in Malaga. The city is the birthplace of the famous artist, and the museum, located next to the Cathedral, showcases almost 150 of his works. You can also visit the house where Picasso was born, which has been transformed into another museum called Museo Casa Natal de Picasso, and it's only a five-minute walk away.


The entry fee for the museum is 9 EUR (8.81 USD), and you can book your ticket with an audio guide.



Málaga Roman Theatre (Teatro Romano de Málaga)

The Teatro Romano is the oldest site in Malaga, and it's an impressive ancient Roman theater that dates back to the 1st century. You can visit the interior or admire it from above. If you opt for the viewing area, you can see the old Amphitheater and visit the adjacent museum for free. The remains of the Teatro Romano are located at the base of the Alcazaba. If you want to learn more about the theater's history and significance in Malaga, consider booking a guided tour for a more in-depth experience.




Where to Eat in Malaga, Spain

When visiting Malaga as part of your Andalusia road trip itinerary, you'll have a wide variety of dining options to choose from, including many fantastic restaurants, bars, and cafes. Whether you're in the mood for traditional Spanish dishes or international cuisine, you will find something you like. Here are some additional recommendations to consider:


El Pimpi

Located in the heart of Malaga, El Pimpi is an iconic restaurant known for its traditional Andalusian cuisine and extensive wine cellar. It offers a lively atmosphere and a beautiful courtyard adorned with photos of famous visitors. Be sure to try their tapas, such as the grilled sardines and local cheeses.


Los Mellizos

For seafood enthusiasts, Los Mellizos is a popular choice. This restaurant specializes in fresh seafood and offers a wide selection of dishes like paella, grilled fish, and shellfish. It is located near Malagueta Beach and provides a fantastic dining experience with beautiful sea views.


La Cosmopolita

Situated in the historic center of Malaga, La Cosmopolita is known for its innovative take on traditional Spanish cuisine. The menu features creative tapas and dishes made with high-quality local ingredients. Their signature dish, "pluma ibérica," a tender cut of Iberian pork, is highly recommended.


El Tapeo de Cervantes

This cozy tapas bar is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. El Tapeo de Cervantes offers a wide variety of tapas, showcasing both traditional and modern flavors. Their menu includes dishes like Iberian ham, salmorejo (a cold tomato soup), and patatas bravas (spicy potatoes).


Brunchit

If you're looking for a delicious brunch experience, Brunchit is a fantastic choice. Located in the city center, this trendy café offers a diverse menu with options like avocado toast, eggs Benedict, pancakes, and a variety of fresh juices and smoothies. The atmosphere is modern and welcoming, making it a popular spot among locals and tourists alike.


It's important to note that tap water is drinkable in many regions of Spain, which means there's no need to purchase plastic bottles from stores. You can travel without producing unnecessary plastic waste by bringing your own reusable bottle.


Cafes + Bakeries in Malaga, Spain


Next Level Specialty Coffee

If you're a coffee lover, you won't want to miss this specialty coffee shop in the heart of Malaga. They roast their own beans and offer a range of brewing methods, from pour-over to espresso. They also serve a selection of light bites and pastries to accompany your coffee.


Casa Aranda

Famous for its churros and hot chocolate, Casa Aranda is a beloved institution in Malaga. Established in 1932, this traditional café is the perfect place to satisfy your sweet tooth. Their churros, which are deep-fried dough pastries, are best enjoyed dipped in thick and rich Spanish hot chocolate.


Bröt Bäckeri

This Scandinavian-inspired bakery has gained popularity in Malaga for its artisan bread, pastries, and cakes. Bröt Bäckeri focuses on using high-quality ingredients and traditional baking techniques. From cinnamon rolls to sourdough bread, you'll enjoy a delightful assortment of treats.


Dulces Dreams

If you're looking for a cozy café with a whimsical touch, Dulces Dreams is a charming choice. This bakery-café offers a variety of freshly baked goods, including cakes, muffins, and cookies, along with a selection of specialty coffees and teas. The cozy and colorful atmosphere adds to the overall experience.


Confitería Lourdes

Located near the Mercado Central de Atarazanas, Confitería Lourdes is a traditional pastry shop with a wide range of delectable treats. They are known for their homemade cakes, pastries, and cookies, which are perfect for indulging in a sweet break during your exploration of the city.


Casa Mira

Casa Mira is a renowned confectionery shop that has been delighting locals and visitors since 1890. Famous for its turron (a nougat-like sweet) and ice cream, Casa Mira offers a wide range of traditional Spanish sweets and treats. Whether you're craving a slice of turron, a scoop of creamy ice cream, or some delicious marzipan, Casa Mira is a must-visit for dessert lovers.


Where to Stay in Malaga, Spain

When I visited Malaga, I opted for an Airbnb for my stay. For those wondering where to stay in Malaga, the Old Town area would be a great choice. This location offers an opportunity to stay amidst the most authentic and historic buildings in the city. Additionally, it's just a few minutes away from the primary historical sites. There are numerous accommodation options to choose from, catering to various budgets, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious boutiques and 5-star hotels.


Malaga Centro

The city center of Malaga is a prime location for accommodation. It offers easy access to major attractions like the Picasso Museum, Malaga Cathedral, and Alcazaba fortress. This area is bustling with shops, restaurants, and vibrant nightlife. A wide range of accommodation options are available, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels.


La Malagueta

Located close to the beach, La Malagueta is a sought-after neighborhood for tourists. It offers stunning sea views and proximity to the popular Malagueta Beach. The area has numerous hotels, beachfront apartments, and restaurants, providing a relaxing coastal experience.


Pedregalejo

Situated east of Malaga's city center, Pedregalejo is a charming neighborhood with a laid-back atmosphere. It is known for its picturesque beach promenade, lined with traditional seafood restaurants. Pedregalejo offers a quieter and more local experience while still being within reach of the city center.


Soho

Malaga's Soho district is an up-and-coming area known for its vibrant street art scene. It has transformed into a trendy neighborhood with contemporary art galleries, hip cafés, and boutique hotels. Soho is an excellent choice for art enthusiasts and those seeking a trendy and modern atmosphere.


Best Time to Visit Malaga, Spain

I personally visited Malaga in December and found the weather to be warm and pleasant enough to spend time outside. With 320 days of sunshine per year, Malaga is a great destination to visit all year round. However, summers can be extremely hot, with August being the busiest time due to the Spanish holiday season and many visitors flocking to the beaches. If you prefer a quieter atmosphere, consider visiting during the rest of the year, when the weather is still beautiful, with blue skies even in winter. This is also a perfect time to hike and explore the surrounding areas.

Malaga is a wonderful destination that offers something for everyone. With its beautiful beaches, rich history, delicious food, and warm climate, it's no surprise that it's become such a popular spot for travelers. Whether you're looking to relax and soak up the sun, explore the city's fascinating past, or indulge in some of Spain's best food and drink, Malaga has you covered. From the stunning views of the Alcazaba to the vibrant street art of Soho, there's always something new and exciting to discover. And with its affordable prices and convenient transportation options, planning your perfect Malaga getaway has never been easier. So pack your bags, bring your reusable water bottle, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in one of Spain's most charming cities.


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Hi, Thanks for stopping by!

I'm Samantha! A photographer and I believe that every picture has a story. As a blogger, I share my travel stories with everyone. I think it's important to document my travels and share my experiences with others. I've been to some amazing places and I've seen some incredible things. I want to share my stories and photos with the world.

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