Best Things to Do in Malaga

Spain

As the capital of the Costa del Sol, many people only associate Malaga with beaches – which is true, there is a lot of sand and a lot of sun (around 320 sunny days per year to be exact). However, the city of Malaga and in particular its chic historic old town, oozes with charm and is always abuzz.

Besides the old town, there are also Moorish and Roman ruins from the city’s ancient past. There is even a delightful port area full of shops and restaurants and to top it off, the city has beaches. Check out our top things to do list below and find out why we think Malaga is Andalusia’s most underrated city.

Patricia Palacios, co-founder of España Guide
About
PATRICIA PALACIOS
España Guide Co-Founder
Patricia is an engineer turned content creator who for over a decade has been helping travelers navigate her native Spain. In addition to her own website, her tips and recommendations have been featured on BBC Travel, CNN, El País & Lonely Planet, just to name a few.

This article might include affiliate links, allowing us to earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Check our disclosure page for more info.

Patricia Palacios, co-founder of España Guide
About
PATRICIA PALACIOS
España Guide Co-Founder
Patricia is an engineer turned content creator who for over a decade has been helping travelers navigate her native Spain. In addition to her own website, her tips and recommendations have been featured on BBC Travel, CNN, El País & Lonely Planet, just to name a few.

This article might include affiliate links, allowing us to earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Check our disclosure page for more info.

Best 10 Things to Do in Malaga

1

Historic Center

Beautiful 19th century architecture in Malaga's historic center, Spain
19th century architecture in Malaga's historic center

Malaga’s old town is the heart of the city and where most shops, bars and restaurants are located. Wandering through the streets is a joy since it’s almost entirely a pedestrian zone.

The streets themselves are a work of art – all paved with marble that sparkles in the sunlight (and even at night from the streetlights!). Take a closer look and you will discover that almost no street or alleyway is the same, each with their own unique colors of marble and special design.

Marble street full of restaurants in Malaga's old town
Street full of restaurants in Malaga's old town
Malaga Things to Do Tip Icon    Did you know? Most of Malaga’s historic center dates back to the 19th century, a legacy to being the first city in Spain to plunge into the industrial revolution.

The old down is a labyrinth of small streets full of palaces, churches, squares and chic buildings. Don’t miss the Plaza de la Constitución and the Plaza de la Merced, two of the prettiest squares in the city.

2

Alcazaba

Malaga's Alcazaba seen from the pier with the Malagueta beach in the foreground
Malaga's Alcazaba seen from the pier

Malaga’s Alcazaba (3.5€ entrance fee) is a well-preserved Moorish fortress-palace originally built around 750-780. This mammoth fortification is well preserved and features 8 sequential fortified gates and watch towers that had to be crossed, just to enter the palace. Talk about security!

Malaga Things to Do Icon - full guide of Malaga's Alcazaba    Don't miss: Check out our complete guide of Malaga's Alcazaba
Alcazaba seen from the path to the Gibralfaro castle, Malaga – Spain
Views of the Alcazaba – Malaga

Once inside the palace you will find a few quaint patios with water features surrounded by some of the original palace rooms. Most of the palace treasures have been looted or simply lost to time so it doesn’t compare with Granada’s Alhambra or the Seville's Royal Alcazar.

But it also lacks the crowds that the others have – which can make for a much more relaxing and enjoyable visit. In any case, if you are visiting Malaga, the Alcazaba is worth a look.

3

Malaga Cathedral

Sunset over Malaga's cathedral, Spain
Sunset over Malaga's cathedral

One of the main sights in Malaga’s old town is the city’s cathedral (10€ entrance fee). It was built between 1528 and 1782 on the site of a former Mosque. The architect is actually the same that built the New Bridge in Ronda.

Malaga Things to Do Icon - full guide of Malaga's cathedral    Check this out: Our complete Malaga Cathedral Guide

Locals affectionately call the cathedral “la Manquita” (the one-armed woman), because it was never actually finished. To this day, it is still missing one of its two towers.

The cathedral also offers tours of its rooftop (10€ entrance fee), which take you up 200 steps to enjoy some great city views and get a very close look of the missing tower.

4

Picasso Museum & Birth House

Exhibition room at Malaga's Picasso Museum, Spain
Exhibition room at Malaga's Picasso Museum
© Museo Picasso

Malaga is the birthplace of the famed painter Pablo Picasso and has two museums in his honor.

The Picasso Museum (12€ entrance fee) opened in 2003 and triggered Malaga’s cultural rebirth. Housed in the magnificent Buenavista Palace, it is made up of 12 halls of permanent exhibition.

Malaga Things to Do - Picasso Museum Tickets Icon    Book tickets: Get your Picasso Museum Tickets here!

Located in the Plaza de la Merced, Picasso’s Birthplace Museum (3 - 4€ entrance fee) occupies the house where the famous painter was born in 1881. Today, it is a monument to his life and work as well as the headquarters of the Picasso Foundation.

5

Gibralfaro Castle

Beautiful views of Malaga from the Gibralfaro castle, Spain
Views of Malaga from the Gibralfaro castle

Situated atop the Alcazaba is Malaga’s second Moorish landmark, the Gibralfaro Castle (3.5€ entrance fee). It was built around 200 years after the Alcazaba and was an extension of the lower fortification. At one time, the two were even connected.

Malaga Things to Do Icon - full guide of Malaga's Gibralfaro castle    Find out more: Check out our complete Gibralfaro Castle Guide

Today, that is not the case. The path that leads to the Gibralfaro starts close to the entrance/exit of the Alcazaba and traverses the mountainside under the fortified walls. Once at the top, you can walk around the fortress walls and see all of Malaga, both the old town and the urban sprawl that surrounds it.

If you plan on walking up to the Gibralfaro, avoid doing it in the middle of a hot summer day. You will probably regret it. Also, don’t forget a bottle of water. The uphill walk takes about 20 minutes. If you don’t want to walk, you can always take part in a segway tour or take the city bus (lines 35 and 92 also stop at the Gibralfaro castle).

6

Calle Larios

The emblematic Larios street in Malaga's old town on a sunny morning, Spain
The emblematic Larios street in Malaga's old town

The iconic Calle Larios was constructed when Malaga experienced an industrial boom and a new bourgeois class was looking to show off. This pedestrian street is the main social and commercial artery of the city and is certainly one of Spain’s grandest promenades.

Since most of the old town is composed of narrow streets, Calle Larios was designed so that the fresh sea breeze would enter into it from the port and then flow into the rest of the alleyways.

Malaga Things to do - Eye Icon    See the best of the city by taking part in this complete 3-Hour Malaga Tour that includes entrance to the Alcazaba, Roman Theatre and Cathedral. We highly recommend it!

The circulation of the wind was facilitated by rounding off the corners of the buildings. This architectural feature has become one of the most typical characteristics of Malaga.

Taking a stroll down Calle Larios is without a doubt, the number one thing to do in Malaga.

7

Roman Theater

Roman theater in Malaga, Spain
Roman theater in Malaga

Before the Moors, it was the Romans who ruled over Malaga. Today, at the foot of the Alcazaba we find the Roman theater (free entrance) that was originally built in the 1st century.

During Moorish times, a lot of the theater’s stones and columns were taken to build the Alcazaba and, with the pass of time, it was slowly buried underground. So much so, that it was actually hidden for almost 500 years! It was only re-discovered in 1951.

Malaga Things to Do Icon - roman theater info    Don't miss: Next to the theater you will also find a few glass panels over the street that reveal some other roman ruins such as the vats used for making garum, a fermented fish sauce that was a staple throughout the Roman empire.
8

Port & Muelle Uno

Seaside path to Pier One (Muelle Uno) in Malaga, Andalusia
Seaside path to Pier One in Malaga

In 2011, Malaga’s seafront underwent a major transformation with the opening of Muelle Uno (Pier One). This contemporary open-air leisure complex is full of shops, bars and restaurants. Taking a walk along the port is definitely one of our favorite things to do in Malaga.

The lively Muelle Uno (Pier One) in Malaga's port, Spain
The lively Muelle Uno (Pier One)

There are several boat excursions and sunset cruises that leave from here.

Malaga Things to Do Boat Icon - sunset catamaran trip    Discover Malaga from the water taking part in this sunset catamaran trip with an included glass of cava

While in the port, don’t miss the iconic lighthouse known as “La Farola.”

9

Atarazanas Market

Busy morning at Malaga's Atarazanas market in Spain
Busy morning at Malaga's Atarazanas market

The Atarazanas market is probably the best market in all of Andalusia. On entrance, the impressive stained glass mural will definitely catch your eye as will a number of other architectural details. Inside, the variety of food on offer will not disappoint either.

Malaga Things to Do Icon - food tour    Tapas tour: Take a culinary tour through Malaga by sampling local wines and original tapas creations

This traditional market has a great array of fish and seafood, meat, local and exotic fruits and vegetables, etc. There are also some bakeries and a couple of bars. Our tip: make sure to treat yourself to some “almendras fritas” (salted fried almonds)!

Dates and other dried fruits for sale at the Atarazanas market in Malaga, Spain
Dates and other dried fruits for sale

The name “Atarazanas” comes from Andalusian Arabic and means “shipyard.” That’s because the market occupies the location of a Moorish shipyard from the 14th century.

Believe it or not, even though the market is a 10 minute walk from the water today, 600 years ago when the original shipyard was built, the Mediterranean sea reached right up to the building!

Malaga Things to Do Icon - full guide of Malaga's Atarazanas Market    Don't miss: Check out our complete Atarazanas Market Guide
10

Playa de la Malagueta

The famous Malagueta beach in Malaga, Spain
The famous Malagueta beach in Malaga

Malaga is the capital of the renowned Costa del Sol and home to 14 km (8.7 miles) of gorgeous sandy beaches.

The city’s coastline is made up of a total of 15 beaches, but the most famous (and busiest) is Playa de la Malagueta.

La Malagueta beach on a sunny morning, Malaga – Spain
La Malagueta beach on a sunny morning

It’s the closest to the city center, stretching from the port to La Caleta beach. You'll find a lovely promenade with a large variety of bars and restaurants. It has all basic facilities and amenities such as showers, toilets, lifeguard, parking, access for disabled, sun-beds and -shades for hire, etc.

Malaga Things to Do Icon - full guide of Playa de la Malagueta    Find out more: Check out our complete Playa de la Malagueta Guide

More Things to Do in Malaga

11

Flamenco

Passionate flamenco dancer, Spain
Passionate flamenco dancer

Flamenco is much more than just a music or dance style. It is a way of expression, it is culture and tradition, it is art. Flamenco has been able not only to survive throughout the centuries, but to thrive to the point that it still today is an important part of Andalusian culture.

Malaga Things to Do Icon - flamenco    See a live show: Find the top venues with our guide to the best flamenco shows in Malaga
12

Malaga's Gastronomy

Barrels of local sweet wine at the lively Antigua Casa de Guardia in Malaga, Spain
Large selection of local sweet wines at Antigua Casa de Guardia

Our favorite typical Malagueño dish is without a doubt, espetos de sardinas (grilled sardines). You can find them in any number of restaurants, especially by the beach and in the nearby village of Pedregalejo.

Malaga also has plenty of historic restaurants such as El Pimpi (now owned by Antonio Banderas) and the Antigua Casa de Guardia where you can sample a plethora of Malaga’s sweet wines.

Malaga Things to Do Food Icon - Best Restaurants    Where to eat? Check out our selection of the best restaurants & tapas bars in Malaga
13

Malaga Park

Path through the lush Malaga Park
Path through the lush Malaga Park

Make sure you don’t miss the lush Malaga park that is absolutely loaded with palm trees and squawking parrots. This long skinny park is located between the port and the historic center.

In some ways it is much more of a promenade than an actual park, but we think that if you are walking between the city and the port/beach, it’s definitely worth strolling through.

14

Carmen Thyssen Museum

Museo Carmen Thyssen in Malaga's historic center
Museo Carmen Thyssen in Malaga's historic center

Occupying a 16th century palatial building in the heart of Malaga, the Thyssen Museum (11€ entrance fee) exhibits 230 works, mainly by 19th century Spanish artists such as Zurbarán, Sorolla, Zuloaga and Romero Torres.

Malaga Things to Do - Carmen Thyssen Museum Tickets Icon    Book tickets: Get your Carmen Thyssen Museum Tickets here!
15

Malaga Museum

Majestic patio of the Malaga Museum with tall palms in Malaga, Spain
Majestic patio of the Malaga Museum

Although sometimes eclipsed by other landmarks, the Malaga Museum (free entrance EU citizens, 1.5€ others) is a great museum to check out. The museum is housed in the Palacio de la Aduana, and we think the architecture alone makes the visit worth it.

As its name indicates, the Palacio de la Aduana (Customs Palace) was built for use as a customs office for all the goods arriving by sea. It was constructed between 1787 and 1829 in neoclassical style, imitating Italian Renaissance palaces.

The Fine Arts Museum occupies the first floor and is made up of over 2,000 pieces, mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries.

On the second floor is the Archeological Museum, containing over 15,000 pieces which go from prehistory to the Al-Andalus period and includes several Phoenician and Roman artifacts.

16

Hammam Al Ándalus

Warm bath at the Hammam Al Ándalus in Malaga, Spain
Warm bath at the Hammam Al Ándalus 
© Hammam Al Ándalus

After a long day of sightseeing, what could be better than some deep relaxation in a traditional spa? Hammam Al Ándalus is the perfect place to completely unwind. Besides getting a massage you can hop between warm, cold and hot baths as well as a steam room.

We absolutely love this spa and find that the traditional Andalusian/Islamic architecture creates a truly unique and enjoyable experience. But don’t just take our word for it. Book your own 90 minute session and thank us later.

17

Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou in Malaga's port
Centre Pompidou in Malaga's port

Malaga’s Centre Pompidou (9€ entrance fee) houses a permanent collection of impressionist art from the 20th and 21st centuries. The center is part of the Muelle Uno port complex. Just look for a modern and colorful cuboid glass structure emerging from the plaza in the port.

Malaga Things to Do - Centre Pompidou Tickets Icon    Book tickets: Get your Centre Pompidou Tickets here!

Excursions from Malaga

18

Concepcion Botanical Garden

Pond in Malaga's Concepcion Botanical Garden, Spain
Pond in Malaga's Concepcion Botanical Garden
© Depositphotos

Although technically located in Malaga, the 150 year old Jardín Botánico de la Concepción is quite a ways from the center. You will need at least 15 minutes to drive there from the city or about 35 minutes with public transportation that also includes a decent amount of walking.

With that said, the gardens are quite impressive and feature a large collection of tropical and subtropical plants. There are over 50,000 plants in total with more than 100 different species of palms, bamboos and aquatic plants. Tickets cost 5.20€.

19

Pedregalejo

Sardines getting grilled on Pedregalejo's beach, Malaga
Grilled sardines on Pedregalejo's beach

Pedregalejo is the oldest fishing neighborhood of Malaga. It’s located about 5km from the historic center and feels more like a small village than part of Malaga. It has a 1.2km long beach that is flanked by a boardwalk and tons of restaurants.

The specialty in Pedregalejo are the espetos de sardinas (grilled sardines). They are cooked up right on the beach using olive wood and are absolutely delicious!

Malaga Things to Do Icon - full guide of Pedregalejo    Don't miss: Check out our complete Pedregalejo Guide

You will need about 25 minutes to arrive in Pedregalejo with public transportation. But our recommendation is to rent a bike (or e-bike) and ride along Malaga’s boardwalk all the way there.

20

Caminito del Rey

Bridge at the Caminito del Rey in Malaga, Spain
Bridge at the Caminito del Rey
© Depositphotos

About an hour car ride away from Malaga is one of the most exciting hikes in the entire world, the Caminito del Rey (the king’s path). The walk will take you across suspension bridges and along boardwalks that hover over 700m above the Guadalhorce Gorge.

As you make your way through the path you’ll have stunning views of the river below, the mountains in the distance and the surrounding rocky landscapes.

Plan on spending around 3 hours to do the whole walk.

Due to its location, it can be difficult to get there if you don’t have your own car. If you won’t, then we highly recommend to take part in a Caminito del Rey tour that organizes the travel to and from Malaga.

21

Ronda

Ronda's impressive New Bridge in the province of Malaga, Spain
Ronda's impressive New Bridge

Ronda is known for its monolithic-looking New Bridge that was built in 1793. It really looks like something from Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings! The town of Ronda is super charming and one of the best day trips from Malaga.

You will need about about 1.5 hours to reach Ronda by car. Public transportation is much more tricky and takes between 2-3 hours. For that reason, we recommend to visit with a tour guide that takes care of transportation in the event that you don’t have your own car.

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