What was the first thing that popped into your mind when you read the word “Malaga”? Perhaps it was the sparkling beaches along the Costa del Sol or the fascinating architecture and history of this charming city.
Malaga is one of the oldest cities in Spain and it’s known as the Gateway to the Costa del Sol and the birthplace of legendary artist, Pablo Picasso. The city is loaded with a rich history. And despite being one of the oldest cities in the world, Malaga has transformed itself into a youthful city. Bustling with taverns, bistros, energetic plazas, art galleries, museums, and spectacular gardens.
Whether you want to soak up the sun or immerse yourself in the historical and cultural side of the city, there are plenty of things to do in this Andalusian city.
Where is Malaga?
Malaga is a port city located on the Southern Mediterranean coast of Spain. It is set along the coastline of the Costa del Sol, at the mouth of the Guadalmedina River. It is the second-largest city in the Andalusian region and the second-largest port city after Barcelona
Best Things to do in Malaga
Wondering what to do in Malaga? We’ve listed the 12 best things to do in this beautiful city below.
1. Try Tapas
No visit to Spain would be complete without trying their signature tapas. Malaga has its own signature tapa, known as Espetos. This is an uncomplicated dish made from six sardines popped on a skewer and seasoned with olive oil, salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice and barbecued to perfection over some hot coals.
The locals agree that the best place to find Espetos is in the Pedregalejo area. Of course, there are many other tapas to try, and Malaga is not short of great tapas bars.
2. Visit the Museo Picasso
Location: Palacio de Buenavista, Calle San Agustin
Open: Daily from 10am to 7pm
Since Malaga is the birthplace of the legendary Pablo Picasso, the city thought it would only be fitting to open a museum to honor the great artist. The museum is set in the 16th century Buenavista Palace, in the historical heart of Malaga.
The museum is home to over 200 pieces of Picasso’s work and provides art enthusiasts a deeper understanding of his work and a place to reflect on his wonderful works.
3. Wine Tasting
Wine tasting is an absolute must when visiting Malaga. The city has a long history in wine production, dating back 3000 years. It is one of the top wine producers in Spain and has no shortage of wine bars.
If you are a wine enthusiast, be sure to visit the Antigua Casa de Guardia, one of the oldest wine bars in Spain, which dates back to 1840.
4. Step Back in Time at the Roman Theater
Location: Calle Alcazabilla, Malaga City Center
The Roman Theater is the oldest surviving monument in Malaga, built in the first century AD and was used for more than 200 years. It is one of the remaining symbols of the power of the Roman Empire on the city. The theater is free to visit and visitors can visit the Interpretation Center next door, to get a better understanding of this iconic monument.
5. Caminito del Rey
Location: Caminito del Rey de Ardales Entra Norte
Open: Tuesday- Sunday from 9:30 am to 16:30 pm
If a hair-raising adventure floats your boat, why not take a hike along the cliffside 100 meters above the El Chorro Gorge? The Caminito del Rey (The King’s Little Path), was once named the most dangerous hike in Spain.
If you’d like to try it out, but have some concerns about safety, be sure to book a guided tour to put you at ease.
6. Visit Muelle Uno
Location: Paseo del Meulle, Malaga
When visiting Malaga, be sure to check out the Muelle Uno, an attractive promenade that’s lined with shops, restaurants, and bars stretching along the city’s port.
On the second Sunday of each month, the area hosts a local market where local merchants and artisans display their work and cook up some of the best gourmet street food.
7.Visit Playa de La Caleta
Location: Paseo Maritimo Pablo Ruiz Picasso
Malaga’s location in southern Spain ensures that its residents and visitors enjoy over 300 days of sun, making it the perfect place to take a dip in the azure sea or work on your tan.
The 0.62-mile Playa del Caleta beach is located alongside the affluent Playa de La Caleta neighborhood and the closest beach to the port and city center. The beach offers a variety of watersports and is lined with restaurants and bars nearby.
8. Explore the Catedral De La Encarnación de Málaga
This cathedral is one of Malaga’s most important architectural structures which includes a blend of the Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance styles. The cathedral is over 250 years old and has two fascinating organs with more than 4000 pipes, a marble staircase, and a spectacular assortment of frescoes.
9. Discover Art in the Soho Neighbourhood
Malaga is certainly very proud of the fact that it is the birthplace of Picasso and is known for its local traditional art. However, the city does not rely solely on its old art charm and has transformed itself into a modern center for art and is home to the Contemporary Art Center.
10. Discover the Jardin Botánico Histórico La Concepción
Location: Camino del Jardín Botánico, 3, 29014 Málaga, Spain
Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 9.30 am to 7.30 pm (October–March open until 4.30 pm), closed on Mondays
One of the best things to do in Malaga is to visit the Jardin Botánico Histórico La Concepción. It is considered to be one of the best and most exotic gardens in Spain. The garden offers the most stunning views across Malaga and out to the sea. The calm atmosphere provides the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
11. Visit the Mercado de La Merced
Location: Calle Merced, 4, 29012 Málaga, Spain
Open: Monday–Wednesday from 7 am to 8 pm, Thursdays from 7 am to 1 am, Friday–Saturday from 7 am to 2 am (closed on Sundays)
The Mercado de La Merced is located just off the Plaza de La Merced in Malaga’s Old Town. It is one of the trendiest places to eat in Malaga and offers a wide range of gourmet offerings including fresh fish, vegetables, cured ham, and cheese. It has a wide range of tapas bars, so you’ll never run out of options as to where to eat.
12. Consider a Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour
If your vacation in Malaga is limited due to time, you may want to consider a Hop-on, Hop-Off Bus Tour. You will be able to visit many of its charming sites in a short amount of time and hop off at places that you’re actually interested in.
Getting to Malaga
There are many ways to travel to Malaga, some of the most popular options are listed below.
Malaga airport is just 4.97-miles from the city center and welcomes international flights from across the world, as well as domestic flights.
Train services across Europe and Spain make it easy to get to Malaga. The Maria Zambrano Train Station is located in the South West of the City Center.
Traveling by bus is an effective and inexpensive way to get to Malaga as well as other Andalusian towns. Bus services regularly run from Malaga Airport, which makes travel transfers a breeze as well.
Many cruise liners dock in Malaga as part of their routes and there are many ferries that journey to Malaga from other port cities.
Hiring a car is one of the cheapest modes of transport in Spain, due to the stiff competition, and is a great way to get to Malaga as well as explore the city and its surroundings.
Final thoughts on Best Things to do in Malaga, Spain
Malaga is truly a wonderful city with stunning scenery and tons of things to do. Whether you are visiting Malaga for a Mediterranean beach vacation, delicious food, world-class wine, breathtaking architecture, or cultural, artistic, and historic attractions, you will certainly not be disappointed when you visit Malaga.
If you are looking for other activities to do in Southern Spain? Be sure to check out our 7-Day Road Trip through Andalusia.