Where to Stay in Málaga City | Best Areas and Hotels

October 24, 2023

If you’ve been pondering where to stay in Málaga, Spain, look no further. With tons of accommodation right on its beautiful beaches, in the city center, and around its note-worthy neighborhoods, you’re spoiled for choice for where to stay in Malaga. 

Malaga encompasses the famous Spanish coastline Costa del Sol, so it’s no surprise that the city is a haven for beach lovers and sun seekers. Plus, it’s home to some of the country’s best chiringuitos (beachside restaurants), tapas bars, and seafood establishments serving up the best of Andalusian cuisine.

You don’t have to search hard for wonderful things to do in Málaga, and your experiences will be even better when you can find the perfect base. Let’s take a look at some of the best areas to stay in Málaga.

Malaga Cathedral with tree at sunset.

Where to Stay in Málaga at a Glance

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a list of the best places to stay in Malaga at a glance:

  • La Malagueta – best for beachgoers
  • La Merced – best for nightlife 
  • El Palo – best for a local feel 
  • Centro Historico – best for first-time visitors 
  • Soho – best for a vibrant arts scene 
  • Ciudad Jardin – best for a quiet, residential feel 
  • El Perchel – best for an old town feel 
  • La Goleta – best for budget travelers 

Man standing with fishing rod at dusk.

Best Neighborhoods/Areas in Málaga City

Let’s get into it! The following are descriptions of the top eight neighborhoods to stay in Málaga. 

La Malagueta: Where to Stay for Beachgoers

Home to one of Malaga’s most popular beaches, Playa de la Malagueta, La Malagueta neighborhood is the city’s central seafront area. It’s one of the best areas to stay in Málaga if you’re after easy beach access for refreshing ocean dips and catching some rays. Plus, La Malagueta’s range of high-end shops, restaurants, and hotels make it one of the most sought-after destinations in Málaga. 

Hugging the shoreline is Playa de la Malagueta – a long stretch of sandy beach just under a mile long. It’s a convenient urban beach spot that offers a ton of amenities (such as public showers and beach umbrellas) and calm, clear waters. 

Palm trees in Malaga

For beachfront dining, I’d recommend getting a table at Chiringuito El Cachalote for some outstanding paella and thirst-quenching sangria. For a gastronomic feast, head over to El Refectorium – a benchmark among the best restaurants of all time in Málaga. 

Adding to La Malagueta’s lively atmosphere is the promenade that stretches along the entire beachfront, so you can enjoy daily strolls or waterfront jogs. Basically, there’s no other perfect place to stay to experience the Costa del Sol. 

Best Hotels in La Malagueta 

Buildings and skyline in Malaga.

La Merced: Where to Stay for Nightlife

Love being in the heart of the action? You’re not alone! Many travel to Málaga for a taste of the city’s renowned nightlife – and trust me, once you’re here, you won’t be disappointed. 

La Merced is known as one of Málaga’s best places to stay due to its trendy, busy spots. It’s also a firm favorite among the LGBTQI+ community due to its friendly atmosphere and fabulous gay bars. 

Within all the action lies Plaza de la Merced, a renowned public square dating back to Roman times. Known for its central location and impressive array of wine bars and nightclubs, it’s a hub of activity and energy in Málaga. 

Malaga city lit up at night.

Even though La Merced is considered to be in the larger Centro Historico district, it’s certainly worth its own mention. With a distinct local flavor and a constant exciting buzz, it’s an absolute must-visit if you’d like a taste of the local nightlife.

The bars here range from quiet cocktail establishments (such as Mañana Cocktail Bar Málaga) to raucous pubs (like The Carmen Gay Bar). 

For some heavenly tapas and wine, head to Picasso Bar Tapas. Afterwards, if you feel like listening to some reggaeton beats, visit Mirror Málaga disco club to dance the night away. 

Best Hotels in La Merced

El Palo: Where to Stay for a Local Feel

As a contrast to many of Málaga’s bustling and cosmopolitan areas, El Palo still retains its tranquil yet traditional seafaring essence. It’s a relaxed, beachfront neighborhood with tons to offer in terms of its close-knit community, authenticity, and rustic beauty. 

One thing is for certain in El Palo – you’ll fall fast for its authentic charm. Visit the area’s beach bars and restaurants for local seafood dishes such as skewers of pescaito frito (fried fish), which are usually anchovies or red mullets.

Apart from the wonderful Andalusian cuisine, the colorful Jabega rowing boats and quaint fishing houses are what truly define this lovely district.

Team of people in a traditional rowing boat in the sea

The restaurants here all have a laid-back vibe, perfect for casual, beachside dining. For simple yet fresh ingredients, head to the family-owned chiringuito of Kraken El Palo to sample the best patatas bravas in the whole of Málaga. Casa Manuel de la Lonja also offers some of the best-barbecue fish and steak you’ll taste on your trip to Málaga. 

Generally, during the week, it’s the best area to stay in Málaga if you’re after a quiet location filled with leisurely swims and a village-like atmosphere. 

Quick Tip: The weekends are when El Palo really comes alive, as it’s a favorite beach spot among locals and residents. 

Best Hotels in El Palo

Small beach hut and palm tree on a beach.

Centro Historico: Where to Stay for First-Time Visitors

Málaga’s Old Town, known as the Centro Hisorico, allows you to soak up the city’s culture within walking distance of some of Málaga’s top attractions and landmarks. These include castles, churches, monuments, and museums. 

This area is home to one of the most beautiful castles in Malagathe Alcazaba. This is an ancient Moorish palace that sits right above Málaga’s excavated Roman Theatre. Talk about a historical indulgence! 

Ancient castle in Malaga with trees.

The historic city center is the perfect place to explore on foot due to its narrow, winding streets, historic buildings, and fascinating cultural heritage. This area hosts fantastic celebrations, especially during Semana Santa (Holy Week) and the Feria de Malaga.

Plus, the Centro Historico is just a short stroll to Málaga’s beaches. 

For some excellent shopping, amble around Calle Larios – an eclectic pedestrian street. Discover historical artworks and archeological treasures of rural Spain at the Museo de Málaga. Afterwards, gawk at the Málaga Cathedral – a Renaissance masterpiece.  

Although it’s a popular area among tourists because of its proximity to beaches and attractions, the Centro Historico still captures that magical Málagan authenticity. It is, without a doubt, one of the best places to stay in Málaga. 

Best Hotels in Centro Historico

An alleyway in Malaga with a view of a church and a hotel.

Soho: Where to Stay for Art and Culture

As soon as you enter the Soho neighborhood, you’ll notice the gigantic mural of Obey and D’Face, two massive and intricate urban artworks sprawling the sides of large apartment blocks. 

The area has become an unmissable destination for both locals and tourists looking for an alternative and creative experience in the city. As an artistic hub, Soho is a dynamic display of creativity and modern spaces. 

The area is actually a result of the MAUS (Málaga Arte Urbano Soho) project, which implemented the revitalization of previously neglected buildings. A number of music concerts, murals, and artistic events finally brought the neighborhood back to life and transformed it into a real-life art gallery. 

Giant painted mural of a chameleon with a person sitting underneath.

Soho is the best area to stay in Malaga if you’re after art and an underground culture. Following in the footsteps of London and New York, Soho is packed with artists’ galleries and private studios. It’s also home to the Contemporary Art Center and Teatro Soho CaixaBank (Soho Theatre).  

The best thing to do in Soho is to wander through its streets and discover mysterious giant murals, quaint cafés, and gorgeous galleries. 

Quick Tip: For a quirky vibe and the best coffee in Málaga, head to The Cereal Boom Coffee.

Best Hotels in Soho

Ciudad Jardín: Where to Stay for a Quiet, Residential Feel

Picture this: palm-tree lined boulevards, English subtropical gardens, romantic hideouts, and viewpoints, as well as historicist-style homes. Ciudad Jardín (Garden City) is one of Málaga’s most sought-after residential areas. It begins in the northern suburbs and sprawls up into the mountains of Montes de Málaga Natural Park. 

View of Malaga City with a green hill.

As its name suggests, the lush greenery and nature here is what makes Ciudad Jardín so alluring. It’s the perfect Málagan spot to stay if you want the benefits of easy access to hiking and mountain biking trails through idyllic pine forests.

Plus, this district is home to the San Telmo Aqueduct and the Jardín Botánico-Histórico La Concepción, Europe’s best-preserved subtropical landscape garden. 

The neighborhood is characterized by its wide streets, spacious villas, and a mix of architectural styles, including both historic and modern homes. A bonus of staying here is that, although it’s a quiet area, it’s still well-connected to the rest of Málaga. There’s easy access to public transportation, including buses and the Málaga Metro.

While staying in Ciudad Jardín, you can expect lots of shaded walks, tranquil parks, and lush gardens. It’s the equivalent of Málaga’s little suburban oasis. 

Best Hotels in Ciudad Jardin

El Perchel: Where to Stay for an Old Town Feel

El Perchel is not your typical tourist destination – but that’s exactly why you should consider a stay here. It’s an offbeat neighborhood with traditional houses, cobblestone streets, and an extreme sense of pride among the locals (fondly called Percheleros). 

As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Málaga, it’s packed with history and some unforgettable sights. 

Colourful little house in Malaga.

While here, stop by the Church of San Pedro. It was built in 1502 and remains one of the most important religious structures in Málaga. Have a seat on the benches outside and enjoy the fountains as you watch people go about their day. 

Mercado del Carmen is another great spot in this neighborhood – they serve up an impressive range of artisan bread, local cheeses, as well as some of the best fresh seafood. Have a seat at the market’s bar on the terrace to enjoy some afternoon drinks.

The vendors are what make this market truly special, as they will talk to you openly with friendliness and pride exuding from their stalls. Stop by Los Valle Churros for the crunchiest pastries and delectable hot chocolate. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, try the huevos de codorniz (quail eggs) at the renowned tapas bar Almijara Casual Bar. El Perchel is considered the best area to stay in Málaga if you favor an authentic stay filled with history and an old-town feel. 

Best Hotels in El Perchel

La Goleta: Where to Stay for Budget-Friendly Prices

Just northwest of the Centro Historico, La Goleta is a budget traveler’s best option for accommodation in Málaga. Although the neighborhood itself isn’t home to any top attractions or a bustling nightlife, it has its own diverse range of small cafés, shops, and restaurants. 

As a tourist, this means you’ll find authentic food for half the price of other areas.  

Doorway with tiles and pink flowers.

La Goleta has recently undergone some building improvements. The mixture of old and new here is what really makes the neighborhood feel full of life and character. The rent here is cheap, making La Goleta a popular place of residence for many young people. 

Some parts of the neighborhood are very bohemian and hip, and you’ll see lots of people relaxing on their quaint, plant-filled balconies during the day. You’ll also find very affordable, trendy tapas bars, laid-back restaurants, and cute cafes. 

Definitely pop into La Goleta Bar & Café for some drinks and lunch. Although there isn’t much (if any) nightlife in this neighborhood, its proximity to the Centro Historico and Le Merced neighborhoods makes it easy to travel to and from. 

Quick Tip: It’s also a fantastic option if you’re not a fan of crowds, as the neighborhood itself (being mostly residential) is laid-back and quiet. 

Best Hotels in La Goleta

FAQs About Staying in Malaga

Here are some frequently asked questions when it comes to staying in Málaga. 

What Areas Should I Avoid in Malaga?

Avoid the Palma-Palmilla neighborhood; there are no attractions here, and it’s not very pretty either, so there’s no real reason to visit as a tourist. 

Luckily, Málaga is not only one of the safest cities in Spain but also in Europe. However, that doesn’t mean that petty crime doesn’t exist here. Always keep an eye on your belongings, avoid walking alone at night, and don’t flash loads of cash or expensive items. 

Is Malaga Expensive? 

As a vacation destination, Málaga is considered one of the cheapest places to holiday in Spain. For the average traveler (not budget, but not luxury either), expect to spend about €659 ($700) to €753 ($800) a week for one person. This price includes accommodation, food, local transport, and activities and tours. 

Can You Walk Everywhere in Malaga? 

Fortunately, Málaga is a very walkable city. It’s actually a relatively small city, being the sixth largest in Spain. If you stay in the compact city center, you’ll be able to walk pretty much anywhere in the vicinity. Tired feet? Don’t worry; hop on a bus or a bicycle or catch an Uber to your next destination. 

How Many Days in Malaga Is Enough? 

Three to four days is a good amount of time to take in Málaga City’s sights and attractions. If you wish to explore more of the Costa del Sol or the surrounding Andalusian areas, two weeks would be the ideal amount of time. 

Final Thoughts: Best Places to Stay in Malaga

With so many top locations in Málaga, it can be difficult to narrow it down to just one perfect place to stay. From the historic and lively city center to the relaxed beachfront areas of La Malagueta and El Palo, it’s no wonder Málaga is one of the most popular destinations in Spain. 

All it takes is a little time and research to decide on the best place to make your little temporary holiday abode. Luckily, most of the suggested areas in this post offer great proximity to Málaga’s beaches and top attractions. 

To help you with your final decision on where to stay in Málaga, be sure to check out these additional hotels in Málaga that offer boutique, budget, and luxury options for every traveler. 


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