To help you plan your stay, I have prepared this guide to the best you can do in and around Malaga.
In addition to the tourist attractions and places of interest, I will also give you all my best advice, as well as my list of the best accommodations in the city, depending on your budget.
So what to see and do in Malaga?
Let’s plan your trip!
1. The Alcazaba in Málaga
La Alcazaba is probably Malaga’s best-known tourist attraction.
Built in the 11th century by the Arabs, this palace was both the home of Muslim rulers and a fortress to protect and defend the city from Catholics.
The site is very well preserved and maintained. During your visit you will discover the patios, fountains and sumptuous gardens. Built on a hill overlooking Malaga, it offers a beautiful view of the sea and the port.
There is also a small archaeological museum that displays Moorish pottery and pottery.
If you want to know more about the history of the place, you should book a 1h30 guided tour of the Alcazaba. It even includes the ruins of the Roman theater (see below).
2. Gibralfaro Castle
Another tourist place to visit in Malaga is the Gibralfaro castle.
From the Alcazaba, you can access the castle on foot through a path that offers magnificent views of the city. However, it is a bit steep, so if you prefer, you can take bus line 35 from Avenida de Cervantes to go there.
The castle was built in the 14th century to protect the Alcazaba. It had a barracks to house the soldiers, as well as a lighthouse. Hence the name of the castle: Gibralfaro means “mountain of light.”
There is a building right at the entrance to learn more about the history of the castle, but the visit is worth it for the view of Malaga and the sea from the walls. On clear days it is possible to see the Strait of Gibraltar.
It is the best panoramic view of Malaga, and it is also very pleasant at night with all the lights of the city.
3. Malaga Roman Theater
Another great thing to do in Malaga is to visit the Roman theater located at the bottom of the Alcazaba.
It is the oldest site in Malaga: it was built in the 1st century AD. by Augustus and was used as a theater during the 2nd century. Then it was turned into a cemetery to finally be abandoned. Some of the rocks at this site were used to build the Alcazaba.
The ruins of the Roman theater were not discovered until 1951, when the building that was built on top was destroyed.
Today, many outdoor performances are taking place there.
Admission is free.
4. The Malaga Cathedral
The cathedral is one of the best places to visit in Malaga.
It is one of the highest in Andalusia, it can be seen from afar! Construction work began in the 16th century, on the foundations of the city’s old mosque.
Construction lasted 200 years and was suddenly interrupted due to lack of funds. As a result, the cathedral was never completely finished, and only has one bell tower (while two were planned to be built). Locals even call it “La Manquita” (meaning the one with no arms).
You can climb the 200 steps to climb the 87-meter-high tower: you can enjoy a 360 ° panoramic view over the entire city, the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro castle.
Don’t miss the interiors to see the decorated ceiling, the beautiful stained glass windows, the chapels or even the 4000-pipe organ.
5. Museums to visit in Malaga
You may not know it, but there are many museums in Malaga. Today, with almost 30 museums, the city has become the cultural capital of Andalusia.
Here is a list of museums to visit during your trip to Malaga (depending on your tastes and interests):
-Picasso’s Birthplace Museum (get your tickets here): where he was born in 1881. You will learn more about his life and see some of his belongings on display.
–Picasso Museum with more than 200 works by the artist.
-Carmen Thyssen Museum with its extensive collection of Spanish and Andalusian painting.
-The Pompidou Center in Malaga is a branch of the famous Center Pompidou in Paris.
-The Museum of Russian Art offers a collection of Russian art pieces in a former tobacco factory.
-Malaga Museum with an archeology section, a Moors section and a Spanish painting section.
-Museum of Flamenco Art dedicated to traditional Spanish dance.
-Museum of Glass and Crystal to see the private collection of an Andalusian aristocrat.
-Contemporary Art Center of Malaga dedicated to the art of the XX and XXI centuries.
-Malaga Automobile Museum and its 85 perfectly renovated vintage cars.
-National Museum of Airports and Air Transport.
-Museum of Art and Popular Traditions.
6. Malaga beaches
During your trip to Malaga, it would be a shame not to enjoy the nearby beaches. They are perfect to relax a little!
This is a selection of the best beaches in Malaga:
–Pedregalejo beach, located a little east of Malagueta.
–Caleta beach, very busy in summer.
–El Palo Beach, a family beach located in the fishing district.
–Playa de la Misericordia, a large sandy beach, one of the most popular in Malaga.
–El Campo de Golf beach is very popular with kitesurfers.
–Playa de San Andrés, another popular beach, there are also grass areas and a playground.
–Playa Penón del Cuervo: young people love it, it’s a great place to have fun and have a barbecue!
7. Historic Botanical Garden of La Concepción
The Malaga Botanical Garden is located in the northern part of the city.
You can take bus 2 to go there from the city center, get off at the last stop and walk another 15 minutes to reach the garden entrance.
It is one of the largest tropical and subtropical gardens in Spain and even in Europe. There are more than 2,000 species of trees and plants spread over some 250,000 m². Malaga Botanical Garden is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city!
It is evident that you have to see the attractions of Malaga.
8. The Atarazanas Market
Let’s continue this Malaga guide with the Atarazanas market.
When you travel somewhere, be it Spain, Sicily or even Greece, the market is always the best place to get some delicious local products. In Malaga, I recommend going to the Atrazanas market.
This covered market is housed in an impressive 19th century building with colorful stained glass. It is a very vibrant place with many stalls of fresh products, Spanish cured meats and cheeses.
You will also find tapas bars near the main entrance, a good way to try all these fresh and tasty products!
The market is open from Monday to Saturday, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.
9. Soho neighborhood
Are you running out of ideas about what to do in Malaga? You should take a walk through the Soho neighborhood!
Once a run-down neighborhood, it has been totally transformed and renovated by street artists. Some buildings and facades are today completely covered in street art, the largest painting being a few stories high. The area is also called the art district.
Most of the works of art are located near the Malaga Contemporary Art Center, on the banks of the Guadalmedina River and in nearby streets. Strolling through this part of the city is very pleasant.
In this neighborhood you will also find craft shops, art galleries, world cuisine restaurants and some trendy bars.
10. Montes de Málaga Natural Park
During your stay in Málaga, you should go to the Montes Natural Park. It really is the perfect place to enjoy the fresh air not far from the city!
Considered as the “green lung of Málaga”, it is located about 25 km north of the city center.
The park is 5000 hectares long, with marked hiking trails. Most hiking trails cater to all levels and are not very long, so a few can easily be combined during the day.
It is also possible to rent mountain bikes and ride the 2 mountain bike trails. You can choose between a 7 or 14 km itinerary.
The park is well equipped with picnic areas and even some restaurants that serve “plate of the mountains”. This mountain dish is a local specialty: pork loin, sausages, blood sausage and eggs, with a side of potatoes and fried peppers. Needless to say, it should satisfy your hunger!
You can also go to see the ecomuseum located in the visitor center, where it is explained how wine, bread or olive oil is made.