Looking for Malaga tips for an upcoming trip? Enjoy this inside Malaga travel guide from our seasoned travel team.
See also our southern Spain itinerary.
Malaga Tips: Your Malaga Travel Guide
Malaga often gets overshadowed by popular destinations like Barcelona or Madrid. Still, any seasoned traveller or Spaniard will tell you that Malaga has far more to offer than just the beach resorts and bad press. So, if you’re thinking of planning your trip to Spain or are looking for some last-minute ideas, here are some of the top places to visit in the city famous for its great food scene, art history and beautiful beaches.
The second largest city in Andalusia is where most people start their trip through the south of Spain. This is because Málaga is home to the most-used airport in Andalusia. Even though Málaga is a port city, it also has a really beautiful and historic Old Town, so you can expect to feel like you're in the Mediterranean.
In this blog post, we'll tell you what to expect when you go to Málaga and tell you about all the beautiful things the city has to offer. We'll tell you about the city's most striking sights and lookout points, as well as our favourite cafes, restaurants, and places to stay.
Are you ready to start and learn all those Malaga tips? Here is your Malaga travel guide!
Where is Malaga?
Málaga is on the Costa del Sol, which is a stretch of the Spanish Mediterranean coastline. The name says it all: the Costa del Sol means the sunshine coast and Málaga is blessed with lots of sunny days. The nearby mountain ranges keep the wind away from the coast, which also makes it feel warmer and sunnier.
Why visit Malaga?
What's so great about Málaga? We'd have to say that it's the mix of the beach and the Old Town, which is full of history. In the morning, you can walk around the city's streets, which are like a labyrinth, getting lost and finding hidden spots. In the afternoon, you can take it easy on the beach or by the harbour for a few hours. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?
When it comes to tourism, Málaga has been overlooked for a long time in favour of other nearby places. A few years ago, many of the streets in the city were fixed up, and the port was turned into a modern promenade.
How long should you spend in Malaga?
Even though different people will have very different answers, we will still tell you what we think is a good amount of time.
Since it's pretty easy to get around the centre of Málaga, you can see and do a lot in just one day. If you want to take a round-trip through Andalusia but don't have much time, we suggest spending about 2 nights in Málaga. This will give you enough time to see all the most important sights.
If you want a more laid-back trip, you should stay for 3 nights. If Málaga is the only place in Andalusia you plan to visit and you only want to take one or two small trips, you could easily spend 4 nights or more there.
The Best Places to Visit in Malaga
Now to the fun part of this Malaga travel guide!
Malaga's highlights are all close to each other and it is easy to walk between them.
Malaga's Old Town
Let's start with the historic Old Town, also called the Centro Histórico, which is right in the middle of Málaga. This centre, which has almost no cars, looks like a maze. It's easy to get lost in this charming labyrinth of narrow streets, but that's what makes the Old Town of Málaga so interesting.
The palm-lined Calle Puerta del Mar is one of, if not the most beautiful street in the centre of Málaga. It's much shorter than you'd think, but it's a great place to stop. Not far away is Calle Marqués de Larios, Malaga's most famous shopping street, which takes you past Plaza de la Constitución. It is one of the most beautiful squares in Málaga with a brightly coloured buildings and a fountain.
The old Roman amphitheatre, called the Teatro Romano, is also worth seeing.
Mercado Central de Atarazanas
The most important and biggest food market in Málaga is the Mercado Central or Atarazanas Market. It takes place in the middle of Málaga's Old Town in a historic market hall from the 19th century.
You can enjoy the hustle and bustle of the market every day except for Sunday. Most of what they sell is fresh food, like fruit, vegetables, cheese, fresh fish, and meat. (It's good to know that most fish stands are closed on Mondays because you can't fish on Sundays.) Make sure to taste the region's specialty: fresh, high quality olive oil.
Málaga Harbour Promenade (Muelle Uno)
The futuristic port promenade of Málaga is just a 10-minute walk from the Old Town. The port of Málaga used to be closed to the public, but a few years ago, the area around the port was completely redesigned and reopened as Muelle Uno.
Technically, Muelle Uno is made up of two different parts: On the one hand, there is the Muelle 1 promenade, which goes toward the lighthouse. You will get to the La Farola lighthouse after about 10 minutes. From this promenade, you can see the centre of Málaga in a really nice way.
On your way back to the city centre, the second area is called Muelle 2. This walk goes under a building with a white roof called Palmeral de las Sorpresas. The curved architecture is a real eye-catcher and a great place to take a picture. Where Muelle 1 and Muelle 2 meet is where the Centre Pompidou Málaga is. It is actually the small version of the Center Pompidou in Paris.
Street art in Malaga's Soho neighbourhood
Would you like to see something different in Málaga that isn't one of the "must-see" places? If so, the Soho neighbourhood is a good choice. People often talk about Soho and street art in Málaga at the same time. There are a lot of murals and graffiti in this area west of the port. Some of them are really cool.
Visit the website of the MAUS project (Málaga Arte Urbano Soho) before you go so you can find the most beautiful pieces. You can find a map of the most important works of art there. (You can also get a printed copy of the map at the tourist office.)
Málaga city beach: Playa de la Malagueta
The beach that is closest to the centre of Malaga is Playa de la Malagueta or Malagueta Beach. A visit here is a great way to cool down after a visit to the Old Town in the summer months.
La Alcazaba was built between the 8th and 11th centuries on the site of the former roman town by the Moors. Back in the day, it served as the residence of the Arab Emirs, and to this day, it’s one of the most famous Islamic heritage sites in Andalusia. It is surrounded by beautiful orange trees and bougainvillaea, which makes this sight even more impressive for visitors. Besides the stunning architecture, you will also get a beautiful panoramic view of Malaga as La Alcazaba is located on a hill in the city's centre. If you can only visit one monument during your stay in Malaga, make sure it's the Alcazaba.
Castillo de Gibralfaro
Gibralfaro Castle is a 10th-century castle located in the centre of Malaga. It was altered and enlarged in the 14th century by Yusuf I of Granada to protect the Alcazaba and house local troops, but it is still a breathtaking castle. After the reconquest, it served as a temporary residence for Catholic monarchs. Just like La Alcazaba, this castle also offers magnificent views of Malaga and its port. You may even see Morocco from the castle on a clear day, so it’s definitely worth a visit.
The Picasso Museum
Last but certainly not least among the top places to visit in Malaga is the Picasso museum. If you didn’t already know, Malaga is the home of the renowned painter, who lived here for the first ten years of his life. This museum covers 80 years of Pablo Picasso's paintings, and the artworks are displayed chronologically, spanning over 11 rooms. With its captivating collection of paintings, the Picasso Museum should be high on the list of places to visit in Malaga. If you time your trip correctly, you should be able to get in for free on Sunday evenings.
If you love art, you shouldn’t leave Malaga without seeing its Cathedral. The unfinished Malaga Cathedral holds a breathtaking collection of paintings and sculptures and a 17th-century wooden choir. The Cathedral is of the Renaissance architectural tradition, apart from its facade, which is in Baroque style. Malaga Cathedral is the second highest cathedral in Andalusia, and for just a couple of euros, you can go to its rooftop to see views across Malaga. Malaga Cathedral is near Alcazaba and the Castle of Gibralfaro, so you can easily squeeze it into your itinerary.
The Palacio Episcopal
Right in front of Malaga Cathedral, you will also see the Bishop’s Palace - Palacio Episcopal. The Palace was built in the 18th century with a colourful Baroque facade. This three-story building now serves as a museum as well. It is one of the best examples of Malaga civil architecture, and you should definitely set aside some time for it during your Malaga trip.
Malaga Tips for Travel & Safety
Now on to those specific Malaga tips, the practical part of this Malaga travel guide.
How to stay safe while traveling in Malaga
Malaga is generally considered a pretty safe city, so you won’t have to worry too much about staying out of trouble. But remember these essential travel safety tips that apply to any destination.
Take care with Public Wi-Fi
While Malaga is a safe city, the dangers of using public Wi-Fi still apply. Make sure to avoid using public Wi-Fi at all costs. If you absolutely have to, though, connect to a VPN first and then go online. There are plenty of great VPN free trial options, so you won’t even have to pay any money at first. When connected to a VPN, your device and details will still be safe even if the public Wi-Fi is compromised.
Tell Your Friends and Family About Your Plans
When you’re travelling to a foreign country, you may not always have access to the internet or even cell phone service. A good way to stay safe and avoid worrying about your loved ones is to let them know your plans for the week. This way, if they can't reach you directly, they’ll always know where to call to ask around. You don’t need to tell them where you will be every second of the day, but sharing some general details will always serve you well in the end.
Keep your valuables close
Or better yet, keep them at home. When out and about, watch out for pick pockets and wear a handbag across your chest and don't leave it loose on a chair at a bar.
Some more Malaga Tips
- Learn a few words of Spanish to use when you greet people. Key phrases like Hola! and Gracias (hello and thank you) go a long way.
- Don't forget an international travel adapter for your electronics if you're coming from outside the EU.
- Explore more of Andalusia by renting a car and heading on a grand tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Pueblos Blancos. Check out our southern Spain itinerary here.
- If you can't manage a week travelling around Spain, then at the very least head to the sultry city of Seville as one of your day trips.
- One of the best things to do in Malaga is to taste authentic tapas and find more ways to get off the beaten path in Spain.