Malaga is a port city in Costa del Sol region, Southern Spain, known for its rich history, culture, art and beauty for its Baroque architecture and beautiful Mediterranean sea vistas. Malaga is also the birthplace of famous painter Pablo Picasso and Antonio Banderas actor and packed with museums, is a city full of sunshine. So, is is Malaga worth visiting, what to do in Malaga and how to plan a budget trip to Malaga perfectly? Let’s check out our Malaga travel blog (Malaga blog) with the fullest Malaga travel guide (Malaga city guide, Malaga guide, Malaga tourist guide) from how to get Malaga, best time to come, best places to visit, what to eat as well as top things to do in Malaga to help you maximize your trip as follows!
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Overview of Malaga (#malaga travel blog)
Malaga (Málaga) is a city in the autonomous community of Andalusia, located on the southern coast of Spain. It is the sixth largest and oldest city in Spain. Malaga has a history of over 3,000 years with the rich heritage and culture of civilizations such as Moor, Carthaginian, Roman, Greek and Arab.
The whole city of Malaga is likened to a historical museum with countless valuable monuments, ruins in terms of architecture, painting, sculpture, etc. It is also the hometown of the great painter Pablo Picasso and the Jewish philosopher Solomon Ibn Gabirol.
Malaga is an industrial city, an important economic and financial center of the South of Spain, contributing to this development of Malaga cannot help but mention the tourism sector. The beautiful city has many charming beaches, hiking trails, ancient structures, art museums, and shopping center and unique cuisine. Malaga has many unique places and activities for tourists to explore and experience.
When to come? (#malaga blog)
Malaga is a city with a Mediterranean climate, pleasant climate all year round, where it enjoys the most sunshine even in winter. Summer in Malaga is not too hot, winter is not too cold. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 29 degrees Celsius and winter temperatures rarely fall below 15 degrees Celsius.
The peak tourist season in Malaga is in the summer (July and August). At this time, the city takes place many special festivals and events, tourists flock to Malaga very crowded and service prices will be pushed up very high. Therefore, the best time for a journey to this city will be May, June or September, the weather is always very pleasant, the average temperature is only about 21-25 degrees Celsius.
Actually, Málaga is a great city to visit any time of year, but in August is the holiday month, it’s a little more special. You can stroll around the city to taking part in the celebrations and festivals that last for a week in the 3rd week of August every year. A tour around the city gives you a glimpse of Andalusian culture, there are many flamenco shows take place right on the streets and there are daily bullfights at La Malagueta. The streets of the city also come to life at this time, decorated with flowers and paper lanterns.
How to get to Malaga? (#malaga travel guide)
Malaga is a large city in Spain, so moving to this city from other cities in the country like Madrid or Barcelona is very easy, regardless of whether you travel by plane or long-distance or high-speed train.
Upon arrival in Malaga city, you will land at Malaga International Airport, located about 8km from downtown Malaga. From the airport you can take train, taxi, bus, car to the city. If you take a taxi will be the most convenient, the price is about 20 euros / way, the bus will be cheaper, the price is only 3 euros.
Málaga Airport is officially known as Málaga–Costa del Sol Airport (IATA: AGP, ICAO: LEMG). It’s 8km from the city. There are many routes connect European cities here.
Getting around Malaga (#malaga guide)
In the city of Malaga, the public transport system is not only of high quality, but also very unique. In addition to the bus and subway system, the city of Malaga also offers a lot of travel services for tourists such as bicycle taxis or automatic 2-wheelers. Information regarding bus schedules can be found here.
In addition, you can also take a Malaga Hop-on / Hop-off sightseeing bus tour which will take you to the most prominent tourist attractions of the city.
Where to go and what to do?
Malaga, a historic city with a Roman Theater takes you back to Roman times. You can walk to Alcazaba, where you will see the Muslim influence in this southern Spanish city. The Malaga Cathedral will mesmerize you with its majestic beauty, large-scale and gardens. Also, if you want to learn about the city’s history, take a walking tour or visit Malaga on a hop on/hop off bus, for a great way to see and explore the whole city, especially if you only have time short here.
Plaza de toros de La Malagueta (#malaga travel blog)
The square is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Malaga. This is a bullring built in 1876, which was listed as a historic monument in Spain in 1976. The bullring is the hallmark of the city, built in neoclassical architecture, designed with 14,000 seats. At Plaza de Toros, there is the Bullfighting Museum, which displays bull heads, weapons, costumes of famous bullfighters…
Fortification of Alcazaba de Malaga
Address: C/ Alcazabilla, 2, 29012 Málaga, Spain
This palatial fortification is Malaga’s most famous landmark and an immortal symbol of Moors culture and architecture. A fortress built between 1057 and 1063 by the Muslims, one of the most visited and iconic monuments in Malaga.
With large defensive walls visible from almost anywhere from the city, Malaga’s Alcazaba fortress is a Moorish fortress palace and a precious symbol from Islamic era. It was first built in the 8th century and reinforced and expanded over the next 500 years. The fortress is located on a hill with 2 walls protecting an inner and outer castle. The outer citadel has beautiful gardens with palaces and gates that the Arabs built from old Roman columns. The second wall was the palace with stately houses spread over three tranquil gardens.
If you don’t want to walk, take bus 35 from Paseo del Parque, which stops right outside the fortress. You can then walk to Alcazaba, an 11th-century castle, before reaching the Roman theater which built in the 1st century AD, although it was only rediscovered in 1951, it is still often the venue for street performers in the city of Málaga.
Malaga Cathedral (#malaga travel guide)
Address: C. Molina Lario, 9, 29015 Málaga, Spain
Hours: 10AM–6PM/Sunday: 2–6PM
Málaga Cathedral is a famous religious church in Malaga. This work was built between 1528 and 1782 with renaissance and baroque architecture. The facade of the cathedral is very special with arches, pillars and stone reliefs depicting saints. The north tower of the church is 84 meters high, the second largest in Andalusia. Visiting Malaga Cathedral, visitors can learn about the history, culture and architecture of Malaga city. The nickname of the church La Manquita means “The One-Armed Lady”. The name comes from the fact that to this day it is still unfinished, the south tower has not been built yet but it is still a must-visit place in Malaga.
Standing out in the middle of Malaga’s old town is the city’s main church. This structure is famous for its quaint facade and 2 massive towers. However, the most important highlight at this work is the elaborate interior and many cultural treasures thousands of years old are kept inside.
La Concepcion Botanical Garden
Address: Camino del Jardín Botánico, 3, 29014 Málaga, Spain
Hours: 9:30AM–5:30PM/Monday, Saturday, Sunday: Closed
La concepcion was built in the mid-19th century with many zones. In each area of the garden, visitors will experience different styles of decoration, as well as a variety of plants from around the world.
Address: Paseo del Parque, 1, 29015 Málaga, Spain
Hours: Open 24 hours
When you step into this park you can feel how cool it is even in summer. The wide, lush canopy of towering palm trees provides wide shade across the three main walkways. Also you can see ornate pieces of baroque and renaissance sculptures, fountains surrounded by luxuriant green canopies.
Castillo de Gibralfaro
Address: Cam. Gibralfaro, 11, 29016 Málaga, Spain
Like Alcazaba, this hilltop fortress is a majestic landmark that you can see from Málaga. Unlike Alcazaba which was a palace-like place, this site with its watchtowers and ramparts still stands today. There has been a fortress here since the Phoenician period over 2,500 years ago and the last battle was in 1487 when the Muslims of Malagueños fought against King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella for three months before surrendering due to lack of food.
Gibralfaro is a fortified fortress built in the 14th century, perched on the highest hill in Malaga, built to protect the city. The fortress is a majestic landmark, with direct views of the city and Malaga harbor at an altitude of 170 meters. Up to now, Fort Gibralfaro has become a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of Malaga, honored to appear on the flag and seal of the city.
This is another Moors stronghold in the city. Gibralfaro Castle stands proudly atop the eponymous hill above the ruins of a Phoenician lighthouse. The castle was first built in the 10th century, but was later expanded and fortified in the 14th century.
Above the hill of Málaga city is Castillo de Gibralfaro, with an adult ticket price of €2.20, children under 6 years old, admission is free. Also every Sunday after 2pm you can also visit a 14th-century Moorish fortress with amazing city views.
Museum Vidrio (Glass Museum)
Address: Plazuela Santísimo Cristo de la Sangre, 2, 29012 Málaga, Spain
Hours: 11AM–7PM/Saturday: 11AM–2PM/Monday, Sunday: Closed
The Vidrio Museum is housed in a beautiful old house from the 1700s, with vintage furniture. This tourist attraction attracts tourists by its large collection of antique glassware from several thousand years ago. There are ancient artifacts from civilizations: Phoenicia, Rome, Ancient Greece and Egypt. Typically the antiquity with the green Roman glass bowl, still intact 2,000 years later. You can admire beautiful Venetian items, a glass collection that includes 16th-century vases and cups, and precious 17th-century Dutch glassware and a glass collection including vases and wine cups from the 1500s.
- Malaga Museum: Open since 2016, housed in the Palacio de la Aduana, houses more than 15,000 archaeological references and an extensive painting collection of more than 2,000 works.
- Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga: Enjoy Carmen Thyssen-Bornemiszas’ collection of 19th-century Andalusian art. Located in the Palacio de Villalon, a building from the 16th century.
- CAC Museum: Located in the Soho area. You’ll find around 400 contemporary works from the 1950s to the present with an emphasis on 1960s North American artists.
- Centre Pompidou Malaga: A colorful cube containing 90 pieces from the collection of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, it takes you through 20th and 21st century art. Displaying paintings from Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, and many others.
Pablo Ruiz Picasso House-Museum
Address: Palacio de Buenavista, C. San Agustín, 8, 29015 Málaga, Spain
Malaga is home to the great painter Pablo Picasso – an iconic figure of this 20th century. This museum is located in the center of the old town, this is the same house where Picasso was born. In this house are many original paintings of his youth, most of which are from the early 20th century. His great contributions to world painting have made Malaga is one of the Spain’s most attractive places.
Artist Picasso was born in Malaga in the 19th century. At the very house where he was born, visitors can visit the Pablo Ruiz Picasso museum, where 233 of his works are kept, spanning the course of his studies and rise to become a master painter.
Address: C/ Alcazabilla, s/n, 29015 Málaga, Spain
As you descend the hill past the outer walls of Alcazaba is the Roman theatres. The theater was used for about 300 years until the 200s but was later forgotten and used as a quarry during the Moorish period. This theater structure was only rediscovered in 1951 and restored to what it is today.
The theater is the oldest structure in Malaga, located at the foot of Alcazaba. The Roman Theater was discovered in 1951 during renovations at the House of Culture and restored to what it is today. The theater includes a 16m high amphitheater, a performance stage, an orchestra and a dressing room.
Mercado Central de Atarazanas
Address: C. Atarazanas, 10, 29005 Málaga, Spain
Hours: 8AM–3PM/Sunday: Closed
The oldest central market in the city, Atarazanas was built on the ruins of a former Moors shipyard. Here, visitors will be immersed in the daily shopping life of Malaga people.
The central market is a place for you to understand more about daily life in Málaga, the items sold in this market are fresh and reasonably priced. This market is also a very beautiful building with its elegant iron and glass domes, Mudéjar arches and magnificent, resplendent stained glass windows. You can come here to buy the usual products like fruits & vegetables, meat (both fresh and prepared), cheese, fresh bread and some honey or local specialties. There are also bars in the market where you can enjoy tapas with a cold glass of cruzcampo.
The Costa del Sol is Europe’s Mediterranean paradise so it’s easy to find a beach near the city. Torremolinos beach, a 20-minute drive away, is the closest option where you can visit and swim. Or La Misericordia with its wide and long sandy beach with moderate waves. Los Alamos Beach is also interesting no less but more developed with many apartments and concertson the beach in the summer.
Also, to the west of city Málaga, Playa de la Misericordia is easy to find as a 19th-century chimney lines the promenade, recalling the city’s industrial past. The beach around the area also has a playground and snack bar.
La Malagueta: This beach stretches 1,200 meters along the coast, is a man-made beach located in the resort of Malaga. Malagueta Beach is packed with beautiful restaurants, bars and cafes, where you can enjoy a lot of delicious seafood dishes of this port city.
The fishing areas of El Palo and Pedregalejo are filled with beachfront restaurants and bars. The long stretches of sand make them ideal for swimming with young children.
Pedregalejo is a fishing village just 5 km from the center of Malaga city. There are several places downtown Malaga where you can rent a bike for the day at an affordable price. Pedregalejo and El Palo are great spots to head to if you’re looking to escape the crowds and breathe in the Mediterranean sea air.
From here, you can easily walk to the National Park, which has tons of fun games specifically for kids. In addition to playgrounds, giant fountains, and surreal sculptures, the park also features wildlife ranging from swans and macaws to many rare local animals.
Join day tours from Malaga
Malaga is a great city to if you want to explore more of Andalusia. The southern region of Spain is known for its culture with pure white villages, seafood and the Mediterranean coast. A day trip can be made from Malaga as:
Cordoba: Located on the east side of Malaga city with less than 2 hours away. A unique city filled with history and beautiful architecture. A must-do in Cordoba city is to visit the Mosque, the iconic mosque of the city. You will see the famous beautiful red and white striped arches in this mosque. As you explore, you see the architecture and details here dating back to different eras. Besides the Mosque, another must-visit is the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs. It was both a palace and a fortress, with beautiful courtyards and gardens. If you are a Game of Thrones fan don’t forget to visit the Roman Bridge.
Granada: A city known for its Arab influence. It is home to the famous Alhambra, one of the main reasons make people visit Granada. Don’t forget to check out Plaza Nueva and take a stroll along the Carrera del Darro. Another great restaurant in Granada is Rosario Varela, lots of delicious tapas at affordable prices.
Nerja and Frigiliana: Less than 1 hour from Malaga city, you can reach Frigiliana, a beautiful town surrounded by incredible scenery with colorful doors. You can walk around this town to explore. Nerja is a city located 15 minutes from Frigiliana. The big landmark to see is El Elconcon Europa. An ideal place to go to the beautiful seaside while enjoying a meal or drink.
Marbella: About a 30-45 minute drive from Malaga along the Costa del Sol, this city is known for its luxury cars, yachts and wealth. The old town is charming, with chic boutiques and local coffee shops. If you want to see the beach head to Puerto Banus, where you’ll find the marina. This is where luxury can be seen, surrounded by giant yachts, numerous restaurants, bars and high-end boutiques such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton. A much more expensive city but worth the visit.
Seville: When visiting Southern Spain, this is where most people visit. A popular city tends to be busy depending on the time of year you go. The architecture and monuments in Seville are among the most stunning in Spain’s tourism. There is so much to see and do from the Plaza de Espana to the Cathedral. Also Seville is also a perfect city to attend a flamenco show.
Ronda: Also a unique and charming town. Located on El Tajo gorge, only 1 and a half hours from Malaga.
Also if you visit Southern Spain, you must attend a flamenco show which is an art, a typical Andalusian dance. But it’s more than dance, it’s a mix of dancing, clapping, singing and Spanish guitar. The dancers are so passionate and expressive, it’s a great show to watch.
Where to stay?
- Palacio Solecio: This is one of Malaga’s most upscale hotels. The hotel is located in the city center, just a 5-minute walk from Alcazaba Castle and Malaga Cathedral. Palacio Solecio has 68 spacious, luxurious rooms with many comfortable services. The lowest room rate here is about 180 USD/day. (Agoda, Booking)
- Molina Lario: The 4-star hotel near the city center, including 103 rooms with rooftop swimming pool. The design of the hotel is very classic from the 19th century, the decoration is very traditional and elegant. Double room from 115 USD/day. (Agoda, Booking)
- Room Mate Larios: Located on the Marqués de Larios shopping street, the hotel is art deco, with an exterior view of the Plaza de la Constitucion. The hotel features a rooftop bar and a rich breakfast. Double room from 90 USD/day. (Booking)
- Casa Salamanca: Comfortable, cheap guesthouse, very friendly host. The accommodation is only 7km from the airport and 1km from the city center. Room rates here are about 55 USD/day. (Agoda, Booking)
- Alcazaba Premium Hostel: This is an ideal choice with an affordable price. Newly opened hotel with 24 diverse rooms. Rooms are from 18 USD-72 USD. (Booking)
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Ilunion Málaga (Agoda, Booking)
- Barcelo Malaga (Agoda, Booking)
- Gran Hotel Miramar GL (Booking)
- Ibis Budget Málaga Aeropuerto Avenida de Velazquez (Agoda, Booking)
- Vincci Seleccion Posada del Patio (Agoda, Booking)
- Hotel Sur Málaga (Agoda, Booking)
What to eat?
Food is one of the most attractive aspects of Spain. In Malaga, besides traditional Spanish dishes such as paella rice, you can also enjoy typical dishes only available here. The first example is the Gazpachuelo Malagueno soup made with fish, potatoes, mayonnaise… You can also enjoy a plate of Platos de los Montes de Malaga or the Fritura Malguena deep-fried fish.
Children will enjoy the local customs. In the city of Málaga, people start their day with churros and hot chocolate. Sit in one of the alleys outside Casa Aranda and enjoy a sweet new day. To relive your childhood, you can queue in front of Casa Mira (Address: C. Císter, 8, 29015 Málaga, Spain/Hours: 10:30AM–10:30PM/Saturday: 10:30AM–6:30PM), an ice cream parlor with only one branch in the city center. Ice cream flavors are also local, such as orange choc-chips and Turrón de Alicante (Spanish Almond Nougat).
Modern cafes also flourish in the city of Málaga. Recyclo Bike Café (Address: Pl. Enrique García-Herrera, 16, 29005 Málaga, Spain/Hours: 9AM–12AM) is a kid-friendly bar where you’ll find bikes hanging from the ceiling, breakfast for around €6 and pastries for around €4. Julia Bakery (Address: C. Carretería, 44, 29008 Málaga, Spain) also serves good coffee and some of the best pastries in the city for €2.50 for a cupcake or waffle.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Malaga you can refer to
- El Caminito del Rey Guided Tour from Malaga or Marbella
- Granada Tour with Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens Entrance and Transfers
- Guided Full Day Tour Gibraltar Shopping from Malaga or Marbella
- From Málaga: Caminito del Rey Guided Tour with Bus
- Museo Picasso Málaga: Ticket & Audioguide
- Malaga: Sunset Sailing Catamaran Trip with Glass of Cava
- Málaga: Flamenco Show at Tablao Alegría
- From Costa del Sol & Málaga: Caminito del Rey Guided Tour
- Malaga: Hammam Al Ándalus Entry Ticket with Massage
- From Málaga: Caminito del Rey Full-Day Tour
- Málaga: Alcazaba and Roman Theatre Guided Tour With Entry
- Málaga: Sunset Catamaran Trip
- From Malaga and Costa del Sol: Gibraltar Tour
Read more Spain guide here.