Malaga is the capital of its own province, situated in the southern region of Spain called Andalusia, in the middle of Costa del Sol, a coastal area along the Mediterranean, near the Guadalmedina River. The province shares borders with Cadiz, Cordoba, Seville, and Granada.
Malaga has a prime location on the sunny Costa del Sol, with warm weather all year round. There’s never a dull moment with plenty of activities such as relaxing on the beach, trying delicious local food, and exploring historic landmarks.
If you’re looking for the best things to do and see in Malaga, there are plenty of options for every type of traveler. Start by visiting the Alcazaba, a Moorish palace and fort from the 11th century with classic gardens, fountains and traditional Islamic architecture.
Move on to the Castillo de Gibralfaro, a 14th-century structure that served as a lighthouse and military barracks with sweeping views of the Costa del Sol.
For art lovers, visit the Pompidou Centre and the Carmen Thyssen Museum for iconic works by Frida Kahlo and René Magritte. Don’t forget to check out the Picasso Museum, showcasing over two hundred works by the famous artist who was born in Malaga.
For a beach day, head to the popular Malagueta Beach and enjoy some sun, sea, and delicious seafood restaurants.
20 Best things to do in Malaga, Spain
1. La Alcazaba
The Alcazaba is one of the best things to see in Malaga because it is one of the city’s most popular attractions. The Alcazaba along with Castillo de Gibralfaro is considered as one of two major Moorish fortresses within the city.
It is a historic fortress that was built at the foot of Mount Gibralfaro, on the remains of a Romans fortification, in the 11th century, by the Muslim Moors, during the Al-Andalus period.
After the Catholic conquest, the Alcazaba served as a royal residence, then a military fort and later abandoned. Over the centuries, much of its original structure was lost, but remains of Roman buildings and an ancient mosque have been found in recent restorations.
Visitors to the Alcazaba can access two palaces, Arab baths, and a small neighborhood of 11th-century homes. The old districts of Alcazabilla and Coracha, which were located inside and outside the fortress walls respectively, have since been demolished.
The Alcazaba is situated near the Cathedral and Alcazabilla street. To visit, take the elevator from Guillén Sotelo street by the Town Hall. Once inside, enjoy the walls, gardens, courtyards, and more.
From the top of the Alcazaba, one can see panoramic views of Malaga. At the exit, the Roman Theatre is located for further historical exploration.
2. Montes de Málaga
Montes de Málaga is a stunning mountain range where the Guadalmina river flows through rugged terrain. The Montes de Málaga Natural Park, acquired its status in 1989 and serves as the green lung for the surrounding areas.
Located just 5 kilometers north of Málaga city, it is part of the Casabermeja and Colmenar municipalities, showcasing the rich ethnographic heritage of the region.
The park is perfect for outdoor sports, with two cycling routes and five signposted hiking trails. The natural beauty of the area is enhanced by the addition of ancient Prehistoric necropolises, reservoirs and viewpoints.
A history of human activity has altered the landscape, and today it is once again home to thriving forests and native plants.
3. Roman Theatre
The El Teatro Romano is a historic monument located at the base of the Alcazaba fortress, in the cultural center of Málaga City.
The Roman Theater was built during Emperor Augustus’ reign in the 1st century BC and was used until the 3rd century AD. The theater was rediscovered in 1951 during construction and was restored over a 27 year period before reopening to the public in 2011.
The theatre is separated into three sections, the Cavea, Orchestra, and Proscaenium. The Centro de Interpretación, or visitor center, opened in 2010 and provides information and exhibitions about the site’s history and excavation.
Admission to the site is free, but there is no disabled access.
4. Málaga Cathedral
The Malaga Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Encarnación, located in the heart of the town, is one of the finest examples of Andalusian Renaissance architecture.
It was built on the site of a former mosque-Moorish quarter, on orders of Catholic Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand.
The construction of the cathedral began in the 16th century in the Gothic style and was finished in the 17th and 18th centuries. Despite being incomplete, the south tower and main façade remain impressive.
The interior of the cathedral features Renaissance and Baroque influences, with highlights including the 17th-century choir stalls and the sculptures of Pedro de Mena. Visitors will also enjoy exploring the charming chapels and beautiful gardens and courtyard.
Adjacent to the cathedral is the Iglesia del Sagrario, a 15th-century church that has been rebuilt with a richly decorated interior. The cathedral also has a museum, gardens and a rooftop tour, which is a must-visit despite the two hundred steps you have to climb.
5. Castillo de Gibralfaro
The Castillo de Gibralfaro is one of the best things to do and see in Malaga because it is a beautiful castle located on a hill overlooking the city and the port.
It dates back to the 10th century and has a long history, having been built by Abd-al-Rahman III in 929 AD and later enlarged by Yusef 1 in the 14th century.
The castle is well known for its three-month siege by Isabella and Ferdinand and for being one of the first conflicts in which gunpowder was used by both sides.
Today, visitors can admire the solid ramparts, which have been well restored, as well as some buildings and courtyards inside the fortress. There is also an Interpretation Centre near the entrance.
To reach the castle, there are three ways: by walking from the Alcazaba, by climbing the zig-zag steps, or by taking a taxi or tourist bus. The Parador Hotel Gibralfaro is also located near the entrance for those who want to spend the night.
6. Museo del Vidrio
The Glass Museum, known as the Museo del Vidrio y Cristal, is one of the best things to do and see in Malaga to learn about the history of glass and crystal.
It boasts a private collection of over 3,000 glass and crystal items from different historical periods. Approximately 1,000 objects of them are on display, while the rest are rotated.
The owner, Gonzales Fernandez Pietro, is a resident of Malaga with a passion for collecting glass, crystal, art, and period furniture.
The museum, housed in an 18th-century mansion with a courtyard, columns, galleries, and a small garden. Exhibits include works by famous glass manufacturers such as Lalique and Wedgewood, as well as a painting by Henry Gervex and pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows.
Guided tours are a unique and informative experience to explore the museum. You can check their website to know about the concerts and events in its covered courtyard.
7. Atarazanas Market
The Mercado de Atarazanas is a prime example of 19th century architecture in Malaga and serves as one of the city’s most important shopping destinations. People flock here daily to purchase fresh produce and enjoy tapas and fried fish.
The market was built in the 14th century as a boatyard, and later as a warehouse, military hospital, and barracks.
In 1870, a new central food market was approved and designed by Joaquín Rucoba, preserving the old monumental gateway.
Declared of Cultural Interest in 1979, it was renovated to maintain its original design. Open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 3pm.
8. Parque de Málaga
The Park of Malaga, also known as Parque de Malaga, is a beautiful Mediterranean garden, situated between Alameda Principal and Paseo de España, close to Guadiaro Quay.
It spans from Plaza de General Torrijos to Plaza de la Marina and comprises three walkways each measuring 800 meters in length and ten meters in width.
One of the walkways is located on the north side while the other two are to the south of the central thoroughfare which is 25 meters wide and used by vehicles, and continues from Alameda Principal.
The Park of Malaga was built in the late 19th century on land reclaimed from the sea and offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city. It spans 97,500 square feet and includes a rose garden, trees, open-air theater, benches, and a children’s park.
The park features a promenade surrounded by Baroque and Renaissance gardens and several fountains, including the Muneca Fountain and the Fountain of the Nymph.
9. Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón
The Church of the Sacred Heart, also known as Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón, is a stunning Neo-Gothic temple built in 1920, situated in Plaza de San Ignacio de Loyola.
The church was built using the cathedral of Toledo as a model, incorporating Islamic elements and the cathedral in Burgos and the monastery of las Huelgas.
The church is divided into three naves with a ribbed vault and a prominent transept with an octagonal plan and star-shaped vault. The stained glass windows are a Gothic-style masterpiece produced by Apolo Párkinson Molinari.
Although this church may be overshadowed by the Málaga Cathedral, it is still worth visiting for its stunning stonework, especially when floodlit at night.
10. Automobile and Fashion Museum
The Automobile and Fashion Museum in Málaga, Spain is housed in the iconic “La Tabacalera” building and showcases a private collection of 6,000 square meters, documenting the artistic and historical evolution from the late 19th century.
The museum features 13 thematic rooms, displaying almost 100 restored luxury vehicles and over 200 pieces of Haute Couture and contemporary art. The museum is ranked among the top ten museums in Spain and is a top attraction in Málaga according to Tripadvisor.
Brands such as Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Ferrari are among the vehicles on display, adorned with luxurious materials like ostrich and ivory.
The Maga Sublime Collection also displays the evolution of Haute Couture in the 20th century through 7 exhibitions, making the museum a display of glamor and elegance.
11. Pablo Picasso’s Malaga
Malaga is well-known for being the birthplace and early childhood home of Pablo Picasso, a renowned painter and pioneer of the Cubist art movement. This city has left an indelible mark in history due to its association with Picasso.
The artist’s early years in Malaga inspired several of his paintings that depicted flamenco, doves, and bulls. To experience Picasso’s Malaga, start at the Casa Natal at Plaza de la Merced, 15, which now serves as the Picasso Foundation and Birthplace Museum.
The museum contains Picasso’s personal belongings, furniture from his childhood home, and a collection of over 200 works by Picasso and other artists.
Visit the Church of Santiago Apostol where Picasso was baptized and the Picasso Museum. End the tour at La Malagueta, the bullring where Picasso’s father took him to see bullfighters, igniting a lifelong love for the sport.
This self-guided tour is a great way to explore the places that influenced Picasso’s genius.
The beaches are one of the best things to do in Malaga because the city is famous for its stunning white sandy beaches and warm weather. From the bustling and colorful Playa de la Malagueta, to the quaint and lively El Palo beach, there is something for everyone.
Playa Peñón del Cuervo offers great BBQ spots and a spectacular backdrop, while Playa de la Misericordia is popular with locals due to the summertime waves known as the Ola del Melillero. Bright white beaches and crystal clear water can be found in Nerja’s Playa El Salón.
Playa de la Carvajal in Fuengirola is perfect for families with children, while Playa El Cristo in Estepona is a great spot for windsurfing.
No matter what you’re looking for, there is a great beach option in Malaga.
13. Málaga Football Club
Malaga C.F. was founded in 1948 and later in 1994 became a professional football club. Their home stadium, La Rosaleda, is a popular venue for international fans.
Qatari Sheikh Al-Thani purchased the club for 36 million euros, in 2011, bringing new prospects to the team. The Rosaleda Stadium is easy to access by car, bus, or train and tickets are usually affordable.
The Peña Internacional Malaguista is the official supporters club with fans from around the world. At the Tavern Bar, supporters can watch the games on TV and enjoy a beer with fellow fans.
Espetos is a Spanish custom of grilling sardines on skewers, originating from late 19th century fishermen. Modern cooking method involves 6 seasoned sardines grilled over an olive wood fire.
The sardines are then drizzled with oil and lemon juice for a delicious taste, especially during the months of May to August when they are fattier.
Espetos are typically enjoyed with drinks like beer, sangria, or red wine in beach bars in Malaga.
15. Semana Santa
Málaga’s Holy Week celebrations have gained recognition as an important tourist attraction, declared of International Interest in 1965 and recognized as a National Fiesta.
Thousands come to witness the processions throughout the city’s historic center. The city’s Cofradías hold regular meetings and masses to promote religious training and charity.
The processions start from various cofradia homes and all converge at the Alhameda, Calle Larios, Plaza de la Constitucion, and the Cathedral. You can hire seats at the Alameda Principal but book early.
Schedules for the processions can be found in local newspapers in Spanish. For a less hectic experience, try attending a mid-day procession.
16. Iglesia de San Juan Bautista
The San Juan Church, also known as the Iglesia de San Juan Bautista, is Malaga’s well-known religious structure. It was one of the four churches established by Isabella and Ferdinand in 1487 after they successfully recaptured the area.
Due to an earthquake in 1680, the church underwent restorations in the 18th century and its entrance was moved to the side nave.
The Main Chapel was added in the early 19th century, designed in a Neo-Baroque style.
17. Feria de Agosto
The Málaga August Fair is a massive summer celebration in mid-August, offering a range of activities such as bullfights, concerts, and flamenco.
The fair has two sessions, the city center during the day & the trade fair at night. The celebration starts with a fireworks show, bullfighting, a procession to the Basilica of Our Lady of Victory, and late-night partying.
It’s an event for the whole family but finding accommodation and parking can be challenging, so consider nearby options.
Málaga is a popular destination for golfers due to its accessibility via Málaga Airport, Spain’s fourth busiest. The city is also famous for its sunny Mediterranean climate and rich history with landmarks such as the 11th century Moorish castle, Alcazaba, and Roman Theater.
With 9 golf clubs in the area and an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, Málaga offers a great golfing experience. The best courses include Torrequebrada, Lauro Golf, and Mijas Golf, all located within 29 km of the city.
Golfers can even stay at golf resorts such as Alhaurín Golf Resort or Parador de Málaga Golf.
19. Port of Málaga
The port of Málaga is an international seaport and popular fishing port. It is the oldest operating seaport in Spain and is situated in a well-protected natural bay with access to the city’s beaches.
The port is also the second most important port in Spain for cruise passengers, undergoing renovations. The port has a rich history dating back to the Phoenicians and has been used for trade, manufacturing, and tourism.
Today, the port has 10 quays used for cruises, cargo ships, recreational boats, and fishing. The port is undergoing expansion and development to create closer links with the city and provide better facilities for cruise passengers.
Quay 1 and 2 have been redeveloped for recreational and commercial use, with Quay 4 set for further redevelopment.
20. Chíllar River
The Rio Chillar river walk in the Cahorros natural park near Nerja is a popular hiking route. It’s a free park with a medium difficulty walk mostly in the river, requiring comfortable shoes and taking about 6-7 hours to complete.
The walk is a 16 km round trip and can be challenging, especially in the rainy season. Be prepared with sunscreen, food and drinks, a waterproof bag, and appropriate footwear.
The walk begins with a 1.5km walk on the asphalt road, Almachares, from the parking lots, and it’s important to follow the rules of the park, such as not littering or starting fires.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Malaga best known for?
Málaga is known for its being the birthplace of world’s famous artist, Pablo Picasso, as well as being home to miles of sandy beaches, and historic attractions such as the Alcazaba fortress, Gibralfaro Castle, and the Picasso Museum. It is also famous for its delicious Andalusian cuisine, lively nightlife, and the Feria de Malaga.
Is Malaga Spain worth visiting?
Definitely! Malaga is a hidden gem in Spain, with stunning beaches, rich history and cultural heritage, delicious cuisine, and a vibrant nightlife. Pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and head to Malaga for an unforgettable holiday experience!
How to spend 3 days in Malaga?
Explore the historic Old Town, visit the Alcazaba Moorish fortress, taste the delicious local Spanish cuisine, relax on the beautiful beaches, and experience Malaga’s vibrant nightlife. Book a walking tour, a food tour, and a boat tour to make the most of your three-day stay.
How many days is enough for Malaga?
The answer to the question of how many days are enough for a trip to Malaga really depends on personal preferences and interests. A minimum of three to four days is recommended to see the major attractions and immerse oneself in the city’s culture.
What are the best things to do in Malaga for couples?
Some romantic things to do in Malaga include watching the sunset from a mirador, watching a flamenco show, taking a catamaran cruise, visiting the Alcazaba, and trying new foods at a chiringuito.
What are the best things to do in Malaga with families?
Some of the best things to do in Malaga for families with kids include visiting the Alcazaba Castle, enjoying the beaches, taking a segway tour or a bike tour, snorkeling in Nerja, and visiting museums such as Museo Automovilístico & Picasso Museum.
What are the best things to do in Malaga at night?
Check out the Alcazaba fortress lit up at night, hit the bars in the Soho district, catch a flamenco show, visit the Roman Theatre, or stroll the Paseo del Parque. So many options for a fun night out in Malaga!
See more: Where to Stay in Malaga First Time
So there you have it, the best things to do in Malaga, Spainfor your next trip. If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment below.