Malaga is magic! It’s beachy, sunny, hot- and everything else you would want in a Spanish city. Today you will be learning about the best things to do in Malaga to create your perfect itinerary.
So what is Malaga and where is it? You might not be familiar with this part of Spain so lets take it back to geography and history for a second.
Malaga is a capital port city, that is located inside of the Malaga province. The province of Malaga is inside of the autonomous community (Communidad De Autonama) of Andalusia. Andalusia is located in the South of Spain.
Malaga goes by the nickname of the “Costa Del Sol,” which translates to Sun Coast in English. The Costa del Sol is inside the Malaga province and stretches over 150 kilometers. You’ll find hundreds of beaches and sand riding along the coast.
The city of Malaga, and what we will be talking about today is in the center of the Sun Coast and then you have the Eastern Costa del Sol that reaches as far out as Nerja.
Things to do in Malaga
Malaga is a place for everyone. Traveling with kids? Single? Couple? Don’t fret. There’s activities for everyone to participate and remain entertained. Your travel group will definitely not be bored.
If you are a foodie, Andalusia has some of the best seafood in all of Spain!!! Get your fat pants ready because if you are visiting, you have to eat the seafood.
Food that you should definitely eat and is from there is roasted sardines (put over the bbq and so0o good), roasted or fried almonds, varied fried fish, molletes (signature bread), and their own twist on salads and soups.
Outside of food, this is a city that is full of culture and has a beach. Something for everyone to do.
We will be discussing museums, restaurants, churches, desserts, and more!
How long to stay in Malaga city
The perfect duration to stay in Malaga city is 3-4 days. 3 days is the perfect time frame to be a proper tourist, 4 days or more is to slowly enjoy the beach and possibly visit the surrounding areas.
Malaga is beautiful but it also isn’t that big. It wont take you that long to see what is really worth seeing. If you are staying in the city center, a weekend is perfect. We went Thursday – Sunday.
You can get to Malaga by car, train, or plane. If you are leaving Madrid and driving, it will be around 5-6 hours.
If you are in the Spanish capital before you head to Malaga, make sure you visit the parks in Madrid. They are super beautiful!
When to visit
If you are not a fan of crowds, its recommended to go during Mid season which is March-May. You get the perfect weather and less people.
We went last weekend (mid May) and it was just right. High season is June – August. If you like crowds, then visit Malaga during the summer.
Do note, you should book things early since things book quicker during high season and you don’t really want a bad location for accomadation.
Low season is October -Februrary and this has its charm — especially for a focused cultural visit, a warmer winter day, and where you are not really worried about beaches.
Malaga is a popular choice at all times of the year due to its warm weather year round.
Figure out when you want to go so you can plan your vacation to visit Spain in a successful way.
Hows Covid in Malaga?
To be honest I couldn’t have felt more safe during my time in Malaga. I felt even more safe in Malaga than I do in Madrid sometimes.
Malaga has perfect weather and an outdoor vibe- outside of churches and museum, we were outside the whole trip.
Everything was super clean and people, including restaurants were very mindful of covid.
What’s convenient about Malaga and Spain in general, is that they have terrazas (terraces) in a ton of restaurants.
During Covid, it’s suggested to dine outside, and luckily you really have no shortage of that in Spain.
Pro tip: Make a reservation if you are traveling during high season. The last thing you want to do is walk around asking “can I get a table?” in a bunch of different restaurants.
If its busy and lunchtime, the answer will probably be an upsetting no.
Plan ahead and make reservations – promise you can’t go wrong with that!
Transportation and getting around
Malaga is a city that is walkable. There is public transportation but you probably wont use it if you are staying in the city center.
Majority of sightseeing points are in walking distance so everything is close by. You can also take a cab if you are not traveling by car and if you want to visit outside areas. One of the best known things to do in Malaga is to visit pueblos.
For this you will probably need a car or to rent one. There are also insanely beautiful white towns that are highly recommended, there is Nerja, Frigiliana, Casares, Mijas, and Ronda that are located in the province.
Day 1 – Arriving in the evening
For the first night, have dinner at Terraza de Las Flores. This is a brand new restaurant (4 months ish) and I highly recommend it! The tapas and service was amazing.
The friendly owners are from Argentina, they were short staffed so we got to chat. Love talking to business owners, you can learn a lot about a place by getting their perspective.
The food spoke for itself.
We were dining out in tapa style and we ordered the Sardinas en salsa de tomate (sardines in a tomato sauce), Pincho de langostino con Miel de Caña (shrimp skewer with cane honey), Surtido de Croquetas (assorted croquettes), and Empanadilla de Ternera (veal empanada).
We ordered doubles for certain dishes. For 2 people that were having a light dinner it was just right.
Everything is super cheap in Andalusia so each tapa plate was about 3-5 euros. And !!! ……
After dinner comes dessert
Ofcourse dessert! Don’t deprive yourself when traveling. Walk to Casa Mira, it’s a 5 minute walk from Terraza de las Flores and you can have a walk around that area in the city center. It’s half pedestrian/half for cars. You’ll notice certain roads don’t really look like streets.
Casa Mira is known for their icecream and turron and have been in business since 1842. That’s a longgggg time friend. They’re doing something right haha.
We got mil hojas (spanish pastry) and pistachio icecream flavors and ofcourse we had to get the turron de Alicante.
The turron was literally the best I’ve had in all of Spain. So yeah, I agree with them, Casa Mira has the best Spanish turron nougat. 🙂
There are tons of icecream shops in Malaga but this one is so popular and you can almost always expect a line. Busy enough that you have to take a number.
Day 2 – Early bird gets the worm
We don’t sleep in when we are traveling right? That’s a no! If you get tired after lunch, do what the Spanish do and take a quick nap.
Wake up early have breakfast, and get ready to start the day.
Take a quick stroll at the Atarazanas market. You probably won’t buy much here unless you are going to cook at your stay.
If you are cooking, definitely make a stop, they have tons of fresh seafood there. There’s also people hanging out drinking, later on in the day.
Then is the Picasso museum, which opens at 11am, the price to get into the museum is 9 euros for only the Picasso exhibition. 8 euros if you get it online in advance.
For 12 euros, you can see the combined exhibition of another artist and Picasso. Right now, the other artist exhibition is Miguel Barcelo.
You can also go to Picasso’s birth house museum that costs 4 euros to enter and is in another part of the city.
Did you know Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain? Going to the main museum is an awesome experience, I couldn’t recommend it enough. Picasso was a very interesting, sophisticated, artist, it’s interesting to learn about him.
You should check out the souvenir shop before you leave, it’s really good. We bought siesta and jacqueline sitting ….but unfortunately …left it at the hotel. Lol oops.
After getting artsy, feel free to go to the beach and relax. There are tons of beach options but we chose Playa Malagueta. This is supposed to be one of the best in the city.
It was also close to the museum. The water is cold, but I bet in July, it’s the perfect way to cool down! Gets incredibly hot in Andalusia.
Bring a bathing suit and beach towel to the museum if you wont be going back to your stay and want to get cozy on the beach.
After the beach, walk through Malaga park and the historic center. It has lots of plants and gives you a garden-y vibe as you walk through it. You’ll find tons of different plant species and historical fountains.
You can also go to the Roman theater that is very pretty and historic and is in the city center. Super easy to walk to. Around there you’ll see the Cathedral and Iglesia de San Juan. Go inside if they are open, they are pretty.
Next go to the Alcazaba that is a palatial fortress from the Islamic era. Take pictures, take selfies, do your thing there.
Get ready for lunch because next, it’s time to eat! We had reservations at a restaurant (cant recall name but either way not the best experience) but they were closed randomly (covid related) so we had to find something else super last minute.
We ended up going to Lo Gueno (main one) – theres 2. Ate an anchovy salad, fried white bait, and roasted peppers. Recommend that.
Loathe finding restaurants on the spot but the service and food was good. Its worth mentioning incase you too find yourself with unreserved lunch plans.
After lunch you can do what the Spaniards do and take a siesta (nap) after you eat.
If that doesn’t interest you, feel free to go shopping around the center and buy traditional sweet wine from the region at any of the wine stores in the center. This is the moment to buy some souvenirs if you want them.
The sweet wine is usually around 5-10 euros and up. If you don’t like sweet wine, you can also get regular Spanish red wine. A good bottle of Spanish wine will be around 20 euros and up.
The wine stores have a vintage look and a very distinct font. You’ll see a ton walking around, especially if you are by the Atarazanas market.
You can also go to the florists and pick up some never dying flowers. They’re called “siempre viven” (always live) and they are cheap. One bouquet is around 3-5 euros.
Things to do in Malaga – Enjoying food
You can also pick up some tortas de aceite which are available in the supermarkets of Andalusia. It’s a mildly sweet cracker that is from Sevilla and is really good. Recommend trying it out if you are in the area.
Lastly, for dinner go to Los Mellizos. This place is known for their seafood. We got a tray of seafood for the table that has a bunch of different stuff in it, white bait, octopus, and chanquete.
Chanquete is a super small edible fish (never seen it before) but its in the same family as goby and looks similar to baby anchovy. Super tasty ! Try it out if you can.
For pastry we got mil hojas, (strudel), tirimasu, and natillas (pudding cream). Mil hojas is a Spanish pastry that has a thin croissant like pastry layer with cream on top, so when you eat it its crumbly. It’s good, nothing out of this world though.
Finally, time for bed.
For the last day, wake up and have breakfast. We had breakfast in our stay the whole weekend and had fruit, juice, and something small from the local bakery – i.e bread and tomato/tortilla
Go to El Cortes Ingles for some shopping. El Cortes Ingles stands for the English cut and is a giant Spanish department store. It is a franchise and you’ll see the household name allll over Spain.
If you want to shop, this is a good place to start. We went in the morning to pick up somethings and then I went jewelry shopping. I found a place called I am Joy and got some rings there. Each one was around 20-30 euros.
It’s a super cute store and recommend checking it out if you want to pick up some jewelry.
That area is called Perchel Norte and you can have a stroll by there to check it out. You’ll find bridges and more churches around that area.
Next for lunch you can go get seafood at the quirkiest beach restaurant, El Tintero. This place is hilarious.
It isn’t in the city center but is a 15 minute drive away and probably easier to take a cab. Parking is hard in that area.
You ask for a table outside or inside, they sit you down. Then you’ll hear waiters yelling really loud the plates they have. It’s all seafood or salads. If you want one, you say you want one, they give you it, and repeat.
This is a place to go to check it out because its famous and a touristy spot in the area.
It is however super duper loud and quickly paced. Not for everyone with the vibe that goes on there. You’ll be done in about 30 minutes. Maybe less if you’re not that hungry.
After you’re done eating, they come count the plates and tell you your bill. You pay and that’s it!
It’s a lot of fried food so it can be heavy, not something you’ll eat every day but if you’re in the area, go- have a drink, some fish, and a really great laugh.
Quick pick me up
Next you can return back to the city center and get some coffee. If you need a pick me up, Tost is a great option. The place was always busy when we passed by, service was warm, and the lattes were good.
Not sure if it’s the super touristy vibe you get in Malaga or the service we received, everything was really nice service wise.
Sometimes customer service is straight up nonexistent (and horrendous) in Spain that’s why I don’t like going anywhere blindly, nor do I recommend that – especially in Spain but Malaga did not disappoint.
After coffee, you can go have a walk at the port. Along the way, you can also pass by the Pompidou if you are walking on a certain street. It’s the big square building thats a symbol for the museum, the original one is French.
By the port is a really nice view, you can go walk around that area. If you fancy going on a boat, there’s a sightseeing boat which looks super cool!! We went to Godoy for a drink, what really pulled us in was the classic Flamenco performance, so beautiful.
Then you can go to dinner at Gorki. We wanted tapas so we ordered sardines, ham, and manchego cheese. Short and sweet.
Finally, time to snooze.
What are the people like in Malaga?
The people from Malaga were nice. We didn’t really speak to locals, but people who were in the service industry were really nice and professional.
You’ll notice Malaga is very touristy, as previously mentioned, but it’s also a huge expat destination. Specifically for British people. There are a good amount of British expats, people retired and other people who have migrated there.
It’s a nice mix and you can expect to hear the British accent a good amount while you are in the area.
Day 4 – Last day
Pick up breakfast at La Canasta – buy the bread with walnuts and raisins, its sweet and delicious. If you are living in Spain, definitely consider taking a few extra and freeze them when you get home. La Canasta is a bakery that is in the city center and has lots of delicious stuff.
We took one last walk around the city and then headed back to Madrid.
I hope you enjoyed the best things to do in Malaga and that you enjoy creating your itinerary. It’s a perfectly sized city that is super pretty and well maintained and is easy to move around.
If you have a car, you can consider visiting the outside pueblos, if not, staying only in the city makes for the perfect short trip or weekend getaway with awesome weather.
Happy traveling and Viva Andaluz!! Let me know in the comments, where would you go first?