Malaga, Spain is one of my favorite cities around the world. I escaped to Malaga for a month and a half after a bad breakup when I was backpacking Europe as a digital nomad. While I was emotionally down during my time in this stunning city, I still have some of the best memories in Malaga. From mornings spent seeking out the best churros con chocolate to healing afternoons searching for sea glass on sunny beaches, Malaga completely captured my heart. I put together the ultimate guide on what to see and do, where to eat, and how to best visit Malaga for the most epic Andalusian adventure. Let’s dive in!
Where To Stay In Malaga
Malaga is quite a walkable city, but if you want to stay right in the heart of the action, the following spots are some of my favorite spots in town. I’ve stayed in both budget and higher end accommodations in Malaga and would happily stay at any of the following spots again and again.
My Favorite Backpacker Hostel: The Urban Jungle Hostel
The Urban Jungle Hostel is located just a two minute walk from all the popular spots in Malaga. I really enjoyed the layout of this hostel. It has a fully equipped kitchen, co-working space, and rooftop terrace for meeting new friends. The hostel organizes many fun activities, like a daily free walking tour, beach volleyball tournaments, yoga classes, pub crawls, and more. Though it is a lively hostel that people looking to party will enjoy, I found it clean and quiet and the perfect home base for falling in love with the city.
The Best Bed And Breakfast: Blue Castle Guest House
Blue Castle Guest House is a charming bed and breakfast located in the heart of Malaga. While it’s right in the city, it is still surrounded by beautiful nature and has its own impressive garden for you to relax in and a nice pool to cool off in after a long day exploring the city. Each room at the Blue Castle Guest House has a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher, coffee machine, and an oven, perfect for enjoying an extended stay in.
Live In Luxury: H10 Croma Hotel Malaga
H10 Croma Hotel just recently launched in Malaga and is the ultimate luxury hotel. The hotel has an onsite restaurant, lobby and rooftop bar, gym, and terrace with stunning views of the city. Whether you want to relax on the beach or visit the Picasso Museum, this hotel is perfectly located for easy access to all the sites.
Where To Eat In Malaga
You’ll need to fuel up for your big adventure around Malaga. These are some of my favorite spots for each meal of the day.
I spent many days searching for the best churros con chocolate to dunk into my morning café con leche. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, these are some of the best spots for breakfast:
Casa Aranda - This was my favorite churros spot in Malaga. Grab a table outside to people watch while you chow down on the most delicious churros in Spain.
La Rambla Cafeteria - This spot is perfect for meals all day long, but I particularly loved the potato filled Spanish omelet here.
Keep in mind, most lunch spots open later than we are used to in the US, around 1:30/2:00 in Malaga. Make sure to pllan your meals accordingly.
El Pimpi - This restaurant has been doing business since 1971 and is a Malaga staple. It is a restaurant and a winery, so it is a great spot to try local wines and enjoy the local cuisine.
El Tapeo de Cervantes - You can’t go to Spain without enjoying some tapas and this bar is the perfect spot for treating yourself to a variety of Andalusian treats.
I love a good wine bar and rooftop bar, but these were my favorite places to grab a drink in Malaga:
Antigua Casa de Guardia - This is one of Malaga's oldest taverns. It’s known for its rustic charm and offers a wide selection of local wines and sherries. You must try a glass of sweet Malaga wine while here.
Bar Urbano - If you’re looking for a fun night out, this is the spot for you. The drinks are high-quality, but still affordable and the atmosphere is very lively.
Dinner in Spain is much later than in The States. Plan to eat dinner between 9:00-11:00 pm at these cool spots:
El Mesón de Cervantes - For a taste of authentic Andalusian cuisine, head to El Mesón de Cervantes. This charming restaurant, located in the historic center, offers a menu filled with traditional Spanish dishes. From hearty stews to grilled meats, the culinary offerings showcase the richness of local flavors.
El Balneario - This spot not only provides a relaxing atmosphere with the sound of waves lapping against the shore but also specializes in traditional Spanish cuisine, including an excellent paella. The restaurant's commitment to using fresh, local ingredients ensures an authentic and flavorful dining experience.
✈️ Pro Tip: Grab your passport and head to one of these 10 European Cities For a Weekend Escape.
What To See And Do In Malaga
There are so many amazing sites and fun activities to do in Malaga. From relaxing on the beach to traveling back in time while climbing fortresses, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this charming city.
Visit The Alcazaba Fortress
Nestled in the heart of Malaga, the Alcazaba Fortress stands as a living testament to the city's Moorish legacy. Its ancient walls and awe-inspiring architecture beckon visitors on a journey through history. Built in the 11th century, this fortress boasts not only historical significance but also enchanting gardens that provide a tranquil respite amid the urban hustle. I loved climbing to the top of this fortress not just for the history, but for the 360 degree views from the top. There are beautiful castles at the top, so pack a book and some snacks to relax in the peaceful setting.
Climb To The Top Of Gibralfaro Castle
Perched atop the Gibralfaro hill, the Gibralfaro Castle offers a vantage point like no other in Malaga. The climb to its summit is a rewarding adventure, as it unveils breathtaking panoramic views of the cityscape, the azure Mediterranean Sea, and the distant mountain ranges. Dating back to the 10th century, this fortress has witnessed centuries of history, and today, it stands as a symbol of resilience and grandeur. Even if you’re not a big history buff, this is definitely worth the climb.
Immerse Yourself In Art At The Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso is one of my favorite artists and he was born in Malaga, so a visit to the museum in his honor was a must-see for me. Housed in a historic palace, the museum showcases a diverse collection of Picasso's creations, from early sketches to iconic masterpieces. Keep in mind, the museum has a strict no photograph policy, so put your phone away before you enter.
Admire The Malaga Cathedral
If you’re staying in the city center, one of the first sites you are likely to see is the famous Malaga Cathedral. It truly is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. You can book tickets to either explore just the cathedral or the cathedral and roof. I recommend doing the latter for scenic views.
Stroll Through The Old Town
The Old Town area of Malafa is packed full of charming shops, inviting cafes, and centuries-old landmarks. I spent many a day just wandering down different alleyways and seeing what I could find. I felt completely safe during my time in Malaga, so taking my time to wander about was a relaxing treat.
Go Shopping At Atarazanas Market
Grab all you need for a picnic on the beach at the Atarazanas Market. This bustling food market is full of so many great food stalls with local products. Even if you aren’t planning on buying anything to eat, a wander through this market is a must.
Relax at Malaga Beaches
I am a beach girl through and through, so of course I have to highly recommend spending as much time as possible on Malaga’s sandy shoreline. Even though I was visiting in March, I was still able to sit and bask in the sun. There was also a lot of beautiful sea glass along the shoreline, so much so that my back would ache after a day at the beach because I spent so much time bent over combing for treasure.
Walk Along Muelle Uno
Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront at Muelle Uno, a modern development that seamlessly blends shopping, dining, and cultural experiences. With a backdrop of the sea and a design that fuses contemporary style with historic elements, Muelle Uno is a picturesque destination. This is also located next to where all the boats dock, so if you’re looking for a handsome stranger who owns a yacht, this is the spot for you.
Visit the Roman Theatre
El Teatro Romano is the oldest monument in Málaga City at the base of the Alcazaba Fortress. You can book a walking tour of the theater to learn more about the history of the ancient Roman ruin. Better yet, if you’re visiting in the summer, book tickets to one of the shows or events put on in the amphitheater.
Climb Mount Gibralfaro
For those seeking both adventure and stunning vistas, hiking up Mount Gibralfaro is a must-do in Malaga. The trail offers a refreshing escape into nature, winding through pine forests and ancient walls. The summit rewards hikers with panoramic views that stretch from the city to the sea, creating a breathtaking backdrop. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and pack plenty of water for your hike!
✈️ Pro Tip: Do you love hiking? Check out these 9 Best Treks Around The World.
Wander Through The Jardín Botánico-Histórico La Concepción
Escape the urban buzz and immerse yourself in the tranquility of Jardín Botánico-Histórico La Concepción. These lush botanical gardens, established in the 19th century, boast a diverse collection of plant species from around the world. Wander through winding paths, discover exotic flora, and appreciate the serenity of this green oasis.
Watch A Flamenco Show
Attending a live flamenco show is a once in a lifetime experience. I loved this particular dinner theater experience. The meal was delicious and the dancing was so impressive. There were live musicians who played guitar and sang as the dancers tapped their way about the stage.
Best Day Trips From Malaga, Spain
While I could easily spend weeks exploring the charming streets of Malaga, it is also conveniently located for doing day trips throughout Andalucia.
Ronda - Nestled amid scenic mountains, Ronda, just 1.5 hours from Malaga, captivates with its historic bullring, Puente Nuevo bridge over El Tajo gorge, and an Old Town exuding Andalusian charm. The breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes make it a perfect day trip destination.
Granada and the Alhambra - A 1.5 to 2-hour drive from Malaga takes you to Granada, where the iconic Alhambra stands, showcasing intricate palaces and gardens. Explore the Albayzín, a Moorish quarter with narrow streets, and immerse yourself in the rich history of Granada. I would personally recommend spending a few days in Granada, but if you’re limited on time you can do a quick day trip.
Nerja and the Caves of Nerja - Just an hour from Malaga, Nerja boasts the Balcony of Europe, offering stunning views of the Mediterranean. Enjoy the beaches, explore the Caves of Nerja with magnificent stalactite formations, and wander through the charming Old Town.
Caminito del Rey - A one-hour drive from Malaga, the Caminito del Rey offers an adrenaline-filled experience with a narrow walkway clinging to the walls of a gorge. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Guadalhorce River and Gaitanes Gorge, making this an ideal day trip for adventure seekers.
Antequera - An hour from Malaga by car or train, Antequera boasts dolmen sites, including Menga and Viera, and the medieval Alcazaba with panoramic views. Explore Lovers' Rock and the unique limestone formations in El Torcal Natural Park for a diverse day trip experience.
How To Visit Morocco from Malaga
One of the coolest adventures I did while in Malaga was to skip out of Spain and head to Morocco! The journey began with a scenic ferry ride across the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangier, offering breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and Atlantic meeting at the gateway between Europe and Africa. To get the ferry, you will need to arrange transportation to Tarifa or Algeciras, which are both easily accessible from Malaga by car or bus. The ferry ride took approximately 1-2 hours. While I didn’t have as much time as I would like to explore Tangier, it was still exciting to get to spend a few hours exploring bustling markets and colorful alleyways. If you’re thinking of going on this adventure, I would recommend extending your stay in Morocco for a few days.
Make Memories In Malaga
Malaga will always be a peaceful place for me to return to and I think it’s a must visit place for every traveler. The historic charm and rich culture will sweep you off your feet and you’ll make memories that last a lifetime. Bon voyage!
Is Malaga on your bucket list? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!