Málaga is the birthplace of Picasso, a city brimming with contemporary art museums, where hotel skyscrapers mix with century-old monuments like the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro citadels.
These older buildings reveal the city’s Moorish heritage, while the renovated port area showcases its youthful personality, with lively bars and seafood restaurants attracting the crowds.
Beyond its artistic and historic charm, the city is part of the Costa del Sol, a coastal stretch in the south of Andalucia lined with stunning beaches.
two-day itinerary will show you the best things to do in Málaga. It
includes the city’s top attractions, as well as tips on where to eat and
where to stay.
Begin your tour of the city with a visit to the Santuario de la Victoria. This quiet sanctuary is dedicated to Our Lady Virgen de la Victoria, Málaga’s patron saint. While it was originally established in the 15th century by the Catholic Monarchs, the building you see today is from the 17th century. It’s worth coming here to see the Camarín chapel with its stunning Baroque interior and the eerie skeleton figures that decorate the crypt from top to bottom.
From the sanctuary, it takes about 20 minutes to walk up to the Mirador de Gibralfaro. Set above a hill at 130 metres high, it’s one of the best viewpoints in Málaga. Standing here, you can capture some of the city’s main attractions including the cathedral and the Alcazaba and spot the cruises arriving at the port.
Continue your day in Málaga exploring the grounds of the Castillo de Gibralfaro. Looming over the city, this Moorish castle dates back to the 8th century, but was rebuilt in the 14th century when Málaga became the chief port of the emirate of Granada. Through the years, it was used as a lighthouse and military barracks. Today, visitors can climb its ramparts and capture the panoramic city views. The castle is also home to a military museum, which features a small model of the complex and the lower residence, Alcazaba. You can drive to Gibralfaro or walk from the city, following the scenic route along Paseo Don Juan Temboury.
At the foot of the Gibralfaro hill is the Alcazaba, a fortified palace erected around the 11th century. It’s one of the most famous landmarks in the city, and you can spot it from every corner. The courtyards, fountains and horseshoe arches reflect the city’s Moorish influence. The Patio de la Alberca, especially, is reminiscent of Granada’s Alhambra. Take a stroll through the gardens and enjoy the views over Málaga.
A few steps down the hill, you’ll find the remains of a Roman theatre. Studies say it was constructed around the first century A.D. under the Augustus rule. The theatre was in use for hundreds of years until the Moors arrived, turning it into a source for building material. The open-air structure has the typical style of other Roman theatres with tiered seats and a grand entrance. A small visitor centre showcases some of the artefacts found on the site.
After exploring the theatre, make your way to Plaza de la Merced. This public square in the barrio La Merced has also been around since the Roman era. In the 15th century it became the location for the town’s market, and even today it’s still known as Plaza del Mercado. At the centre of the square today is the Monument to Torrijos, a large obelisk built in honour of General Torrijos, a Spanish liberal soldier who was shot in Málaga. Through the years, many artists lived on this square, among them Picasso, whose house you can visit today at Museo Casa Natal.
From Plaza de la Merced, head down to the Museo Picasso Málaga to learn more about this infamous Spanish artist. Open since 2003, it showcases over 200 of Picasso’s artworks, mostly from the early 20th-century. Inside you can find clay sculptures, sketches and paintings like the one of his sister Lola. Housed inside a 16th-century palace, the museum also features a café and often hosts temporary exhibits.
Plaza del Obispo is another popular square in Málaga. It’s here you’ll find the Episcopal Palace, also known as the Bishop’s Palace. The building dates back to the 18th century and it’s one of the city’s Baroque jewels. Inside you can marvel at the stunning tile work and frescoes, alongside religious artefacts and African coins. It’s possible to combine your ticket with a visit to the cathedral.
Facing Plaza del Obispo is the Málaga cathedral. It took around 200 years to build this church, resulting in a mix of Renaissance and Baroque styles. The cathedral replaced the city’s former mosque, and you can see traces of it in the Patio de los Naranjos, a small courtyard surrounded by orange trees. The imposing facade features large columns and arches adorned with reliefs of saints. Inside, there are domed ceilings and stunning sculptural work. As you walk around the city, you can’t help spotting the church’s north tower rising above the houses. Another tower was left incomplete, as there weren’t enough funds to build it. This gave rise to the nickname La Manquita, meaning The One-Armed Lady. It’s worth visiting the cathedral’s roof (cubiertas ) to capture the panoramic city views.
From the cathedral, walk to the Parque de Málaga. Stretching for 33 hectares, this green oasis is the ideal spot to escape the heat. Visitors can enjoy a cooling spot under its towering palm trees. In between the greenery are a series of sculptures and fountains from the Renaissance and Baroque era.
End the day with a stroll around the Puerto de Málaga, one of the oldest seaports in Spain. The area is a contrast from the city’s old town, with modern shops, bars and restaurants lining the Muelle Uno promenade. Most boat trips depart from here and include a variety of experiences from sunset sailing to dolphin watching tours.
Wake up early and spend the morning relaxing at one of the city’s beaches. Málaga is the capital of the Costa del Sol and is renowned for its pristine beaches. Playa de la Malagueta is the closest beach to the centre. Along the beach are a series of bars, known as chiringuitos where you can grab a drink.
To the east, 30 minutes away, is the Pedregalejo neighbourhood, where you’ll find Playa de las Acacias and Playa del Palo. If you don’t have a car, you can cycle here or take the bus. It’s a fishing area, so it’s the perfect spot to try some fresh fish.
A bit further is the Playa Peñón del Cuervo. There aren’t any bars or restaurants here, instead, visitors bring food and grill it at one of the barbecue spots next to the beach.
To the west is the Playa de la Misericórdia, where you might be surprised by the Ola del Mellilero. These are random waves caused by the Málaga-Melilla ferry which often catches visitors off guard. With more time and a car, you can visit other beaches in areas like Nerja, Torremolinos, Fuengirola or Estepona.
After exploring the beaches, head to the Mercado de Atarazanas. This local market occupies a 19th-century building that has merged with the city’s old Moorish gate. Visitors will be amazed by the stained-glass windows which depict scenes from Málaga’s history. Inside, there’s a lively atmosphere with stalls offering anything from ham legs to cheese and fish. There are also a couple of bars where you can order a tapa and a beer.
Close to the market is the Soho district, the city’s creative hub. There’s street art in pretty much every corner here, alongside independent galleries and workshops. Soho is also home to the Contemporary Art Centre of Málaga, a museum housed inside a market which showcases 20th-century pieces from international and Spanish artists. Around the neighbourhood are a series of handicraft shops, trendy cafés and world cuisine restaurants.
From Soho, walk along the water until you reach the Pompidou Centre. This art gallery attracts visitors with its multicoloured cube structure designed by artist Daniel Buren. It includes a variety of contemporary art pieces from design to photography and film, which usually rotate on an annual basis.
A few steps from Pompidou is Málaga’s city hall, known as the ayuntamiento in Spanish. Established between 1912 and 1919 the huge building stands out with its Neo-Baroque style designed by Guerrero Strachan and Rivera Vera. You need permission to visit the interior, but you can admire the outside anytime, capturing the clock tower and its numerous stone figures. Next to the city hall, there are two gardens: the Jardines de Pedro Luis Alonso famous for its roses, and the Jardines de Puerta Oscura which features small terraces surrounded by cypress trees and ponds.
This picturesque square has had many names through the years, and it was only in 1812 that it became Plaza de la Constitución, after the Spanish constitution. The city hall was once located here, but today the most notable sites are the Fuente de Génova, a 16th-century marble fountain and the Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País, an 18th-century building formerly used as a maritime consul and a Jesuit School. Many of the city’s celebrations take place here, including the Málaga Fair and New Year’s Eve
Another Málaga museum that deserves a visit is the Carmen Thyssen. Set inside a former 16th-century palace, it features a vast collection on Spanish and Andalusian art. Artists on display include Ignacio Zuloaga and Joaquín Sorolla. Most paintings try to depict life in Spain in the 19th century, with scenes of flamenco, bullfighting and other fiestas. Entrance is free on Sundays after 5 p.m.
Málaga has plenty of family-friendly sights. The beaches and its playgrounds will probably be high on your list, but there are many other activities for kids.
Most art museums in the city organize guided tours and activities for children. Usually, these are in Spanish, but if you’re lucky you might get an English-speaking guide. The Pompidou Centre, for example, has an interactive room where they can explore their creativity. Other kid-friendly spaces include the Interactive Music Museum, the Museum of the Imagination, the Aeronautical Museum and Automobile Museum (Museo Automovilístico de Málaga).
There are also many parks where they can play like the Málaga Parque, the Parque del Oeste or the Parque del Cine. From the Málaga port, you can hop on a catamaran trip or join a dolphin watching tour.
Thirty minutes away from Málaga is
Benalmádena, a resort town packed with fun attractions like the Sea Life
aquarium, the Tivoli World amusement park and the Selwo Marina, where
kids can see penguins and dolphins. Other places worth visiting are Aqualand and Crocodile Park in Torremolinos and the
Bioparc in Fuengirola, a jungle-like zoo that includes gorillas, lemurs
Your kids will love the safari park Selwo Aventura in Estepona . The park covers more than 100 hectares and is home to more than 2000 animals.
With direct access to the ocean, Málaga is renowned for its delicious
seafood dishes. Among these are the pescaito frito (fried fish) and
the infamous espetos — sardine skewers cooked on a grill by the
beach. Other specialities include the gazpachuelo , a soup made with
garlic, egg, mayonnaise and potatoes often topped with shrimp, and the
plato de los Montes de Málaga , a dish that combines a variety of
sausages with egg and fries. You can wash it all down with a glass of
the local sweet wine. Below are some of the best places to eat in
With sunshine most of the year, there’s never a bad season to visit Málaga. If you enjoy the beach, the best time to come is between June and September. The hottest temperatures are usually around July and August, with an average of 31ºC. If it gets too much, you can always escape to one of the city’s parks and museums. In spring and autumn, the temperatures are a bit milder, and there are fewer crowds. January is the coldest month, but even then the average is about 17º. You can also plan your trip around one of the city’s festivals, like the carnival in February or the local fair in August.
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