Malaga is one of the first places I visited in Spain, and I ended up flying in and out of there a lot when I lived along the coast in Almeria. Its location on the Costa del Sol means it’s a popular place to fly into the explore Andalucia and the southern coast of Spain.
Is Malaga worth visiting?
Malaga is a bit of a tourist hot spot, and I’ve often been asked, “Is Malaga worth visiting?”
The short answer is yes; I think anywhere is worth exploring so that you can form your own opinion on it. There are also lots of attractions to see and things to do in Malaga that make it worth going to. Whether or not you choose to return there or only spend a short amount of time there is another thing entirely!
I’ve listed some of the reasons to visit Malaga, including things to do, and then some of the reasons why you might not want to go or be careful with your planning when visiting.
Things to do in Malaga
There are lots of things to see in Malaga! You could either make a short one-day trip and stick to seeing the main sights in the centre, or stay for longer and see more outside of the city centre, and even consider it as a base for day trips.
Visit the Alcazaba
The Alcazaba is a Moorish fortress and palace that dates back to the 11th century. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Malaga and a must-visit destination for history lovers and architecture enthusiasts.
Explore the Pablo Picasso Museum
The Picasso Museum in Malaga is dedicated to showcasing the works of the world-famous artist. The museum has an extensive collection of Picasso’s works, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, and ceramics.
Relax on the Beach
Malaga is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain, such as Playa de la Malagueta, Playa de la Caleta, and Playa del Palo. These beaches offer crystal-clear waters, golden sands, and a variety of water sports.
Visit the Cathedral of Malaga
The Cathedral of Malaga is a stunning example of Renaissance architecture and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city. Visitors can climb to the top of the cathedral for panoramic views of the city.
Wander through the Jardines de Pedro Luis Alonso
The Jardines de Pedro Luis Alonso is a beautiful public park located in the heart of the city. The park is home to a variety of exotic plants and is a great place to relax and enjoy the sunshine.
Explore the Atarazanas Market
The Atarazanas Market is a bustling indoor market that sells everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts. It’s a great place to experience the local culture and sample some of the region’s best cuisine.
Take a Walk in the Historic Center
The historic centre of Malaga is a maze of narrow streets and alleys lined with beautiful buildings and historical landmarks. It’s a great place to get lost and discover the city’s rich history and culture.
Visit the Roman Theatre
The Roman Theatre is a well-preserved ancient theatre that dates back to the 1st century AD. Visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the history of Roman theatre in Spain.
Tour the Castle of Gibralfaro
The Castle of Gibralfaro is a medieval fortress that sits atop a hill overlooking the city. It’s a great place to take in panoramic views of the city and learn about the history of Malaga’s military defences.
Enjoy the Nightlife
Malaga has a vibrant nightlife scene, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from. Visitors can enjoy live music, dancing, and drinks while soaking up the city’s lively atmosphere.
Experience the culture of Malaga
Malaga is a city rich in culture and history which makes it a city well worth visiting.
The city has been influenced by different cultures throughout its history, including the Romans, Moors, and Christians. The blend of these cultures has created a unique cultural identity that is reflected in the city’s art, architecture, and gastronomy.
Malaga is also known for its festivals, such as the Malaga Fair, which takes place in August and is one of the biggest festivals in Spain. The festival features live music, dance, food, and fireworks, making it a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a fun and cultural experience.
Food in Malaga
Malaga is a city with a rich culinary tradition that draws from both its coastal location and its history as a cultural crossroads. The cuisine of Malaga is known for its fresh seafood, Mediterranean vegetables, and delicious sweets.
One of the most iconic dishes of Malaga is pescaíto frito, which is a plate of assorted fried fish, typically served with a wedge of lemon and a cold beer. Other popular seafood dishes in Malaga include grilled octopus, prawns in garlic sauce, and sardines cooked over an open flame.
In addition to seafood, Malaga is also known for its tasty tapas, which are small dishes that are perfect for sharing. Some classic tapas dishes in Malaga include berenjenas con miel (fried eggplant drizzled with honey), ensaladilla malagueña (a salad made with potatoes, tuna, and olives), and boquerones en vinagre (marinated anchovies).
When it comes to desserts, Malaga is famous for its sweet wines and pastries. One of the most popular desserts in Malaga is the borrachuelo, which is a sweet pastry filled with anise-flavored cream and soaked in sweet wine. Other popular sweet treats in Malaga include tarta de aceite (an olive oil cake) and churros con chocolate (fried dough sticks served with hot chocolate).
Overall, the food in Malaga is delicious, varied, and deeply rooted in the region’s history and culture. Whether you’re a seafood lover, a tapas enthusiast, or have a sweet tooth, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Malaga’s culinary scene.
Getting around Malaga
In terms of transportation, Malaga has an excellent public transportation system, including buses, trains, and a metro system. The city is also well-connected to other destinations in Spain, making it an excellent base for exploring the surrounding areas. More on that later!
Reasons not to visit Malaga
Ok, so as I mentioned, I think somewhere is always worth visiting, even just to form your own opinion on it rather than take someone else’s word for it!
There will be people who absolutely love Malaga and those who won’t return after a first trip, and that’s fine. But where does this question about whether visiting Malaga is worth it even come from?
Here are some things to consider when you’re planning a trip to Malaga:
Malaga can be a popular destination, especially during the peak tourist season. This means that some of the main attractions and beaches can become crowded, which can be overwhelming for some visitors.
The summer months in Malaga can be very hot, with temperatures reaching up to 40°C (104°F). This can make outdoor activities, such as sightseeing or hiking, uncomfortable for some visitors.
Malaga is a lively city with a vibrant nightlife scene, but this can also mean that there can be noise pollution late into the night. Visitors who are sensitive to noise may want to consider staying in quieter areas of the city.
While Malaga can be an affordable destination, especially when compared to other major cities in Europe, some activities and restaurants can be expensive. Visitors on a tight budget may need to carefully plan their trip to ensure that they don’t overspend.
There are also definitely lovely and cheaper places to stay along the coast. Consider some places like Nerja (also popular with Brits) or go further along to Almeria (I’m biased as I lived there, but here are some reasons to visit!).
Day Trips from Malaga
Malaga makes a great base for exploring the surrounding area and seeing more of Andalucia. Even if you’re not a huge fan of the city itself (or especially if you’re not!), you can use it as a base to see other places.
Here are five day trips from Malaga:
Ronda is a beautiful town located in the mountains, about 1.5 hours from Malaga. To get there, you can take a bus or drive. The bus ride takes about two hours and costs around 10 euros one way.
Once you arrive in Ronda, you can explore the town’s beautiful architecture, visit the Puente Nuevo bridge, and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Caminito del Rey
The Caminito del Rey is a beautiful hiking trail located about 1 hour from Malaga. To get there, you can take a train from Malaga to El Chorro, which takes about an hour and costs around 10 euros one way.
From El Chorro, you can take a bus to the Caminito del Rey entrance, which costs around 1.55 euros one way. The hike itself takes about 3-4 hours and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Nerja is a picturesque town located about 1 hour from Malaga. To get there, you can take a bus or drive. The bus ride takes about an hour and costs around 3 euros one way.
In Nerja, you can visit the famous Balcon de Europa viewpoint, explore the town’s charming streets, and relax on one of the beautiful beaches.
Antequera is a historic town located about 45 minutes from Malaga, known for its ancient burial mounds. To get there, you can take a train or drive. The train ride takes about an hour and costs around 6 euros one way.
It has a typical medieval town, with the Alcazaba fortress to explore, and there are many other significant historical buildings you can easily see just by walking around. You can also visit the dolmens, or ancient burial grounds.
This one is a bit further but makes for an interesting trip!
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located about 2 hours from Malaga. To get there, you can drive or take a bus for about 3 hours, which costs around 20 euros one way, so it would make for a long day trip.
There famous Rock of Gibraltar to explore as well as the town’s many British-style pubs and shops and enjoy stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Note that as Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, you will need to bring your passport to cross the border.
Overall, we think Malaga is a great place to visit to explore its history, absorb some of the laid-back lifestyle and culture, and eat delicious food. Plus, see some sites nearby!
Planning a Spain trip? Check out these posts:
- 15 Best City Breaks in Spain: What to Do + Where to Stay
- 27 Most Beautiful Places in Spain You Should Visit
- Spain in Winter: Best Places to Visit
- 11 Things That Will Make You Want to Visit Almería, Spain
- 7 of the Most Beautiful Villages in Andalucía, Spain
- Finding Graffiti in Granada: The Street Art Gallery of Spain
- One day in Seville Itinerary