Our Top 50 Things to Do in Malaga
Congratulations on taking the decision to visit the beautiful Andalusian city of Málaga. The capital city of the Costa del Sol does not disappoint! With a surprise at every turn, for sure you will fall in love with this charming historical city. With no end of things to do in Málaga, we have compiled “just” 50 things to do in Malaga to get you off to a good start!
What are the main highlights of things to do in Malaga city?
1. Visit the Roman Theatre of Málaga
Easy to find in the old town on Calle Alcazabilla. One of the smallest yet one of the oldest Roman Theatres in Europe. Incredibly, it dates from the 1st Century B.C. Check out the Visitor’s Information Centre next to the theatre. Truly an educational experience for the whole family.
2. Explore the Alcazaba
A Muslim fortified palace built in the 11th Century A.D. above the Roman Theatre. Interestingly, the muslims used the Roman Theatre as a quarry to construct some parts of the palace. As a result, you can see certain Roman elements like statues and columns inside this very arabic-style building.
3. Hike or bike up to the Gibralfaro Castle
El Castillo Gibralfaro was also built by the muslims. Naturally, with the increase in weapons, the muslims needed another fortress on higher ground than the Alcazaba. Consequently, in the 14th century, they built this amazing castle, providing better defence for the city. And of course, after your climb up the monte, you will be rewarded with amazing 360 degree views around the whole area!
4. Climb the 200 steps up the tower of the Cathedral of Málaga.
Once you reach the top of the tower, walking around the bovedas of the rooftop you will enjoy the spectacular panoramic views from the top of the cathedral. Likewise, a visit inside of the cathedral is essential. Indeed, you must check out the hand-carved wooden choir stalls. They date from the 17th century and are recognized as one of the most impressive ‘coros’ in Spain.
5. Become a Pablo Picasso expert!
Did you know that Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga? And that Málaga is the only city in the world that has TWO Picasso museums? Learn all about Málaga’s most famous son’s life and work by visiting the Picasso Museum as well as the house where he was born.
6. Savour the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of El Mercado Atarazanas – the Central Market
The Atarazanas market is a lively, colourful, fresh produce market open every morning except Sundays and holidays. Truly, it is a feast for the senses!
Watch the locals in action, try some local products like almonds and olives. Enjoy delicious fresh fish at one of the many bars with tables and chairs at the front of the market.
Equally impressive is the building itself. It was originally a boat-building yard that dates back to Arabic times. The main entrance to the market is the only remaining element from the 14th century. Clearly, one can see the very arabic style of the marble horseshoe shaped archway.
7. Tour the The Four Oldest Churches (Iglesias) in Malaga
Iglesia de Santiago– where Picasso was christened. Iglesia de los Martires– named for two of the patron saints of Malaga- the first Christian martyrs. Iglesia del Sagrario– next to the cathedral and housed inside part of the original mosque. Iglesia de San Juan– Málaga’s second most famous son’s church- Antonio Banderas. All four churches were built on the site of mosques after the Catholic Conquest of the city in 1487.
8. Botanical Gardens: Cycle to nature and visit the beautiful Jardín Botánico
Just 7 kms north from the city centre and easily reachable by bike. We like to call it The Botanical Jungle – you can see why from the photo. Reserve your bike in advance to avoid disappointment. Ask our friendly Malaga Bike Tours staff for directions.
9. Experience Semana Santa/ Holy Week of Málaga
If you are lucky enough to be here during Easter Week – and post- Covid, – you will surely be impressed by the incredible Easter Week processions. Meanwhile, a visit to one of the many brotherhood buildings of the Easter Week is highly recommended.
Then, you will see the elaborate ornate ‘thrones’ that hundreds of (mainly) men carry around the city. Truly impressive are the brotherhoods of Santo Sepulcro and Estudiantes. You can find them side by side in Calle Alcazabilla.
If you want to know more about the Semana Santa of Malaga then visit the Semana Santa Museum at Calle Muro de San Julián, 2 in the historical centre.
10. Be a culture vulture!
Clearly, with a total of 40 museums in the city, it is not a difficult task. After the Picasso museum, we recommend the Museo de Malaga. It is an enormous museum space housed inside the impressive old customs palace. Also, a must-visit for Impressionism fans is the Museum Thyssen. Likewise, for Contemporary art lovers the Centre Pompidou in the port as well as CAC (Contemporary Art Centre) are essential stops.
As well, for kids, the museum of Arts and Popular Customs and the Music Museum are very entertaining.
Where are the best beaches to visit in Malaga?
11. Discover the quaint fishermen’s neighbourhoods of
Pedregalejo & El Palo
First and foremost, this is an obligatory trip for anyone visiting Malaga! These two quaint old fisherman’s neighbourhoods just east of Malaga city centre are absolutely delightful. To illustrate, it is a 3 km promenade lined with colourful little houses and beaches full of hand-built wooden fishing boats. The beaches are shallow coves close to the promenade. Besides, you will be spoilt for choice in terms of the types of restaurants on offer. Also obligatory is to try the local speciality of fresh sardines- espeto de sardinas- that are cooked over an open fire on the boat barbecues on the beach. Not to be missed!
12. Continue east to Peñon del Cuervo beach
Immediately after El Palo, you will find this very unique beach. Specifically for the huge rock that protudes out of the sea. Easily reachable on your rent a bike in Malaga. It is the perfect place to stop and cool off with a swim. Why not be like a local, climb up the rock and jump into the sea! (Please don’t dive- the water is not deep enough for diving).
13. Hang out with the locals at Misericordia Beach
Alternatively, just west of the city centre we have the ‘locals’ beach. Also lined with chiringuitos (beach bars) and cafés, this is a less touristy beach. On your bike rental, follow the bike paths west along the coast to get there.
14. Go “wild” at the Nature Reserve of the River Guadalhorce
This beach is the only wild beach on the Malaga Coastline meaning that it is the only beach that has not been aumented or developed by humans. And more figuratively, it is also the only wild beach in Malaga as it is the only nudist/ naturist beach.
15. Things to do in Malaga – More Beaches!
There are an infinite number of beaches all along the coast. In fact, most of them are easily reachable on your rent a bike. However, there are some off the beaten track secret beaches to discover that are further afield, too!
What are the best photo opportunities in Málaga?
16. Find the three “sand sculptures”
The three “sand sculptures” portray the names of the beaches they are on. Firstly, MALAGUETA, at the beach closest to the city centre.
Next, EL DEDO at the end of the beach in El Palo. Finally, MISERICORDIA next to the promenade in front of the beach of the same name west of the city.
17. Be the ‘L’ in Malaga
Literally put yourself in Málaga! Find the Malaga sign that is missing the letter L on the left side of the Roman Theatre. (Mirador of the Alcazaba).
18. Take a Selfie with Pablo Picasso
If you haven’t had your photo taken with Picasso, then you haven’t been to Málaga! Find “him” sitting on a bench near his birth-house in the Plaza de la Merced. He will be very impressed if you call him by his full name: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso.
19. Climb to the Summit of Monte San Anton
A tough hike or bike to this famous landmark – the cross on the top of Monte San Antón. It is truly worth the effort though!
20. “Be” El Biznaguero Statue
Strike the biznaguero pose in front of the statue of the same name in the park next to the City Hall of Malaga- Los Jardines de Pedro Luis Alonso.
The biznaguero is a local traditional figure that sells the ‘official flower’ of Málaga- the biznaga. In fact, it is not really a flower. Jasmine blooms are threaded into the long stem of a wild flower. When the blooms open they form a lovely semi-circular white flower. Be sure to buy a biznaga souvenir as well!
Where can I see the best street art in Malaga?
21. Be surprised in SOHO– the neighbourhood of the arts
The area of SOHO stretches south of the Alameda Principal to the port and west from Plaza de la Marina to the (usually dry) river Guadalmedina. Once the red light district of the city, in recent years it has been developed as an artistic neighbourhood. For example, it is filled with alternative type businesses such as Málaga Bike. 😉
Hence, with a simple walk around this area you will discover quirky shops, cool restaurants and all kinds of amazing street art by local and international artists
22. Take in the Lagunillas neighbourhood street art
Just behind the Plaza de la Merced you can find the neighbourhood of Lagunillas. The street art here developed very organically. Local artists have depicted local characters and there are tributes to some famous Malagueños. It is a very colourful neighbourhood which can be easily explored in less than an hour.
23. Head west to see the Sacaba Neighbourhood Street Art
Take our cycle route west to Torremolinos and see this inspiring mural on the way into the River Guadalhorce area. Can you spot Málaga’s two most famous sons?
What are some must-do strolls of things to do in Malaga?
(Quintessentially the favourite pastime of the Spanish is to ‘dar un paseo’ – go for a walk).
24. Delight in Calle Marquis de Larios and its side streets
Without a doubt, strolling up and down the magnificent main street of Malaga, is our ‘paseo número uno’! Calle Marquis de Larios is one of the most beautiful streets in Spain. (As well as being the fifth most expensive one!) It is spectacular at any time of the day or night. Especially first thing in the morning or last thing at night, it is simply magical.
25. Marvel at The Port of Malaga
Equally spectacular but more modern is the port of Málaga. Stroll under the undulating white pergola of El Palmeral de las Sorpresas. Later, walk along Muelle Uno where you can see mega-yachts and fine sailing boats. For a captivating view of the city skyline, take a walk out past the lighthouse to the cruise ship station.
26. Cool off in El Parque– the park!
El Paseo del Parque is the outdoor botanical garden in the city centre, adjacent to the port. Approximately one kilometre in length, zig-zag your way through tropical plants, flowers and trees. Undoubtedly, it makes a pleasant evening walk. Furthermore, on hot summer days, it is the perfect place to cool off, being a few degrees cooler beneath the lush greenery.
27. Retrace the Arab City Wall Remains
Retrace the Arab City walls. Starting at the Parking Marina close to the Malaga Bike shop, walk along the Alameda, Calle Carretería, Plaza de la Merced, Calle Alcazabilla to the Rectorado in Avda. de Cervantes. Ask the Malaga Bike staff to mark on a map the exact spots where you can still see the remains of the wall.
28. Promenade on the promenade
Walking or cycling along the promenade from the Malagueta to Baños del Carmen will officially make you a local! Enjoy the sea breeze, watch the waves crashing on the rocks, work out in the open-air gyms, cycle into the sunset and feel at one with the world!
29. Hike or bike to Monte Victoria
One of the best places to enjoy the sunset not far from the city centre. The short but steep climb is well worth the effort.
30. Relive the grandeur of the Alameda Principal
Back in the 1800’s, this now main artery of the city was considered the malagueño Champs Elysees. The rich industrialist families lived in their palaces that lined both sides of the street. In the evenings, it was the place to see and be seen. Full of life and colour, every level of society would stroll up and down the street, doing business, listening to bands playing, catching up on the local gossip.
Pay attention to the architecture of some of the grand old houses. You will soon be able to imagine how life was like back in the day.
Where are the historic cemeteries & graveyards?
31. Travel back in time in the monumental, historical San Miguel Cemetery
At just under 3 kms from the Malaga Bike shop, it is an easy rent a bike destination. Dating from the 19th century, it is most certainly a historical and cultural visit. Evidently, it is filled with unique mausoleums and individual crypts. Certainly, their architectural styles will leave you impressed.
And for sure you will recognise some local names on the tombs. For example, the Larios family crypt. Accordingly, many illustrious malagueño families of the 1800’s graves are here.
32. Lose yourself in The English Cemetery
El cementerio inglés is the oldest non-Catholic cemetery in mainland Spain. Conceived not only as a cemetery but also as a botanical garden, it is most definitely a magical intriguing place.
The cemetery exists thanks to a British consul. He was horrified at the local practise of burying dead, non-Spanish Catholics in the sand on the beach. The local government allotted him this piece of land in order to give his countrymen a respectable final resting place.
In our opinion it is well worth a visit. Entrance is 5€ for adults and 4€ for seniors and students.
Address: Avda. de Pries, 1 just across the street from the Gran Hotel Miramar.
33. Get spooked at The Buena Vista Crypt
First make your way to the church La Iglesia de la Victoria just north of the city centre following Calle Victoria. The entrance to the crypt is to the right of the church as you go up the steps.
This somewhat startling but beautiful place is one of the least known attractions of the city. The crypt bears the name of the Counts of the Buena Vista. They funded its creation on the condition that it would also be their family pantheon. It is an impressive space. To illustrate, its black walls are covered with plaster cast white skeletons, skulls and other death related figures.
Open from Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Times may alter due to religious services or festivals. Entrance fee: 3€
34. Imagine the underground crypt at the Plaza de la Merced
Not exactly a cemetery or a visitable crypt, but worthy of a mention. Obviously, many visitors to Malaga will have seen the impressive white marble obelisk in the centre of the Plaza de la Merced. However, many have no idea of its symbolism. Therefore, we would like to share the story with you.
The obelisk was constructed in order to commemorate a liberal revolution in Málaga- that never took place.
For all you history buffs out there- here’s an abbreviated story of the doomed revolution:
Back at the beginning of the 1800’s there was a very nasty and autocratic King on the Spanish throne: King Ferdinand VII. There were no civil liberties for the Spanish people, life was really tough. So, in 1831, a soldier named General Torrijos and his comrades, many of them living in exile in England, decided to come back to Spain to start a liberal revolution to get rid of the King.
Then, somebody in England told them to start in Malaga as ‘those Malagueños have always had a reputation of being very anti-establishment’. Therefore, they would be sure to get lots of support for their revolution. Unfortunately, that advice was a trick.
Immediately on arrival in Malaga, the authorities captured the general and his then 48 men. Consequently, they were all jailed. Tragically, 9 days later a firing squad shot every single one of them on the San Andrés beach in Malaga.
It happened on December 11th 1831. Truly, they say that there has never been a sadder Christmas in the hearts and minds of the Malagueños. We commemorate this event every year on December 11th in the Plaza de la Merced.
In 1842, the locals built the obelisk (once the nasty King had died). They buried the bodies of 48 of the 49 men in the crypt below. You can see all of their names on the plaques on the four sides of the monument.
There is one non-Spanish name: Mr. Robert Boyd- an Irish man in the wrong place at the wrong time! He is not buried with his comrades. In fact, he was the first ‘guest’ of the English cemetery. Look for his shell-covered grave when you visit there.
Where can I try the local wine?
35. Things to do in Malaga: Imbibe at the Antigua Casa de Guardia
Indeed, the oldest bodega (wine cellar) in Malaga is an obligatory stop on your things to do in Malaga list. Founded in 1840 it is one of the most emblematic bars in the city. The famous Malaga sweet (or dry) wine is poured straight from the barrels. In fact, you can almost smell the wine and the barrels before you even see them. Surprisingly, the bill is literally ‘chalked up’ on the bar. Once paid, the bill is wiped away. The bodega is on the Alameda Principal, 18, just around the corner from the Central Market.
36. Things to do in Malaga: Party at El Pimpi
Well, OK, we have another obligatory stop on our things to do in Malaga list. La bodega El Pimpi is one of the most popular bars in the city. Besides its huge outdoor terrace, be sure to explore its labyrinth of rooms and spaces inside. They are decorated with bullfighting posters and photos of famous people that have visited the bar. Indeed, the highlight is the wine barrels signed by famous folk like Antonio Banderas and Paloma Picasso.
Try the delicious local sweet wine Malaga Virgen while you soak up the very flamenco Spanish atmosphere of the place.
Conveniently, you can enter El Pimpi from either Calle Alcazabilla (opposite the Roman Theatre) or from Calle Granada.
37. Step into the past at La Odisea de los Vinos Málaga
Immerse yourself in 300 years of history while tasting the best local wines! This place has to be on your list of things to do in Malaga. La Odiesa is a unique family business that is actually run in the family home. Try the local sweet wines poured straight from the barrel. Also there is a wide selection of red and white wines from Ronda and the Axarquia region.
Explore the different rooms of this typical andaluz home. Try to sit at one of the few tables in the back patio. Decorated with plants and ceramic plates, the charming patio even has a bunker that was used during the civil war.
Located at Paseo Subida a la Coracha, 2 not far from the bull ring.
For more information on the above mentioned wine bars and more, see our blog about the best wine bars in Malaga.
Things to do in Malaga: where can I go for a spa session?
38. Transport yourself to an Arabic palace at El Hammam Andaluz
My absolute favourite place in Málaga! Relaxing in the Arab baths is an experience that you simply must treat yourself to. Beautifully decorated, serenely lit, impeccably clean and above all peaceful, it is two hours of pure heaven.
Soak in hot and warm pools, cool off (quickly) in the cold pool, sign up for a massage- or just simply enjoy the pools. Sweat out your tapas calories in the sauna or take a siesta on the heated marble slabs. Sessions are 1h45 long. Ask the Malaga Bike Staff for your 15% discount voucher!
Address: Plaza de los Martires, 5, not far from the main square, Plaza de la Constitución.
39. Chill out at the Turkish El Hammam Open Space
Enjoy a Turkish-style Hammam Spa Space. Large hot, steamy rooms where you can relax and medidate. (There are no water pools at this Hammam). Reserve a Turkish or Swedish massage or aesthetic treatments such as facials, manicures, pedicures, etc. After, enjoy a Moroccan tea or a glass of cava on the rooftop terrace with spectacular views over the city and the cathedral.
Address: Calle Tomás de Cózar, 13 (not far from the Picasso Museum)
Things to do in Malaga: Where can I catch a game? (post-COVID)
40. Cheer on Malaga F.C. on your Things to do in Malaga list
For all you football fans out there! If Málaga F.C. is playing at home, you won’t regret catching a match. Tickets can be bought at the ticket office at La Rosaleda Football stadium. Unfortunately, Málaga F.C. doesn’t have a history of great success. Nevertheless, they have one of the strongest fan bases in the Spanish football league- ‘la Liga’. Therefore, their supporters are always entertaining even if the match is not. (Obviously, at this COVID time of writing, spectators are not allowed at sporting events).
41. Bask in the glory of Málaga’s basketball team: Unicaja
Unlike their football counterparts, Unicaja has had more sporting success. The team plays their home games at El Palacio de Deportes Martin Carpena stadium. If you fancy a sporty way to get there, rent a bike and cycle west along the sea front following the bike path all the way to the stadium.
Where can I get a good coffee and do some people watching?
42. Head to Cafe Central, Plaza de la Constitución Things to do in Malaga
Ordering a coffee in Malaga can be something of an art-form. Head to the place that started it all. Depending on how much coffee or milk you like in your java, there is a unique name for it. Enjoy your café overlooking the beautiful main square of the city. Undoubtedly one of the best spots in the city to watch the Malagueño life go by.
43. Get your fix of freshly ground java at Santa Canela
Indeed, excellent coffee in two excellent locations for people-watching.
Firstly, the Calle Fernán González, 6 location is nearby the Iglesia de San Juan. Overlooking a large square and children’s playground, it is truly a fun place to watch Spanish families hanging out with their kids.
Secondly is their SOHO branch is in Calle Tomás Heredia, 5. On a pedestrianised street between the Alameda Principal and the port, it’s the perfect place to watch the world go by.
Where can I try the best tapas?
43. Take a tapas tour– a must on your list of things to do in Malaga!
So many tapas bars, so little time! Let our friends Michael, Laura and Isabel from Tapas in Malaga take you on one of their personalised gourmet tapas tours. Winners of numerous awards, their tapas tour will surely set you on the right track to discover the best tapas in Málaga!
Things to do in Malaga: where can I go shopping in Malaga?
Important to note that in Spain, most high street shops and shopping centres close on Sundays.
45. Shop till you drop in the historical centre of Málaga
First of all, start off in the main street of the city, Calle Larios. Here you will find the major Spanish chain shops like Mango and Massimo Dutti as well as some smaller independent shops. Venturing down the side streets off Calle Larios you will discover a lot more shops.
The famous Zara and Zara Home shops are on Calle Liborio Garcia. Parallel to Calle Larios is Calle Nueva (New Street). However, we think a more appropriate name would be Shoe Street. Specifically for its proliferation of shoe shops!
46. Find everything you need at El Corte Inglés department store
Equally good for shopping is Spain’s famous department store. Here you can find all Spanish and International brand names. Additionally, the supermarket in the basement sells high-quality food and wine.
While here, for a nice break from shopping, why not head up to the rooftop terrace and enjoy birds-eye views over Malaga. Order a tasty snack from one of the many stalls in the Gourmet Experience Food Hall next to the terrace.
47. Visit the Shopping centres / malls for things to do in Málaga
In Spanish, they are called “Centros comerciales”. There are four main shopping centres in the city. All of them have cinemas although most foreign films are dubbed into Spanish.
El Centro Larios where you can find Dunnes Stores- the Irish “copy” of Marks & Spencers among the usual Spanish chain stores.
Centro Comercial Vialia is in the same building as the train station for long-distance rail journeys. There are probably more fast-food restaurants than retail shops here.
Centro Comercial La Rosaleda is not far from the Malaga Football stadium of the same name. Here you can find an enormous Carrefour supermarket. As well, there is a Decathlon for all of your sporting needs.
Muelle Uno- the port of Malaga. Open on Sundays, they have some unique shops as well as a ‘mercadillo’- market stalls selling one-of-a- kind clothing and artesania.
Outside of the city, just 15 minutes on the Cercanias train, is la Plaza Mayor. With restaurants and cinemas and a new designer outlet opened in February 2020, you can easily spend a whole day here.
Which towns close to Malaga can I visit by public transport?
48. Head to the hills and explore Mijas Pueblo
Quintessentially Andaluz, Mijas Pueblo is one of the numerous ‘pueblos blancos’ / white villages typical to the region. Mijas Pueblo clings to the mountainside up from the coast of Fuengirola. With its white-washed houses and steep, narrow streets, they say that the village has looked pretty much the same as it does now since Arabic times.
On a clear day, the views over the Costa del Sol are simply amazing!
To get there, take the Cercanias train line C1 to the last stop Fuengirola. (Approximately 45 minutes). When you leave the station, cross the main road and walk one block south (towards the sea). Catch bus no. M- 122. The bus stop is on Calle Alfonso XIII, just around the corner from the main- but small- bus terminal. Buses run every 20 minutes or so.
When you get to Mijas Pueblo, check the return bus schedule before leaving the bus stop if you are planning on leaving later on in the day. Naturally, buses are less frequent in the evening.
49. Travel east to Nerja and the Balcony of Europe
In a word- stunning! Nerja is another beautiful white town on the Costa del Sol. Additionally, it is famous for its look out point- the Balcony of Europe- where you can enjoy spectacular views of the cliff-lined coast.
The beaches here could easily be mistaken for Carribean paradises. Sea-kayaking is a popular activity and the perfect way to explore the coast.
Catch the bus from just behind the Malaga Bike shop at the sub-bus station next to the port of Malaga. Buses run every half hour and the journey takes around 1 hour 15 minutes one way.
50. Venture inland to the old capital of Andalusia- Antequera
At the heart of Andalusia, Antequera lies equi-distant from Málaga, Granada and Córdoba. The area is steeped in history. For example, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to the discovery of Dolmen burial grounds dating back to the Bronze Age. In fact, they are the largest dolmens in the whole of Europe.
The city is an architect’s and historian’s dream come true. Moreover, it can easily be described as the Florence of Southern Spain. To illustrate, you can visit Roman ruins, a Moorish fort as well as a plethora of civic and religious buildings in Gothic, Late- Gothic, Barroque, Renaissance, Mudejar and Neoclassic styles.
To get there, take the bus from the main bus station of Malaga in Paseo de los Tilos. The journey takes approximately 1 hour each way.