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Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 02 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

Spain’s increasingly hip sixth city, Malaga has 3,000 years of history to explore and gorgeous sandy beaches. Although it’s the capital of the Costa del Sol, forget any retired expat or package holiday atmosphere; Malaga has energy to spare.

Wander through fascinating Old Malaga, with its Moorish citadels and gardens, and discover a lively contemporary art scene, including the Picasso and Carmen Thyssen Museums and a branch of Paris’s Centre Pompidou.

A year-round destination, bathed in winter sun with superb restaurants and bars, Malaga is a great urban battery charger for the whole family.

Orientation

Plaza de la Constitucion is the heart of Old Malaga, a triangular district framed by the Guadalmedina river to the west, the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Hill to the east, and the boulevard of the Alameda Principal/Paseo del Parque to the south, parallel to the port and beaches.

Calle Marqués de Larios, the main north-south street, passes the landmark Cathedral. The Soho district, renowned for street art and galleries, is tucked just west of the port.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

Ronda & the White Villages

Ronda, Andalusia, Spain

Spectacular cliff-top Ronda is the largest of dozens of beautiful gleaming white hill towns in the Sierra de Grazalema – ideal for touring by car or by bike.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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El Caminito del Rey

Malaga, Andalusia, Spain

The ‘World’s Most Dangerous Walkway’ over sheer gorges in Malaga’s mountains is safer now, but no less vertigo-inducing and spectacular.

Best for ages: 18+ | £25 | 3-4 hours

Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

Alcazaba of Malaga

Malaga, Andalusia, Spain

A well-preserved Moorish city fortress, built 11th century on a hill in the city centre. Adjacent to the entrance are the remains of a Roman theatre, dating back to the 1st century AD.

Best for ages: 13+ | £3

Exterior of the market with people waiting and cars parked
Experience

Atarazanas Central Market

Malaga, Andalusia, Spain

Malaga’s Arab shipyards were adapted in the 19th century to create this wonderland of fresh fruit and veg, meat and seafood. In fact, the entire neighbourhood is devoted to food – it’s a great place for a tapas crawl.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Carmen Thyssen Malaga Museum
Experience

Carmen Thyssen Malaga Museum

Malaga, Andalusia, Spain

Here Carmen Cervera, the Malaga-born wife of Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, displays her prize collection of mainly Andalusian art, ranging from the mainly religious works of old masters to the colourful, luminous landscapes, portraits and street scenes from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Best for ages: 18+ | £10

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

1 Hour Malaga Panoramic Segway Tour

1 Hour Malaga Panoramic Segway Tour

Malaga

We will start our guided tour from Calle Larios, built in century 19th by the family of the same name and converted today into the fifth mos...

€35 | Rating 4.94 / 5 [236 ratings]

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2-Hour Guided Walking Tour in Barcelona

2-Hour Guided Walking Tour in Barcelona

Barcelona

Join our guided walking tour in Barcelona and explore the streets of this amazing city, where you will discover the architecture of the city...

€20 | Rating 4.85 / 5 [14 ratings]

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Best of Málaga tour

Best of Málaga tour

Malaga

Would you like to visit the most important monuments of Málaga? In this Full Tour you will discover the emblems of the city such as the Roma...

€32 | Rating 4.69 / 5 [66 ratings]

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Gibralfaro castle, port and bullring

Gibralfaro castle, port and bullring

Malaga

ABOUT THE TOUR: The main objective in this Segway tour is the ( Alcazaba )–(Gibralfaro) Castle, a palatial fortification, built by the Hamm...

€36 | Rating 4.76 / 5 [13 ratings]

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Hotel Palacio Solecio

Malaga, Andalusia, Spain

In the lively heart of Malaga, peaceful, luxurious rooms and a superb restaurant in an elegant 18th-century palace.

Official star rating:

Hotel Posada del Patio

Malaga, Andalusia, Spain

Sleek new five-star hotel in pole position for enjoying Old Malaga, with a delicious rooftop pool. Well-positioned for seeing the sights.

Official star rating:

When to go

Peak season is spring, with Semana Santa and other fiestas: Christmas is another busy time. The city roasts in July and August; if you go then, take a long afternoon siesta.

Autumn is lovely and warm; January and February are quiet, and can be rainy, but offer a good chance to feel like a local.

Getting there and away

Malaga’s international airport is 20 minutes from the centre, linked by train (the C1 line) with a station directly under Terminal T3; it runs every 20 minutes until 11.20pm. For the heart of Malaga, get off at the last station (Centro-Alameda). Buses (Linea A Express) go the centre from Terminal T3, level 0, and run every 15 minutes until midnight. Buy tickets on the bus. Taxis are easy to find.

Getting around

All the sights of Old Malaga are in a compact, walkable area. Taxis and Ubers are readily available, and the efficient bus network (EMT), is useful for reaching the Sunday flea market (No. 54) or the Botanical Gardens (no. 2) from the Alameda Principal.

Although traffic can be crazy, hiring a bike isn’t a bad option: there are miles of bike paths and it’s a great way to get to the beach.

Where to stay

Hotels are concentrated in evocative Old Malaga, in walking distance of the historic sights, bars, restaurants, shops and the Playa de la Malagueta.

There are cheaper choices around the main train station in the new part of town, a 20-minute walk from the sights. If you want to spend a lot of time on the beach and enjoy Malaga’s nightlife, look at the seafront hotels along the beaches of Malagueta and Pedragalejo.

Where to eat or drink

Old Malaga is packed with tapas bars, gastro bars and new edgy restaurants, several sporting Michelin stars for their takes on new Mediterranean cuisine.

For seafood (and the city’s famous pescaíto – crispy fried small fish) head to the strip of restaurants along Playa de la Malagueta, or east to the cool bistrots and chiringuitos (beach bars) of Pedragalejo or El Palo, that stay open long into the night.

Where to shop

Smart shops and international chains line Old Malaga’s pedestrian Calle Marqués de Larios and around, but the whole district’s little independent boutiques make for fertile fashionista hunting ground.

The big Sunday Cortijo de Torres flea market in the fair grounds has 300 stands; Sunday also sees local artists and artisans selling their creations at Muelle Uno near the cruise terminal.

Try the excellent covered market, the Atarazanas Central Market for local produce and foodie treats.

What to buy

Local wines and olive oils, Spanish designer fashions and colourful hand-painted ceramics.

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