Málaga is a classic city located on the Costa del Sol of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a perfect destination to explore the wonderful fortresses, castles, cathedrals, museums, and of course, the long beautiful beach.
This Andalusian city is considered one of the oldest cities in Europe with its history rooted back 2,800 years. The city was once ruled by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, and Arabs from the north coast of Africa before it fell under the hand of the Christians in 1487 which now remains a Christian settlement today.
Best Time to Visit
With 300 days of warm and clear blue skies yearly, Málaga is great for vacation and outdoor activities during the summer. Its summer falls between June and September. August is the warmest month and temperature ranges from 26-34 °C during the day and 20-23 °C during the night.
This fascinating coastal city has the warmest winters of any European city with the highest temperatures of 17-18 °C from December to February. Raining is expected during the winter, but usually lasts for least than an hour. It is less humid and makes traveling more relaxing and enjoyable to venture around the city.
Málaga- Costa del Sol Airport, simply known as Málaga Airport (Airport Code: AGP) is the fourth busiest airport in Spain as it connects to more than 100 destinations in 60 countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and North America.
The airport is located about 8 kilometers away from Málaga city center and the easiest way to get there is by the Cercanias Málaga commuter train. The underground station is located in the arrival area of Terminal 3. The journey takes about 18 minutes between the airport and the city center with a 20-minute interval and the train fare costs €1.80.
The high-speed RENFE train can get you connected to major cities in Spain. RENFE trains depart from Málaga Maria Zambrano Station to Seville (2-3 hours), Madrid (3 hours), and Barcelona (6-8 hours). Tickets can directly be bought from Renfe’s official website without any additional booking fee and only need to show your e-ticket before boarding the train.
There are very limited options when it comes to choosing to take a bus to Málaga from other cities. Bus companies like Alsa only operate to a few destinations along the southern region of Spain and two other cities in Portugal- Faro and Lisboa (Click here to check on the destination and price).
The public bus service in Málaga is pretty impressive. The buses are well-maintained, kept clean, and what I loved most is the punctuality of their arrival at the bus stops. Most public buses will stop along Alameda Principle- Norte and you walk to tourist sites, restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops in the city center. The bus fare costs €1.40 and you are encouraged to pay with a small change to the bus driver.
Málaga is not a huge city and the best way to explore is on foot. The main street of Calle Larios will lead you to the old town where the historic sites are located
Travel tips: You do not necessarily need to stay in the city center to get to the tourist sites. Choose a hotel or Airbnb about 10 minutes away and yet able to commute by bus easily to the city center and you can save some money on your trip.
The Best Activities for 2 days in Málaga
Málaga is one of the warmest coastal cities in Europe, with an experience of almost 300 sunny days throughout the year. It is best to spend 2 days and 3 nights in the amazing city to explore the historical churches, cathedral, castles, the Roman Theatre, and museums. There is also a long stretch of gorgeous beaches not to be missed.
Wander along Calle Larios
The main pedestrianized Calle Larios is a shopper’s paradise where the most exclusive stores in town are situated. It stretches from Plaza de la Constitución to the Parque de la Alameda, and is also filled with restaurants, bars, and dessert shops.
This lively street was named after Manuel Domingo Larios, a promoter of the development of the textile industry here in the 19th century. His statue can be found at the end of the main street.
Calle Larios is decorated based on the season and other occasions. A large awning covers the entire street to protect it from the summer heat. The street will also be lighted up with Christmas decorations to bring up the year-end festive fever.
Sit around Roman Theatre like a true Roman
Lies at the foot of Alcazaba fortress, this Roman Theatre was built during the reign of Emperor Augustus in the first century. The theatre was once covered with marble and surrounded by columns and pillars.
The theatre was used until the third century and later abandoned when Andalusia was occupied by the Moors. Many materials were scavenged by them to build the Alcazaba.
It was later discovered during construction in 1950 and many highly valuable elements were discovered beneath the ruins. Surprisingly, they were well-preserved. You can still distinguish the elements that made up the entire assembly: the scene, the usual seating, and the VIP seats. Also, visit the mini museum that displays several Roman artifacts.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, and Sunday and public holidays from 10 am to 4 pm
Entrance fee: Free
Step back in time at Alcazaba de Málaga
This Alcazaba was one of Málaga’s most important defensive buildings built in the 11th century during Abd-al-Rahman I’s rule, the first Emir of Cordoba of the Hammudid dynasty. It is one of the best-preserved Alcazabas, as it was modified many times up until the 14th century. The marble columns from the Roman Theatre were reused to build the Moorish fortress.
The city played an important role thanks to its seafront position and busy port. Its elevated position gives an advantage for lookouts on its surroundings and miles away to defend themselves from pirate raids and Christian troops’ reconquest.
Stroll around the beautiful Alcazaba filled with open courtyards with artesian fountains and mosaic-plated pools, caliphal arches, marble columns, private balconies, and high towers. The top of the fortress offers magnificent views of Málaga city.
Because the Alcazaba is 300 years younger than the Alhambra of Granada, the locals named this fortress the “Mini Alhambra”.
Opening hours: April to October: Daily from 9 am to 8 pm/ November to March: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm
Entrance fee: €3.50 (Combo ticket with Gibralfaro Castle is €5.50). The entrance is free on Sunday after 2 pm.
Explore the impressive Gibralfaro Castle
Lies on the foothill of Montes de Málaga, Gibralfaro Castle (Castillo de Gibralfaro) is a long stretch of high walls built in Nasrid architectural style as a military defense by the Moors. The castle consists of 8 towers and 30 sections of wall arranged in a zigzag pattern. A fortified walkway was built to unite and protect the castle and Alcazaba.
The castle was sieged after three months in 1487 by the Catholic monarchs after the Moors surrendered due to hunger. After the capture of the city, the castle continued as a defensive function until the early 20th century.
Mirador de Gibralfaro gives stunning panoramic views that overlook part of the city, the bullring, the park, the port, and the Mediterranean Sea. The gunpowder storage is converted into an interpretation center that displayed a spectacular model of the two fortresses, military uniforms, weapons, and armours used by the Moorish soldiers.
Travel tip: The path to Gibralfaro Castle is pretty steep and requires at least 30 minutes to reach the top. If want to save time and energy, you can take a cab or Bus No. 35 from el Parque de Málaga to the entrance of the castle. Also, do visit Alcazaba first and later to the castle after 2 pm to get access for free every Sunday.
Opening hours: Daily from 9 am to 8 pm
Entrance fee: €3.50 (Combo ticket with Gibralfaro Castle is €5.50)
Take a picturesque of Centre Pompidou
The iconic Pompidou Museum known as “The Cube”, houses 90 pieces of art from the 20th and 21st centuries. The paintings here come from the collection of the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris which includes the finest works of Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Magritte, and Bacon.
Address: Pasaje Doctor Carrillo Casaux
Opening hours: Wednesday to Monday from 9.30 am to 8 pm
Entrance fee: €9 (Click here to check other discounted rates)
Go shopping at Zoco Maravilla
Discover one of many flea markets in Málaga which usually held in summer, spring, or the second Sunday of every month. You will find several flea markets throughout the city.
It was the right time for me to visit the city when El Zoco Maravilla (Wonder Bazaar) was held along the dockside area of the city’s port. Four “wonder” villas are staged under the canopies of the promenade: Artesana, Shopping, Gourmet food, and Solidarity. Here, you can search for food, homemade handicrafts, decoration, and fashion.
Opening hours: First three Sundays of each month from 12 pm to 7 pm
Have dinner along the dockside of Muelle Uno
The dockside is filled with great restaurants. You will be spoiled by food choices where you can find Spanish restaurants and other international cuisines from Argentina, Italy, Greece, the Mediterranean, and India.
I have a juicy and tender oxtail for dinner at the Spanish TORO Muelle Uno. The price is reasonable even in a touristy area, so as for the rest of the restaurants here. It has a great view of the city port, the cathedral, and the dockside.
Explore Mercado Central de Atarazanas
Mercado Central de Atarazanas is the most important and largest food market in Málaga. You can pick local produce, nuts, fresh fruits, and locally made chocolate from Andalusian region.
The market gives the feel of authentic vibes where locals come here to buy their daily groceries of fresh meats, fish, cheese, spices, and vegetables.
As you walk through the center of the building, it is hard not to miss the huge arched windows with gorgeous stained glass at the entrance of the market. The gate was built by Abderramán III, one of the 5 big gates of the city under the rule of the Arabs in the 15th century.
Address: C. Atarazanas, 10
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 3 pm
Take the off-beaten-path to Elgesia San Juan
Elgesia de San Juan was built with a combination of Gothic and Mujedar architectural styles with Moorish arches and pillars. It is among the four churches founded by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1487 after their successful conquest of Málaga. The current appearance of the property and the writings on the facade are the result of several interventions in the 18th- century.
A terrible earthquake has damaged the structure in 1680. The church underwent extensive renovations. The baroque-style tower porch leading to the building was erected at the entrance of the church in 1770 and reconstruction of the church was completed in 1780 at the side naval.
The Neo-Baroque style Main Chapel was built in the early 19th century with an impressive vaulted roof designed by artist Miguel Gracia Navas.
Address: C. San Juan, 3,
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm and from 5 pm to 7 pm
Entrance fee: Free
Visit Picasso Museum
Opened its doors in 2003, Picasso Museum (Museo Picasso) in Buenvista Palace is home to a splendid collection of 285 works created by Pablo Picasso and donated by members of his family.
The museum spans over 2 levels that displays some of his life work from young to adulthood, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, sketches, engravings, and ceramics. Picasso has an extraordinary imagination to create such artworks through his brilliant talent.
Address: Palacio de Buenavista, C. San Agustín, 8
Opening hours: March to June: Daily from 10 am to 7 pm/ July to August: Daily from 10 am to 8 pm/ September- October: Daily from 10 am to 7 pm/ November to February– Daily from 10 am to 7pm
Entrance fee: €9 with audio guide (Click here to buy tickets)
Spot Picasso statue at Placa de Merced
Do you know the famous artist Poble Picasso was born in Málaga?
The Old Town of Málaga also known as Centro Histórico is a maze of narrow streets and historic buildings. Plaza de la Merced is a meeting point for many locals, as well as a must-visit spot for fans of the beloved artist- Pablo Picasso. The statue of Picasso himself can be found seated under a tree. His birth house is nearby and just around the corner some 200 meters from his art museum.
Discover the stunning Cathedral of Málaga
The Cathedral of Málaga has an interesting history of its own. The building was built on a site where a mosque-Moorish quarter once existed. When the Christian Monarch took control of the city in 1487, work started from 1528 until 1782 using a combination of Baroque, Renaissance, and Gothic architectural style. It is the second largest in Andalusia after La Giralda in Seville.
Take the evening tour to climb up the cathedral’s roof to watch the magnificent sunset view and the surroundings of the city. There stands an incomplete south tower due to a lengthy time. Hence, it was nicknamed ‘La Manquita’ which means ‘The One-Armed Lady’.
The interior of the cathedral was built in Renaissance and Baroque-style. The stained glasses above are beautifully carved. Other interesting parts of the cathedral are the choir stalls in the central nave and the sculptural works of Pedro de Mena.
Address: Calle Molina Lario, 9
Opening hours: Cathedral: Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6.30 pm/ Saturday and the eve of public holiday: 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday: 2 pm to 6 pm/ Roof: Monday to Friday: 9 am and 10 am/ Saturday and the eve of public holiday: 9 am, 10 am and 6.30 pm/ Sunday: 9 am, 10 am, 11.30 am, 1 pm, and 6.30 pm
Entrance fee: Cathedral: Adults- €8/ Children: €5, Cathedral and Roof: Adults: €12/ Children: €8 and Cathedral’s Roof only: Adults: €8/ Children: €5 (Click here to buy the tickets in advance and check other discounted rates)
Take a morning walk at Malagueta Beach
With almost 300 sunny days a year, there is no surprise that Malagueta Beach is the perfect place to relax in Costa del Sol. During my stay in Málaga in October, I get to enjoy walking on the sandy beach and dip into the cool seawater on a calm tide. Due to its location along the Mediterranean Sea, the weather is not as cold as other parts of Spain in the near winter months.
There are several seafood restaurants and bars along the beach which open in the afternoon until late night.
Stroll along Muelle Dos Pier
This fabulous Muelle Dos is home to a beautiful waterfront called “The Palm Garden of Surprises”. The elegantly complex is planted with palm trees and tropical plants along the walkway. There are numerous benches for people to sit, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the views of the promenade and city port.
- Always buy tickets for tourist attractions well in advance to secure the date and time, especially during the peak season.
- Check out any discounted rates or free entry to the city attractions for youths, students, adults above 65 years old, and person with a disability regardless of the nationality of a country on their official website to save some money on your travels. Remember to bring your I.D. as proof of identification.
Going Elsewhere in Spain?
If you are looking for more adventure in Spain, you can look at my other posts for some travel guides: