How Many Days Do You Need In Malaga?

Some of the links below are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.

The Spanish city of Malaga, situated in the Costa del Sol is often overlooked in favour of the likes of Barcelona and Madrid. However, with a fantastic history, incredible local culture and a beach there’s a lot that this city has to offer tourists.

I only spent one day in Malaga, and sadly it wasn’t long enough. Instead, based on my experience I’d recommend between two to five days in the city if you’re looking to see everything it has to offer.

As a result of my limited time in Malaga, I had to make compromises (such as not going inside the famous Malaga Cathedral) which I’d like to fix during a future, longer trip to the city.

Where To Stay In Malaga

The historical centre is the heart of Malaga and where you’ll find most of the city’s major landmarks including the Malaga Cathedral, the Picasso Museum, and Alcazaba alongside several restaurants, bars, and shops.

Unsurprisingly with so much to see and do in close proximity, the Malaga Centro (the historical centre) is where we recommend staying during your trip to Malaga – especially if you’re only visiting the city for a short space of time and are as a result looking to maximise your time here.

Thankfully, there’s a range of accommodation options available in the historical centre, from luxury five-star hotels to Malaga’s unique boutique hotels all the way down to budget hostels and dorm rooms.

Travelling Around Malaga

Malaga is incredibly easy to navigate. Getting from the airport to the city centre can be done by public transport in less than 30 minutes and at a cost of less than €2 per person. Once you’ve arrived in Malaga you’ll find that the city is very compact and easily walkable, and with something new on every corner, there’s always something to see.

If you struggle with mobility or want to maximise your time in Malaga then consider investing in a ticket for the hop-on, hop-off bus. This bus stop has two routes, a red route and a green route each calling at different locations within the city including;

  • Centre Pompidou Malaga
  • Playa de La Malagueta
  • Castillo de Gibralfaro
  • Museo Carmen Thyssen Malaga
  • Mirador del Gibralfaro
  • Museo Picasso Malaga

Things To Do In Malaga

Known for its vibrant culture, beautiful beaches, and historical sites, the city of Malaga has something for everyone. Here’s just a sample of the most popular things to do;

The Alcazaba

⏰ Average Time Spent: 2 to 4 Hours

The Alcazaba is an iconic 11th-century Moorish fortress in Malaga, strategically situated on a hillside for port and city surveillance. It is one of the best-preserved Alcazabas in Spain, comprising two compounds: the lower Alcazaba and the higher Gibralfaro.

The fortress features beautiful Islamic architecture, including gardens, courtyards, fountains, and archways. It also houses the Archaeological Museum, showcasing artefacts from Malaga’s rich history. The views from the Alcazaba offer stunning panoramas of the city, the port, and the Mediterranean Sea. A visit to this landmark is a must for history and architecture enthusiasts.

The Picasso Museum

⏰ Average Time Spent: 1 to 2 Hours

The Picasso Museum celebrates the life and work of the city’s most famous son, Pablo Picasso. Located in the heart of the city, the museum boasts a diverse collection of over 200 of Picasso’s works, spanning his entire artistic career. The collection showcases the versatility and creativity of Picasso, featuring everything from his early sketches to his later masterpieces.

The museum, situated in a beautifully renovated 16th-century palace, also offers temporary exhibits, educational programs, and workshops. A visit here provides a comprehensive understanding of Picasso’s evolution as an artist and his impact on 20th-century art.

Malagueta Beach

⏰ Average Time Spent: 2 to 4 Hours

Malagueta Beach is Malaga’s most popular urban beach, conveniently located close to the city centre. This sandy stretch offers a perfect spot for sunbathing, swimming, and playing beach sports.

Lined with “chiringuitos” (beach bars), the beach is a great place to sample local seafood delicacies. The beach promenade is ideal for leisurely strolls, with its scenic views of the Mediterranean Sea. Malagueta Beach offers visitors a relaxing seaside escape amidst the bustling city life of Malaga.

Cathedral of Malaga

⏰ Average Time Spent: 1 to 3 Hours

The Cathedral of Malaga, known as “La Manquita” or “the one-armed lady” due to its unfinished second tower, is a notable landmark in the city. This beautiful Renaissance-era cathedral, built between the 16th and 18th centuries, stands out with its impressive facade and stunning interiors that showcase a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles.

Visitors can admire the detailed carvings, the choir stalls, and the two magnificent organs. From the cathedral’s rooftop, one can enjoy panoramic views of Malaga. A visit to this architectural gem offers a fascinating insight into Malaga’s religious history and artistry.

Mercado Central de Atarazanas

⏰ Average Time Spent: 1 to 2 Hours

Mercado Central de Atarazanas is a vibrant market in the heart of Malaga. Housed in a historic shipyard building with a stunning stained glass facade, the market offers a feast for the senses.

Stalls teem with fresh produce including local fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and an array of seafood, reflecting Malaga’s coastal location. The market also features tapas bars where visitors can savour local delicacies. A visit to Atarazanas Market provides an authentic taste of Malaga’s culinary culture and bustling local life.

Caminito del Rey

⏰ Average Time Spent: 2 to 4 Hours

The Caminito del Rey, situated near Malaga, is a famous pathway known for its thrilling walkways and breathtaking views. Once considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the world, it has been made safer but still offers an adrenaline-fueled experience.

The path, suspended along the steep walls of a gorge, allows visitors to witness the stunning natural beauty of the area, including deep gorges, rushing rivers, and diverse flora and fauna. A visit to the Caminito del Rey provides an unforgettable outdoor adventure, immersing visitors in the wild beauty of the Andalusian landscape.

Carmen Thyssen Museum

⏰ Average Time Spent: 1 to 2 Hours

The Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga is dedicated to showcasing 19th-century Spanish art, particularly Andalusian works. Housed in a beautifully restored 16th-century palace, the museum presents an extensive collection, including genres like romantic landscapes and costumbrismo, which portray everyday life.

The museum also hosts temporary exhibits and educational programs, offering a comprehensive exploration of this rich period of Spanish art. A visit to the Carmen Thyssen Museum is a must for art enthusiasts and those interested in cultural history.

How I Spent One Day In Malaga

Sadly, I only had one day to explore Malaga and while I used my time in the city wisely I’m already planning a return trip to explore this incredible place further.

I began my day by heading to the Mercado Central de Atarazanas for breakfast. This marketplace is filled with fresh produce, seafood bars and tapas restaurants and was the perfect place to grab a quick coffee and pastry.

Then I took a stroll around the Calle Larios. This is the main shopping street in Malaga and the perfect place to soak up the atmosphere of the city. I’d recommend walking down some of the sidestreets here to ‘get lost’ because there’s something unique and stunning around every corner in this part of the city.

I then made my way to the Cathedral of Malaga, I’d have loved to have gone inside here and explored it further, but given my limited time in the city, I opted to instead take in the stunning architecture from the outside.

Then it was time for lunch, which I had in a small local restaurant just around the corner from the Cathedral. While it wasn’t the best in terms of quality or value for money given the tourist location, it was convenient, which since I only had one day in Malaga was my main priority.

After lunch, I headed to the Castillo de Gibralfaro via the Plaza De La Merced. Here you’ll find the famous statue of Pablo Picasso as well as a number of restaurants and bars.

Castillo de Gibralfaro is a Moorish castle located atop Mount Gibralfaro. Entrance to the castle isn’t required until you reach the top of Mount Gibralfaro so you can easily walk up here to take in the panoramic views of the city without going inside of the castle grounds. However, entrance to the castle is just €3.50 and in my opinion, was a worthwhile expense given the effort I’d made climbing Mount Gibralfaro to get there.

Mount Gibralfaro has a paved walkway and is easily walkable for adults and children with moderate fitness levels. However, if you’re travelling during the peak summer months I recommend ensuring you have a full stomach and a bottle of water before attempting the climb.

If you don’t fancy walking up Mount Gibralfaro then you can get the hop-on, hop-off bus to the top instead.

After some time exploring Castillo de Gibralfaro, I walked back down to sea level and took a stroll through Málaga Park before looping back on myself and heading towards the harbour.

Along the front of the harbour you’ll find a number of small casual restaurants and coffee shops (I stopped for a Dunkin’ Doughnuts) as well as a number of more formal restaurants located opposite the dock promenade.

After a quick refreshment break, I made my way along the dock promenade, basking in awe of the multimillion-dollar yachts before heading across to Playa la Malagueta beach to watch the sunset.

After an hour of relaxing on Playa la Malagueta, I headed back into town for dinner. I was travelling solo and unsurprisingly, was pretty worn out from my very full day of exploring so opted for a fast-food Thai restaurant in the historical centre before heading back to my hotel.

How Much Does It Cost To Visit Malaga (Per Day)

The longer you spend in Malaga, the more you are going to spend. As such when deciding how long to spend in the city, it’s worth first considering the budget that you have for your trip.

As a guideline, I recommend budgeting roughly €80 to €200 per person, per day for adults and €40 to €80 for children. This does not include flights but does include things such as accommodation, food, drink & activities.

Given this, a couple would want to budget between €160 and €400, per day for the trip (on average).

During my solo, one-day trip to Malaga I spent €133.50 (excluding flights). This is broken down as follows;

  • Accommodation: €80 – One night in the Ibis Malaga Centro Ciudad
  • Food & Drink: €30
  • Transport: €20 – I took a train from the airport to the city and then an Uber back to the airport the next day since my flight was at 6:15am
  • Attractions & Entertainment: €3.50


For All The Latest Travels
In Your Inbox!

Let’s Chat!

Thanks for stopping by! Do you have experience with this trip or want to share some of your own tips? We’d love to hear about it! Comment below and let’s chat!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *