Best Things to do in Malaga in Three Days... or More (The ULTIMATE Malaga Guide)

If Malaga is on your bucket list, then you’ve come to the right place because we collected the best things to do in Malaga in 3 days or more if you have the time. You will find plenty of fun things to do in Malaga and we recommend to visit at least for 3 days so you can fully enjoy the various activities this city has to offer.

You can experience traditions, delicious food,  stunning beaches, beguiling architecture, modern and classical art, and so much more! No matter if you want to relax or party this city has it all.

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We wanted to visit Malaga for a long time now and thankfully the city did not disappoint; our time there was magical. We had a week to discover its best attractions and unique nooks, we even got help and tips from the Malaga tourism board and some friendly locals too.

Malaga has a population of 571,026 (2018) and is a port city on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol. While it’s the second-most populous city in Andalusia you will not feel overcrowded thanks to its wide walking streets, spacious squares, and charming parks. However, you can find plenty of narrow arcades and alleys as well if you feel like discovering.

MALAGA IN 3 MINUTES

Is Malaga safe for solo female travelers? Is it family friendly?

Yes and yes.

Malaga is one of the safest and cleanest cities in Europe. Much of the old town is basically a huge walking street so you don’t have to worry about traffic. It’s well lit during the night and has security cameras all around. The locals are friendly, eager to help, and were happy to show us their city. We spent time separately as well and I went out for a drink or to have a nice solo dinner with a good book during evening hours and I always felt safe and welcomed.

The city has lush parks, yellow sand beaches, modern playgrounds, and most of the museums in Malaga have fun activities for children which make it fun even for smaller kids.

You will find that even after dark the streets are lively with families enjoying ice cream or Malaga’s famous toasted almonds while having a nice walk after dinner. But of course, you will find plenty of bars and restaurants where you can grab a cold drink or even busy clubs where you can dance the night away.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MALAGA IN 3 DAYS… OR MORE

Get to know Malaga’s vibrant culture and traditions, find out what are the best places to visit in Malaga and of course, it’s hidden gems and lesser-known places. You will also find here some of the best places to eat and drink in the city and info about where to stay in Malaga during your visit.

Malaga is home to many world-renowned artists including Pablo Picasso, Antonio Molina, Maria Zambrano, and – one of my personal favorites – Antonio Banderas who still owns a home and spends much of his time in town. Malaga is a haven for art lovers and for those who love exploring cultures, tasting fine wines, and appreciate savory feasts.

1| Best Museums in Malaga & which ones you should visit

Malaga has a wide variety of museums where you can explore anything from classical Spanish and international arts, vintage cars and fashion, to urban and contemporary arts. Malaga improves and broadens its collection year by year which helped them become not only one of the best destinations in Europe for a city break but also one of the best cultural destinations in Europe.

While the number of the world-class selection of museums you can visit in Malaga is exciting it can get overwhelming if you’re short on time. Here you will find some of the most impressive museums you should visit in Malaga.

Pompidou Centre

You will find the Pompidou Centre near the Malaga port. It would be impossible to miss the giant, colorful glass cube which was the entrance to the centre as well as a piece of art that’s part of the museum’s permanent collection. Pompidou Centre houses permanent and temporary contemporary exhibitions displaying works of modern artists, classic art, and even has dance and film exhibitions.

While there is a whole museum dedicated to the works of Picasso (Picasso Museum Málaga) you will find some of his works here as well. It’s a creative and inspiring space that’s definitely worth the visit.
Entrance fee is $8, Free entry on Sunday after 16.00hrs.

Automobile & Fashion Museum

This museum was the biggest surprise for us. They have a fantastic selection of vintage cars from all around the world as well as unique cars and even one of a kind pieces. Pair it with some vintage, glam high-fashion pieces and you get an enchanting tour down history lane.
Entrance fee is $9.

The Russian Museum Collection

This stunning building was once an old tobacco factory now is the St. Petersburg’s State Russian Museum and has the greatest collection of Russian art in the world with more than 400,000 works. This cultural space hosts long-term exhibitions which are renewed annually.

You can explore mesmerizing paintings, sculptures, and costumes but they also have several screenings and reading rooms, and they organize activities such as film series and children’s workshops as well throughout the year.
Entrance fee is $8.

ARTSENAL

This place is the hippest place to enjoy art while sipping on a nice cocktail. You will find this open-air bar/museum at the Malaga port. They display contemporary pieces from up and coming and well-known artist as well.
Entrance is free.

Street Art

You will find beguiling murals all around the Soho district. If you enjoy urban art, this city will not disappoint. You will find works from Spanish and international artists and you can even go on a guided tour with CAC (Contemporary Art Centre of Malaga).

Mural by Miguel Angel BELINchon, one of Spain’s most well known urban artists (Plaza de la Juderia, Malaga, Spain)

2| Perfect afternoons & Evenings at the Malaga Port, La Farola Light House & The Ferris Wheel

The Malaga Port is easily our favorite part of the city. It’s the best spot to enjoy a sunset drink with plenty of things to do and discover. Take a walk around the La Farola Light House or have a ride on the Ferris Wheel but you will find plenty of fine restaurants, bars, and cafes here as well as some fun boutiques and ice cream stalls.

It’s also a buzzing place after dark and was another example of how family friendly Malaga is. While you will find many bars here including the above mentioned ARTSENAL it has a laid back vibe rather than a party atmosphere.

3| Giblarfaro

The majestic Gibralfaro dates back to the 10th century is sitting high above a hill overlooking Malaga city. The Gibralfaro castle was erected to defend Alcazaba and is the best observation tower in Malaga. You can walk around the tower walls and get a fantastic view of the whole city.

You can walk up if you think you’re up for the challenge and want a bit of exercise but you can also hop on a bus.

Entrance: $3

4| Explore The Alcazaba & The Roman Theatre

Alcazaba is a Medieval Moorish fortress-palace. Its inner palace was built between 1057 and 1063. Malaga’s most iconic landmark is also one of its most touristy ones. You can explore beautiful architectural works in this region along with some charming gardens, and a beautiful view of the city. You can approach it on foot or go up with a lift.
Entrance: $4

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The Roman theatre is possibly the best ancient monument in Malaga and can be found at the foot of the Alcabaza. While the Roman theater was built in the time of Augustus in the 1st century AD it was hidden until 1951 under the Culture House. It was only in 1992 when the Cultural House was demolished to uncover and properly assess this theatre.

You can explore the stage, remnants of the Orchestra, and even enjoy a play since it was re-opened as a theater as well. It’s also the place where Antonio Banderas started his career when he appeared in various plays during his childhood.

Entrance: $13

5| Where to See Authentic Flamenco Shows in Malaga?

Malaga will not disappoint when it comes to Flamenco either. While there are quite a few places where you can enjoy a Flamenco show we would recommend booking a table at Cal Y Canto.

Cal Y Canto is owned by a Flamenco artist and she likes to share the stage with other local artists who are also masters of the profession. Here you can enjoy authentic Flamenco shows in an intimate setting. Visit their official site if you want to book a table.

Tickets from $23

6| Mercado Central de Atarazanas

Mercado Central de Atarazanas or the Atarazanas Market is the best place in town for some fresh fruit, veggie, and olive sampling. While it’s one of the most well-known tourist spots in the city it’s still widely visited by locals as well. You can buy freshly made smoothies, baked goods, and fresh fish while also enjoying the beautiful building and its colorful glass canopy.

7| Hammam

We travel to explore and to try new things but it’s also equally important to spend quality time on treating our body and mind well. While we usually relax over a good book, a movie or have a nice picnic, this time we had a Hammam in town so we could take our relax time to the next level.

From the moment we stepped in we felt like we’re in another world. So, we quickly did our work, took the photos and video so then we could enjoy the bath for ourselves.

The building itself is gorgeous, with different bathing areas and temperatures of water. While the biggest one is the one with the most light and looks gorgeous my favorite was the hot section with the heated marble table. They have a beautiful and cozy tea serving area where you can enjoy and relax or play chess. They also offer massages. We would highly recommend visiting even if just for half an hour, it will make all the difference.

8| Let the Cathedral & all the churches on all the corners leave you in awe

As we walked around the old streets of Malaga it seemed that there is a chapel or church on every corner we turn. While it does make the streets more aesthetic it’s impossible to visit them all. So, if you’re short in time we would recommend visiting Malaga’s two most important religious sights; the Malaga Cathedral and the Santiago Church.

The Cathedral of Málaga

Also known as Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación (Our Lady of Incarnation) is one of the most beautiful examples of Spanish religious art. While the Cathedral’s foundations were laid around 1530 the work only ended in the 17th century and it has three distinctive styles, gothic, renaissance, and baroque.

The Malaga Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in all its glory. You will find the Malaga choir with 42 carvings, two majestic organs with more than 4,000 pipes, along with many other artworks.

Santiago Church

Málaga’s oldest church was established in 1490 and is not only home to valuable artworks by Alonso Cano and Niño de Guevara but it’s also where you can find the Easter processional images of Virgen del Amor y Jesús el Rico by Navas Parejo as well as the baptism certificate of Pablo Ruiz Picasso who was baptized here in 1881.

You can participate in religious celebrations all year round. The biggest one is during Easter. While we visited before the Easter Celebrations we were able to witness one of the events when one the statues of St Maria was moved from one church to another.

9| Enjoy some entertainment & literature in Malaga

There is a lot more in Malaga than museums and galleries when it comes to culture and art.

Teatro Cervantes

has breathtaking architecture and exciting plays all year round.

Cine Albéniz

is a beautiful vintage cinema in central Malaga only a few steps away from the Roman Theatre. They play classic and international movies (English language or with English subtitles).

You will also find plenty of charming, independent bookstores our favorite find was Library Mata y León (Mata & Leon Library). You can find here more than just books. They also sell toys and vinyl.

10| Best Beaches in Malaga

Malaga is also beloved because of its beautiful beaches. While there are over eight beaches close to Malaga center we want to suggest visiting one of these three if you only have a few days in town.

Playa de la Malagueta

is the Malaga beach that is to the city center. You will find this beautiful and clean beach right behind the Malaga Port. Has a beautiful view, and some fun beach bars and restaurants. We didn’t have a warm enough weather to actually have a dip but we still visited this beach numerous times. It’s so lovely to have such a great beach so close to the center.

Playa del Peñón del Cuervo

If you’re a sunrise lover you should head to Playa del Peñón del Cuervo beach. While it’s a bit further away from the center, definitely worth the drive. This beach has amazing scenery and is not so touristy. However, it’s also lesser developed so don’t forget to grab some food and coffee so you can have a nice picnic while the sun rises over the turquoise water. Not a bad way to start a day.

Playa Baños del Carmen

Banos del Carmen is the perfect beach in Malaga to enjoy some breathtaking sunsets. It’s about an hour walking distance from the city but you can hop on a bus and be there in a gist if you’re not feeling like walking. This beach is fairly popular during the summer and has a beautiful restaurant called El Balneario – Baños del Carmen. However, it can be just as bewitching to only sit in the sand with a nice glass of something as the sun sets.

11| Get Lost in The Old Town of Malaga

Malaga’s never-ending walking streets, charming nooks, lively squares, and quirky alleys will give you plenty to do. Take some time off to just wander and spend some time just sitting down with a nice coffee or tea and while soaking in Malaga’s intoxicating vibe. What I loved most about this place is that it was busy and vibrant while at the same time it was laid back and relaxed. How? I’m not sure but I’ll be back to get some more of it that’s for sure!

12| Should you Attend on a Bullfighting Event?

No.

As I scrolled through other guides about Malaga to see what they say or recommend (…and to check out the competition of course.) I was surprised to see that most of them decided not to mention this subject rather than firmly taking a stand either for or against it.

While we understand that these events are a part of Spain’s traditions they’re also outdated and cruel. We wanted to visit the Bullring and have a conversation about this subject but unfortunately, it was closed down due to renovations.

However, we did talk about this with a few locals and it seemed that people under the age of 30-35 were mostly against it and have never visited a Bullfighting event while older people mainly over 40 were supportive and attended these events.

We hope that in the future these events will evolve into something more positive where there is no cruelty towards any sentient beings. The future is sustainable travel and living. Sooner or later all people and all countries will adopt. Hopefully, it will be sooner than later.

I would recommend reading The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

13| Where to Shop in Malaga – Best shopping areas & quirky boutiques

Malaga is also a haven for shopaholics and fashion lovers. From high-end stores and vintage boutiques to alternative fashion shops you will find here everything.

In case you’re interested learning more about sustainable fashion and want to buy clothes from companies who are dedicated to ethical trading, and are environmentally and socially responsible you should download the GOOD ON YOU app. It’s a free app where you can check the fashion companies and see how ethical they are but you can also find lists and tips on where and how to buy clothes without harm.

These are the places you should visit if you want to enjoy some quality shopping in Malaga.

Calle Larios

is one of the most famous walking streets in Malaga with high-end luxury stores and Spanish chain stores. It’s impossible to miss.

El Corte Inglés

Spain’s most beloved store is a household name in the country. You can find here everything from fashion, cosmetics, books, electronics to gourmet food.

Mercadillos BC

is a charming flea market you can visit on the first Sunday of every month. You will find here organic food from local farmers, art by up and coming artists, but you can buy hand made jewelry and clothes as well.

Flamingos Vintage Kilo Málaga

It’s a cool and cheap vintage boutique in the center of Malaga. You can find here accessories as well as clothing, so expect a wide selection of scarves, hats, and belts. If you enjoy hunting for unique finds you should head here.

14| Where to Eat in Malaga? Best Restaurants, Cafes, & Tapas Bars in Malaga

Malaga is a foodie paradise with amazing and affordable cafes, tapas bars, and restaurants on every corner. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of choices so we would recommend the following food havens if you want to enjoy the authentic local cuisine and sip on traditional Malaga wine.

CAFE MADRID – Start your day here. It’s one of Malaga’s most busy cafes because this cafe is buzzing with locals and travelers alike. Great service and traditional dishes. Their churro is also really nice.

CASA ARANDA – Head here if you want to try Malaga’s oldest churro cafe. Their first small cafe opened in 1932 since then they extended the store and now they serve Malaga’s best churro in the whole street.

Las Merchanas – Is the quirkiest Tapas Bar in Malaga. This place is about 5 minutes walk from the center in a quiet alley but it’s a must visit tapas bar. With huge portions, generous prices, good service, and amazing design this place quickly became our favorite. It’s also mostly visited by locals but they fill up the place quickly so don’t forget to book a table.

La Tranca – Our second favorite tapas bar in Malaga. It’s about 10 minutes walking distance from the center and has delicious dishes, good prices, and a charming design. It was also the only place where the bartender would “give us” our bill in a traditional way; by writing down what we had on the bar or on a small board with chalk.

Casa Lola – The best food we had was surprisingly at Casa Lola. This charming restaurant is on one of Malaga’s most popular walking street and while the design was beautiful we first decided to skip it because our experience is that touristy restaurants don’t really deliver… However, after many locals who we spoke to recommended it we decided to try it out and we couldn’t be happier we did. They serve traditional dishes that will make you want to go back to Malaga over and over again.

Antigua Casa de Guardia – You would probably pass by this small tavern without even noticing if you didn’t know what’s behind its small wooden doors. Antigua Casa de Guardia is Malaga’s oldest tavern opened in 1840 and is the perfect place to enjoy some quality wine tasting on a budget.

Some of the best dishes in Casa Lola.

El Pimpi – Probably Malaga’s most famous restaurant. With beautiful design, yummy dishes, and a great vibe. This place is worth a visit. However, they’re probably most famous for their hundreds of wine barrels that were signed by Malaga’s most successful daughters and sons including Antonio Banders, Pablo Picasso, and Carmen “Tita” Thyssen.

El Vegetariano de la Alcazabilla – My favorite find. This charming vegetarian restaurant can be found only a minute from the Roman Theatre. Their dishes are amazing and the prices are friendly.

El Cabra – If you want to try traditional seafood in Malaga head to El Cabra. You will get a beautiful view, great service, and fresh seafood dishes.

The beautiful design of El Vegetariano de la Alcazabilla.

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Las Merchanas, the quirkiest tapas bar in Malaga.

The traditional Spanish coffee comes in a glass, not in a cup. Cafe Madrid, Malaga, Spain.

15|  Where to stay in Malaga? Hotels in Malaga VS AirBnB

Malaga is boosting with resorts, hotels, and Airbnbs all around the city but you should book one in the old town of Malaga. The prices are not that different but it will save you a lot of time and of course, it’s the nicest area in Malaga as well.

We ended up staying in a one bedroom flat in central Malaga because we love staying with Airbnb as we have more space, a functioning kitchen, and we also get to experience what’s like to live like a local even if it’s just for a little while.

We checked and staying with hotels for a week would have cost us $600 and up for a week and we would’ve gotten a small room while we got a spacious flat for $240. It’s a big difference. If you follow this link you will get $20 off from your first booking with Airbnb.

16| How to get to Malaga – Flights to Malaga

Getting to Malaga is fairly easy and cheap if you travel from Europe. We were flying in from London to Malaga airport and our two-way ticket was only $60pp. We always use Momondo to find the cheapest flight tickets online and it hasn’t failed us so far.

However, if you’re coming from a city that doesn’t have direct flights to Malaga you should fly to Madrid then take the train or bus to Malaga. The train and bus ticket prices start at $20 and your train ride would be 2 hours while the bus ride is about 4 hours.

How to get from the International Airport to Malaga’s city center?

The Malaga airport is only a half an hour ride from the center. You can hop on a bus for $3 or in a taxi for $20 if you want to get to Malaga old town. They also have Uber but the prices were pretty much the same as the normal taxi prices.

17| When is the best time to visit Malaga? What’s the Weather and Climate like in Malaga?

Malaga’s weather considerably warm all year round by European standards. Its hottest month is July with an average temperature of 25°C (77°F) while the coldest is January at only 13°C (55°F). You can expect the most rain in November and the best month to enjoy Malaga’s beaches is in August because the water is already warmed up during summer months and the average sea temperature is 24°C (75°F).

Thank you for reading!

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