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Things to do in Malaga and tips for visiting

Malaga, Spain. Great food, art, culture, fabulous beaches and a happening vibe. Read on for my top Malaga tips for your 48 hours in the city and guide for things to do in Malaga.

Malaga cathedral
Malaga Cathedral

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City Guide – Malaga Tips

Malaga, is a city on the Andalucian coast in Spain. It’s probably best known for being the gateway to the Costa del Sol and for the beaches, resorts and tourists that go with that. But the city also has a traditionally Spanish side to it. Malaga has depth, culture, character and a history which is well-worth exploring.

Next time you’re passing through Malaga airport think about taking a cultural swerve and explore the city before moving on to your resort.

Read on for things to do in Malaga plus my top Malaga tips to help you get the most from your trip.

Getting from Malaga airport to the city

You have three options for getting to the city centre from Malaga airport; train, bus and taxi. You could also consider car hire if you’ll be exploring the area or going on an Andalucia road trip.


The Malaga airport train stop, which is called ‘Aeropuerto’, is just a few minutes walk from Terminal 3 and takes you directly to the city centre. It’s on the ‘Cercanias Line’ which is the local line.

The train stops at the main train station, Maria Zambrano, en route. Tickets cost €1.80 and can be purchased from the self-service ticket machines at the station which take cash and cards.

Trains start at 06:44 hrs and run until 00.54 hrs from the airport and run every 20-35 minutes during peak travel times. The journey from Malaga airport to the city centre takes around 12 minutes.


As you leave the arrivals hall at Malaga Airport you’ll see the ticket office and the bus stops are right behind it. Look for the A Line Express which will take you to Plaza del General Torrijos in Malaga city centre.

There are ten stops en route and journey time is around 15-25 minutes althought his will depend on time of day and density of traffic. The fare is 3€ (single) and you can pay the driver direct.

Buses run every 15-25 minutes until around midnight and after that at 00:45, 02:00 & 05:05.You can check the bus times here


As you leave the arrivals hall at Terminal 3 you’ll see the taxis on the right. Spanish taxis now have meters installed and there is signage at the taxi rank which sets out the fares to popular destinations so you can get an idea of how much your journey should cost.

It’s worth noting that there is an additional charge for picking up at the airport of €15.50 and also for travelling at weekends, on public holidays and different times of the day. The cost of a taxi from Malaga airport to the city centre is around €20 (up to four passengers).

You may wish to book a private transfer. These can be booked in advance and can take up to 6 passengers for less than €30 which is much cheaper than the cost of two taxis if your group is more than 4.

 The best things to do in Malaga, Andalucia

I spent 48-hours in Malaga seeking out some of the city’s hot spots. Here are my tips for visiting one of the best cities in Spain and some of the best things to do in Malaga.

Discover Malaga Old Town

Malaga Old town, which dates back to Phonetician times, has a central pedestrian area made up of wide marbled promenades and narrow alleyways. Pretty squares are lined with traditional Spanish cafes and bars and there’s a good shopping scene.

You can’t miss the fabulous Renaissance cathedral dominating the centre or the traditional Spanish vibe often lost in today’s Spanish coastal towns and cities. So, what to see and do in Malaga?  I spent 48-hours in Malaga seeking out some of the city’s hot spots. Here are my Malaga tips for visiting one of the best cities in Spain.

Have lunch at Atarazanas Market, Malaga

What to do when it rains in Malaga? It started to pour while we were in Malaga city and we dashed inside the food market, Mercardo Central, to avoid getting wet.

It turned out to be one of the highlights of our time in the city and one of my top Malaga tips is to pay a visit to Atarazanas Market known locally as Mercado Central.

The food market has a rich history and the nineteenth century iron-clad building incorporates the original Moorish gate which used to connect the city with the port.

Look up and see the massive stained-glass window showing the city’s historical highlights.

We spent time checking-out the stalls in the lively, animated atmosphere. Trays of olives, colourful seasonal vegetables and fruit drew the eye and stalls with fresh fish, meats were abundant with produce.

But the best bit was lunch – it seems that this is where the locals meet up on a Saturday – and with good reason. A couple of stalls at the back of the market are packed with people enjoying the freshest fish dishes and tasty tapas – all cooked right in front of them.

It seemed mad not to join in so we ordered prawns in garlic, a squid dish, Iberico ham, Queso Manchego and some local wine. Delicious food and a buzzy fun atmosphere made this a very special lunch.

When: Monday to Saturday, from 8 am to 2 pm

Where: Calle de las Atarazanas, 19, 29005 Málaga

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Malaga? Check hotel rates and availability in Malaga

Take in the views from Gibralfaro Castle

For spectacular views of Malaga take a wander along the rugged ramparts of Castillo de Gibralfaro. The Moorish fortress overlooks the city at 130m above sea level and dates back to the eighth century – it was originally a lighthouse and military barracks.

There’s not much left of the original castle but the walk along the ramparts afford fabulous vistas over the city taking in the bullring, views out to the port and, at some points, the newly restored amphitheatre below.

View of Malaga's Bullring from Castillo de Gibralfaro
View of Malaga’s Bullring from Castillo de Gibralfaro

The walled walkway connects with the gardens, courtyard and fountains of the Alcazaba which is a beautiful place to wander. Inside is the Archeological museum housing Moorish, Roman and Phoenician artefacts.

The best way to reach the castle by foot is via the scenic Paseo Don Juan de Temboury, to the south of the Alcazaba. From here a path winds steeply through the gardened terraces with viewpoints over the city.

The tourist hop-on-hop-off bus also stops nearby or you can drive up the Camino de Gibralfaro.  Bus 35 from Avenida de Cervantes also goes there.  Plans to build a funicular railway to the Castillo are in the offing.

The castle is open in winter from November to March: 9am to 6pm and in summer from April to October: 9am to 8pm.

Standard admission: €3.50 Combined visit Alcazaba – Gibralfaro Castle: €5.50. On Sunday entry is free from 14:00 hrs.

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Malaga? Check hotel rates and availability in Malaga

Visit Museo Picasso

Malaga is the birthplace of Picasso. The artist was born there 133 years ago and of course there’s a museum commemorating the city’s first son, although he only lived there until his teens.

The museum of Pablo Picasso resides in a renovated sixteenth century mansion in the heart of the city’s oldest quarter called ‘Palacio de Buenavista’.  It’s quite near to the cathedral.  

The palace is built on the ruins of a Nasrid palace and houses over 200 pieces of his work.

Picasso Statue, Malaga
Picasso and me

Where: Palacio de Buenavista, Calle San Agustín, 8, 29015 Malaga

More information, times, admission prices and concessions check the Museo Picasso website.

Explore beautiful Malaga Cathedral

The Cathedral of Incarnation was founded on the site of a mosque in the 15th century and sits in the heart of the city. Its moniker ‘La Manquita’, by which it’s known locally, means ‘one-armed lady’. This is because the tower on the south side has never been completed.

The cathedral belonged to the Moors until the 1400s and there are many Moorish influences still to be seen together with later Renaissance and Baroque elements.

Outside there’s a small patio with orange and frangipani trees and benches for resting walk-weary feet. It’s worth stopping here to take in the intricate detail on the cathedral’s exterior.

The cathedral’s interior is stunning with breathtaking vaulted ceilings, richly decorated frescoes, paintings and two organs with 4,000 pipes between them. Seek out the seventheenth century mahogany and cedar choir.

When: The cathedral is open Mon – Sat 10am – 5pm.  It’s closed on Sundays except for Mass.  Entry is free but it costs €5 for entry to the small museum.

 >>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Malaga? Check hotel rates and availability in Malaga

What to eat and drink in Malaga

Cup of hot chocolate and churros
Chocolate and Churros

The Spanish have a  breakfast tradition that really shouldn’t be missed. Check out the churros; finger-shaped doughnuts dipped in a thick gooey chocolate drink.

I chose chilli hot-chocolate – absolutely delicious but more like a cup of dessert. Luckily the girls were on hand to help me out because I really couldn’t manage that massive sugar fix on my own!

Malaga Sherry Bars

There are a multitude of sherry bars in Malaga as it’s not far from the great sherry producing houses of Jerez.

Dimly lit bodegas furnished with dark wooden mis-matched tables and chairs and sherry-infused bar tops are dotted around town. Huge barrels stacked floor to ceiling add to the atmosphere and walls are decorated with blue tiles and sepia photographs.

The fortified wine is quite trendy now and time spent sampling Jerez sherry and Málaga’s famous sweet wines in the bar of an old bodega will give you a taste of traditional Spain.

Sherry Bar
Malaga Sherry Bar

More Spanish travel inspiration:

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Malaga - Top Five Tips


Thursday 9th of August 2018

I just lived in Málaga for a month! The most charming city with SO much to do. Can't recommend it enough!!

Suzanne Jones

Friday 10th of August 2018

I'd love to spend a month there and really get to know it like the locals do!


Wednesday 6th of January 2016

Food look amazing and I love Spain a lot. It's not expensive but great food nice people and great beaches. Malaga is one of my favorite places in Spain.

Suzanne Jones

Wednesday 6th of January 2016

I'm heading back to Spain this year - a little village inland from Alicante. Malaga is a lovely town with so much to see there.


Wednesday 24th of December 2014

I really need to explore more of Spain, and would never have thought or Malaga as a base but it looks like a great place (and the food looks fab!).

Suzanne Jones

Friday 26th of December 2014

Definitely worth a day or two in Malaga and yes fab base to so much more...

Kathryn Burrington

Tuesday 23rd of December 2014

I've only been to mainland Spain the once (further south) but I'm longing to see more. Malaga certainly looks an interesting place to spend a day or two and the market in particular sounds very appealing. I can just see myself tucking into some tasty tapas amongst the locals - perfect!

Suzanne Jones

Tuesday 23rd of December 2014

Malaga's a good starter point to visit Seville, Cadiz, Jerez and Ronda if you fancy seeing more of Spain - and the tapas are fabulous!


Tuesday 23rd of December 2014

Great post, good tips. I love Malaga, it is always full of delighful surprises everytime I visit. Everyone heading to Malaga airport should visit the old town at least once.

Suzanne Jones

Tuesday 23rd of December 2014

I agree - and so easy to to get there on the train from the airport for just a few Euros.

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