The Best Things to do in Malaga, Spain

The 15 Best Things to do in Malaga, Spain

Malaga may be in the middle of the heavily-touristic Costa del Sol, but it’s worlds away from the typical sun, sea, and sand resort town in terms of attractions, landmarks, and vibe. This mesmerizing Spanish city takes pride in its fascinating history while still exuding a youthful vigor that makes the place come alive.

Home of the iconic artist Pablo Picasso, Malaga is brimming with exciting art galleries designed to make you think about things in a whole new way. Throw into the mix ancient fortresses, Roman ruins, and enthralling museums, and you’ve got an amazing destination for a cultural getaway.

Even if history and culture aren’t your ideas of fun, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in Malaga. Picture-perfect sandy beaches, tempting tapas restaurants, quirky independent boutiques, heady nightlife spots, and stunning gardens mean there’s something for everyone!

With so many fun things to see and do, you may need some advice on where to begin. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Malaga. Add these activities and attractions to your Malaga bucket list, and you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time exploring Andalusia’s sparkling gem. 

15 Fun and Unique Things to do in Malaga

1. Get Back to Nature at Montes de Malaga

Best Things to do in Malaga: Montes de Malaga

You’ll find some of the best sights in Malaga at the Montes de Malaga. Located just three miles north of the city center, the sprawling park spans almost 12,355 acres and reaches lofty heights of 3,383 feet. Here you’ll find scenery almost too beautiful to be real.

Undulating hills, plunging valleys, vast plains, rushing rivers, bubbling streams, and steep paths cover the landscape as far as the eye can see. Put on your hiking boots or rent a bike and spend the day exploring the pine-topped mountains and stunning trails. 

Montes de Malaga is one of the best places in the Costa del Sol region to spot local wildlife. Here you’ll have the chance to get up close to all sorts of fascinating creatures, including chameleons, wild boards, and eagles. Pack a picnic and spend the day enjoying the more natural side of Malaga!

Book an E-Bike Tour of Montes de Malaga

2. Step Back in Time at the Alcazaba de Malaga

Cool Things to do in Malaga: Alcazaba de Malaga

The Alcazaba de Malaga is one of the top Malaga attractions. When you see the ancient Moorish castle for yourself, you’ll definitely understand why! Once the most important fortress of the historic Kingdom of Granada, today the Alcazaba de Malaga is a hugely popular tourist attraction that’s in surprisingly good shape.

The castle dates back to the 11th century and was built on top of Roman ruins. Several renovations were made, and most of the fortress that you can see today is from the 13th century. The original structure had three circuits of defense walls and 110 main towers.

You can still check out three of the towers today, the Torre de la Vela, the Arco de Cristo (once used as an entrance), and the impressive Torre del Homenaje. After admiring the towers, take some time to wander around the courtyards and seek out the decorative pools and bubbling fountains. You can also enjoy fantastic views of the city from up here.

Book an Alcazaba de Malaga Tour

3. Check Out the Ancient Roman Theater

What to do in Malaga: Ancient Roman Theater

You’ll find one of the top things to do in Malaga right in the city center. The Roman Theater, also known as El Teatro Romano, lies at the foot of the Alcazaba fortress and is one of the few Roman ruins remaining in the city.

Despite dating back to the first century, the Roman Theater was only discovered in the 1950s! During its heyday, the theater was covered in glistening white marble and surrounded by towering pillars and columns. Most of the valuable material was taken by the Moors and used to build the Alcazaba. 

While it’s not quite as glamorous as it once was, the Roman Theater is still a fantastic place to visit. As an added bonus, entrance is free! After you’ve had a look around, take a seat in the theater and imagine what it was like watching a play there almost 2,000 years ago.

Book a Roman Theatre and Alcazaba Tour

4. Gaze at the Catedral de Malaga

Cool Things to do in Malaga: Catedral de Malaga

The Catedral de Malaga is definitely one of the top things to see in Malaga. Standing proudly in the center of Old Town, the iconic cathedral dates back to the 15th century, when it was built to replace the Great Mosque. See if you can spot the beautiful Baroque elements which were added later in the 17th and 18th centuries. 

Although it was never fully completed due to a lack of funds, the exterior of the Catedral de Malaga is still astounding. But step through the entrance, and you’ll find that it’s even more impressive on the inside. Staggeringly spacious with a towering ceiling, the cathedral’s interior boasts a number of spectacular works of art by some of the city’s most talented painters.

One of the chapels is decorated with a painting of the Virgin with Saints by Alonso Cano, while another features a picture with kneeling figures of the Catholic Monarchs by Pedro de Mena, as well as a statuette of the Virgin.

Book a Malaga Cathedral Tour

5. Enjoy the Taste of Summer with Espetos

What to do in Malaga: Espetos

If you’re a fan of seafood, you’ll fall head over heels for espetos – delicious bamboo skewers laden with fresh sardines. Often caught that very morning, the sardines are skewered and then roasted over an open flame at the beach. It’s such a rustic, traditional thing to see – and an even better thing to smell!

The best time to try espetos is between May and August. This is when the sardines are at their finest, and there’s an abundance of them to catch. Because they’re so popular, you’ll find them at practically every chiringuito (beach-side wooden shack) along the coast of Malaga.

Legend has it that Chef Miguel Martinez Soler first introduced espetos to King Alfonso XII back in 1884. They’ve been a hit ever since! Casa Kiko is one of the best places in the city for the dish. This casual restaurant dishes up all kinds of delicious grilled and fried fish, including espetos.

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6. Get Lost in Old Town

Fun Things to do in Malaga: Old Town

For some of the best Malaga sightseeing, head to Old Town. One of the most gorgeous parts of the city, Old Town is the area in the very center of Malaga that surrounds the cathedral. Here you can explore a labyrinth of pedestrian-only streets that haven’t changed since medieval times.

Wherever you wander, you’ll come across hidden squares, charming cafes, traditional tapas restaurants, and independent stores selling all sorts of wonderful trinkets. For something a bit livelier, head to Plaza de la Constitución in the heart of Old Town. This area always has a buzzing atmosphere and is a great place to begin your adventure. 

A short distance from the main square, you’ll find Iglesia de San Juan Bautista. This historic church was founded after the reconquest of the city in the 15th century by Catholic monarchs. It’s an excellent example of how Mudéjar and Gothic architecture can come together. Head inside, and you’ll discover a restored interior with 18th-century Baroque decor. 

Book a Malaga Bike Tour

7. Celebrate Amazing Artwork with Picasso Month

If you’re traveling in October, one of the coolest things to do in Malaga is to celebrate Picasso month. This month marks the anniversary of the birth of the famous artist who was born in the city.

There’s a huge events program to honor Picasso, filled with all sorts of fun things to see and do. For serious art lovers, there are conferences and talks which discuss aspects of Picasso, his life, and his work that few people ever learn about. For everyone else, there are interesting art exhibitions, fantastic music concerts, and art competitions held throughout the city.

Even if you’re not a fan of Picasso or art, you’ll have a great time. The festival may even ignite your love for his paintings! Each year the events and activities are themed on a different aspect of the artist’s work, keeping everything fresh and interesting. At the end of the event, there’s a big awards ceremony with a prize given to an aspiring artist.  

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8. Relax at the Jardín Botanico-Historico La Concepción

Fun Things to do in Malaga: Jardín Botanico-Historico La Concepción

When you need a break from all the Malaga activities, spend some time at the Jardín Botanico-Historico La Concepción. This stunning botanical garden was created by the Marquis and Marchioness of Loring in the mid-19th century and is just as beautiful today as it was almost 200 years ago.

Take a look around, and you’ll discover that the grounds are teeming with all sorts of plant species. Tropical, subtropical, and Mediterranean plants and flowers fill the green spaces and act as a real treat for all the senses. 

In the center of the garden, you’ll find the Jardín Histórico-Artístico (Historical-Artistic Garden). This area covers 7.5 acres of landscaped gardens designed in the Romantic style. Here you’ll be surrounded by exotic flowers, tropical plants, and rare flora from all over the world. There are also some stunning waterfalls, fountains, and neoclassic elements for you to find.

9. Fill up on Tasty Treats at the Mercado Atarazanas

Best Things to do in Malaga: Mercado Atarazanas

Spain is known for its amazing cuisine, and one of the most fun things to do in Malaga is to try as much of it as you can at the Mercado Atarazanas. The city’s major marketplace, Mercado Atarazanas is in the center of Malaga and is always bustling with locals looking for the freshest ingredients.

Here you’ll find a huge number of stalls selling all kinds of goodies, from fruit, vegetables, herbs, and spices, to cured meats, cheeses, fresh meat, and fish. If you’ve got more of a sweet tooth, you’ll also come across loads of freshly-baked goods, homemade candies, fruity liqueurs, and wines from all over Spain. 

The market is closed on Sundays and closes at 2 pm on all other days, so you’ve got to get there early. You can easily spot it. It’s set inside a dazzling building delicately crafted out of glass and iron. 

Book a Foodie Tour of Atarazanas Market

10. Cool Off with Gazpachuelo Malagueño

You’ve probably heard of gazpacho before, but have you heard of gazpachuelo malagueño? This unique dish comes from Malaga, and while it is a soup, that’s where the similarities with gazpacho end.

Gazpacho malagueño is a traditional fisherman’s dish made with eggs, potatoes, hake, shrimp, and mayonnaise. The ingredient combination sounds totally bizarre, and it could be described as one of those things you either love or hate. If you’re a fan of fish and seafood, you’re almost guaranteed to be hooked from the very first spoonful. 

You’ll find gazpachuelo malagueño from practically every fish and seafood restaurant in the city. Restaurante El Tintero II is an amazing place to try this classic dish. This casual, local restaurant is always bustling and serves an amazing soup that’s loaded with fish and shrimp. It’s got a wonderfully rich flavor and velvet-smooth texture.

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11. Become an Art Lover at the Picasso Museum

What to do in Malaga: Picasso Museum

Whether or not you’re into art, spending a few hours at the Picasso Museum is one of the must-do things in Malaga. This artsy museum is set in Old Town and is home to a fantastic collection of Picasso’s artwork from throughout his whole career.

Take a look around the exhibits, and you’ll discover pieces that span Picasso’s entire life, from his humble earliest studies to his more modern revolutionary artistic creations. The collection of paintings includes pieces from 1892 to 1972 and forms an incredible representation of the countless techniques and styles that Picasso mastered. 

Some of the many highlights include the Musketeer with Sword, Still Life with Skull and Three Sea Urchins, The Acrobat, and Mother and Child. If you’re a major Picasso fan, you’ll love the museum bookshop, which is filled with fascinating information about the artist. For something more chilled-out, check out the garden courtyard cafe.

Book a Picasso Museum Tour

12. Soak Up Some Rays at Playa de la Malagueta

Unique Things to do in Malaga: Playa de la Malagueta

When you’re in the mood for a lazy, relaxing day, one of the best things to do in Malaga is to hit the beach. The city is only home to a small number of bays, and Playa de la Malagueta is absolutely stunning and is definitely worth a spot on your Malaga bucket list!

This gorgeous urban beach boasts soft, golden sands and gentle aquamarine waters that lap the coast. The sea is never rough, so swimming and paddling are always in the cards. Swaying palm trees provide plenty of natural shade, while the lining promenade takes care of everything else, with cafes, bars, restaurants, and small stores. 

For a fun photo op, seek out the “Malagueta” sign. It’s huge and looks like it’s made out of sand. If you’re traveling with little ones, they’ll love the children’s playground. Bigger kids will have a great time with the wide selection of water sports on offer.

Because it’s the closest beach to the center of town, Playa de la Malagueta is hugely popular with locals. To nab a good spot, try and get there as early as you can.

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13. Dance the Night Away at the Malaga Feria

Malaga Bucket List: Malaga Feria

Attending the Malaga Feria is one of the top things to do in Malaga if you’re visiting in August. This annual fair is like a never-ending party with all the “fino” (sherry) you can drink and non-stop flamenco tunes that will have you dancing for hours. 

The exuberant festival takes place over 10 days and nine nights and celebrates the reconquest of the city by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1487. Everything kicks off with an immense fireworks display in the Paseo del Parque. The display is so huge and impressive that it can literally be seen for miles around.  

Fun Things to do in Malaga: Malaga Feria

This is followed by an amazing free music concert on La Malagueta beach featuring a top Spanish artist. The rest of the festival is made up of traditional flamenco dancing, tapas kiosks, fairground rides, music concerts, and live entertainment. Even if you do nothing but people-watch, the fair is something you’ve absolutely got to experience.

14. Hike One of the Most Dangerous Treks in the World

What to do in Malaga: Caminito del Rey

If you’re looking for exciting and unique things to do in Malaga, take on the challenge of the Caminito del Rey. This incredible hike was once declared one of the most dangerous in the world. Thankfully, extensive work and restoration have been done on the trek, making it totally safe, albeit scary in some parts!

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the hike is just short of five miles long and can easily be completed in 90-120 minutes. However, the scenery is so incredible that it’s worth taking your time to really appreciate your surroundings and take amazing pictures. 

The Caminito del Rey follows the face of a steep valley that plummets into the turquoise water far below. Some of the paths can get pretty narrow, and you can always see the tall drop, so you’ve got to have a good head for heights.

Toward the end of the hike, there’s a glass platform that you can stand on. Have your travel buddy take your picture while you’re standing on it. You’ll look like you’re floating in the valley!

Book a Caminito del Rey Tour

15. Get Tipsy on Vino Cartojal

Best Things to do in Malaga: Vino Cartojal

When you need to relax after you’ve crossed everything off your “things to do in Malaga” list, treat yourself to a glass of vino cartojal. This local drink is usually served during Malaga’s biggest festivals, but you can find it throughout the rest of the year at most local cafes, bars, and restaurants.

Vino cartojal is a fruity white wine that comes in a clear bottle with a bright pink label. When it’s served icy cold, it’s delicious and very easy to drink. If you spot it in a grocery store, grab a bottle and have your own Spanish fiesta! 

Cool Things to do in Malaga: Vino Cartojal

It’s made from the moscatel de alejandria grape, which is native to Malaga and grows in abundance throughout the Axarquia region. They’re laid out in the sun to allow the sugars in the grapes to concentrate. This makes vino cartojal naturally sweet and incredibly addictive. If you think you don’t like wine, it’s a good one to try!

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There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Malaga. What’s your favorite thing to do in Malaga?

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About the Author:

  • Nicola Quinn

    Nicola is a freelance writer with an insatiable hunger for travel. She swapped her home in the UK for the sunny Canary Islands when she was just 11 and she has been based there ever since.

    From crawling on her hands and knees inside pyramids in Egypt to swimming with baby sharks in Bali and searching (fruitlessly!) for the Northern Lights in Iceland, Nicola takes every chance she gets to explore new places.

    The incredible experiences she has around the world fuels her writing and inspires her to plan even more adventures for the future.

2 thoughts on “The 15 Best Things to do in Malaga, Spain”

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    Absolutely loved the informative article! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to more insightful content, as the thirst for knowledge is never-ending. Keep up the great work!

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