Malaga is set along the sparkling coastline of the Costa del Sol and embodies youthful vigour in a city that has transformed itself. A port city that epitomises the Andalusian lifestyle, Malaga is best known for its most famous son – artist and sculpture Pablo Picasso. Dressed in golden beaches and an inviting Old Town, Malaga is loaded with history.

    Explore charming laneways and energetic plazas in the city’s historical centre and sample the full-bodied flavours of Andalusian cuisine in the many bars and restaurants throughout. Art buffs will be thrilled with the museums and galleries in Malaga, while those looking to rekindle a passion for natural landscapes will find a contrast of gardens and rocky canyons to delve into.

    What are the best things to do in Malaga?


    Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga

    Explore one of Malaga’s most important architectural structures

    • History
    • Photo

    The design of the Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga comprises an intriguing blend of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles, built on the ruins of the former mosque of Aljama. Malaga’s historical centrepiece is more than 250 years old and, despite construction spanning the mid-16th-century to the late 18th-century, it was never fully completed due to a lack of funds. Even so, it still remains one of the most impressive cathedrals in the region.

    Museo Catedralicio, housed within the cathedral building, gives you the opportunity to explore various works of art and objects of religion. Inside, guests can admire the grand marble staircase, 2 superb organs with more than 4,000 pipes and a beautiful assortment of frescoes, the most notable being the sculptural work of Pedro de Mena.

    Location: Calle Molina Lario, 9, 29015 Málaga, Spain

    Open: Monday–Friday from 10 am to 6.45 pm, Saturdays from 10 am to 5.30 pm (closed on Sundays)


    photo by Olaf Tausch (CC BY 3.0) modified


    Jardin Botánico Histórico La Concepción

    Spend your morning among tranquil tropical gardens

    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo

    Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción is considered one of the most alluring and important exotic gardens in Spain. It has a rich history and hosts the largest collection of subtropical plants in Europe. Built in 1855 and originally the private gardens of members of the rising bourgeois class, a family from Bilbao acquired the property in the 20th century. They expanded its grounds to include the famous mirador at the southern end, further adding to the garden’s appeal by offering stunning views across Malaga and out to sea.

    Opened to the public in 1994, the grounds offer various green sanctuaries across the 23-hectare site. From the Palm Avenue to the impressive black bamboo forest, visitors can find a little bit of solace away from the contrasting buzz of the city. In March and April, the wisteria arbour teems with flows of purple flowers for a truly remarkable experience.

    Location: Camino del Jardín Botánico, 3, 29014 Málaga, Spain

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 9.30 am to 7.30 pm (October–March open until 4.30 pm), closed on Mondays


    Muelle Uno

    Shop for local products by Malaga’s port

    An attractive promenade lined with shops, restaurants and bars stretches out alongside Malaga’s port, forming the Muelle Uno mall, just a short walk from the city’s historical centre. On the second Sunday of each month, local artisans and merchants share stalls at the El Zoco de Muelle Uno, a local market selling gourmet food, handmade products and vintage clothing. Enjoy the best of open-air shopping as you idly watch cruise liners come and go.

    Adjacent to the promenade lies an 18th-century Baroque church, Chapel of Muelle Uno, constructed from sandstone from a nearby quarry. As you continue along the marina, Muelle Uno extends to La Farola, the 38-metre-high 19th-century lighthouse of Malaga.

    Location: Paseo del Muelle Uno, 29016 Málaga, Spain


    photo by Danielmlg86 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Caminito del Rey

    Hike along the cliffside 100 metres above the river below

    • Adventure
    • Photo

    If a hair-raising challenge piques your interest, then Caminito del Rey (King’s Pathway) was once dubbed the most dangerous hike in Spain – exciting enough? The multi-layered landscape encompasses reservoirs, mountains, gorges and valleys, all adding to the challenging hike.

    Completely restored and reopening in 2015, the original path can be seen below the new trail jutting out from sheer cliff faces more than 100 metres above the ravine below. One of the most remarkable views along the 8-km path is from Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, offering panoramic views of the natural canyon carved by Guadalhorce River.

    Location: Caminito del Rey de Ardales Entrada Norte, 29550 Ardales, Málaga, Spain

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm (closed on Mondays)


    Mercado de la Merced

    Fill your belly near the birthplace of Pablo Picasso

    Plaza de la Merced is a handsome square in the Old Town of Malaga. Flanked by sun-trapped cafés and airy spaces, you can explore the popular plaza and admire the neo-classical obelisk in the centre of the 19th-century square. Continue making your way to the north corner to the house where famous artist Pablo Picasso was born in 1881.

    Located just off Plaza de la Merced is a hive of activity at Mercado de la Merced. One of the trendiest places for dining in Malaga, you can eat your way through the gourmet market offering fresh fish and vegetables, cured ham, cheese and small bites at designer tapas bars. Housed in an industrial-style building dominated by iron and glass, the market serves as a link between the Cervantes Theatre House and Museo Casa Natal de Picasso.

    Location: Calle Merced, 4, 29012 Málaga, Spain

    Open: Monday–Wednesday from 7 am to 8 pm, Thursdays from 7 am to 1 am, Friday–Saturday from 7 am to 2 am (closed on Sundays)


    photo by Banja-Frans Mulder (CC BY 3.0) modified


    Museo Picasso Malaga

    Escape the heat in the museum’s central courtyard

    • History

    The birthplace of one of the most well-known artists of modern times, Pablo Picasso, Malaga only opened a museum honouring the work of their famous son in 2003. Set within the 16th-century Buenavista Palace in the historical heart of the city, more than 200 pieces spanning most of his career hang against white-washed walls. Works from his childhood through his late musketeer obsession are on display, with notable gaps during his ‘blue’ and ‘rose’ periods in the collection.

    Set against the picturesque backdrop of the Alcazaba Fortress and Gibralfaro Castle, the museum offers visitors a deeper understanding of Picasso’s work in an airy and spacious setting which has become a cultural fixture for Malaga. An ideal place to escape the midday heat, the central courtyard and excellent café offer the perfect place to reflect on his artistic marvels.

    Location: Palacio de Buenavista, Calle San Agustín, 8, 29015 Málaga, Spain

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 7 pm (open until 6 pm November–February)


    photo by Emilio (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Alcazaba de Málaga

    Take in sweeping sea views from this hilltop palace

    • History
    • Photo

    The well-preserved Alcazaba de Málaga dates back to the 11th-century Moorish period and is set among lush greenery of towering palms and orange groves. Built upon the ruins of a former Roman bastion on the hillside of the mount of Gibralfaro, the site once had 110 main towers with a series of smaller columns peppered throughout.

    Due to the impressive condition of the site, you can still see many of the key elements of the architecture, including Roman marble pillars that held up Moorish horseshoe arches. The Plaza de Armas, which was once the coastal-facing defence, now houses beautiful gardens. Cobbled lanes lead to the Gate of the Halls of Granada while the Nazari Palace, at the top of the fortress, offers sweeping views across the town and coastline.

    Location: Calle Alcazabilla, 2, 29012 Málaga, Spain

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 8 pm (November–March: from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm), closed on Mondays


    photo by Emilio (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Playa de La Caleta

    Take a dip in azure seas or laze across sandy shores

    • Photo
    • Budget

    Playa de La Caleta is set along the affluent coastal neighbourhood of the same name and is skirted by villas and mansions that were built by the haute bourgeoisie of the 19th century. The wide, palm-lined promenade leads to the neighbouring cosmopolitan beach of La Malagueta, which shares no natural border with Playa de La Caleta and is the busier of the 2 shores.

    Beach bars stretch along the length of its 1-km-long shore, with a variety of water sports on offer and the benefit of lifeguards and green spaces. Graced with clean sands, you can laze under umbrellas and palms or cool off in the sea while taking in the view of the mountains that surround Malaga.

    Location: Paseo Marítimo Pablo Ruiz Picasso, 33, 29016 Málaga, Spain


    photo by Tyk (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Enjoy Spanish seafood in Malaga

    Treat your palate to delightful local flavours

    Due to its proximity to the sea, Malaga is known for producing top-quality seafood dishes full of Andalusian flavours. With a name that literally translates to ‘to salt’ – derived from the city’s Phoenician heritage – cured meats and salted fish are popular dishes.

    Enjoy views over the Mediterranean while unwinding as you explore culinary delights at Restaurant Amador. The ink fish paella served with cuttlefish and king prawns is a crowd favourite, spanning several seafood specialities. Feast on lobsters, monkfish and carabineros (shrimp) at La Proa de Teatinos, or if seafood isn’t quite your thing, choose one of their Iberian prey or duck dishes.


    Taste Malaga's Spanish wine

    Make your way to a typical Spanish bodega

    Best known for its sweet fortified wines, Malaga has no shortage of wine bars and bodegas to taste a drop of its finest. With a rich history in wine dating back 3,000 years to the landing of Phoenician traders, the region was recognised as a wine producer of the modern world in the 20th-century. With 5 key geographical sub-areas, there’s a range of complex and attractive wines from the region.

    One of the oldest and most traditional wine bars in Malaga is an essential visit for wine enthusiasts. Dressed in timber barrels and period-piece furnishings, Antigua Casa de Guardia gives a sense of old-world charm for those in search of a tipple. The bar was established in 1840 and has been serving a range of wines produced at the bodega in the hills nearby ever since. The 36-month-aged Pajarete 1908 made with the local Pedro Jiménez grape is a great way to begin your tasting.

    Location: Alameda Principal, 18, 29005 Málaga, Spain

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 10 am to 10 pm, Friday–Saturday from 10 am to 10.45 pm, Sundays from 11 am to 3 pm

    Phone: +34 952 21 46 80

    Kiri Nowak | Contributing Writer

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    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.

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