The Best Things to See and Do in Málaga, Spain

From the hill Gibralfaro, you get a great view over Málaga, Spain, and its port
From the hill Gibralfaro, you get a great view over Málaga, Spain, and its port | © Manfred Gottschalk / Alamy Stock Photo
Lena Blos

Visit Málaga, on the Andalusian Costa del Sol, for its scenic beaches and landscapes, century-old castle structures and stylish port with great restaurants. There is plenty of history, sun and sightseeing waiting to be enjoyed in this part of Spain – here are the top things to get you started.

Explore Málaga with the help of a Local Insider on our four-day Mini Trip to Andalucia – highlights of the city tour include a visit to the Roman theatre and Alcazaba.

1. Montes de Málaga

Park

In the Montes de Malaga the mountains north of Malaga Andalucia Spain
© Cephas Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo

This vast and beautiful park, spanning almost 5,000ha (12,355 acres) and reaching heights of 1031m (3,383ft), is just 5km (3.1mi) north of Málaga city. Rent a bike, and spend the day exploring lush mountains, pine-topped hills, babbling streams and rolling fields of flora – and don’t be surprised if you get up close with wildlife like eagles, wild boars and chameleons. Come prepared with a packed lunch, and enjoy it with magnificent views of the Mediterranean.

2. Mirador de Gibralfaro

Natural Feature

From the Alcazaba a view over the city and the port
© Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Mirador de Gibralfaro, near Castillo de Gibralfaro, is a hilltop lookout point just outside the centre of town. Ramble up its tree-lined paths at sunrise or sunset for panoramic views of the city: the higher you get, the more amazing the vantage point. Choose from the two main viewpoints (or pick your own romantic spot), and enjoy a bird’s-eye-view of the towns and mountains of Costa del Sol, and the Mediterranean Ocean seemingly blending into the sky.

4. Iglesia de San Juan Bautista

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark

History buff? Head to the Iglesia de San Juan Bautista on Calle San Juan, for its striking religious architecture. The original church, built in a Gothic-Mudejár style, dates back to 1487; it was remodelled many times over the centuries, including during the Baroque period, evident in some of its details. The tower was added in the 15th century, while the sacristy was built in 1789. It is an incredible place to visit and a chance to enjoy a mishmash of architectural styles.

5. Museo de Málaga

Museum

Museo de Malaga Palacio de la Aduana Provincial Museum of Fine Arts Museo Arqueologico Provincial.
© Peter van Evert / Alamy Stock Photo

Museo de Málaga, on Plaza de la Aduana, is Andalusia’s biggest museum and the fifth-biggest in Spain. It opened in 2016, bringing together the 1913 Provincial Museum of Fine Arts and the 1947 Provincial Archeological Museum. Begin your visit in the large indoor courtyard, before walking through the rooms of Palacio de la Aduana, which house 2,000 pieces of fine art over three floors and more than 15,000 artefacts across its five-floor archaeology collection. The museum is closed on Mondays.

6. Port of Málaga

Architectural Landmark

Muelle Uno, Atlantis Lounge Cafe, Malaga, Andalusia, Spain
© Martin Thomas Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Port of Málaga, only a few minutes from the city centre, is a glamorous seaport with restaurants, bars and fashion boutiques. Although it is one of the oldest ports in the Med, it boasts a distinctively modern feel, with superyachts docked in the harbour and high-rise buildings towering over the palm tree-lined promenade. The best way to enjoy it? Watching the world go by with a cocktail in-hand.

7. Castillo de Gibralfaro

Archaeological site

Archivo fotográfico de Turismo Andaluz
© Turismo y Deporte de Andalucía

Castillo de Gibralfaro, on Gibralfaro hill, overlooking Málaga city, is a Moorish palace that dates back to the 10th century. The castle, which is renowned for a three-month siege by Catholic monarchs, has been mostly restored and today also features a military museum. It can be reached by bus or foot, but it is well worth making the steep climb to enjoy the scenic view of the city. You can also get to Gibralfaro via the scenic walkway of Paseo Don Juan de Temboury, south of the Alcazaba.

8. Chíllar River

Natural Feature

Popular tourist route In river bed Rio Chillar River In Nerja, Malaga, Spain. Water flow, slow motion.
© Ryhor Bruyeu / Alamy Stock Photo

Hiking through the Chíllar River to the Caves of Nerja offers some of the most stunning scenes in the region – it is an absolute must for outdoor enthusiasts. A pair of solid trainers is essential for your walk (or wade) through the mostly ankle-deep waters. The trek takes 4–6 hours to complete and leads through narrow cave walls and pebbled river beds. On arrival at Nerja, you’ll welcome cooling off in the water basin.

9. Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga

Cathedral, Church, Mosque

Main Chapel at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Incarnation / the Cathedral in the city centre Malaga Costa del Sol Andalucia Spain. Image shot 2020. Exact date unknown.
© PvE / Alamy Stock Photo

The Cathedral of Málaga, in the historic centre of Málaga, is one of the most important architectural structures in this port city. It was designed in the Renaissance style by Diego de Siloe, with a Baroque façade and frescos on the walls inside, and constructed between 1528 and 1782. A lack of funds meant only the north tower was completed, but the cathedral is still considered one of the most impressive throughout the region.

10. Museo Picasso Málaga

Museum, Building

Museo Pablo Picasso, Palacio de Buenavista, Malaga, Andalusia, Spain
© Ingolf Pompe 87 / Alamy Stock Photo

Artist Pablo Picasso is from Málaga, and today you can discover some of his works, from the late 19th century through to his death in 1973, at the Museo Picasso Málaga in Buenavista Palace. Located in the centre of the old town, it is close to the Plaza de la Merced, where Picasso was born. Some 230 artworks offer insight into his style, while there are also changing contemporary exhibitions.

11. Roman Theatre Alcazaba

Ruins

Roman theatre and Alcazaba castle. Malaga, Andalusia, Spain.
© Luis Dafos / Alamy Stock Photo

It is estimated that this Roman theatre, at the foot of the Alcazaba, in the southern part of Málaga, was constructed under the dominion of Augustus in the first century CE. It remained in use until the third century, when it was converted into a source for building material by Arab conquerors. At the time of its construction, Málaga represented one of the most important cities in the region, and the theatre itself is a historical reminder of the Roman imperium.

12. El Pedregalejo

Natural Feature

Cooking sardines on beach Malaga Spain
© Tim E White / Alamy Stock Photo

El Pedregalejo, home to Playa Pedregalejo, one of the best beaches in Málaga, is a 30-minute walk from the town centre. Spend the day relaxing on the 1.2km-long (0.7mi) beach, before tucking into local seafood at one of its many restaurants and dancing the night away at one of the clubs.

13. La Concepión Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden, Forest

Botanical Gardens Malaga Spain
© Jardin Botanico La Concepcion

This botanical garden, spread out over 25,000 square meters (269,100sqft), is located just outside of the city centre and can be reached within half an hour by bus. It was constructed in 1850 by an aristocratic couple and, today, boasts more than 2000 different plant varieties from Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Oceania, as well as a huge variety of bird species.

14. Alcazaba

Archaeological site, Building, Museum

Aerial view of the Alcazaba in Malaga and the Castillo de Gibralfaro from the Moorish Arab times in Southern Spain
© Tomka / Alamy Stock Photo

Alcazaba, at the foot of Gibralfaro hill, is Málaga’s most iconic landmark and the best-preserved Moorish fortress palace in Spain. It was constructed by the Hammudid dynasty in the early 11th century and later captured by Ferdinand and Isabel, after the siege of Málaga in 1487. It is renowned for some of the most important Muslim works in Spain today, as well as its caliphal arch work. Reach it by foot or bus, and head there early to avoid the midday heat. Our four-day Mini Trip to Málaga includes a visit to the Alcazaba with our Local Insider.

Interested in exploring more of Andalucia? Why not join our four-day Mini Trip to Seville? Highlights include seeing the Royal Alcazar and Seville Cathedral, as well as visits to nearby Cadiz and Jerez.
Kim Gregory contributed additional reporting to this article.

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