What I adore about Spain is the Spanish culture. The people are laidback, carefree, and downright FUN! They know how to work hard and play harder. Always friendly and inviting; ready to share their love and zest for life with you. Siesta during the day and stay out all night, it’s something that I could get used to! Not to mention their love of food and drink, Spain essentially revolves around these two things! That’s why I have to tell you… it’s quite easy to spend one day in Malaga! You’ll probably even want to stay for more.
Immediately upon arrival to Malaga I felt the warmth of the Spaniards envelope me and stay with me for the entire time I was in town. From the first tapas bar I stepped foot in I was already referred to as, “mi amiga” (my friend) by the locals. As they danced and sang, enjoying food, wine pouring freely I thought to myself, “Man, they really have life figured out.” It shows in the way they cook your food. Greet you at the restaurant. Pour your wine. In the way that they carry themselves, when they make conversation, and freely give kisses out for greetings. It’s truly an incredible culture.
Practical information about Malaga
A coastal town, Malaga is located in the south of Spain near the Alboran Sea. It sees little rain and mostly sun throughout the year, making it a popular European destination for those looking to escape the winter. In fact, it typically only rains less than 20 days per year! Temperatures range from the 60’s-80’s throughout the year, although can go higher or lower. If you’re visiting Spain from somewhere other than Europe it’s definitely worth it to stop for a day before moving on. It’s serviced by its own airport – Costa del Sol. Which is only a mere six miles from the city centre, making it easy to fly in and out for a short weekend getaway. There’s also a bus stop and train station near the city centre which makes day trips from Malaga appealing.
Spending one day in Malaga, Spain
Spend the morning in Malaga Sightseeing
When visiting Malaga, sightseeing is a must. The city is filled with Roman ruins, old Moorish architecture, museums, fortresses, and more. Even if you don’t want to pay to get into these sights, you can view them from the outside which is sometimes just as spectacular.
Get an early start in the morning in order to get to the popular tourist sights early and avoid the crowds. Start at the Alcazaba of Malaga (opening times vary depending on the time of the season and closed on Mondays. You can check times and prices here.) The Alcazaba was a fortification built in the 11th-century by the Hammudid Dynasty. It also happens to be the most well-preserved fortification in all of Spain! The Alcazaba is quite impressive, offering sweeping views over Malaga and an inside look at what life may have been like back in the day. You can easily purchase tickets from machines before entering the fortress.
Once you’ve finished roaming around the fortress make the grueling hike up the hill to the Castle of Gibralfaro. Please note that you can purchase a combined ticket (both Alcazaba and Castle) for cheaper than purchasing them separately. The Castle sits upon a 425+ foothill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. If you aren’t up for walking, the No. 35 bus will drive you up the hill and drop you out front.
Spend the afternoon in Malaga discovering the food and art scene
Other things to do in Malaga, Spain – aside from sightseeing – includes exploring the food scene, art scene, and depending on when you’re visiting… spending time at the beach! Once you’re done seeing the main sites in town, head to the Mercado Central de Atarazanas for lunch. Here you can browse through different stalls offering affordable tapas-style food in a market atmosphere. Closed on Sundays, the market is open Monday-Saturday from 0800-1500.
Once you’re done exploring the market, discover Malaga’s art scene. Unique to the city, you can find a Picasso Museum, opened in 2003, in the heart of Malaga. Picasso was born in Malaga in 1881, and to this day his paintings are celebrated in his hometown. Paintings that are found in the museum have been donated by members of his family as a celebration to his great work.
If you’re still up to learning more about the art scene in Malaga, head towards the pier where you’ll find Centro Pompidou Malaga; an art center. Centro Pompidou is a contemporary art museum based in a glass cube, which has been open since 2015.
Spending the evening in Malaga
To end your 1 day in Malaga, head to Antigua Casa de Guardi for a taste of the local sweet wine. An old and traditional wine bar where you’ll get a taste for the sweet wines produced in Malaga poured straight from wooden barrels. Wine has been produced in Malaga since Phoenician times (1550 BC to 300 BC). Once the Reconquista of Spain occurred and the Christians won back to rule over the Muslims, wine continued to be served to keep the residents happy. With the tradition of drinking wine alive and well, Malaga is now typically known for its sweet wines coming from Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grape varieties.
If wine isn’t your thing, instead head to Larios Terrace located on the main shopping street – Calle Larios – for views overlooking the city. This rooftop bar is modern and cozy – a perfect way to end the day watching the sunset behind the city.
Looking for dinner recommendations? Casa Lola, El Pimpi and La Medusa Ostrería were some of my favorite stops serving traditional Spanish tapas.
Day trips from Malaga – Granada, and Seville
Having an airport in the city makes Malaga the perfect place to fly into while also being able to explore nearby towns. While you can rent a car and drive yourself, there are both bus stations and train stations in Malaga where you can get tickets for a decent price. I prefer to use Omio when looking for tickets and comparing prices.
Day trip to Granada
Travel from Malaga to Granada is simple! Only 80-miles apart you can get to Granada from Malaga in under two hours. While the train can take you to Granada, in this case, the bus is usually cheaper and faster.
Planning on visiting Granada? Check out How to Make the Most of One Day in Granada
Day trip to Seville
For me, a Malaga to Seville day trip was the highlight of my Spanish vacation. 130-miles apart you can get to Seville from Malaga in two to three hours. Just like Granada, you can either take a bus or train to Seville although the train will be much faster.
Planning on visiting Seville? Check out Things to Do in Seville – 5 Experiences to Have
While you can do Malaga in a day, it may be worth it to stay longer! Take your time, explore outside the city center, hit the beach, or even take day trips! If you’re visiting Malaga during warmer months I especially think it’s worth it to stay two days to experience one day at the beach! I happened to visit in November so this wasn’t an option for me.
For more suggestions and recommendations on Malaga, make sure to check out my Instagram page/highlight reel.