malaga square in larios street

19 Best Free Things To Do In Malaga You Can’t Miss (Written by a Local)

Who doesn’t like to save some money while travelling? 

Southern Spain is more affordable than other Spanish destinations, and in this case, Malaga can be an affordable destination if you know how to avoid touristy places or when to visit them.

At the same time, you’ll be surprised by discovering all the free things to do in Malaga – from visiting stunning museums to exploring beautiful parks and beaches.

Here is a list of free places and activities you shouldn’t miss during your visit to Malaga and tips from a local that will help you make the most of this beautiful city.

19 Best Free Things To Do In Malaga You Can't Miss (Written by a Local) 19 Best Free Things To Do In Malaga You Can't Miss (Written by a Local)

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Free Things to do in Malaga

Enjoy the panoramic city view from Gibralfaro

Gibralfaro view

Gibralfaro, located next to the Alcazaba de Málaga, is my favourite viewpoint in my hometown. You will have to walk a couple of hills and steps to get there, but believe me, it’s worth it. 

When you get there, you get a panoramic view of Málaga – you will see the colourful Centre Pompidou Málaga museum in the port, the famous bullring, the gardens and much more. The most magical time to visit Gibralfaro is during sunset, however, you won’t be surprised to know it’s the busiest time.

If you’d like more time to enjoy the view without people around taking pictures and standing in your way, you may want to go early in the morning and avoid weekends.

After spending some time in the viewpoint, you can head to Gibralfaro castle which is a bit further up. Just be aware that there’s an entrance fee of 3,50€.

EXTRA TIPS: Wear comfortable shoes and grab some water. Also, don’t go during the afternoon in summer, the heat can be unbearable. 

Visit the Alcazaba de Málaga

Costa del sol itinerary, alcazaba

At the bottom of Gibralfaro, the Alcazaba de Málaga is one of the most beautiful historic and architectural monuments in the city. It consists of a fortress-palace that was built during the Muslim period (11th century). 

In the past, the building was used for military purposes due to its location, overlooking the city and bay. Although it has been restored in the 20th century, you can still imagine how things used to be.

As you enter, you can expect hills that give access to beautiful viewpoints across the Alcazaba, rectangular patios with fountains, small gardens filled with scented jasmines and other flowers, and other hidden gems.

There is an entrance fee to the Alcazaba de Málaga, however, I have included it in my list because you can also visit it for free, and many people don’t know this.

You can visit Alcazaba for free every Sunday from 2 pm. It isn’t the best time to go during the summer as it’s really hot, but you get free entry.

In case you can’t visit it for free because you aren’t in the city on a Sunday or you have other plans, I still recommend visiting the Alcazaba as it’s one of the best things to see in Malaga.

Visit Teatro Romano

Roman Theatre view Malaga

Next to the Alcazaba, it’s the Roman Theatre (Teatro Romano) which you can visit for free.

It is the oldest monument in the city and it’s accompanied by a visitors centre where you can learn more about the history of the ruins and their subsequent excavation.

TIP: Visit Teatro Romano at night, it looks magical when the lights are switched on. It’s also a great time to take a different photo of the Roman Theatre.

Contemplate the Cathedral of Malaga

Malaga cathedral back view

The Cathedral of Malaga is located a few minutes walk from Alcazaba and Teatro Romano.

Its size is quite impressive so you won’t be surprised to know it’s the second-highest Cathedral in Andalusia.

Although there’s an entrance fee, it’s also worth walking around it -it’s just beautiful.

If you want to go inside, what you can expect is Renaissance and baroque details and designs that will amaze you. 

Something that you want to check is the rooftop tour. You’ll have to climb two hundred steps but the views you get are unbelievable. 

Go to Museo de Málaga

malaga museum

Malaga museum is one of the largest museums in Andalusia and the fifth in Spain. It’s composed of two different parts – the Museum of Fine Arts and the Provincial Archaeological Museum.

In the fine arts section, there are plenty of Spanish paintings from famous painters like Murillo, Velázquez and Goya you can’t miss. Whereas in the archaeological section, you’ll find interesting collections and pieces that have been recently found in the excavations next to Alcazaba. 

Window shop in Calle Larios

Malaga Larios street

Calle Larios is Malaga’s liveliest street where you can find high-street shops (Zara, Pandora, etc.), it’s the shopaholic paradise! 

Apart from shopping, getting lost in its alleys is one of the best things to do. Each alley is connected and has bars, restaurants, gift shops where you can stop by and buy souvenirs, and impressive buildings or monuments.

No matter how long I lived in Malaga, I always get lost, but that’s the magic of it.

TIP: There’s nothing better than eating ice cream to beat the heat. Go to Helados y Turrones Casa Mira to taste the most popular and delicious handmade ice creams in the city.

Learn about Andalusia art at Museo Carmen Thyssen Malaga

Museo Carmen Thyssen Malaga, located in the city centre, is an art museum that includes impressive Spanish paintings from the 19th century. 

Carmen Thyssen Malaga is one of the best museums in Malaga. There are over 200 paintings inside the museum and most of these paintings represent Andalusia landscapes and culture. 

To visit Carmen Thyssen Malaga for free, plan your visit on a Sunday from 4 pm. However, I must tell you that it often gets very busy, so start queueing 15 minutes before to avoid a long wait.

Have some tapas at Mercado Central de Atarazanas

atarazana market in malaga city centre

Atarazanas Market is the central market in the city, and if you enjoy tasting delicious and fresh local produce, this is definitely the place for you. 

Fresh fish, meat, olives and all sorts of spices and sweets to try. Ready for some tapas? Have some tapas at Bar Atarazanas where they serve delicious “pescaíto frito” (fried fish) and seafood.

Outside the market, you’ll also find plenty of small cafes, bakeries and independent food shops. Something that you must try is tortas locas, also known as locas, at El Colmenero bakery. Locas are delicious puff pastry sweet filled with custard and topped with orange frosting and a cherry.

Another way to experience the market is by booking a food tour. Although these aren’t free, you’ll definitely get to taste Malaga’s traditional food and learn more about the food culture.

However, even if you aren’t a foodie, the market has a beautiful entrance to contemplate, you actually won’t believe the building is a market. 

The entrance is an impressive off-white marble arch with the shape of a horseshoe, but that’s not all! Go inside to see the colourful glass window. 

TIP: The market can get very busy — delivery lorries outside the market, local people doing their shopping, etc., so visiting it early in the morning or after 2 pm will give you a better experience. 

Go inside Santiago Church

Malaga street

This isn’t just a church, but a piece of art. Santiago. Parroquia Santiago Apóstol is Málaga’s oldest church which was a former mosque.

The church is also very well-known for Easter processions and the fact that Picasso was baptised here in 1881.

Learn about Picasso at Museo Picasso Málaga

picasso museum malaga

Picasso is one of the most important artists of the 20th century, who hasn’t seen his famous Guernica painting? 

You’ll be surprised to discover that although he spent most of his adult life in France, like many other artists, he was born and raised in Málaga. This is why you can find a museum all about the painter.

Museo Picasso Málaga is free every Sunday for the last two opening hours (from 3 pm onwards).

Also, if you happen to be in Málaga on Día de Andalucía (28 February), Día Internacional del Museo (18 May) and Día Mundial del Turismo (27 September), you will be able to enter for free.

Take a picture with Picasso Statue 

Not very far from Calle Larios, Picasso’s Statue is located in Plaza de la Merced, a square that used to be a market in the 15th century.

Nowadays, it’s mostly visited because of Picasso’s statue and the house where he used to live (number 15 of the plaza).

But also, its atmosphere attracts locals and tourists during the summer months. You’ll see people having late dinner or drinks late at night.

Explore Soho neighbourhood

soho neighbourhood in malaga spain

One of the most unusual things to do in Malaga that many travellers miss is visiting Soho.

Soho is an art neighbourhood situated between Alameda Principal and the port. The popularity of Soho has increased in previous years, and you can see that on Instagram and other social media platforms.

It has become a top location for anyone who loves graffiti and street art. Graffiti artists are recognised by including their work description and biography on Malaga Arte Urbano Soho (MAUS) website. 

The area is very lively and frequented, you’ll find plenty of bars, cafes and little shops too.

Relax in El Parque de Málaga

free things to do in malaga

El Parque de Málaga is located in the city centre on the big road avenue that leads to the bullring.

Don’t miss the opportunity to walk through the park because not only will you see a good variety of plants and tropical flowers, but you’ll find beautiful fountains and monuments. On top of this, you’ll see many lovely green parakeets flying over your head.

I love walking through this park because it always surprises me, and it’s a good way to avoid the heat in the summer months.

Go for a stroll in Muelle Uno

Muelle uno port

Malaga’s port, Muelle Uno, is truly the ideal place to go for a stroll because of the scenic views you can get from different points, but especially to the sea. 

There is always something going on in Muelle Uno – from crafts and art markets to activities for kids and live performances. But apart from all sorts of events, the port has a good variety of restaurants and shops.

Visiting Muelle Uno is one of the best things to do in Malaga at night during the summer months. It’s a great place to enjoy a cocktail or a family meal.

Inside Muelle Uno, you’ll also find the Centre Pompidou Malaga, a contemporary art museum that displays permanent and temporary exhibitions that are worth seeing. 

Go to the Malagueta Beach

malagueta beach

Whether you love sunbathing, relaxing on the beach or watching the sunset, there’s no better place than going to the beach. 

Malagueta beach is the main beach located in the city centre, being situated next to Muelle Uno port, it makes it very easy to go to the beach and spend a couple of hours there or even a full day.

If you prefer less touristy beaches, then I would recommend travelling a bit further and to the west side of the city, you’ll find Playa La Misericordia.

Having lived in that area for many years, I guarantee you there are more locals than tourists. 

📌 Related blog post: 19 Beautiful and Secret Beaches in Malaga and Costa del Sol

Go on a free walking tour

There’s no better way to learn about a city than doing a walking tour. The good thing is that GuruWalk offers incredible free walking tours in many Spanish destinations, luckily they offer tours in Malaga too.

By doing one of their free walking tours, you’ll learn about the history behind the city of Malaga and the main historical buildings, and discover some Malaga hidden gems.

Have a picnic at Parque del Oeste

Oeste Park in Malaga

This is a hidden gem in Malaga that only locals know. This park is underrated and mostly visited by locals who live on the west side of the city in the Santa Paula and La Paz neighbourhoods.

The park is huge and it has many spaces for different activities – sports, picnics, playgrounds, etc. All of these places are surrounded by beautiful green spaces, but the main feature of the park is the lake.

As you walk along the park, you’ll find sculptures and interesting monuments too. There’s also a rock area where there are animals you can see (mainly exotic birds and parrots).

At the bottom of the park, it’s Misericordia beach where you can spend the rest of the day walking in the beautiful paseo marítimo (beach promenade) and sunbathing or swimming on the beach.

📌 Related blog: How to Spend One Day in Malaga – Itinerary with Local Recommendations

Go to Cortijo de Torres Flea Market

Whether you love buying antique things, clothes or jewellery, you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to visit Malaga Flea Market.

This market is home to over 300 stalls, and it’s considered the main street market in Malaga. Not only will you find clothes but high-quality local produce such as fruits, vegetables and nuts.

It takes place in the fairgrounds of Malaga, known as “El Cortijo de Torres”, every Sunday from 8 am to 3 pm.

Spend the day at Montes de Málaga Nature Park

This nature park is located five kilometres north of Malaga which makes it a great day trip if you want to escape from the city and love adventure.

The park has endless river beds, streams and steep paths, and the fauna and flora are absolutely incredible.

Although you can pack some sandwiches or snacks to eat throughout the day, instead, have some local traditional food at Los Montes restaurant. When I was a kid, I used to love visiting this place with my grandparents. 

So what can you find in Los Montes? Plenty of traditional starters like sheep cheese (Manchego), olives, scrambled eggs with mushrooms; meat and fish courses and homemade desserts.

The most famous meal is Plato de “Los Montes” which consists of pork loin, chips, fried egg, fried peppers and chorizo.  

Map with all the free attractions to see in Malaga

Click on the map below to open it in Google Maps. You can access directions to each of the locations mentioned in this article.

As you have read, it’s completely possible to travel to Malaga on a budget as there are plenty of free things to do in Malaga!

Just to recap, Sunday is the best day to fit your museum schedule as most of them are free, don’t miss out on the opportunity to try locas cakes and other traditional food, and explore beyond the city centre.

Check out free events such as the carnival, the Three Kings Parade and Feria de Malaga (Malaga’s fair). These are great events to immerse yourself in Malaga and its culture.

Apart from all these amazing activities and events, don’t forget that you can also join a free walking tour in which they’ll show you the main attractions, although I often prefer to explore a city on my own.

If you’re wondering “how many days do you need in Malaga?“, at least 3 days, although I always try to stay longer in destinations as it gives me more time and opportunities to go on day trips.

There are incredible day trips from MalagaNerja, Benalmadena, Mijas Pueblo, Gibraltar are some to name. But a great way to explore Malaga and its surroundings is going on a road trip around Costa del Sol

If you have any questions or want any advice about what to do in Malaga and Costa del Sol, reach me by email at cristina[at] or on Instagram @creina.diary. I’m always happy to help.

Cristina xx

Pin these free things to do in Malaga Spain for later

Top things to do before visiting Malaga

  • Check flights to Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP) with Skyscanner.
  • Book accommodation in Malaga. This hotel guide will tell you the city’s best hotels for all budgets.
  • Have a look at this Malaga food guide to indulge yourself in eating the best typical food and sipping cocktails on the best rooftops.
  • Are you planning to visit other nearby Andalusian destinations? Check out my blog on the best day trips from Malaga.
  • Book travel insurance, this is a must for any trip!

Frequently asked questions about visiting Malaga

Is Malaga expensive?

Southern Spain is much cheaper than other areas of Spain, and Malaga is one of those cities you can definitely travel to on a budget, you just need to know a few things such as most tapas bars will give you a free tapa for each drink you buy, many museums offer free entry on Sundays, etc.

What are the top things to do in Malaga for free?

The best things to do in Malaga for free are visiting the Alcazaba on a Sunday afternoon, strolling along Malaga’s port, enjoying the sunset at Gibralfaro viewpoint, and spending the day at La Malagueta Beach in early summer.

What should I not miss in Malaga?

There are many things you do not want to miss in Malaga, however, if you’re only visiting the city for a day or even hours, here is a shortlist of the must-see places:

  • La Alcazaba de Malaga
  • Gibralfaro viewpoint
  • Malaga cathedral 
  • Muelle Uno (port)

Is Malaga good for a weekend break?

Malaga is definitely the perfect place for a weekend break! There are plenty of things to do, but at the same time, you can visit must-see attractions in two days.

How can I spend 3 days in Malaga?

You can easily spend 3 days in Malaga, especially if you come during the summer as there are more events. Here is a small 3-day itinerary to Malaga:

Day 1. Visit La Alcazaba, Roman Theatre, Malaga Cathedral and Muelle Uno.

Day 2. Visit Picasso Museum, walk through Parque de Malaga, and spend some time at the beach (depending on the season).

Day 3. Go on a day trip to Nerja to visit the caves and Balcón de Europa – one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Costa del Sol.

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  1. I’ve been in Malaga for half a year now and definitely agree with all of these! It’s such a beautiful city to walk around.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Krista! I am glad to hear you agree with all of these 🙂

  2. Charlotte says:

    How I love malaga! I cannot wait to travel back! Thank you for this!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I’m very happy to hear you love my hometown! I hope you can go back soon 🙂

  3. Jamie Sharpe says:

    Malaga is one of those places where you don’t know how amazing it is until you visit – feel it really flies under the radar. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I completely agree with you, Jamie 🙂

  4. Great post! I visited Malaga in 2019 and have been dying to go back! I’ll be saving this for future reference. Thanks!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Krista! I hope you go back any time soon.

  5. Would love to travel to Malaga, I love that there are such lovely things to do for free as well. The stroll and the beach look amazing, love anything by water really!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I am sure you will have a good time in Malaga whenever you have the chance to visit it 🙂

  6. What a lovely location. And thanks for the tips about several museums being free on Sundays!!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      You are welcome, Tiffany! I am glad you’ve found it useful.

  7. Erin from Pina Travels says:

    This is such a comprehensive list, I wish I’d seen this before visiting Malaga a few years back! Your beautiful photos have me thinking I need to make a second trip to Malaga in the future. Pinning this for when the time comes!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Erin! I hope you make a second trip to Malaga one day 🙂 There are plenty of things to do in Malaga and its surroundings.

  8. I love how diverse these attractions are – absolutely loving wall mural in Soho Neighbourhood!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I’m glad you like it, Shafinah!

  9. Great post. I visited Malaga in 2016 and can’t wait to go back and explore this splendid place again. I didn’t know there are so many wonderful free things to do over there.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Kajo 🙂 I hope you can visit it any time soon.

  10. Chalk and cheese travels says:

    Great guide will come in useful than for sharing

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thanks! Glad you liked the guide.

  11. That view is incredible! I wouldn’t mind doing a few stairs for that 🙂 And Soho would be awesome to visit and see all that artwork.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      It’s my favourite view in the city! 🙂 I hope you visit Malaga sometime.

  12. I love that you started with a view. There is no better way to get to know a new destination than soaking up a panoramic view first thing! Thanks for this tour of your hometown!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I am glad you have enjoyed reading the blog. I love a good view, as you said there’s no better way to get to know a destination than a panoramic view!

  13. Love this guide to the best things to do in Malaga, Spain. Bonus that they are free!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I am happy to hear that!

  14. Thanks for sharing all these awesome tips! I am visiting for a week and came across your blog. I found it quite useful. 🙂

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I am happy to hear you found the tips useful! 🙂
      Let me know if you have any questions or want more recommendations!
      Have a lovely time in my city.

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