Is Malaga Safe in 2024? Your Questions Answered By a Local

Is Malaga safe? It’s a question that travellers often ask me.

The answer is yes. It’s a safe city with very low crime compared to other Spanish destinations, although Spain is generally a safe country.

I have walked around Malaga city centre and neighbourhoods many times and encountered no problems. 

In this Malaga safety guide, you’ll discover how safe Malaga is, the best areas to visit and the ones to avoid, and other local tips to help you have a good time in this beautiful city.

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Important: This article is based on research and my experience as a local. It’s a guide to understanding what safety is like in Malaga and provides local tips to help you have a better holiday. However, check out the government’s safety advice before travelling to any destination.

How safe is Malaga? An overview

According to Numbeo’s 2024 ranking , Malaga is the second safest city in Spain. 

Although Malaga is safe, it doesn’t mean incidents don’t happen. The main safety issues reported in Malaga are related to petty crimes. 

This is why keeping an eye on your belongings is so important. Tourists are often targeted when it comes to pickpocketing, but locals too. You just need to be aware of the people around you, but like you’d do anywhere else.

Apart from this, the city centre is one of the safest areas in Malaga. You’ll often see police patrolling and won’t see many incidents. The police presence is even bigger during festivals and celebrations like Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos (the Three Kings Parade) and Semana Santa (Holy Week). 

Regarding transport, Malaga is very well-connected to other neighbourhoods and nearby coastal towns. You can take a bus, underground and train to get to these places, all of which are safe and affordable.

If you don’t intend to explore beyond the city centre, you won’t need public transport to visit the main tourist attractions in Malaga as they are next to each other.

Taxis tend to be more expensive, but they can be useful on some occasions. I’ve never heard of any issues with taxis, but always ensure you get in a licensed one.



The best neighbourhoods in Malaga

Centro Histórico de Málaga

A photo of Malaga Cathedral taken in Obispo Square.

The old town of Malaga is one of the best neighbourhoods in the city. It’s lively and has everything you need: restaurants, attractions, supermarkets, and just a stone’s throw away from the beach.

It’s a great place for students and young adults who want to stay central and enjoy its buzzing atmosphere.

However, it isn’t for everyone because it can be noisy. If you want a quieter area, consider other neighbourhoods.

Misericordia

La Misericordia is a neighbourhood on the west side of Malaga. Although it isn’t next to the city centre, it’s easy to travel to the heart of the city by public transport.

It’s a quiet neighbourhood where you’ll mostly find locals. It’s one of the cheapest areas and perfect for families because of numerous parks and playgrounds, like Parque del Oeste, and schools. It’s also next to the beach.

Although it might not be a tourist spot, it’s a good area to live in if you plan to move to Malaga.

Pedregalejo

Street art at the beach promenade in Pedregalejo, Malaga, Spain

Next to La Malagueta, you’ll find the beautiful neighbourhood of Pedregalejo. This is a safe area with many houses and international schools.

It’s quiet in comparison to other parts of Malaga, and this neighbourhood offers an authentic side of Malaga, and it’s known for being one of the oldest fishing areas in the city.

Pedregalejo also has good accommodations next to the beach and with swimming pools too.

Teatinos

Teatinos is known as the student area because it’s here where you can find most university departments. It’s mostly a residential area with a good variety of restaurants and bars to have a nice meal or a cocktail with friends.

It’s actually difficult to find accommodation in this area as most flats are rented to university students and another downside is that it’s far from the beach.

Areas to avoid in Malaga

Wondering where not to stay in Malaga? These are the neighbourhoods in Malaga with higher rates of crime.

Palma-Palmilla

If there is one area you need to avoid in Malaga is Palma-Palmilla, located in the north of the city, near La Rosaleda (Malaga football stadium).

I’ve heard many things about Palma-Palmilla, and none of them was good at all, from drug issues to serious fights among families. Also, police rarely patrol the area (but, of course, they go if something serious happens).

Although it’s said that the area has improved a little bit, I wouldn’t risk visiting it.

Los Asperones

This is another not-so-good area in Malaga; it’s even sometimes said that it’s more dangerous than Palma-Palmilla.

It’s one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Malaga as most people are unemployed, and the houses are in very bad condition.

Safety tips for visiting Malaga

muelle uno, malaga port

Pickpocketing is the main safety concern in the city. It isn’t as big as in cities like Barcelona or Madrid, but you still need to keep an eye on your belongings, especially in busy areas such as Calle Larios and Muelle Uno.

Here are some safety tips for visiting Malaga, which can also be applied to other Andalusian destinations:

  • Book accommodation via a legitimate website to avoid scams. Although there’s always a risk of having a bad experience (i.e. the place doesn’t look as nice as in photos), you can make a complaint and take it further.
  • Keep an eye on your belongings in crowded places and Malaga’s main attractions. Consider buying an anti-theft bag.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash. You can leave some of your money in your accommodation safe box. Alternatively, only withdraw money from an ATM as you need it. Plenty of ATMs are available and safe if you stay in the centre.
  • Stay away from the sun during the peak hours in the summer months. The temperatures are pretty high, and you can easily burn. If you decide to go to the beach or wander around Malaga city centre, consider wearing a hat to protect your face from the sun.
  • Related to the point above, always use sunscreen. The sun’s rays are intense, and you can easily burn if you have light skin.
  • Keep hydrated. This is even more important in the summer. Always carry a water bottle with you.
Cristina in a rooftop terrace in Malaga city centre

If you’re a female solo traveller, you also want to keep in mind the following:

  • Don’t walk alone at night, especially in areas with poor lighting or quiet. Even though the city centre is generally safe, you can sometimes come across men who compliment you or might want them to join them for a drink. Right, many guys don’t have bad intentions, but you can feel uncomfortable or unsafe. This has happened to me. If it occurs, decline politely and walk away.
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers in the clubs. To be on the safe side, order your drink, or if someone else is paying for it, stay at the bar so you can see the barman preparing your cocktail or mocktail.  

Safety tips for driving in Malaga

A photo of Carrefour Los Patios shopping centre in the west of Malaga

Are you renting a car in Malaga?

If so, that’s a fantastic idea to explore beyond the city. You have the freedom to explore more remote but unique villages, go early to places, or simply enjoy the comfort of being in your rental car without people you don’t know.

Driving in Malaga is safe, and most roads are in good condition, especially urban roads and motorways. But check out the road you’d take to go to your desired destination. 

The roads leading to mountain towns aren’t easy to drive in, and you might struggle if you aren’t an experienced driver.

Here are my tips for driving in Malaga and its surroundings:

  • Locals drive on the right-hand side of the road and overtake on the left. If you’re from countries like the UK, it might take you some adjustment to get used to.
  • Avoid driving in peak hours. The peak hours in Spain are between 7 am and 9:30 am when the locals go to work and 1:30 pm to 3 pm when most people return home from work.
  • Check out the traffic situation on Google Maps. This can help you bypass busy roads and change your route on some occasions. 
  • Don’t park your rental car anywhere. It’s sometimes worth paying a little extra and using a paid car park that has 24/7 security.

Unsure of where to find a rental car in Malaga? I highly recommend checking Discover Cars. You can book everything online, so then you just need to pick up your car and go straight to your hotel or start exploring.

Don’t forget to get travel insurance for your trip to Malaga

A sign that reads Malaga

No matter how safe a Malaga is, you don’t want to risk not being covered abroad. Things like losing your luggage, being sick or having an accident can happen. Most times, everything is ok, and, of course, no one wants to think about the negatives when going on holiday, but it’s better to be covered just in case.

SafetyWing offers travel and medical insurance. It covers travel delays, lost checked luggage, hospitals, natural disasters and more.

📌 Check out SafetyWing insurance. It offers medical and travel coverage; it’s flexible and affordable too.


Frequently asked questions about safety in Malaga, Spain

gibralfaro viewpoint, malaga spain

Is public transport safe in Malaga?

Yes. The public transport in Malaga is safe, modern and convenient.

Are the beaches in Malaga safe?

Most beaches have lifeguards and a Cruz Roja (Red Cross tent) during summer, so they are safe. However, don’t forget to always check out the flag to know whether it’s safe to swim.

Can you drink tap water in Malaga?

Yes, it’s safe to drink tap water in Malaga. However, some areas have better water quality than others, so using a reusable water bottle with a filter is recommended.

Is Malaga safe for solo female travellers?

Yes, Malaga is safe for solo female travellers, but it’s still important to follow your gut, avoid certain areas, and not walk alone in poor lighting areas. 

Is Malaga safe to live in?

Malaga is a safe and fantastic place to live for expats. There’s a big expat community, many things to do, and beautiful weather. 


Conclusion: Is Malaga safe?

So, how safe is Malaga? Malaga is a safe place to visit and live in. The crime rate is low, and the main issues you can encounter are robbery and corruption.

Living in Malaga as a local for many years, I’ve rarely felt unsafe, and I can say the same about the towns near Malaga.

If you have any questions about visiting Malaga, drop them in the comments below. I’ll be happy to answer questions about my hometown.

Enjoy your trip to Malaga!

Cristina x

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Top things to do before visiting Malaga

  • Book accommodation in Malaga. This hotel guide will tell you the city’s best hotels for all budgets.
  • Look at this Malaga food guide to try the best typical food and sip cocktails on the best rooftops.
  • Stay connected with your loved ones by using an e-Sim with Airalo. They have affordable plans.
  • Are you planning to visit other nearby Andalusian destinations? Check out my blog about the best day trips from Malaga.
  • Rent a car to travel with ease around Malaga and Costa del Sol.
  • Book travel insurance; this is a must for any trip!

Read more about Malaga

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