malaga port view

How to Spend One Day in Malaga – Itinerary with Local Recommendations

If you’re wondering if you can visit Malaga in one day, it’s possible as all its main historical and cultural activities are concentrated in the city centre.

Although spending more than a day in Malaga will give you the chance to discover its hidden gems and other places of interest, one day is enough to see all the important sights.

In this blog, I am going to tell you how to make the most of your day in Malaga, what things you should include in your itinerary as well as tips from a local.

best things to do in malaga

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One day in Malaga Itinerary

Top things to see in Malaga in one day

Alcazaba de Malaga

malaga alcazaba fortress

Alcazaba de Malaga is one of the most beautiful attractions in the city. Located at the heart of the city, next to the Roman Theatre, this Moorish fortress-palace from the early 11th century is a must-see.

Walking through the palace will take you back to the Moorish times in the city. Explore the small patios surrounded by jasmine flowers, roses and lovely trees, perfect to take photos. Walk on the walls to contemplate different views of Malaga – amazing views of the port and coast as well as the city centre.

Last but not least, learn about the Nasrid art and architecture of the Alcazaba originated in the Kingdom of Granada.

The Alcazaba is one of the best-preserved palaces in Spain, so if you’re only spending one day in Malaga, you must see this incredible historical building.

To visit this incredible fortress palace, you must pay a small fee of €3,50, or you can enter for free on Sundays from 2 pm.

📍 Address: C. Alcazabilla, 2, 29012 Málaga, Spain

Atarazanas Market

atarazana market in malaga city centre

Atarazanas Market is the perfect place to have a culinary experience in Malaga, and to learn about the interesting history behind the market.

In the market, you’ll find the highest quality and fresh products in all of the city. There are many stalls that not only sell authentic and traditional products but also exotic fruits and vegetables too.

Although you can explore the market at your own pace, the best way to discover and taste the best products is by booking a food tour with a local guide.

Even if you aren’t that interested in food, it’s still worth visiting Atarazanas Market to see its unique front entrance and stained glass work. 

The market opens Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 3 pm.

📍 Address: C. Atarazanas, 10, 29005 Málaga, Spain

Calle Larios

Malaga Larios street

If you have 24 hours to visit Malaga, you must walk its main commercial street, Calle Larios.

This long street is one of the most beautiful commercial streets in Andalusia. On both sides, you’ll see high street shops such as Women’s Secret, Zara, etc. 

In the summer months, make sure to stop by Heladeria Casa Mira, Malaga’s oldest ice cream shop that is well known by locals. 

Calle Larios hosts different events throughout the year – Easter processions in April, Malaga’s Fair in August (known as Feria De Agosto), and the Christmas Lights show from late November to the beginning of January.

From Larios, you can also wander around the little streets to discover tapas restaurants and shops. 

📍 Address: C. Marqués de Larios, 29005 Málaga, Spain

Gibralfaro Castle

View from Gibralfaro castle in Malaga

Gibralfaro Castle is located at the top of the city, and it’s here where you’ll find the best panoramic views. 

The castle was built in the 14th century to house troops and protect the Alcazaba. It was first used by the Romans, and then the Nasrid King Yusuf I who transformed it into a fortress.

Gibralfaro Castle was considered the strongest fortress on the Iberian peninsula for a while, and it had national importance.

Nowadays you can visit the two parts of the castle. The upper part is where you’ll find the main patio and the Interpretation Centre. The Interpretation Centre is worth visiting if you’re interested in learning more about the history of this castle. The lower part is very interesting to see as it was home to the soldiers’ room and stables.

Although you can get the bus to go to Gibralfaro Castle, it’s best to walk up the hill despite the good amount of steps you’ll do by the time you reach it.

As you walk up, stop at Gibralfaro viewpoint. This is an amazing place to watch the sunset, sit down and enjoy the views or take photos.

📍 Address: Cam. Gibralfaro, 11, 29016 Málaga, Spain

Malaga Cathedral

Malaga cathedral back view

Not very far from the Alcazaba and Roman Theatre, you’ll find Malaga Cathedral characterised by its Renaissance architecture.

The cathedral is also known as “La Manquita” by locals since remains unfinished since 1782. The north tower was the only one built, however, the south tower was left unfinished. There are many legends about the construction of the cathedral. 

Many locals believe that the Cathedral works were stopped because of the lack of economic funds, whereas others think that the War of Independence of the United States was financed with public funds from Málaga. 

You can buy general tickets to enter the cathedral, but I highly recommend buying tickets to visit the roof of the cathedral too. This tour lasts around an hour, and not only will you learn about the cathedral but you’ll also take incredible photos of the city.

📍 Address: C. Molina Lario, 9, 29015 Málaga, Spain

Malaga Park

one day in malaga park

When visiting Malaga during summer, Malaga Park is a lovely place to avoid the heat and explore different species of plants. 

Entering the park is like immersing yourself in a small jungle – tall trees covering the sky and exotic plants. 

It’s very relaxing to sit down on one of its marble benches and listen to the parrots singing.

📍 Address: Paseo del Parque, 1, 29015 Málaga, Spain

Malagueta Beach

malagueta beach

Malagueta beach is the closest beach to the city centre.

During the summer, it’s the busiest and liveliest beach as locals and tourists sunbathe and go for a swim in the sea.

During the winter, the atmosphere is more relaxed and locals tend to walk along the promenade and have a meal with their family or friends on sunny days.

📍 Address: P.º Marítimo Pablo Ruiz Picasso, 23, 29016 Málaga, Spain

Muelle Uno

muelle uno malaga

Muelle Uno is Malaga’s new port which is surrounded by boutique shops, restaurants from all over the world and the art Museum Pompidou. Visting Muelle Uno is one of the best free things to do in Malaga.

Whether you want to have a meal with a view or go window shopping, you’ll love walking along Muelle Uno.

For a magical and romantic atmosphere, visit it at sunset.

📍 Address: Pasaje Doctor Carrillo Casaux, s/n, 29016 Málaga, Spain

Picasso Museum Málaga

picasso museum malaga

Do you know Pablo Picasso was born in the city of Malaga? Although the famous painter spent most of his life in France, he was born and raised in Malaga. 

If you love the painting work of Picasso, you must stop by Museo Picasso Málaga to contemplate the impressive exhibition which shows Picasso’s art throughout his life. 

Whenever you decide to visit the museum, have a look at their calendar to check cultural events that take place in Picasso Museum.

The museum is open every day from 11 am to 5 pm, and ticket prices vary according to the activities you choose to do during your visit. 

📍 Address: Palacio de Buenavista, C. San Agustín, 8, 29015 Málaga, Spain

Roman Theatre

Roman Theatre view Malaga

The Roman Theatre is located at the foot of the Alcazaba, so you can easily see it before or after your visit to the Alcazaba. The fact that makes it a unique place to visit is that it’s the oldest monument in Malaga city.

It’s the only Ancient ruin found in Malaga despite the constant searches of archaeologists in the area. 

To learn more about this amphitheatre, visit the Centro de Interpretación (visitor centre) next to it. The entry is free and you can discover more about the Roman Theatre as well as contemplate some archaeological objects such as tools and pottery discovered during the site excavation.

📍 Address: C. Alcazabilla, s/n, 29015 Málaga, Spain

Soho neighbourhood

How to Spend One Day in Malaga - Itinerary with Local Recommendations How to Spend One Day in Malaga - Itinerary with Local Recommendations

A central neighbourhood you want to add to your 1 day itinerary in Malaga is Soho, situated a few footsteps from the famous Marina Square (Plaza de la Marina.)

Soho is home to impressive mural paintings created by local artists. Not only is it a creative and bohemian place, but an excellent place to relax at hip cafes, visit smaller independent galleries and attend workshops.

A visit to Soho isn’t the same without visiting the Contemporary Art Centre Málaga (CAC Málaga) which shows different exhibitions and a wide range of activities all year round.

📍 Address: C. Córdoba, 5, 29001 Málaga, Spain

Where to eat in Malaga

Casa Aranda

Traditional breakfasts are always good at Casa Aranda. It’s here where you can have a delicious hot chocolate with churros or a mollete (a sandwich typical from Antequera, Malaga.)

This cafe is the best place to have breakfast in Malaga Old Town. You can sit inside or outside on a beautiful sunny morning, people watch and enjoy the atmosphere and food.

📍 Address: C. Herrería del Rey, 3, 29005 Málaga, Spain

El Pimpi Bodega Bar

If you’re looking for a unique place to eat in Malaga, El Pimpi Bodega Bar is your best choice. It’s the meeting point for many locals and tourists that want to enjoy a delicious meal with views of the beautiful Alcazaba and Roman Theatre.

El Pimpi serves authentic dishes from Malaga and other cities in Southern Spain – from savoury dishes such as fritura Malagueña (mixed fried fish) and gazpacho (tomato cold soup) to traditional desserts such as natillas (vanilla custard). Not to forget about tasting Malaga’s sweet wine!

El Pimpi also became very popular because of the visit of celebrities, and you can see pictures on the wall inside the bar.

There is no better place to enjoy Malaga cuisine than El Pimpi.

📍 Address: C. Granada, 62, 29015 Málaga, Spain

La Terraza de Valeria

There are many rooftops in Malaga city centre, but one of my favourites is Valeria rooftop located inside the Room Mate Valeria boutique hotel. You don’t need to stay in the hotel to go to their rooftop, which is great.

The terrace bar has a lovely blue and white design, tall tables and a swimming pool area used by guests during the summer months. 

It’s an incredible place to enjoy a cocktail with a view of Malaga’s port and the Alcazaba.

📍 Address: Plaza Poeta Alfonso Canales, 5, 29001 Málaga, Spain

📌 Read more about traditional food in Malaga: The Ultimate Malaga Food Guide

Two days in Malaga (additional things to do)

If you’re spending more than 24 hours in Malaga, here are some places and activities you may want to add to your itinerary.

Centre Pompidou Malaga

the cube museum in malaga

Located in Muelle Uno in a colourful cube, Centre Pompidou Malaga was the first branch open of the Paris-based art museum outside of France.

This art gallery walks you through art from the 20th and 21st centuries, and it also includes modern and contemporary artwork. You can enjoy their semi-permanent exhibition as well as their temporary ones during your visit.

The ticket price slightly changes (4-9 euros) depending on the exhibition you want to visit. They also offer reduced tickets for holders of the youth Eurocard and other visitors (just have a look if the reduced fee applies to you.) 

📍 Address: Pasaje Doctor Carrillo Casaux, s/n, 29016 Málaga, Spain

Day trip to Nerja

nerja coast view

Another option for your second day in Malaga is visiting Nerja and Frigiliana, two of the most beautiful whitewashed towns in the Costa del Sol.

Both towns can be visited together as they’re only 10 minutes apart from each other. 

Nerja has lovely things to do such as visiting Nerja Caves, wandering the town centre while stopping by small independent shops, contemplating the outstanding views of Balcon de Europa and spending the day at the beach.

Frigiliana is smaller than Nerja, and it has fewer activities to do, however, exploring the whitewashed and cobbled streets is completely worth it.

📌 Read more about: incredible things to do in Nerja

Hammam Al Andalus Malaga

How to Spend One Day in Malaga - Itinerary with Local Recommendations How to Spend One Day in Malaga - Itinerary with Local Recommendations

When visiting Malaga in winter, a great indoor activity is going to the Arabian Baths, located at the heart of the city. It’s the ideal place to visit to unwind after an activity-packed day exploring Malaga.

Immerse yourself in the relaxing atmosphere, go through their cold and hot water journey, experience the sauna, book one of their amazing massages and have a delicious Moroccan mint tea. Not to forget about contemplating its detailed Moorish architecture!

📍 Address: Pl. de los Mártires Ciriaco y Paula, 5, 29008 Málaga, Spain

La Concepcion Botanical Garden

La Concepcion Botanical Garden is situated in the north of Malaga, close to the motorway. However, you can still access the garden by public transport (take the number 2 bus route and walk 15 minutes from the last stop.)

The garden has a wide variety of plants – aquatic, prehistoric, and insectivorous among many others. La Concepcion is home to forests, viewpoint routes, and the “round the world in 80 trees” route which consists of a lovely 400-metre path with 80 species of trees and plants from all the continents.

But that is not all, the botanical garden has sculptures, a museum, fountains, a beautiful mansion, which was used as a holiday home and social gatherings for aristocrats, politicians and artists, and other impressive features.

One of the most picturesque and main spots in the garden is The Historical Viewpoint. From this dome, you can see a spectacular view of the cathedral, the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle, and the seaside.

The entrance fee is €5,20 and it’s open almost every day, except Mondays, the 25th of December and the 1st of January.

📍 Address: Camino del Jardín Botánico, 3, 29014 Málaga, Spain

Museo de Malaga

malaga museum

If you have spare time on your first day or you’re an extra day in Malaga, and you love art, add Malaga Museum to your itinerary. 

The museum is located in the historic Palacio de la Aduana de Málaga, a 18th century neoclassical building. It’s divided into two parts: the Museum of Fine Arts and the Provincial Archaeological Museum, and it’s one of the biggest museums in Andalusia.

In the art section, you can find incredible paintings from Spanish famous painters such as Murillo and Velazquez. But you can also contemplate works from local members of the Málaga School of Painting. 

The entrance to the museum is free for all the citizens of the European Union, and if you happen to be in Malaga on a Saturday, have a look at the calendar to check their free guided visits to the museum in which you’ll learn more about the history behind as well as the art and archaeological works.

📍 Address: Plaza de la Aduana, 29015 Málaga, Spain

The best area to stay in Malaga city

If you’re staying in Málaga for a short period of time, you want to find accommodation in the city centre so you can make the most of the city attractions.

The best areas to stay in Málaga for first-timers are the Old Town and Soho because they’re a footstep from all the main historical and cultural places.

Soho is your best choice if you’re looking for affordable accommodation and modern boutique hotels in Malaga

Best hotel choice: Room Mate Valeria Hotel

room mate valeria hotel malaga

Room Mate Valeria Hotel is a popular choice among young travellers. This boutique hotel has beautifully decorated rooms inspired by the local colours and nature, comfortable beds, free WiFi and a flatscreen TV. 

Some of the rooms also include balconies with a beautiful view of the city. 

The hotel also has a rooftop terrace with a swimming pool, a gym and other communal areas. 

If you have any questions about Malaga or Costa del Sol, email me or send me a DM on Instagram. I’d be very happy to help you plan your Malaga itinerary and tell you more about my hometown.

Safe adventures!

Cristina xx

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Frequently asked questions about what to do in Malaga in one day

What should I not miss in Malaga?

When visiting Málaga, you shouldn’t miss the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro viewpoint. These are some of the most magical places with incredible views of the city.

Is there a lot to do in Malaga?

Málaga is often underestimated in comparison to other cities in Spain. Many people think that Málaga is all about the beaches and Marbella.

However, Malaga has a great range of cultural activities – from visiting the art museums and historic buildings to enjoying a traditional meal in the city. 

In addition to this, whenever you’re visiting the city, make sure to check the cultural event calendar. There are events you don’t want to miss such as the Malaga Christmas Lights show, Malaga’s Fair in August, etc.

Is Malaga expensive?

Malaga is a very budget-friendly city in comparison to other Spanish cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. 

Avoid the summer season if you want your trip to be as cheap as possible, and it’s also good to know that you can visit many museums and historic buildings for free on Sundays.

Is Malaga a walkable city?

Yes. You can easily visit all the main attractions in Málaga by walking. This also gives you the chance to explore less known areas of the city you wouldn’t be able to discover travelling by car or public transport.

What is the best time to visit Malaga Spain?

Málaga is beautiful to visit at any time of the year, but if you want warmer temperatures (but not as warm as it gets in July and August) and fewer crowds, visit Málaga in mid-September and the beginning of October.

Visiting Málaga in winter is an excellent choice if you enjoy spending time in nature and going on hiking trails.

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.
  • 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 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!

Other posts about Malaga to help you plan your trip

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  1. I was positively surprised when I visited Malaga 2 years ago. It had always lived in my head as a party destination for Dutch teenagers in summer and a hibernation destination for elderly in the winter. But that definitely wasn’t the case at all! We only spent one day there, but there was much more to see as you explain here as well. Thanks so much for the great tips, I’ll definitely refer back to this article next time I visit.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Maaike. I think that many people have a misconception of Malaga. The city has developed and changed a lot since 20 years ago, so there are plenty of things to do now 🙂 I am glad you discovered a different perspective of Malaga during your trip.

  2. Málaga is a great city to explore! There are a lot of things to do here and you definitely touched on the main attractions.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I am glad you agree, Krista 🙂

  3. Malaga sounds like so much fun, I would absolutely love to visit next year!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I hope you visit it next year!

  4. Wow, this is one of the most comprehensive guides that I have seen to a city before! I cannot wait to go to Malaga and go to the oldest ice cream place. I also just read a post on the best beaches in Nerja, so I may have to go to both in one trip. The views from the castle sound astounding, I love panoramas.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you so much, Lita! I hope you can go back to Malaga soon. Nerja is absolutely amazing too, I am sure you’ll love it.

  5. I’ve been to Malaga a handful of times but I have definitely not done a lot of things that you’ve suggested on your list! I can’t wait to go back next May and visit some of these sites such as Malaga Cathedral and the Roman Ruins. Its such a lovely city and there is so much to do! What a super guide!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Hopefully, you have the time to visit all the places you haven’t seen before. I am happy to hear you enjoyed reading the guide 🙂

  6. What a packed day! It seems like there are so many things to do in Malaga! I’ve been in the region, and absolutely fell in love with it, but never got to visit the city itself. I had no idea Picasso was born there! I think I’ll visit his museum first! Thank you for all of the suggestions, I’ll definitely be saving this for later!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Absolutely, there are plenty of things to do in Malaga 🙂 Picasso Museum is a must, I hope you visit it next time!

  7. Sigh. Looking through your photos and suggestions made me reminisce over my day trip there 15+ years ago – the Alcazaba and the roman Teatro were my favorites! Can’t wait to go again!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I am glad the guide brought you some good travel memories!

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