With over 8,000km of coastline, Málaga on the Costa del Sol is Spain’s sixth most populated city and one of the world’s oldest. Youthful, with plenty of museums, it was the birthplace of Picasso after all, and renowned food culture, It is an ideal coastal base for exploring further afield. Read our guide for the ten best things to see in Málaga.
Need to know
Visa: From 1st January 2021, UK residents can visit Spain for 90 days, maximum in any 180 day period.
Travel: See the FCDO website.
Currency: Euro (£1 = €1.11 approximately).
Language: Spanish. English is spoken and understood.
Best time to visit: March until May.
Time: GMT +1.
Quick Facts about Málaga
- One worlds oldest cities founded in 770BC.
- The largest southernmost city in Europe.
- The birthplace of the artist Pablo Picasso in 1881.
- Originally named ‘Malaka’, meaning factory.
- The birthplace of the actor Antonio Banderas in 1960, who still lives here.
The ten best things to see in Málaga
- Alcazaba – €5.50 combined ticket (Adult)
- Castillo de Gibralfaro – €5.50 combined ticket (Adult)
- Automobile and Fashion Museum – €9 (Adult)
- Málaga Cathedral – €6 (Adult)
- Museo Picasso Málaga – €9 (Adult) – free on Sundays from 1700.
- Puerto de Málaga – Free
- Calle Larios – Free
- Centre Pompidou Málaga – €9 (Adult) – free on Sundays from 1700.
- Mercado Central de Atarazanas – Free
- Monte de San Anton – Free
Built between 1057 and 1063 for the ruling Muslims, the fortress’s design provided maximum protection from attackers. The outer entrance of the Vault Gate (Puerta de la Bóveda) leads through the gardens with orange trees on either side. A nearby Roman theatre provided columns used in the construction of the Gate of the Columns (Puerta de las Columnas).
The Gate of the Granada quarters (Puerta de Los Cuartos de Granada) defended the inner part of the Alcazaba. The patios aree from the 11th, 13th and 14th centuries, and this Alcazaba is the best preserved in Spain.
2. Castillo de Gibralfaro
At 130m (426.5ft) high, Gibralfaro castle dates back to the 10th century. As a fortress, it was one of the most secure in Spain at the time, with an inner and outer wall, along with eight towers.
The castle is split into two parts, the upper courtyard with a small military museum and the 17-metre high tower. The lower courtyard held the barracks and stables. Reach the top by either taking the steep upwards path known as the Paseo Don Juan de Temboury or bus 35 from Avenida de Cervantes.
3. Automobile and Fashion museum
Located out of the city, this museum is worth visiting. It combines automobiles and fashion through the ages showing how styles have evolved. The Automobile museum tops our list of the five best museums to see in Málaga.
4. Málaga Cathedral
Constructed in 1782 with an incomplete tower, this cathedral has a rectangular plan with two aisles and is feature-rich with numerous artworks. The interior is a Renaissance, and the exterior is Baroque. It is both dramatic and spectacular in design.
The north tower at 84 metres is the second-highest in Andalusia, after Seville. Despite ongoing discussions for several years regarding its completion, the south tower remains unfinished. For historians, there is a small museum above the cathedral shop.
5. Museo Picasso Málaga
As the artist Pablo Picasso’s birthplace, this museum opened in 2003 houses nearly 300 of his works. Along with permanent exhibitions, there are many sculptures and sketches on display.
The current collection, Dialogues with Picasso, runs until 2023, taking the spectator through Picasso’s evolving mind as an artist, from a child until his last days. The museum is worth visiting for anybody interested in Picasso or art.
6. Puerto de Málaga
Although the port is 3,000 years old, in 2011, a redesign saw it include shops of international brands, plenty of restaurants, and a futuristic-looking canopy under which street performers entertain people’s constant flow. Still active as a port, there are regular sailings to Africa. It is very popular with locals and tourists.
7. Calle Larios
At the end of one of Spain’s most famous streets, Calle Larios lies the main square in Málaga. With an array of shops and places to eat, this part of the city attracts large crowds.
In December, the number of visitors increases as the street lights up. In 2020, the budget allocated for the Calle Larios lighting was €532,830.
8. Centre Pompidou Málaga
Opened in 2015, it is the first museum of the famous Parisian chain outside France. On display is modern art housed in a contemporary space. The focus is on the 20th and 21st centuries, selecting upcoming artists and abstract work.
The building is easily identifiable on the Málaga skyline by the multi-coloured cube on the roof. The actor, Antonio Banderas, a famous Málaga resident, has a smaller replica of the cube on his apartment’s rooftop. Read our post on the best 5 museums in Málaga.
9. Mercado Central de Atarazanas
A lively, bustling market that offers various fruits and vegetables and deliciously cooked fresh meat and seafood. This popular spot is ideal for watching the world go by whilst enjoying sumptuous food.
Vendors may serve larger portions and charge accordingly, which only becomes apparent at payment time. Inside the market building, towards the rear, is a huge stained glass window that casts natural light on the stalls below.
10. Monte de San Anton
Part of a small mountain range, San Anton is 20 minutes from Málaga. The reward is fantastic views over the city. It takes anywhere between one to three hours to hike, depending on the start point. Cresta del la Reina is the highest peak at 1,030 metres.
It is craggy near the top, so walking shoes or suitable trainers are preferable. There are no shops en route, so bring bring your own food.
Although we have covered the ten best things to see in Málaga, there is a lot more. With a favourable climate, great food, and over 30 museums, this gateway to Andalusia is a must-see. It has a Spanish feel with fewer tourists than other parts of the coastline.
By Spanish standards, the city is cheap, ideal for those budgeting. Visiting Málaga as part of a weekend getaway or a longer Andalusian trip is the perfect option.
Spain’s official tourism website – Málaga.
Read about our European weekend breaks.