3 Days in Malaga: Itinerary with Top 15 Things to Do

3 Days in Málaga

To visit Malaga, in Andalucia, is to discover a dynamic and cultural city.

Long in the shadow of its famous neighbors such as SevilleCordoba or Granada, the capital of the Costa del Sol is today a trendy seaside resort, with a pretty restored historic centerunmissable monuments, museums (more than 30! ) and beaches where you can relax.

So that you don’t miss any of the places of interest, I have prepared this complete guide to Malaga for you . Find the 15 things to see in the Andalusian city as well as itineraries to visit Malaga in 1, 2, 3 or 4 days.

And at the end of the article, I have put together a selection of the best accommodation in town.

So what to do in Malaga?

Malaga 2-3 Day Itinerary

1. The Alcazaba

The first place of interest not to be missed in Malaga is the Alcazaba.

Built in the 11th century by the Moors, this palace served both as a place of residence for Muslim governors and as a fortress to protect and defend the city and the province from Catholics.

The site is extremely well preserved and maintained. During your visit, you can discover interior courtyards, patios, fountains and sumptuous gardens. Built on a hill overlooking Malaga, the place also offers an unobstructed view of the sea and the port below.

You will also find a small archaeological museum exhibiting Moorish pottery and ceramics.

If you want to learn more about its history, I advise you to book a guided tour of the Alcazaba. The visit lasts 1h30 and also includes the discovery of the ruins of the Roman theater (see below). Book here!

Tips for your Malaga itinerary:

If you want to visit the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle, opt for a combined ticket at 5.50€.

Tip: entry to the Alcazaba is free every Sunday from 2 p.m.

The word “Alcazaba” comes from the Arabic term “al-qasbash” meaning “fortress”. Thus, it is not surprising to find several Alcazaba in Andalusia. Like in Granada for example.

Malaga itinerary
The Alcazaba, in Malaga

2. Gibralfaro Castle

Another main tourist site to see in Malaga is Gibralfaro Castle.

From the Alcazaba, you can reach the castle on foot along a fairly nice path bordered by lush vegetation and offering views of the city. On the other hand, it’s quite steep, so if you don’t want to get tired, you can also take the bus (n°35) from Avenida de Cervantes.

The castle was built in the XIV century to protect the Alcazaba. There was a barracks to house the soldiers as well as a lighthouse. The latter also gave his name to the castle, Gibralfaro meaning “mountain of light”.

A building at the entrance allows you to discover the history of the castle, but the visit is especially worth it for the view of Malaga and the sea from the ramparts. On a clear day, it is even possible to see the Strait of Gibraltar.

It is one of the most beautiful panoramas to go to in Malaga, especially at the end of the day, when the city lights up.

Malaga itinerary
View from the Gibralfaro, in Malaga

3. The Roman Theater in Malaga

To visit Malaga is also to discover its Roman theatre.

It is at the foot of the Alcazaba.

Built in the 1st century AD by Emperor Augustus, it is the oldest monument in Malaga. Used for 2 centuries as a theatre, it was then converted into a cemetery and then abandoned. Some of its stones were later used to build the Alcazaba.

Its existence was totally ignored until 1951, when the building above was destroyed. It was then that the ruins of the theater were discovered.

Today outdoor shows are often held there.

Free entry.

And don’t forget that if you book a guided tour of the Alcazaba here, the guide will also take you to the Roman theater.

Malaga itinerary
The Roman Theater of Malaga

4. The Cathedral of the Incarnation

The Cathedral of the Incarnation is one of the major tourist attractions in Malaga.

Visible from afar, it is one of the highest in Andalusia. The construction of the cathedral began in the 16th century, on the foundations of the old mosque of the city of which there remains only a patio filled with orange trees.

For 200 years, the work continued before coming to an abrupt end due to lack of funding. As a result, the cathedral was never finished and today only has one bell tower out of the 2 originally planned. It is also nicknamed “La Manquita” (The One-armed) by the inhabitants of Malaga.

You can take the 200 steps that lead to the top of the 87-meter high tower to enjoy a 360° panorama of the whole city, the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle.

Also not to be missed is a visit to the interior of the cathedral to admire its richly decorated ceiling, the apse made up of magnificent stained glass windows, the chapels or the altar and the 4000-pipe organ.

Information for timetables and fares can be found on the official website. 

Malaga itinerary
The Cathedral of the Incarnation, in Malaga

5. Museums to Visit in Malaga

Visiting museums remains one of the main activities to do in Malaga. With nearly 30 museums, the city can boast of having become the cultural city of Andalusia.

Here is the list of museums to visit during your holidays in Malaga (to choose according to your interests):

  • Picasso’s birthplace (ticket here) where he was born in 1881. You will discover his life there as well as some personal objects.
  • The Pablo Picasso museum which has a collection of more than 200 works by the artist
  • The Carmen Thyssen Malaga Museum and its important collection of Spanish and Andalusian paintings
  • The Pompidou cultural center, branch of the famous Pompidou center in Paris, it presents several contemporary works, in particular by Frida Kahlo
  • The Russian Museum in Malaga is housed in a former tobacco factory. You can admire a collection of Russian art there.
  • The Malaga Museum with a section dedicated to archaeology, one on the Moorish period and another with Spanish paintings
  • The Flamenco Art Museum dedicated to this traditional Spanish art
  • The glass and crystal museum to admire the private collection of an Andalusian aristocrat
  • The contemporary art museum dedicated to 20th and 21st century art
  • The Málaga Automobile Museum and its 85 perfectly restored vintage cars
  • The National Museum of Airports and Air Transport
  • The Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions
Malaga itinerary 3 days
Pompidou Cultural Center of Malaga

6. The Beaches of Malaga

During your stay in Malaga, it would be a shame not to take advantage of the nearby beaches.

Here is a selection of the beaches where you can go swimming in Malaga:

  • La Malagueta beach is the closest to the city center, next to the port
  • Pedregalejo beach, a little east of Malagueta
  • La Caleta beach, very busy in summer
  • El Palo beach:  a family beach in the fishing district
  • La Misericordia beach, a large sandy beach, one of the most popular in Malaga
  • Campo de Golf beach popular with kitesurfers
  • San Andrés beach:  also very popular, here you will find lawn areas and a playground
  • Penon del Cuervo beach, popular with young people for organizing parties and barbecues!

Tips for your Malaga itinerary:
All along the beaches, you will find Chiringuitos small kiosks where you can drink and eat specialties based on fish and seafood . served on skewers are the local specialty!

Malaga itinerary
The Plage de la Malagueta

7. Conception Botanical Garden

The botanical garden is located north of the city. To reach it, you can take bus no. 2 from the city center, stop at the terminus and walk another 15 minutes to reach the entrance.

The garden is one of the largest tropical and subtropical gardens in Spain and even in Europe. On almost 250,000 m², you will find more than 2,000 species of plants and trees. The place is ideal for a quiet and cool walk .

After the bustle of the city, it can only do you good. It is one of the must-see places in Malaga.

You will find all the useful information on the official websiteGuided tours are also offered. You will have the choice between 3 types of  thematic routes lasting from 1 to 4 hours.

Malaga itinerary 2 days
Botanical Garden of Conception, in Malaga

8. Atarazanas

Let’s continue this guide to Malaga with the Atarazanas market.

As you know, when we go on a trip, whether in SpainSicilyGreece, we like to discover the markets in order to stock up on local products. In Malaga, it is to the Atarazanas market that I advise you to go.

Malaga’s central covered market is housed in a superb 19th century building with colorful stained glass windows. Very lively, you will find a large number of fruit and vegetable stalls, as well as good Spanish charcuterie or cheese.

Tapas bars, installed near the main entrance also allow you to taste all its good fresh products!

The market is open every day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. except Sunday.

Malaga itinerary
I left Atarazanas de Malaga

9. The Soho District

If you no longer know what to do in Malaga, I recommend that you go for a walk in the Soho district.

A dilapidated old district, it has been totally transformed and rehabilitated by a popular movement of street artists. Some of the walls and facades of buildings are now covered with street art, some of which are several stories high. It is also nicknamed the arts district.

Most of the works are located towards the contemporary art museum, along the banks and in the adjacent streets. The walk to discover them is really pleasant.

In the neighborhood, you will also find a lot of craft shops, art galleries, restaurants offering world cuisine and trendy bars.

Malaga 2 day itinerary
The Soho district and its street art, in Malaga

10. Montes de Malaga Natural Park

The Montes Natural Park is a good idea for an outing during your trip to Malaga. It will allow you to get out of the city and oxygenate yourself.

Considered the green lung of Malaga, it is about 25 km north of the city center.

The 5,000 hectare park has  marked trails where you can go hiking. Most of the paths do not present any particular difficulty and the hikes are not very long. You can combine several.

It is also possible to rent mountain bikes  there to explore the 2 marked cycle paths. You will have the choice between a 7 km route or a longer one of 14 km.

It is well laid out with picnic areas but also a few restaurants that will offer you to taste the “plato de los montes”. This mountain dish, a local specialty, is made up of pork loins, sausages, blood sausages, eggs served with potatoes and fried peppers. Let me tell you, it’s pretty tough!

In the visitor center, you will also find  an eco-museum where the production of wine, bread or olive oil is explained.

To consult the hiking routes and find out how to access the natural park, it is on the official site.

Malaga itinerary
Montes de Malaga Nature Park

What to Do around Malaga?

If you have been around the city, I advise you to visit the surroundings of Malaga. Here are some of the places to see nearby.

11. The little path of the King

The caminito del Rey is located near Malaga, about 1 hour by car.

This very spectacular hiking trail has long been considered the most dangerous in the world. But rest assured, it has been fully secured and refitted recently and no longer presents any danger.

However, the course taking place at more than 100 meters high, it remains very impressive.

Be careful if you get dizzy, because once started, you won’t be able to go back. The path being “one-way”, you will necessarily have to go to the end.

To reassure you, a good option is to book a guided excursion to the caminito. You will be surrounded by a guide who will give you more explanations on the history of the place. These tours are often full weeks before, so remember to book right here. 

If you want to have transport from Malaga to go to the caminito, I suggest this day trip.   The departure is from Malaga by minibus and the entrance to the caminito accompanied by a guide  all along the path is included in the price.

Reservations are here! 

Malaga itinerary
The Caminito del Rey, in Andalousie

12. The Caves of Nerja

Still around Malaga, you can also go to Nerja. Allow 50 minutes by car.

The Nerja caves are an excellent idea for a family outing to do near Malaga. Discovered by chance in 1959, they house one of the tallest and widest columns in the world.

The free visit (without a guide) lasts about 45 minutes. An audio guide allows you to learn more about the conditions of their discovery and the history of the caves. Remember to cover up and go with good shoes, because there are quite a few steps.

I advise you to book your tickets to visit the caves of Nerja in advance.

Malaga itinerary
The Caves of Nerja, Andalusia

13. Marbella

Marbella is located 1 hour drive from Malaga.

It is the trendiest and chicest resort on the Costa del Sol and Andalusia. You will find a good number of luxury boutiques, ultra-select bars and nightclubs as well as more than twenty kilometers of beaches for sunbathing all day long.

If you like to party, Marbella is the best place near Malaga!

Malaga itinerary
Marbella, luxury and bling bling await you

14. Ronda

At about 1h30 by car, always around Malaga, you can also go to Ronda.

It is a very pretty perched village, famous for the bridge which connects the modern part and the old part of the city. You will find it on all the postcards of the village and the surrounding area.

To access the 2 viewpoints offering the most beautiful photos, go to Plaza Maria Auxiliadora, then go down the path.

In Ronda, you can also stroll through the alleys and visit the bullring, the Mondragon Palace or that of the Moor King.

If you want to do this visit with a guide, I recommend that you book this excursion from Malaga. Transport, guided tour of Ronda + bullring + wine cellar are included in the price.

For reservations, it’s right here!

Do not hesitate to read our detailed article to know everything about Ronda: What to do and see in Ronda?

Malaga itinerary
The white village of Ronda

15. Grenade

And we finish this top things to see around Malaga, with one of the most famous cities in Andalusia.

Granada is 1h40 from Malaga. The city is world famous for its Alhambrathe most visited tourist site in Spain. 

It would therefore be a shame not to take advantage of your stay in Malaga to go there.

In addition to the Alhambra, you can visit:

  • The Albayzin district
  • sacromonte
  • Granada Cathedral
  • The basilique of Saint John of God
  • The Cartuja Monastery

From Marbella, if you don’t want to hire a car, I recommend booking this day trip to Granada.

Transportation, tickets to the Alhambra and Nasrid Palaces, and a visit to the Albayzin neighborhood are included in the price. Book right here!

All the explanations for organizing your visit to Granada are in our article: The complete guide to visiting Granada

Malaga itinerary
The Alhambra of Grenade

How many days to visit Malaga?

2 days are enough to visit Malaga. You will have time to see most of the places I tell you about in this top.

If you want to visit several museums or take an excursion around Malaga, you can of course stay 3 or 4 days in the city.

1 Day Malaga Itinerary

If you only have one day to visit Malaga, here is the itinerary that I recommend:

  • Start at Gibralfaro Castle
  • Then go down to the Alcazaba
  • Passage through the Roman theater
  • Lunch break
  • Visit of the Picasso museum or another museum according to your tastes
  • Discovery of the Cathedral of the Incarnation
  • End of the day at the beach

If walking doesn’t appeal to you too much and you want to see as much as possible in the day, I recommend opting for a hop-on hop-off bus tour.

When making your reservation, you can also choose the “Malaga Experience Card” option which entitles you not only to a bus ticket but also to free entry to most of the city’s museums, an an hour and to be able to attend a flamenco show.

Book right here!

2 Days Malaga Itinerary

In 2 days in Malaga, take the tour itinerary from the previous day and add:

  • Visit to the Carmen Thyssen Museum or the Pompidou Cultural Center
  • Discovery of the stalls of the Atarazanas market
  • Lunch break in one of the market’s tapas bars
  • Walk in the Soho district
  • Join the botanical garden by bus for the end of the day.
Malaga itinerary
Tasting tapas in Andalusia

3 Days Malaga Itinerary

If you have 3 days in Malaga, I recommend that you resume the programs of the previous 2 days.

On the 3rd day, rent a car to reach the Montes de Malaga natural park. You can take several short hikes and enjoy nature.

Returning in the afternoon, stop at one of the beaches, that of Pedregalejo or del Palo for example.

4 Days Malaga Itinerary

On the fourth day of your vacation in Malaga, you can take the opportunity to explore the surroundings. 

If you have children, the trip to the caves of Nerja is ideal.

If you like thrills, the Caminito del Rey is for you.

To party, head to Marbella.

Lovers of famous villages and towns to see during a Andalucia itinerary will be enchanted by a visit to Ronda or Granada.

Accommodation in Malaga

  • The Lights Hostel: Youth hostel located 400 meters from the cathedral. Bed in dormitory from 20.50€, breakfast at 1.50€. Most: cleanliness, roof terrace, super friendly staff.
  • Ibis Malaga Centro Ciudad: Located 10 minutes from the cathedral and 5 minutes from the Picasso Museum. Modern double room typical of the hotel chain from €65, breakfast at €7.95. Most: the location in the center to visit Malaga on foot, the varied breakfast, the welcoming staff. It is our favorite for its performance / price ratio!
  • Barceló Malaga: Located 10 minutes walk from the historic center and 600 meters from the center of contemporary art. Design and comfortable room from 135€ per night, breakfast at 18€. Most: the swimming pool on the roof, the geographical location, the comfort of the beds. This is an excellent hotel to stay in Malaga. 
  • Gran Hotel Miramar: This 5-star hotel is located 10 meters from La Malagueta beach. It offers very elegant and neatly decorated rooms, from €250 per night, breakfast at €25. Most: the decoration of the hotel and the rooms is really magnificent, the swimming pool, the Spa, the delicious breakfast. This is our recommendation for a luxury stay in Malaga!
Malaga itinerary
Grand Hotel Miramar Malaga

Where to eat in Málaga

  • Buenavista Gastrobar & Tapas: Restaurant located near Plaza de la Merced. It offers excellent tapas worked in an original and gastronomic way. The paella is also excellent. Add a top service and a warm welcome and you are sure to have a good evening. Better to book.
  • La Proa de Teatinos: If you’re looking for an authentic, unpretentious restaurant that’s out of the tourist trap, go eat at la proa de Teatinos. The cuisine is of high quality and excellent value for money. Their paella is delicious.
  • Pampa Grill Restaurante Argentino: This is the perfect restaurant in Malaga for lovers of good meat. It is super tender, flavorful and cooked to perfection. The restaurant is near Plaza Spinola, not far from the cathedral.

How to get to Málaga?

To reach Malaga, nothing could be easier, you just have to take the plane. The city has an international airport.

To go to Andalusia, it is the only choice you will have, with Seville airport of course. The other airports of Granada, Jerez and Almeria are domestic only.

Check fares now using our flight price comparison. It’s fast, easy, and it’s the insurance for you to pay the best price!

Once on the results page, do not hesitate to compare several sites, in order to make sure that no costs are added to the final prices.

And you? What are you planning to visit on your trip to Malaga?

Are you going to Spain? Also to read

Discover all our articles on Spain : all articles on Spain are listed here.

Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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