If you think that Malaga is ‘just another city on the Costa del Sol’, think again! Steeped in history and culture, Malaga is actually one of the oldest cities in the world and has far more to offer than beaches and bars. The birthplace of Pablo Picasso, Malaga today boasts many art museums and architectural sites, but it has many other faces too. If you want to relax on the beach one day, you can then spend another shopping and dining in the city’s excellent restaurants, and if the bar scene is your thing, enjoy endless evenings in Malaga’s many friendly bars. If you’re planning a visit, read on to discover our recommendations for the 10 best things to do in Malaga.
10. Museo Carmen Thyssen Malaga
One thing Malaga is not short of is museums, and deciding which ones to visit can be difficult! We recommend Museo Carmen Thyssen Malaga because it always has great reviews, making this one of the top things to do in Malaga. The museum is located within a 16th century Baroque Palace and was opened in 2011. The main focus is 19th century Spanish art, mainly from the Andalusian region, which makes this a great museum to visit if you’re interested in the local culture. It was named for Carmen Cervera, the third wife of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, as it is based on her own collection.
9. Malaga Cathedral
Among the many beautiful buildings in the city, is the Cathedral of Malaga. Built between 1528 and 1782, this Roman Catholic church followed plans made by renowned Spanish Renaissance architect, Diego de Siloe. The Renaissance style of architecture can be seen both on the outside and the inside, although parts of the façade are actually built in the Baroque style. If you want to go inside, which is recommended, there is an entrance fee, but if you make use of the audio tour it’s certainly worth the price of the admission.
8. Puerto de Malaga
The Port of Malaga is a lovely place to spend an afternoon, walking around the marina and shops, and then ending up in one of the many restaurants that line where you can enjoy great cuisine with beautiful views. Puerto de Malaga is a popular tourist spot where you can get away from some of the city center crowds and enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere. If you like the beach, there’s one right by the port, and there’s a park and plazas to see too, as well as buildings and attractions including La Farola de Malaga, and Centre Pompidou.
7. Museo Picasso Malaga
As Malaga was the birthplace of Picasso, you should definitely visit at least one of the Picasso-related attractions in the city. Museo Picasso Malaga is recommended because it combines pieces of Picasso’s art with background information on the artist himself. Make use of an audio guide for the fullest experience while browsing the 285 works that were donated by members of Picasso’s family. And, if you’re interested in architecture, the museum is situated within the Buenavista Palace.
6. Mercado Central de Atarazanas
It’s not an especially large market, but if you’re looking for things to do in Malaga and want to mingle with the locals, and sample some of the freshest and tastiest foods, head to Mercado Central de Atarzanas. Fresh produce includes fruit and vegetables, as well as fresh meat and fish so if you’re self-catering you can pick up everything you’ll need here. Alternatively, come here and sample some of the freshly cooked foods – they are very reasonably priced and always get rave reviews! The seafood tapas, for example, are excellent.
5. Castillo de Gibralfaro
A counterpart to the Alcazaba, Castillo de Gibralfaro is set on a higher hill with even better views of the city than the Alcazaba. This castle was built by the Moors and can be reached by a fairly strenuous 15-minute walk uphill, or take the bus, but the views are certainly worth the trek and there is a café where you can sit and get refreshed before looking around some more. Within the castle grounds there are gardens, and exhibits tell you more about the history of the castle. You can buy a combined ticket that covers both the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro.
4. Roman Theatre
A recommended side-trip if you’re visiting Malaga’s Alcazaba, the Roman Theatre is probably the oldest of attractions in the city. Built by Emperor Augustus in the First Century BC, the theatre is situated just below the Alcazaba and many of its stones were pilfered by the Moors to build the fortress. While by no means the best preserved Roman theatre, it’s an important part of the city’s history. You can see some of it from the street but if you enter the ruins you will have the benefit of seeing a short film and some artifacts before going into the theatre itself.
3. Jardin Botanico Historico la Concepcion
The botanical and historical gardens are situated a short distance outside of Malaga’s city center and can be reached by bus or on foot if it’s not too hot. A nice place to escape from the noise and heat of the city streets, the gardens feature plants from around the world that can be explored via winding paths that lead to waterfalls and great city vistas. Once you’ve seen the gardens, sit and enjoy a drink and a snack in the nice café.
2. Museo de Malaga
If you want to get more familiar with the city of Malaga, head to the Museo de Malaga. Only opened in December 2016, this is the largest museum in Andalusia and it features extensive exhibits focusing on the history of the city through archaeological finds, plus a large Fine Arts section with paintings and some sculptures. The good news is that entry is free for EU citizens, making this a museum that you can come back and visit multipletimes, or just pop in for a short visit in between seeing other Malaga attractions.
1. Alcazaba of Malaga
If you enjoy history and great views, the Alcazaba should be near the top of your list of what to do in Malaga! This palatial fortification is the best preserved of its type in Spain. Meaning ‘citadel’, Malaga’s Alcazaba was built early in the 11th century and sits today on a hill in the heart of the city, overlooking the port. This means that even if you’re not a history buff, you should still visit this Malaga attraction to marvel over the beautiful views, although we would of course also recommend taking a closer look inside the walls of this fortress while you’re here!