Our Top Travel Tips for Malaga

This blog post was originally posted on May 18th, 2016 and was updated on November 21st, 2017

There’s nothing better than knowing the insider tips of a city before you get there, so if you are planning to visit Malaga the good news is that we’re here to help!

Even the most seasoned traveler can sometimes miss important details and experience unnecessary stress on their vacation, but when there is so much sun, sights, and cerveza to be enjoyed in Malaga, why arrive unprepared and waste time? Here are our top travel tips for Malaga to help you prepare the perfect vacation!

Even the most seasoned traveler can sometimes miss important details and experience unnecessary stress on their vacation, but when there is so much sun, sights, and cerveza to be enjoyed in Malaga, why arrive unprepared and waste time? Here are our top travel tips for Malaga to help you prepare the perfect vacation!

Know the best way to get from the airport to the city center

The first thing you should know before arriving at a new destination is the best and most efficient way to get from the airport to the city center. In Malaga you have three choices:

  • Bus: The bus leaves every 20 minutes from Malaga airport, stopping at 10 stops along the way and taking about 15 to 25 minutes, depending on traffic. The cost is 3 euros and the ticket is purchased on the bus.
  • Train: The airport train stop is just a few minutes walk from Terminal 3 and goes directly to the city center (stopping at the main train station, Maria Zambrano, along the way). The ticket price is 1.80 euros and can be purchased ticket machines at the station, but make sure you have change for the machines!
  • Taxi: The cost from Malaga airport to the city center is approximately 20 euros. Be aware that no matter where you go, there is a minimum fare of 15.21 euros for taxi journeys from Malaga airport.
The people of the streets of Malaga await you, so one of our top travel tips for Malaga is make sure plan how to arrive to the city center from the airport.
Plan how to get from the airport so you can see the streets of Malaga which await you! – Photo Credit: Bas Boerman

Venture further afield to check out the beaches

While Malaga’s city beach, Malagueta, is just a short walk from the center, you are going to have a much more pleasant experience if you head to one of the beaches a little further out of the city! Here are some great options:

  • Sacaba Beach: Head to the west of the city to visit this undeveloped beach which is very quiet and calm, so you can be sure to find enough space to relax in the sand without many people around.
  • Pedregalejo Beach: Once upon a time an old fishing village but now one of Malaga’s most popular beaches, with a range of beach bars and restaurants.
  • El Palo Beach: A little bit further along from Pedregalejo Beach and also a fishing village turned beach spot, this is a wonderful place to escape the city. It also happens to be where some of the best chiringuitos (beachside restaurants) are found, selling delicious fish and seafood.
Malaga's beaches are famous, but one of our top travel tips for Malaga is head to the beaches away from the city center.
Malaga’s beaches are famous, but explore further away from the city to have the best experience! – Photo Credit: audi_insperation

And on that note…rent a bike!

The great thing about Malaga is that it is flat with lots of car-free areas and a fantastic boardwalk that you can follow kilometers out of the city to take you to the aforementioned beaches. And what better way to explore it all than my bike! There are self-service city bikes found across the city, though these work better if you are staying in the city for a longer period. If you just want to rent a bike for a few days head to one of the many bike rental stores. 

Want to rent a bike?  Check out Malaga Bike Tours & Rental who have bike rental starting at 5 euros for half a day, and also offer bike tours if you would like to explore with a guide by bike!

Malaga comes alive at night, so one of our top travel tips for Malaga is join the locals and eat late!
The streets of Malaga become alive in the evening – Photo Credit: Bas Boerman

Staying out late and eating late…it’s a thing!

Maybe you have heard that Spaniards stay out late, and with the long warm summer nights that we love so much, in Malaga this is no exception. We each lunch late, we eat dinner well into the night, and we even party late– don’t be surprised if you see families out having a drink on a terrace with their kids well after dinner time, especially on weekends!

  • Lunch: Restaurants and bars usually open their kitchens for lunch anytime between 12.30-1.30pm,  with them remaining open until 4pm later.
  • Dinner: Restaurants start serving food around 8.30 or 9pm, and if you turn up around this time you may find you are the only people there, with the tables beginning to fill as you are paying your bill. 10pm or later is the typical time to sit down to dinner in Andalusia!
One of our top travel tips for Malaga is not to order too many delicious tapas at once. Take it slow and just order one or two at a time.
Don’t make the mistake of ordering too many tapas at once!

Eat tapas, but don’t order too many at once

While going out for tapas in Malaga is an exciting (and delicious!) experience, it can be hard to understand the protocol in the tapas bars. While some bars vary, there is one golden rule: don’t order too many different tapas at once. Food usually comes as it’s ready, so start slow by just ordering one or two tapas to go with your drink, then after you have devoured the first round, go in for seconds. Then repeat, or head off to another tapas bar and see what is on offer!

Top travel tip for Malaga: always ask for the bill when you are ready to pay
Top tip: always ask for the bill when you are ready to pay – Photo Credit Photo Fabs

And after you’ve eaten your tapas, ask for the bill!

Often a talking point among visitors to Spain is how on earth do you get the bill at the end of the meal? The answer is pretty simple: you just ask for it! A simple la cuenta por favor will work just fine, but if you don’t ask, the bill won’t be brought to you. Here it is considered rude to put the bill down if the guests have not asked for it, and usually once you have your table (or place at the bar) that spot is yours until you are ready to leave, even if you have finished eating.

This beautiful monument, Gibralfaro Castle, among others, are free to visit on Sunday afternoons!
Walking around the Gibralfaro Castle, which is free to enter on Sunday afternoons – Photo Credit: Bas Boerman

Visit monuments on Sundays for free entry

If you are planning to get some sightseeing under your belt while you are here, plan much of your sightseeing for a Sunday as Malaga’s most renowned monuments and museums offer free entry for some or all of the day. The Picasso Museum is free for the last 2 hours on Sundays, and both the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle– Malaga’s two Moorish architectural wonders– are free on Sunday afternoons.

Hot Tip: The Roman Theater and Contemporary Art Centre are free to enter at all times! Make sure to check them out while you are in the city.

Looking out over the rooftops of Malaga
Looking out over the rooftops of Malaga – Photo Credit: Bas Boerman

Do say ‘salud’ in one of Malaga’s iconic bars

Malaga’s original wine making region (DOC Malaga) is dedicated to entirely sweet wines, and there are two iconic bars in the city center where you can try it. yes, they are mentioned in practically every guidebook, article or website about Malaga, but this is a class Malagueño experience that you simply can’t miss!

  • Antigua Casa de la Guardia: This small bar located in between the city center and the port is like stepping into a time warp. The long back wall is lined with over 20 different barrels filled with local wines of varying degrees of sweetness. Prop yourself up at the bar, grab yourself a Pajarete 1908, and take note of your bill being etched in chalk on the bar in front of you.
  • El Pimpi: Located smack bang in the historic center of Malaga, this place is a classic for sipping on a glass of Malaga Virgin (sweet wine). The long bar opens up into a seating area with old barrels lining the walls. Note the signatures of the barrels of famous people who have visited, as well as their photos lining the walls of the bar.
One of our top travel tips is to try Malaga's sweet wine in one of the iconic bars. Sure, they are mentioned in every guide book, but it's worth it!
Cheese and sweet wines at El Pimpi, one of Malaga’s iconic bars

Explore Malaga from the sea

Everyone knows to visit the beach and the city center, but what about taking to the ocean and seeing the city from a different perspective? Mundo Marino runs great catamaran boat trips, departing from Malaga’s port, and they are a wonderful way to spend some time in the city. The trip to the Bay of Malaga runs several times a day, lasts for 1 hour and costs 10 euros, or they also have sunset trip and full day excursions available too. Find out all the information on the website.

One of our top travel tips for Malaga is not just to explore the city center, but take to the water and explore the sea too!
Don’t just explore the city center, explore the bay of Malaga from the water! – Photo Credit: Allan Watt

Have a local show you around!

What better way to discover a new city than having a local show you the ropes, and when that involves fabulous food, tantalizing tapas, and an exploration into the world of Malaga’s wines, it’s even better!

Join us on one of our Devour Malaga Food Tours to have a delicious 3.5 hour experience exploring the historic center of Malaga, sampling local specialties, learning about Malaga’s two different winemaking regions, and meeting the locals behind these fabulous places along the way!

Featured Image Credit: Manuchis. (Text overlay by Devour Tours)

Since 2005, Cyra has lived in the UK, Portugal and Spain working as a professional tour guide. But it was Seville’s charm that captured her heart, and she hasn’t looked back since moving to her favorite city for food, wine and quality of life.

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