This blog post was originally posted on April 4th, 2016 and was updated on July 7th, 2017
As the capital of the Costa del Sol, Malaga enjoys the privilege of being a major port for lots of cruise ships, a touristic destination, as well as a fabulous city for us locals!
We enjoy our city by the Mediterranean Sea and all that it has to offer, and are proud to call Malaga home. The city has a rich history that dates back to the Phoenecians, delicious bites which show of the best of Malaga’s provincial cuisine, and its own wines – we have not just one, but two wine producing regions here! And of course, to top it off, we have a whole host of wonderful things to see and do, so here are out top 10 things to do in Malaga, both for locals and tourists alike.
1. La Alcazaba
The Alcazaba is possibly one of the most recognizable historic monuments in Malaga, and being just steps away from the historic center means it shouldn’t be missed on even the briefest visit to the city! It was constructed during the Muslim rule between the years 1057 and 1063, meaning that it is actually older than Granada’s famous Alhambra Palace. We love spending time wandering around the beautiful gardens, and at 2.10 euros, the entrance fee is very affordable.
Insider’s tip: It is free to get in on Sunday afternoon from 2pm on, and if you are also headed to Gibralfaro, there is a combined ticket for only 3.45 euros.
If your to-do list in Malaga includes getting a birds eye view, this is your place! The Castle of Gibralfaro was built in the 8th century by Abd ar-Rahman I and later rebuilt in the 14th century. With such beautiful views of Malaga, these castle walls conjure up all kinds of tales of years gone by when the castle was used as a look out and military barracks. If you are up for an adventure, you can walk up through the Paseo Don Juan de Temboury.
Just a word of warning: The path is steep, although it is a pretty walk with lots of photo moments along the way. You can also take the bus (number 35 which leaves from the Avenida de Cervantes).
3. Roman Theater
Located just next to the Alcazaba, the Roman Theater dates back to the first century BC. It was used all the way until the third century AD, and then abandoned. Over the years, the theater became covered by dirt and rubble as the Moors built their Alcazaba next door, and it stayed this way until a construction project in the 1950s accidentally discovered the ruins! Since then great work has been put into place to restore the ruins, turning it into one of the most popular monuments in Malaga to visit. It’s open throughout the year Now the restored Roman Theater is open throughout the year for visitors.
4. La Malagueta
This is one of Malaga’s most popular beaches, where you will find the famous stone sculpture proclaiming the name of the beach. As you walk along the beach you will come across a couple of restaurants, but it’s mainly just a lovely place for an afternoon stroll, or to sit underneath the palm trees in the green spaces and relax with the sea at your feet.
5. Atarazanas Market
As self-proclaimed foodies, we always enjoy visiting a local market, and this one made our list of “what to see in Malaga” for it’s historic value. Atarazanas Market began its life as a place to reconstruct naval vessels and the architecture is beautiful, with an ornate doorway made from marble and modelled in the Nazarí style. While inside you don’t find naval vessels anymore, what you do find is a wonderful reformed market with all the beautiful products from Malaga and the surrounding area. Locals and tourists alike browse in this market meaning that on almost any given time of day the atmosphere is alive and buzzing. Make sure to try a sample of the almonds and olives, as both are products you might not realize come from Malaga!
We love the market so much we couldn’t help but feature it in our Tastes, Tapas & Traditions of Malaga Food Tour!
6. The Cathedral
Malaga’s Cathedral, like many in Andalucia, started out centuries before as a mosque. Then in the 16th century, the Christians began converting it into a cathedral, leaving only the Patio de los Naranjos behind, where you can still enjoy the orange blossoms in springtime to this day. However construction took longer than expected, and one of the two bell towers was left incomplete. This is where the Cathedral’s nickname “la manquita” comes from, which translates to “the one armed lady.” A visit to the Cathedral should be right at the top of you list of what to see in Malaga, and given that it’s located right in the center of town, it’s hard to miss it!
While tasting great tapas, sipping on great wines, and even checking out the grand monuments is great, it can be interesting to visit a museum to learn more about a place. And in Malaga, there really is a museum for everyone, no matter what your interests are! With the recent opening of the Pompidou Centre, as well as the Russian Museum and the street art (MAUS) in SoHo, Malaga has certainly made a name for itself in the art world. We have a collection of unique galleries and museums including the CAC (Centro de Arte Contemporaneo), the Wine Museum, Automobile Museum and the Glass and Crystal Museum. You can even learn about Malaga’s past at the Museum for Arts and Customs!
8. The English Cemetery
Out of the many things to see in Malaga, it might seem a bit odd to visit a cemetery, but this one has an interesting history. It turns out that up until the year 1831 if you were not Catholic, you couldn’t be buried in Malaga. They would just throw your body out to sea. Seeing a need to end this terrible practice, the English cemetery was constructed. Several notable English expats are buried here, including Robert Boyd, who was executed for aiding in an uprising in December of 1831. The gardens in the cemetery are beautiful as well, and several times a year, there are guided tours at night, which almost always sell out! This really is an unexpected and hidden gem in Malaga.
9. El Parque de Malaga
Originally envisioned as an extension of the Alameda Principal, this park adds a beautiful green space with palm trees, flowers and even sculptures that pay homage to Andalusia and Malaga. It makes a beautiful place for a relaxing stroll, and although it’s so close to the city center, the moment you enter you are immediately transported away from the buildings and cars that normally dominate downtown Malaga – and that’s exactly why we love it!
10. The Plaza de la Merced and Picasso’s home
This is of the main plazas in Malaga, just at the end of Calle Granada, and home to one of our favorite coffee shops, Cafe con Libros. But most importantly, it’s here that you will also find Picasso’s family home, where he lived until the age of 10. You can visit the home, where many of the family’s personal articles are still on display. Make sure to get your photograph with the sculpture of Picasso sitting on a bench in the corner of the plaza – this is one of the iconic photos of Malaga that people love to take home with them!
Checking out the great sights of Malaga is a wonderful experience, but so is discovering the city through food! Join us on a food tour and experience the best bites and wonderful wines that are local to our city.