Malaga in One Day: A Comprehensive Guide

Located at the heart of Andalucia, Malaga province marks one of the most popular attractions for tourists, expats and students. The city offers something for everyone, whether they’re visitors looking for a fun and relaxing vacation, students who are interested in affordability and a vivid nightlife, or expats who want to take advantage of the easy living Malaga provides. It is challenging to explore a city that is so packed with culture, history and social life, but it is not impossible. Read along to lear how you can experience the whole of Malaga in one day.

1. Getting to Know Malaga: The Gem of the Costa del Sol

Panaromic view of the city of Malaga from the top of the Alcazaba fortress, showing the Malaga Park and the Malaga Port.
Panaromic City View from Alcazaba Malaga

Malaga city, Spain is located in the southern Spain, in the autonomous region of Andalusia on the Costa Del Sol. This second most-populated city of Andalusia is very popular tourist destination. Tourism developed in Malaga in 1950s and was very intense in second half of the century, especially in 1950-1975 years. This gem of Costa del Sol attracts numerous tourists every year. According to statistics a total of 8.365.866 tourists visited Malaga in 2022. People from all over the world are attracted by its Mediterranean climate, cultural heritage, breathtaking views and its rich history.

Malaga has a great variety of museums and monuments that show its beautiful culture. The city is one of the oldest cities in the world- it was found around 770 BC by Phoeanicians from Tyre and was named “Malaka“. Among its rich history, it’s worth highlighting the 5th century where Moors influenced the city that contributed to its various architectrual style as well as the year 1487 which was when Malaga was conquered by Christians. One of the most enjoyable ways to know more about Malaga and its history is booking a Free walking tour, accompanied by a local guide.

2. Malaga in One Day: Route for Early Morning

The view of Malaga Port, as seen from the top of Alcazaba Fortress in Malaga
View of Malaga Port from the Alcazaba

2.1. Enjoy the view at Gibralfaro Castle

Gibralfaro Castle is a perfect spot to start the morning to see Malaga in one day, because it’s not as crowded as in the afternoon. It is located a 30-minute walk from the central square of the old town (Plaza de la Constitucion). The castle was built in the 14th century to protect nearby Alcazaba. Its name has an Arab origin and means “Mount of Fares.” Gibralfaro is a great spot to admire spectacular views over Malaga City and the Mediterranean Sea.

The single ticket to visit Gibralfaro is 3,5 euros. You can also buy a combined ticket to visit Gibralfaro and Alcazaba at once, which costs 5,5 euros. It’s worth keeping in mind that your whole visit is likely to take around 45 minutes. The breathtaking views of Malaga in the morning sunlight is sure to set your spirit high!

2.2. Shop at Atarazanas

Mercado Atarazanas is the Malaga central market located 5 minutes walk from the city center. The market is open from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 3 pm, but the best goods are usually sold out by noon.

At Atarazanas, you can find local products from the province of Malaga. For example, a variety of seafood, different types of meat, Andalusian hard cheeses, various fresh fruits and vegetables, diversity of aromatic species. People can also eat and relax by sipping a glass of wine or a beer admiring the beauty of this local place. It’s also worth drawing attention to the back entrance of the market, because there is a beautiful glass painting that represents all the important things in Malaga City.

3. Must-see Sights in Malaga

A picture of the Malaga Catherdal exterior
Malaga Cathedral

3.1. Malaga Cathedral

It’s worth adding Malaga’s Cathedral, “La Encarnación,” to your itinerary to visit Malaga in one day, because it is one of the most important monuments in the city. It’s called “La Manquita” by locals because of its unfinished tower on the right wing. This feature makes Malaga’s Cathedral unique compared to other cathedrals in Europe.

The Cathedral is located in the old town, only 5 minutes away by walk from Plaza de la Constitution. The Cathedral was originally a mosque and was converted into a cathedral in the first half of the 16th century. The renovation took 260 years in total and continued in 17th and 18th century. This long renovation period resulted in different styles in the building. For example, there is a visible Renaissance and Baroque influence in the interior design. It’s also worth drawing attention to the Arabic doors and Gothic arches.

Malaga Cathedral is open from Monday to Friday from 10 am to 06:30 pm, on Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, and on Sunday from 2 pm to 6 pm. The last visit is exactly 45 minutes before closing. To visit the interior of the Cathedral, visitors have to pay 8 euros. There is also the possibility of climbing the rooftop, which also costs an additional 8 euros. However, there’s also a combined ticket available for 12 euros that allows entrance to both. Free access to the Cathedral is also possible every Monday to Saturday morning from 08:30 am to 09:00 am, and on Sunday morning from 08:30 am to 09:30 am.

3.2. Old Town

One of the best features of Malaga is that almost all important monuments and museums are in the historic centre and are accessible by walk. To begin walking in the old town, it’s worth starting from Calle Larios, which is the most beautiful street in Malaga. During the summer the street is really bright and vivid, covered in colours, especially in August when people come together to celebrate Feria de Malaga. During Christmas time it’s decorated in stunning Christmas ornaments and beautiful lights that give the city its holiday spirit. 

This street leads visitors to the central square of the old town, which is named “Plaza de la Constitucion.” In there, you can see the iconic clock tower from the early 20th century,  which has become the symbol of Malaga city. This beautiful square is lively at any time of the day, and the night as well.

From this point, visitors can move on to Granada Street, which is the longest street in the old town. The street’s name comes from its placement, because it goes in the direction of Granada. There are lots of souvenir shops, bars and restaurants where people can relax, taste Andalusian cuisine and observe locals’ everyday life. If you go the other way from Plaza de la Constitution, you find yourself in Compania Street, which leads to Museum Carmen Thyssen. The museum displays contemporary and modern Spanish art, and opens every day from 10:00 am till 08:00 pm. The entrance ticket costs 10 euros per person. However, the Museum is free to visit every Sunday from 04:00 pm.

3.3. Alcazaba Fortress

It is worth visiting Alcazaba even if you’re exploring Malaga in one day. This fortress was built by the Muslim rulers in the 11th century during their occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. It’s located in the center of Malaga on the slopes of Mount Gibralfaro and overlooks the harbour.  The word “Alcazaba” comes from the Arabic word “quasabah,” which means fortification in a walled city. Alcazaba has beautiful gardens, fountains, and walls that are constructed in the traditional Arabic style. Inside this fortress, you can find the Archeological Museum that displays delicate artifacts from the fortress. 

Going to Alcazaba takes around 10-minute walk from Plaza de la Constitucion. The fortress opens its doors to visitors every day from 09:00 am to 18:00 in the winter season (1st of November-31st of March) and from 09:00 am to 20:00 in the summer season (1st of April-31st of October). The last entrance is exactly 45 minutes before closing. The single ticket for visitors costs 3,5 euros, and the combined ticket to visit Alcazaba with Gibralfaro is 5,5 euros. Moreover, both monuments are free on every Sunday from 02:00 pm.

4. Malaga in One Day: Quick Stop at the Beach at Noon

Two women walking on the sand at Malagueta Beach in Malaga
Malagueta Beach

4.1. Malagueta Beach

Malagueta Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Malaga, Spain. The beach is around 1,200 meters long, surrounded by an amazing promenade full of palm trees, and is located between the harbour and La Caleta Beach. Reaching Malagueta Beach takes around 15 minutes by walking from the old town, which makes it the closest beach to the city center in the whole Malaga province. Moreover, the entrance to the beach is completely free.

Its affordability, excellent location and pristine water makes this beach the most famous, most accessible and the busiest one. Visitors enjoy relaxing and swimming at the Malagueta beach for most of the year. Malaga’s climate tends to stay warm enough to swim and sunbathe for eight months of the year.

The beach offers a wide range of entertainment and services, such as rental umbrellas or hammocks. Besides this, the beach offers a children’s play area, which makes it attractive for families with young children. There are also some good local restaurants and beach bars where it is possible to taste local cuisine and seafood. Malagueta Beach is a must-see for everyone who visits Malaga in one day and wants to feel the breeze of the sea and relax by the coast.

4.2. Malaga Port

Malaga port is an amazing place to have a walk and enjoy the atmosphere of the city. Paseo de Muelle uno (Paseo de la Farola) is a pedestrian promenade located in the historic port area and was built in 2017. 

Along this promenade, you can find numerous restaurants worth eating in, as well as some local shops and boutiques. Its chill vibes make this place a great spot to eat lunch while admiring the stunning view from the ground level. At the venue, there are always street musicians that you can listen to, which adds to the lively atmospherel. There is also a lighthouse (La Farola) next to the harbour, which offers beautiful views over the sea when climbed. 

The National Museum of modern art, the Centre Pompidou Museum, is alsolocated right next to the port area. The museum is known for its 20th and 21st century art collections. The museum opens every day from 09:30 am till 08:00 pm, and the entrance ticket costs 7 euros for a semi-permanent exhibition and 9 euros for a semi-permament and temporary exhibition.

5. Malaga in One Day: Explore the Culture

A view of the bull ring in Malaga from the sky
Malaga Bull Ring

5.1. Picasso Museum

Picasso was born 25.10.1881 r. in Malaga, Andalucia, Spain. He was growing up and studying in Spain and spent his early life in Malaga. Then, in 1901, he began studying in Paris, and by 1904, he had permanently settled there. He never returned to Spain again, but he also never relinquished his Spanish citizenship.

Picasso Museum is located in the historic center, around 5 minutes walk from the main old town’s square. It’s located in the built-in 16th-century Palacio de Buenavista. Their Majesties Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia opened the Museum in 2003. This venue has 285 art works, all donated to the Museum by the members of Picasso’s family. 

The Picasso Museum opens every day from 10:00 am till 06:00 pm, and the full access ticket costs 12 euros. You can visit the museum for free every Sunday after 16:00.

5.2. Malaga Contemporary Art Center (CAC) & Soho District

Soho District is a popular district for the ones who like urban art, and is very close to the center. It’s the newest region of Malaga, and is the symbol of street art and underground culture in the city.

The district started to distinguish itself by the graffiti of local people and took off after the government started a contemporary art project in the region. Naturally, the most recognizable feature of this district is the huge murals on certain buildings. The Malaga Contemporary Art Center (CAC) is also located in this neigbourhood on the banks of Guadalmedina river. 

The CAC displays vintage items and various works of modern art, and is free to enter every day from Tuesday to Sunday between 09:00 am and 09:30 pm. Visiting Soho Malaga should definitely be on your bucket list for seeing Malaga in one day.

6. Malaga in One Day: Traditional Tapas Dinner and Nightlife

A narrow street in Malaga, Spain
Calle Nino de Guevara, Malaga

6.1. Explore Local Tapas

No visit to Spain is complete without tasting Tapas. Tapas comes from the term “tapar”, which means “to cover” in Spanish. It originated in the 13th century, when the restaurants started to serve thin slices of meat or cheese alongside the drinks. The purpose of these meat or cheese was not to eat, but was to cover the drink to prevent flies from getting in. However, the Tapas has evolved a lot since then. Nowadays, Tapas is anything that is served in a small portion to be shared amongst the ones on the table. 

While exploring Malaga in one day, make sure to stop by at a local restaurant to enjoy some tapas and drinks to satisfy your taste buds. To learn more about tapas and discover which type of tapas is famous in Andalusia, you can read our article on What is Tapas. If you don’t want to spend time on that, you can always join our Tapas and Wine Tour and let our local guide take you to the most traditional tapas restaurants in Malaga. 

6.2. Stroll Through Calle Larios

Walking through Larios street (Calle Larios) is a must-do point while exploring Malaga in one day. It’s the biggest, the prettiest and the most famous street in the whole city. This 350 meters long and 16 meters wide street links the nearby harbor with the central square of the old town (Plaza de la Constitution). 

Calle Larios was built in 1891 and was selected as the third most expensive street in Spain. The street always has a vivid and lovely atmosphere, you can find lots of fashion shops. There are also a lot of restaurants to eat at the narrow side streets that connect to Calle Larios. Given its size and popularity, the street often hosts events throughout the year as well.

6.3. Enjoy Malaga Nightlife

Malaga is one of the most vivid nightlifes in Europe. There are numerous clubs and bars opened almost every night, some of them are never empty even in the middle of the week. Most of them are affordable and are located in the city center which makes them easy to reach by walk. During Malaga’s night you have a chance to vibe to Spanish tracks like a real Malagueno or to enjoy international music you probably know in bigger clubs. Locals and erasmus students as well as visitors are very open minded and party going. It makes easy to find party colleagues to have a good time together especially when you travel alone.

Furthermore, there are organized some events for visitors who are keen on meeting new people and enjoy Malaga’s nightlife together. One of the best and most popular events like this is Malaga’s Pub Crawl where people visit two lively bars and two good clubs in one night! You can read more about Pub Crawl and even book your place here: Malaga Pub Crawl. Whats i more, if you visit Malaga in the summer you can’t miss parties besides the beach where you can enjoy the sea breeze and stunning sunset by the coast while having a good time. If you want to know more details about Malaga’s nightlife, you can find these information here: Malaga’s Nightlife.

7. How to get around in Malaga?

View of the Malaga Port and the Malaga Park from the sky at night
Malaga Port at Night

Navigating Malaga is not a challenge, since it is a really walkable city. Every monument, museum and venue you want to visit is either located in the city centre, or at a short walking distance.

Therefore, you don’t need to invest in a city pass or buses or the metro to get around within the city when you want to visit the whole of Malaga in one day. Moreover, walking on Malaga’s narrow streets is a great opportunity to admire the views and to feel the vibrant atmosphere of this amazing Andalusian city.

Malaga’s airport is also not far away from the city centre, which makes it easily accessible by public transport. The best way to get straight from the airport to the center is to go by the suburban train “Cercanias” by line number 1 (C1). It would be best if you got out at the last stop, which is “Malaga Centro Alameda.” The journey takes exactly 11 minutes and a single ticket costs 2,30 euros. 

Another way to get from the airport to the city center is to use the bus “A” that goes to Alameda Principal, which is the bus stop located in the historical center. The way takes around 25 minutes and a single cost 4 euros. Come to Malaga by train or by bus. You can get to the center on the walk because the train station Maria Zambrano and the bus station nearby are located around 20 minutes walk from the center.

8. Best time to visit Malaga

The best time to visit Malaga in one day is September. This month is great, because feels like summer- it is still hot enough to enjoy swimming in the sea and tanning on the beach but it’s not too hot to make it impossible to enjoy the downtown. As Malaga is a walkable city and everything is in the city center, it is possible to visit Malaga in one day if the weather is nice. Moreover, all the important places, monuments and museums are close to each other.

If you Malaga in summer months like June, July and August, keep in mind that seeing all attractions in Malaga in one day can be exhausting because of the heat during the day. If you visit until the summer is over and choose to come in November, be prepared for the rain. Seeing all of Malaga in one day will likely mean you will have to keep moving even if it rains.

If you are spending your Sunday in the city, you should visit our guide on What to do in Malaga on a Sunday. If you are looking for more information on the city, you can take a look at Malaga’s official Tourism website or plan out your transportation route by reading about Malaga’s Metro Lines.