Wondering how to spend two days in Málaga, Spain? Use this guide to fill your two-day itinerary with fun activities in Spain’s Costa del Sol.
Is Málaga worth visiting?
As someone who ultimately spent 3 weeks in Málaga, I can attest that it is definitely worth visiting. It makes a great base for exploring more of Andalucía and has many great things to see in the city itself. With a population of nearly 600,000 people, it is the second largest city in Andalucía and the sixth largest in Spain. Because of this, there is no shortage of things to do.
Visiting with a best friend from college, Málaga made for a great girls’ trip. The city is not that big, making the central part especially walkable. It also is usually sunny and warm. That plus affordable and yummy food and drinks, I’d say Málaga should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Getting to Málaga
Málaga’s Costa del Sol airport, AGP, is well connected to many major cities in Europe, regional hubs of Spain, and has frequent flights to and from Morocco as well. It is located roughly 6 miles (10 km) southwest of the city center.
Málaga can also be reached by train, car, or bus in many different directions. It is connected to high-speed rail networks that can take you directly to many of Spain’s most famous cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, and Sevilla. The train and bus stations are conveniently located right next to each other. The bus routes offer very cheap tickets to many places such as Granada, Sevilla, Ronda, and more.
Related: Helpful information for visiting the European Union
Best Time to Visit
Summer is a popular time to visit Málaga. The beaches can get quiet crowded as people seek out hot sunny days. July and August see the highest temperatures ranging from 91-70 °F (33-22 °C) on average. If you do not have air conditioning, the nights are quite hot and can be uncomfortable.
A really fun time to visit, hot weather aside, is during the Feria de Málaga. During this time people dress in traditional southern Spain outfits, wear flower clips in their hair, and celebrate with music and drink. The streets are decorated with paper strings and banners. The primary drink of the event is Cartojal, a chilled, sweet white wine in pink and white spotted bottles. The festival usually occurs for a week in August.
Winter is the low season, with fewer tourists. Temperatures can occasionally dip below freezing overnight, but temperatures range between the 60s and 40s °F on average (17-8 °C). December sees the most rain, with about 10 rainy days on average.
Spring and Fall have the best temperatures for exploring the city on foot, but it may not be the best beach weather. There may still be rain during this time, but generally less than in the winter.
Where to Stay
The Urban Jungle Rooftop Hostel is a budget option with female only and mixed gender dorms. They as have private rooms with shared bathrooms. It is well located in the heart of Málaga. An even cheaper option is Málaga Top Hostel. Cutting down a bit on hostel luxuries like boho style and rooftop bars, this hostel still has clean and renovated rooms. The beds feature privacy curtains too. It is located just outside the main touristic hub of the city, contributing to its lower price per night.
Related: How to book a great hostel
There are many mid-range hotels to choose from in Málaga. I stayed at Málaga Premium Hotel and highly recommend it for its rooftop bar and excellent, cold air conditioning. The room was renovated, stylish and perfectly clean for my visit. The entrance to the hotel is located down a narrow alley, making it feel like a hidden gem.
The Gran Hotel Miramar is a stylish hotel located near both the beaches and the center of the city. It is Arabic, Mediterranean, and Modernist style in its decor and atmosphere. There is also a pool. The Only You Hotel is one is the best located hotels in the city. The rooms are modern and relaxing. It has a beautiful rooftop patio and pool as well.
Day One: Historic Central City
There are tons of things to do in Málaga’s historical city center. This is a great area to wander and explore. You’ll find coffee shops, bookstores, popular retail stores, restaurants, museums, and more in the city center. To start your day, have breakfast at Brunchit. This Instagram-y restaurant has many vegan and vegetarian friendly options, something harder to come by in Spain.
Brunchit has a few locations in Málaga, but Brunchit España on Calle Alhóndiga is located next to the Mercado Central de Atarazanas, where you can check out local produce and goods. It’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Being a coastal town, the fish are the star of the show in the market.
After breakfast, head to the Picasso Museum (Museo Picasso Málaga). It is a two-story building with a central courtyard. The collection hosts hundreds of works done primarily by Pablo Picasso, though not exclusively. It features several mediums, but most are paintings, sculptures, and drawings. The rooms follow themes and my favorite is the section devoted to Picasso’s work depicting animals.
Next, visit the Alcazaba. This structure is the fortification for the Gibralfaro palace. This fortress began construction in the 11th century by Moorish conquerors. Next to the entrance of the Alcazaba are the remains of a Roman theatre from the first century AD. This hillside has been occupied by Phoenician, Roman, Arab, and Spanish civilizations dating back thousands of years. Inside you’ll find many horseshoe and multifoil arches, characteristic of Moorish architecture at the time.
For lunch, try El Pimpi or Casa de Vinos la Odisea. El Pimpi is very popular and located next to the Picasso Museum, while Casa de Vinos la Odisea is located after the next few stops near the park. It is more relaxed. They have a tucked away, hidden patio that was used as a refugee during the Spanish Civil War.
Málaga’s Town Hall (Ayudamiento) is located in front of Málaga Park (Parque de Málaga). This operational government building is a pretty photo opportunity with its Baroque architecture.
The more famous Málaga Cathedral (Catedral de Málaga) is located nearby. The Cathedral has Renaissance and Baroque architecture and was started in 1528. It was not considered completed until 1782. However, the south tower was never finished due the Spanish Crown under Carlos III running out of budget for the project. A plaque at the base of the tower claims the funds for the project were instead used to support the British Colonies in the newly forming United States to gain independence from the United Kingdom. However, other sources indicate that the funds were used for road work in the province. Nonetheless, the unfinished nature is an interesting story and has led to the nickname “La Manquita,” meaning one armed lady in English.
Where to get the best view in Málaga?
El Mirador de Málaga will provide you with the best sweeping view of the city. It requires a somewhat short but steep walk about a hillside. Good shoes and weather make this climb much more manageable. If it is wet, the stone pathway can be slippery. From the midpoint of the climb, you’ll reach the Mirador where you’ll see a great view of Málaga and the sea. You also get a good view of the Plaza de Toros de La Malagueta, however I do not recommend attending a bull fight.
At the top you’ll reach the Castillo del Gibralfaro. You can enter the Castillo for a small fee, providing another look at some of what you see and experience at the Alcazaba. You can also get to the Castillo by driving yourself or taking a taxi around some narrow and curving roads.
For the afternoon in the historic city center, I recommend also visiting the Carmen Thyssen Museum. This museum focuses primarily on art of southern Spain. Many of the landscape painting feature scenes of Spain.
For dinner I recommend Santo Remedio. They have a few Spanish paella dishes, to include a vegetarian paella which is not very common. Of course, if you do not have dietary restrictions paella with seafood (mariscos) would also be a great choice as Málaga sits on the sea. Paella can take some time when prepared fresh (give or take 30 minutes), so you might want an appetizer. To drink, I always love a Tinto de Verano during a Spanish summer.
End the day with drinks on either the rooftop bar at Premium Málaga Hotel or at the AC Hotel. The AC Hotel rooftop is higher up with views of the ocean, while the rooftop bar at Premium Málaga Hotel is situated down a narrow alley, putting it up close to the neighboring church towers.
Day Two: Sea and Beaches
Day Two in Málaga is all about relaxing. First you’ll need your coffee. I recommend Mia Coffee or Delicotte in the city center before you head out. Next, you’ll need to choose your beach.
What’s the best beach in Málaga?
The most popular beach is La Malagueta. This is the easiest beach to get to, but it is also artificial and is not too far from the commercial area. Because of this, the water is not as clean as you might like. However, if you prefer to bask in the sun on the sand, this beach is perfectly located for an easily accessible hang out. From the center of town, it is about a 20-minute walk along mostly paved paths through a park and waterfront promenade to reach La Malagueta.
La Caleta is a bit nicer than La Malagueta, but it’s also a little further from the center of town. It is well maintained and less crowded.
Even further east of Málaga is El Palo. Here you’ll find a long promenade perfect for biking. This is an up-and-coming area of Málaga. It is also less crowded than La Malagueta and features traditional seafaring boats. You’ll find many chiringuitos (beach bars) along the way serving a local specialty: fire roasted sardines.
For my visit, I spent most of my time at La Malagueta, the most convenient beach to reach. Umbrellas and chairs could be rented on the beach for 12€ during summer 2022. Get there earlier though during the summer, as the chairs and umbrellas sell out usually by midday.
If you walk from the city center to La Malagueta, you’ll pass by the port. Here you’ll find lots of shops and restaurants. There are also street performers and dance classes around the area, especially in the evening. In the morning the promenade is quiet and sleepy. It makes for a good place to pass through on a morning walk or jog.
For lunch I recommend stopping by a beach bar, generally called chiringuitos, for an affordable meal.
A popular photo opportunity is at El Cubo, an art installation next to the port. The colorful panels blow in the wind and the sun casts colored shadows onto the ground. It sits on top of the Centre Pompidou Málaga. This exhibit features cultural and artistic pieces done in collaboration with the French Centre Pompidou. It houses many creative modern art pieces in variety of mediums.
Though it may seem a bit touristy, I highly recommend a sunset cruise with Fly Blue. I was doubtful at first, but the weekend sunset cruise hosted a DJ that played great music and the boat served drinks. It turned out to be very fun as guests of all ages started dancing. The boat also features a few netted loungers where you can hang out just above the ocean as you cruise. The sunset cruise is a great way to conclude your time in Málaga. You can book the cruise earlier in the day at a kiosk at the port.
For dinner on your last day, I recommend (especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan) Astrid, Byoko, or Meet Vegano. For traditional, but upscale Spanish food located near the beaches, try El Refectorium in the Malagueta neighborhood.
Things to do in Málaga
In a rush? Screenshot this list to find things to do in Málaga.
- Picasso Museum
- Carmen Thyssen Museum
- La Malagueta Beach
- Parque de Málaga
- Mirador de Málaga (best view of city)
- Castillo de Gibralfaro
- Sunset cruise with FlyBlue
- El Cubo and promenade at the port
- Ayudamiento de Málaga
- Catedral de Málaga
- Centre Pompidou Málaga
- Rooftop bars at AC Hotel or Málaga Premium Hotel
Things to do in Málaga at Night
If you’re looking for a night out in Málaga, I recommend these bars and clubs: Sala Gold and Barsovia. Another popular one is Bambu, however I did not like this one very much, but you may find it on a better night. You’ll see lots of promotors on the street offer wristbands and free drinks if you come to their club. These can be a bit hit or miss. I tried a few, and while some were great, others were duds.
Where to go from Málaga?
There are countless day trips or next stops from Málaga. As one of the major cities of southern Spain, Málaga is well connected to trains, buses, and flights. These cities are popular spots for day trips from Málaga:
Do you need to speak Spanish in Málaga?
Spanish is the official language of Spain. Unlike other regions of Spain that may speak Catalan, Galician, or Basque, Andalucía as a region speaks traditional Spanish (also called Castilian). People from Andalucía also usually have a different accent than Spaniards from Madrid or other parts of the country.
It will be very helpful if you can speak Spanish in Málaga. It is also best practice to learn some basic phrases to be respectful and to help yourself get around. While I speak Spanish, I noticed similar trends of English proficiency as those you find all around the world: younger people in urban centers usually speak at least some English. The further you get from the center of town, the fewer people you’ll find that speak English.
All signs in Málaga are in Spanish, with English translation only occurring sometimes. Businesses in the touristic center will have English menus and English speaking staff.
Helpful Spanish Phrases
Here are some quick reference Spanish phrases, perfect for screenshots!
On the Menu
- Pan – Bread
- Queso – Cheese
- Pollo -Chicken
- Res – Beef
- Bistec – Steak
- Pez – Fish
- Pulpo – Octopus
- Gambas/Camarón – Shrimp
- Bebidas – Drinks
- Champiñones – Mushrooms
- Cebolla – Onion
- Tomate – Tomato
- Mantequilla – Butter
- Aceite de Oliva – Olive Oil
- Aceituna – Olives
- Huevos – Eggs
- Hola, como estas? – Hello, how are you?
- Estoy bien, gracias – I’m good, thank you.
- Muchas gracias – Thanks so much.
- Puedes ayudarme? – Can you help me?
- Where is the bathroom? – Donde está el baño?
- Soy de Los Estados Unidos. – I’m from the United States.
- Hablas inglés? – Do you speak English?
I’m Taylor. If you’re interested in contributing a guest post to the website, drop a message into my inbox. Thanks for visiting!
3 thoughts on “Two Days in Málaga: Exploring Spain’s Costa del Sol”
Im hoping to spend a good amount of time in this region of the world next year so this guide is definitely getting saved!! Looked like an incredible girls trip!
We arrived in Malaga right after having been robbed in Madrid. So I was not in the right mood to really explore this lovely city. Your post shows me all I missed on that visit. And has given me a reason to go back. So many things to see and do in Malaga.
I’m sorry that I zipped through Malaga. I ended up spending most of my time at the beach in Benalmadena. I did get to Malaga for a half day, though. It was very interesting.