Those of you familiar with our backstory will know our roots lie in Malaga. Guide to Malaga, in fact, Joanna’s main website and our ‘big sister’. If you’re also familiar with our ebooks, you’ll know that the capital of the Costa del Sol is the shining star in all of them since each one showcases the city according to the theme. But what about absolute favourite things to do in Malaga?
In this blog post, we set out to answer that question, something of a challenge when it comes to a city with so much on offer. But we’ve laid down the gauntlet and put together a list of our ten favourites. Some you might be familiar with, while others may come as a surprise.
We’ve included a map of all locations of our favourite things to do in Malaga at the bottom of this post.
Stroll under the Pergola
And then around Malaga Port, particularly beautiful at first or last light. The long white Pergola runs the entire length of the south side of Malaga Port and has lovely views of the lighthouse and yachts in the marina. Don’t miss the gardens on the other side, planted with dozens of palm trees and home to a couple of great play parks.
Check out some world-class art
At fantastic exhibitions at Malaga art museums during the year giving you the chance to see world-class artworks and installations. Picasso is, of course, the star of the stage, but he’s regularly joined by the best in their genre, old, modern and contemporary. One of our favourite things to do in Malaga is definitely keeping up with the exhibitions to see who’s next on the city’s museum walls!
Dine like kings at wallet-friendly prices
At city restaurants showcasing the fantastic local produce in innovative menus that don’t cost the earth. Malaga might only have 1 Michelin star in its firmament, but we can think of a long list of restaurants that serve food on a par with the best. Many of them feature in our ebooks, by the way, and we’re sure
By the way: our Foodie Experience Costa del Sol Road Trip goes full-on gourmet in Malaga and on the rest of the Costa del Sol.
Feast ON all your senses
When you visit Atarazanas Market in the city centre, a treat for your eyes, ears, mouth and nose. Here, the stalls bulge with local produce, particularly fish and seafood, and fruit and vegetables. You’ll also find an authentically local atmosphere at the market where many locals do their daily shopping. Just remember that if you try, always buy something at the stall afterwards and if you want to avoid the crowds of tourists, go first thing (9-10.30am).
Watch the flamingos
And not at a zoo, but in their natural surroundings just outside the city limits. The Parque Natural del Guadalhorce, next to the river on the west side of Malaga, is home to a resident flamingo family. You can see them in the lagoons at any time of year and if you’re lucky, see them in flight as they move from one waterhole to another. Their home is something of a birdwatcher’s paradise with a long list of feathered friends who live in the Natural Park or visit on their way north or south.
See the layers of Malaga history
In Calle Alcazabilla with its lovely views of the Roman Theatre and Moorish Alcazaba behind it. Both the Romans and Moors form a fundamental part of the city’s history and there’s no better place to see it. And if you want to go even earlier, pop down the road to the Paseo del Parque and into the University of Malaga headquarters. In the basement, you’ll find remains of walls built by the Phoenicians, the city’s first inhabitants back in 400BC.
By the way: our History & Heritage Costa del Sol Road Trip includes both of these monuments in its recommendations for Malaga as well as all the other historic highlights on the Costa del Sol.
Visit the botanical gardens
That are beautiful at any time of year. These historic gardens in the north of the city are home to dozens of different palm trees, tropical plants and flowers, a stunning wisteria pergola, water features and lots of lovely corners. Spring and autumn are particularly pretty, but the gardens are an oasis of peace and tranquillity in the city and one of our favourite things to do in Malaga for the morning or afternoon.
Gaze up at the ceilings
Inside Malaga churches, particularly in the Iglesia de los Santos Mártires (totally restored in 2022) and the Basilica Santa Maria de la Victoria. Even if you’re not religious, the ceilings are a feast of architectural symmetry and colour. Most churches are open on weekday mornings and have free entry, so if you see a door open, why pop inside to gaze at the ceiling?
Visit the shipbuilding museum
On the seafront in Pedregalejo, Malaga’s fishing district. Astilleros Nereo is one of the oldest shipyards in Spain and its exhibits include the construction of a jabega, the traditional Phoenician boat used for fishing. Once you’ve visited, walk east along the Pedregalejo seafront towards El Palo and look out for the jabegas along the shore. Their rowing crews train on weekend mornings, so keep an eye out for them.
Experience an event
Or two, because the city has a busy year-round calendar of events, from the Three Kings’ Parade on 5 January to the Christmas lights in December. In the middle are Carnival, Easter Processions, Film and Jazz Festivals, fashion shows and a celebration of Picasso’s birthday. And this busy schedule gives you the perfect excuse to pop back to the Costa del Sol – expect to make experiencing the events one of your favourite things to do in Malaga!
Discover Malaga themed to your preferences
Our Road Trips all start (or end) in Malaga city and contain two full days of suggestions of things to do and see in the city. All match their corresponding theme, whether it’s Malaga wine, golf, adventure or family fun. Take a look at our library and buy yours.