8 Essential Travel Tips for Malaga: What You Need to Know

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

Even the most seasoned traveler can sometimes miss important details and experience unnecessary stress on their vacation. But when there’s so much sun, fun, and cerveza to be enjoyed in Malaga, why arrive unprepared and waste time? Here are some top travel tips for Malaga from insiders to help you prepare the perfect vacation.

Essential Travel Tips for Malaga

1. 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 and tickets are 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). Tickets cost €1.80 and can be purchased from ticket machines at the station, but make sure you have change.
  • Taxi: The cost from Malaga airport to the city center is approximately €20. Be aware that no matter where you go, there is a minimum fare of €15.21 for taxi journeys from Malaga airport.
The friendly people of Malaga await you, so one of the 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 start meeting Malaga’s friendly locals! Photo Credit: Bas Boerman

See Also: Guide to Getting Around Malaga

2. Venture further afield to check out the beaches

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

  • Sacaba Beach: Head west of the city to visit this nearly untouched beach. The vibe here is very quiet and calm, so you’ll be sure to find enough space to relax in the sand without many people around.
  • Pedregalejo Beach: A onetime 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 and also a fishing village turned summer hotspot, 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 the 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

See Also: Best Beaches in Malaga

3. And on that note…rent a bike!

The great thing about Malaga is that it’s relatively flat, with lots of car-free areas and a fantastic boardwalk that you can follow for kilometers out of the city until you reach the aforementioned beaches. And what better way to explore it all than by bike? There are self-service city bikes found across the city, though these are more useful if you’re staying in town 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. 

See Also: Where to Rent Bikes in Malaga

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

4. Eating and staying out late is a real thing

You might have heard that Spaniards tend to stay out late. With the long warm summer nights that are so common in the south, Malaga is no exception. Locals each lunch late, linger around the dinner table well into the night, and 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 and 1:30 p.m., but most locals won’t start arriving until after 2.
  • Dinner: Restaurants start serving food around 8:30 or 9 p.m., but if you turn up as soon as the kitchen opens, you’ll likely be the only person there. 9:30 or 10 p.m.—or later—is when most Andalusians sit down for dinner.

5. 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 tapas bars. While things vary from place to place, there’s 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’ve devoured the first round, go in for seconds. Repeat, or head off to another tapas bar and see what’s on offer there.

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

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

A talking point among many visitors to Spain is how on earth do you get the bill at the end of the meal? The answer is pretty simple: 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 in Spain, it’s 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.

7. Visit monuments on Sundays for free entry

If you’re planning to get some sightseeing under your belt while you’re here, plan as much as you can for a Sunday, when Malaga’s most renowned monuments and museums offer free entry. The Picasso Museum is free for the last two opening 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 always free.

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

See Also: Top Things to Do in Malaga on Sundays

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

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

  • Antigua Casa de la Guardia: Entering 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, many of which bear the signatures of famous people who have visited.
One of the 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.

See Also: Malaga’s Top Wine Bars

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Ready to explore the Costa del Sol capital like a local? These Malaga travel tips are required reading before you hit up the Alcazaba, the beach, or anything in between.

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