Many visitors to Spain may not imagine that there are many interesting things to see in Malaga, but this couldn't be further from the truth. This Andalusian city is so much more than just a launch pad for the Costa del Sol—it's also a fantastic destination in its own right.
Whether it's delicious food, interesting museums, historical monuments, or wonderful markets, you're sure to find something that will surprise you. Here are 10 things to see in Malaga that will make you want to start planning your visit ASAP.
10 Essential Things to See in Malaga
This small city offers an incredible combination of ancient sites, modern culture, and natural beauty. Here are the top 10 things to see in Malaga, from the historic center to its most iconic beach!
1. Malaga Cathedral
Malaga's cathedral is one of its main sights, and boasts a fascinating history of its own. During Moorish rule, there was a mosque located on the same site. But when the Christians took over the city in 1487, they got rid of the mosque and started building their cathedral right away.
The cathedral is the second largest in Andalusia, and was built over a period of 250 years. But despite the amount of time it took to build, it's still not quite finished. The second tower was never completed, which led the cathedral to be nicknamed La Manquita (the one-armed woman).
Insider's Tip: Visit the roof of the cathedral for some of Malaga's best views. You can buy a ticket for just the cathedral, just the roof, or both.
Malaga spent quite a bit of time under Moorish rule, which means that many of the city's top sights and monuments date back to this time. The most impressive of them all, though, is the Alcazaba.
Located right in the city center, you can't miss this beautiful building. It's home to gorgeous floral patios, orange trees, and stunning Arabic architecture—not to mention the view from the fortress over the city.
With an entry fee of just €3.50, it's an absolute bargain and worth paying a visit. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Malaga!
Fun Fact: Because the Alcazaba is 300 years younger than the Alhambra (the Moorish palace in Granada), locals call it the “Mini Alhambra.”
3. Roman Theater
Malaga's Roman Theater dates back to the first century, although its existence was only discovered in the 1950s! Once upon a time the theater was covered in white marble and surrounded by columns and pillars, but much of this material was used by the Moors to build the Alcazaba.
Today, it's a fascinating monument to visit—and it's free to enter! Go inside and walk around, or take a seat to feel like a true Roman. Every now and then there are still plays or musical concerts at the theater, so check the schedule when you arrive.
See Also: The complete guide to free things to do in Malaga
4. Plaza de la Merced
There's always something going on at this square—people walking their dogs, kids playing outside, and sometimes even a little pop-up market.
In fact, Plaza de la Merced is a meeting spot for many malagueños. It's also a must-visit for fans of the city's favorite son: Pablo Picasso. His birth house is located in the plaza and in front of it there's a statue of the man himself, enjoying the Malaga sun.
Insider's Tip: Rub the Picasso statue on his head—locals believe it will help his creativity rub off on you!
5. Picasso Museum
Speaking of Picasso, his namesake museum is definitely worth a visit. For €12, you can see three floors filled with pieces from his formative years. As you make your way through the museum, you'll learn about Picasso's early life in Malaga and how his experiences affected his art.
I suggest taking the audio guide, which is included in your entrance ticket, to get to know this legendary artist a little bit better.
Insider’s Tip: Don’t forget about the basement of the Picasso Museum. There's no art here, but there are some pretty fascinating ancient ruins.
6. Gibralfaro Castle
Located on a steep hill near Malaga's city center, Gibralfaro Castle promises spectacular views. The Moors built the castle for defensive purposes—hence its prime location—and today you can enjoy the scenery from the high defensive walls as you walk around them.
If you want to imagine the castle in its full former glory, in the middle of the fortress you'll find a small museum with weapons and armor that the soldiers used on the battlefield.
The entry fee is just €3.50—or you can buy a combined ticket for the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle for €5.50 (saving you €1.50).
Insider’s Tip: As you walk up to Gibralfaro, you'll come across an amazing viewpoint. Don’t forget to take a little break to snap some great pictures.
7. Plaza de la Constitución
Malaga's heart lies in Plaza de la Constitución, a beautiful square surrounded by grand buildings and palm trees.
At the edge of this central square you'll see huge newspapers printed directly into the ground. These are copies of the papers that were printed on the first day of the Spanish democracy—and the reason why it's called "Constitution Square" today.
8. Malaga Park
If you want to relax and cool off a bit, head for the Parque de Malaga. This beautiful little green space runs right along the harbor for 300 meters. It's home to plants and trees from all over the world—basically a free botanical garden!
There are lots of fountains, statues, and benches where you can sit down and relax, making it the perfect place to chill out on a hot summer day.
Read More: 10 Days in Malaga
9. Muelle Uno
Malaga is a quickly evolving city, and in 2011 its port area was rejuvenated with the creation of Muelle Uno. Here you can shop at one of the many hip stores, sit down at a great restaurant, or simply enjoy the view from the other side of the city center.
If art is your calling, Malaga’s Centre Pompidou is located nearby, with its brightly colored exterior bringing even more personality to this modern part of town.
10. La Malagueta Beach
No trip to the Costa del Sol would be complete without visiting the beach, but you don't have to go far to find it. And with 330 days of sun every year, Malaga is the perfect destination for sunbathing, swimming, or simply taking a walk.
Head down to Playa de la Malagueta, where you'll find chiringuitos (beach bars and restaurants) where you can have a drink or a bite to eat while taking in the breezy sea air.
See Also: The ultimate guide to the best beaches in Malaga (and beyond!)
Things to See in Malaga FAQs
Malaga's biggest claim to fame is probably Pablo Picasso, who was born here in 1881. The Picasso Museum is one of the best things to see in Malaga, allowing you to get to know the artist and his many masterpieces. You can also visit his birth house in Plaza de la Merced.
Calle Larios is the most famous shopping street in Malaga. This wide pedestrian avenue is lined with shops and always full of life. It's also within easy walking distance of many of the city's top sights, thanks to its location in the historic center.
There are so many places to go in Malaga, from the historic cathedral, grand Alcazaba, and imposing Gibralfaro Castle to the modern Muelle Uno, peaceful Malaga Park, and iconic beach of La Malagueta. I suggest choosing a few of the top things to see, depending on your interests, and designing your itinerary around them.
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