Málaga came as a surprise to me. For far too long, I had associated the largest city on Spain’s Costa del Sol as a destination solely marketed toward package holiday-makers. I assumed that the city would be so overrun by tourists clinging to their Northern European comforts that there would be very little “Spanish” left. I figured that if I spent 2 days in Malaga that it would be a struggle to find something to like about the city, to find a restaurant filled with locals rather than tourists, to pay prices akin to the south of Spain rather than the south of England. I assumed all of this, and I was wrong.
Sure, Málaga is touristy — exceptionally so. But it is also a large and dynamic city that thrives under perennial sunshine and fine weather. It has a great cultural scene that doesn’t only consist of stag and hen parties getting pissed off of cheap booze.
There are many layers to Málaga and there is a lot to see and do here, beyond the tourist crowds and pitchers of sangría and spending a couple of days or a weekend here can be a real treat. So, hopefully, you don’t have the preconceived notions that I had and you’re ready to piece together the best 2 days in Malaga itinerary for you!
How Many Days in Malaga?
Málaga is a large city with a surprising amount of things to do, enough to span a number of days, in fact. However, it is likely that you want to visit this city also to enjoy it’s beautiful sunny weather and ideal location on the Costa del Sol, so you’re certainly going to want to factor in some time soaking up the rays in addition to cultural activities.
These desires can make figuring out how many days to spend in Málaga a daunting task. Because it has its own international airport, Málaga is a convenient destination to reach from almost every major city in Europe, meaning that it is an increasingly popular place for a city break, especially for those looking to escape the cold, grey weather that might be taking place elsewhere on the continent.
So, if you want to visit Málaga as a quick city break, then two to three days in the city could be the ideal amount of time. Two days will allow you to see all the main tourist sites and hit a couple of museums and a third day is ideal for a day trip or beach day.
If you have more than 2 or 3 days in Malaga, the city can make an excellent base from which to explore more of the Costa del Sol or Andalucía in general. Málaga is incredibly well-connected to most major cities and towns within the region and the country, both by train or by bus. Therefore, it is possible to day trip to cities like Córdoba, Granada, Antequera, Marbella, or Estepona quite quickly and easily.
Whether you only have two days in Malaga or ten, however, there will certainly be enough to keep you engaged and occupied through your Spanish adventure.
2 Days in Malaga Itinerary
Now that you’ve figured how many days you want to spend in Málaga, it’s time to figure out what to do in Malaga for 2 days. While it might seem that the city exists solely so that you can spend time soaking up the sun and swimming in the warm Mediterranean waters, there are a number of great things to do in Málaga in two days. So much to do, in fact, that it is entirely possible not to spend any time at all at the beach!
However, don’t worry, as there is some beach time factored into this 2-day Malaga itinerary, along with all of the greatest cultural sites and some more interesting,
Day 1 – City Centre Sites
The first day of your Málaga itinerary sees you getting the lay of the land and stopping by some of the city’s main sites. Make sure to pack some good walking shoes along with your beach gear, as you’ll certainly need them after today!
Free Walking Tour
The first activity on your two days in Málaga itinerary should inarguably be a free walking tour. A stronghold in most large European cities, free walking tours are always our first stop when exploring a new city as they help you both to get your bearings and take you by the biggest tourist attractions in the city. You will also get an overview of the city’s history and some local recommendations, at times, as well.
In Málaga, we recommend taking the tour with Explora Málaga, which employs local guides who are incredibly well-informed and entertaining.
Their tours run daily, rain or shine, and leave at 11 AM from the Plaza de la Constitución (Constitucion Square) with additional tours leaving at 4 PM on Fridays and Saturdays. The later time is the perfect option if you’re keen to have a lie-in while spending a weekend in Málaga.
The tour will take you by all of the main sites in the city and can help you gain an idea of the things that you’d like to see during your 48 hours in Malaga. The tour includes stops at places like the Alcazaba and the Málaga Cathedral (where you will learn about its lack of roof and why there is only one tower).
One of the best stops, however, is at one of the Brotherhoods where they keep some of the tronos (literally “thrones,” however, they are parade floats) used in the procession during Málaga’s famed Semana Santa (holy week) celebrations.
Remember, while these tours are technically free of charge and you’re under no obligation to pay a thing, it is good practice to tip your guide the amount you thought the tour was worth at the end of the tour. This is how the guides make a living and how they’re able to continue offering this service to other visitors.
Alcazaba de Málaga
After learning about Málaga’s history, culture, and sights during the free walking tour, it’s time to actually visit and see some of these sites for yourself. One of the best places to visit during any Malaga itinerary is the Alcazaba — the Moorish fortress and palace overlooking the city and port.
Situated atop some of the highest hills in the city, the fortress was originally built in the Eleventh Century atop a former Roman bastion. In fact, you can even see some of the materials used by the Romans, like columns, in some of the towers and buildings in the Moorish structure that stands today.
The Alcazaba is quite large and sprawled out over a number of hills, allow at least an hour to explore it, especially if you need to take a
The Alcazaba is open every day from 9 AM – 8 PM in April – October and 9 AM – 6 PM in November – March. Entry is €3.50 for adults, with discounts available for seniors and students.
After spending so much time on your feet during the free walking tour and exploring the Alcazaba, it’s time to do a bit more of a relaxing activity — visit the Roman Theatre.
Located just below the Alcazaba, the Roman Theatre is an amazing site to be seen and an excellent place to rest your feet after so much walking. Completely free to enter, you can view the little exhibit in the visitor’s centre and read the plaques in the theatre within about 15 minutes, however, it is worth walking up and taking a seat within the theatre itself.
It overlooks a large square and is also normally blessed with the sun beating down on it, so it is a fantastic place to people-watch and see the world go by.
If you want to learn about the history of both the Roman Theatre & the Alcazaba, then it’s possible to take a guided tour of both sites in either English or Spanish.
After spending some time chilling out at the Roman Theatre, it’s time to head a museum dedicated to the works of one of Málaga’s most famous residents: Pablo Picasso.
Picasso was born in Málaga and lived in the city for a large portion of his childhood. Though he is sited to have thought of Barcelona more as his true home, Málaga is very proud to be birthplace of the most influential artist of the 20th century.
Because of the city’s pride, there is a small museum that is home to a number of works by Picasso throughout his long career. Though you aren’t going to find his most famous paintings like Guernica here (you’ll have to visit Madrid for that!), there are a significant amount of his paintings and sculptures housed here to be able to see how his influences and styles changed throughout his long life.
The Picasso Museum is open daily from 10 AM – 6 PM (some seasons it is open to 7 or 8 PM, make sure to check in advance) and general adult admission costs €8.
The general admission ticket gets you into the permanent collection, however, if you’re keen to see some of the temporary exhibitions in the museum, that does come at an additional charge. There are also discounts available for seniors & students and you can pre-book skip-the-line tickets here.
Day 2 – Food, Wine & Art
Where day one of your 48 hours in Malaga itinerary had you walking all over town and taking in a bunch of historical sites, the second day is slightly more relaxed. This day has you focusing on some of the local gastronomy of Málaga while also enjoying some of the local artistic culture that has developed here as well.
Mercado de Atarazanas
In a city where it can be incredibly difficult to find a proper, local meal instead of an overprices tourist trap, it can be an exceptional treat to explore its local market. Though the Mercado de Atarazanas, Málaga’s central market, certainly sees its fair share of tourists, you’re definitely going to see that the majority of the people doing the shopping here are locals.
The hall itself is massive and houses everything from freshly caught seafood, butcher’s counters, cured meat and cheese counters, olive sellers, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Indeed, even if you’re staying in a hotel with not self-catering facilities, it can definitely be worth picking up some snacks to eat from one of the stalls here. You will not only be supporting a local seller, but the prices are almost always more affordable than what you’ll find at a supermarket and certainly cheaper than a restaurant.
If you don’t want to prepare your own food, there are also a number of little restaurants and bars both in and around the market that can be worth stopping at to quench your thirst or hunger. And if you’re interested in learning more about the food culture in Málaga, then make sure to check out this tapas tour!
Museo del Vino
On the first day of this Málaga itinerary, you were able to be cultured and refined while admiring the works of Pablo Picasso in the eponymous museum. Well, day two also includes a museum stop, but this one could be considered a lot more fun.
The Museo del Vino is a small museum in Málaga’s old city and is completely dedicated to the history and processes of wine production in the Málaga province. Though Spain is one of the top producers of wine worldwide, most people are only familiar with vintages hailing from the La Rioja or Ribera del Duero regions and fail to realise that excellent wines are made throughout the country.
The Museum of Wine seeks to educate visitors about the excellent types of wine that are produced throughout the Málaga province. The museum includes an interesting collection of vintage wine labels and a detailed history of wine production throughout the years while also getting into the grape varieties, soil, and general terroir of the region.
The €5 entry fee (with discounts available for seniors and students) includes a tasting of two wines, with the possibility to taste more for €1 each.
If you need to work off the wine from the Museo del Vino and want to check out some more of the art that this city has to offer, then take a walk over to the Soho neighbourhood. This is one of the most trendy areas of Málaga and can seem miles away from the tourist crowds of the old city, however, it is only about a 10-15 minute walk from the main attractions.
There are a lot of cool shops, restaurants, and bars in this neighbourhood, however, the most appealing aspect of Soho could possibly be its thriving street art scene. If you’re interested in this type of art even in the slightest, make sure you take the time out of your 2 days in Malaga to stroll around this area and see what murals and pieces you can find.
If you want some sort of explanation for the works of art you’re seeing decorating the walls of Soho, then make sure to check out MAUS, an organisation that is meant to support urban artists in Málaga. They have plaques next to many of the pieces of artwork with QR codes you can scan to be able to learn more about the artist or mural.
Playa de Malagueta
After spending most of your two-day Malaga itinerary on your feet and soaking up the culture of this large, coastal city, it’s time to hit the beach!
While Málaga’s city beach, Playa de Malagueta, may not be the most beautiful on the Costa del Sol, it is the perfect place to sunbathe, go for a swim, or maybe even have a picnic.
There are a number of bars and restaurants scattered around the beach area if you find yourself a little bit peckish. If you plan to stay at the beach for a while, there are also areas
All in all, no 2 days or weekend in Malaga would be complete without a visit to the beach!
Where to Eat in Malaga
Like every city in glorious Andalucía, there is a seemingly amount of restaurants to choose from in Málaga. However, many of these places are specifically catered toward tourists and offer sub-par paellas or overly sugary sangría at inflated prices.
There are some hidden gems in the city, and they aren’t hard to find if you know where to look. If you want to find the best places to eat in Málaga, follow these suggestions and you won’t be disappointed.
La Tranca — If you’re looking for the ultimate Spanish tapas experience, then be sure to pay a visit to La Tranca. This local bar is almost always packed with people and you can count yourself lucky if you’re able to find yourself a stool to sit on. However, their food is fantastic and they serve regional specialities and very affordable prices. Don’t be discouraged by the crowds, there is a reason it is so popular.
Taberna de Cervantes — This little restaurant is probably the most “tourist-friendly” on this list, however, it certainly does not sacrifice authenticity or quality in any way. They have a number of local tapas available at affordable prices and a fantastic wine list from local Spanish producers.
Where to Stay in Malaga
Málaga is an incredibly popular tourist destination and therefore there are seemingly endless accommodations options available, especially if you’ve planned your trip well in advance! If you’re struggling to find the best places to stay in Málaga, here are some of our top suggestions:
Hotel Sur Málaga — This hotel is a great base in Málaga, situated within easy walking distance to all of the best museums and attractions. They have a range of comfortable, air-conditioned rooms available and it is ideal for couples. There is also breakfast available for an additional charge. Click here to see their latest prices!
Madeinterranea Suites — If you’re after a little bit of luxury on your trip to Málaga, then this is the place for you. They have a number of spacious and comfortable rooms on offer, a restaurant on-site, and a fantastic breakfast included in the room rate. They also can organise an airport shuttle. Click here to see their latest prices!
The Lights Hostel — If you’re travelling on a budget, solo, or just want to meet other travellers during your time in Málaga, then this is the place for you! They have a range of dorm and private rooms available to suit all budgets and an extensive breakfast available at an additional cost. They also organise social events in the evenings. Click here to see their latest prices!
Private Rental — If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional accommodation in Malaga, then a private apartment such as this central studio with a rooftop terrace is a great choice. Click here to see the best private rentals in Malaga
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Malaga!
Málaga might be an incredibly popular tourist destination, however, that doesn’t mean that the city has been overrun with sun-seekers at the local’s expense. In fact, spending 2 days in Malaga is a great way to get an authentic, local Andalucían experience while still having a relaxing beach holiday.
When travelling in Malaga, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Are you planning to visit Málaga? Have you been? Let us know in the comments!