The Perfect 2 Days in Malaga Itinerary

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by Maggie Turansky


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As the largest city on the Costa del Sol and the 6th-largest in all of Spain, planning out a Málaga itinerary is a pure joy. There are lots of things to do in the city, however, it is compact enough that you can easily spend just 2 days in Málaga and get a lot out of this lively metropolis.

As the gateway to Spain’s southern coast, Málaga is a large and dynamic city that thrives under perennial sunshine and fine weather. It’s a popular jumping-off point for eager holidaymakers looking to soak up the Spanish sunshine, however, there is also a lot of history and interesting culture to enjoy in the city itself.

How Many Days in Malaga?

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 days to spend 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, Ronda, Marbella, Nerja or even Gibraltar quite quickly and easily.

Whether you only have 2 or 3 days in Malaga or ten, however, there will certainly be enough to keep you engaged and occupied through your Spanish adventure.

Malaga Cathedral
Malaga Cathedral

Getting To & Around Malaga

Málaga is incredibly well-connected to other cities in Spain as well as abroad. Home to Spain’s fourth-busiest airport, the Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport serves countless different airlines across myriad different cities in Europe and even further afield. This makes arriving into Málaga incredibly easy.

The airport is also located quite close to the city centre, which is accessible via both bus and train from the airport. You can also organise private transfers.

If you’re travelling from elsewhere in Spain, you’ll also find that Málaga is well-connected via the country’s rail network. You can get the high-speed train from Madrid, for instance, in about 2.5 hours. There are also direct trains from cities like Seville and Barcelona along with countless others. You can browse train schedules here.

And if you’re looking to save some cash, there are also plenty of buses connecting Málaga with cities and towns throughout the country.

Once in the city, you’ll find that it is incredibly easy to navigate on foot. The centre is compact and easy to get around and a joy to simply wander.

If you venture a bit far away or don’t fancy walking too much, there is also an extensive city bus network that can take you virtually anywhere within the city with ease.

There’s no real need for a hire car within the city of Málaga itself, however, having your own vehicle can be helpful if you want some flexibility for day trips and to visit some places that are hard-to-reach or further afield.

Side streets in Málaga with a view of the cathedral's bell tower
Málaga has some beautiful side streets

2-Day Malaga Itinerary

Now 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!

Day 1 – City Centre Sites

The first day 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 and 3 PM from the Plaza de la Constitución (Constitucion Square). 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.

If the schedule of the free tour doesn’t work for you, this walking tour of the city centre can be a great alternative option.

A "trono" used in Málaga's Semana Santa celebrations
A “trono” used in Málaga’s Semana Santa celebrations, as seen during the free walking tour

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 break after hiking up the steep paths! Make sure you take the time to see as much of the fortress-palace as you can as the architecture and gardens in the structure itself are beautiful, but it also commands spectacular views of Málaga, the port and the Muelle Dos Pier from its towers and walls.

If you’re up for it, you can also wind your way up the hill to the Castillo de Gibralfaro, ruins of a 13th Century Moorish castle that lies above the Alcazaba complex. You can get expansive views over the city here.

The Alcazaba is open every day. Entry is €3.50 for adults, with discounts available for seniors and students. If you’re interested in also purchasing a combined ticket for the Gibralfaro Castle, it is €5.50 for the combined ticket.

The view of the Málaga Alcazaba from below
The view of the Alcazaba from below

Roman Theatre

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.

Roman Theatre of Málaga
The Roman Theatre wasn’t discovered until the 1950s

Picasso Museum

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 cited to have thought of Barcelona more as his true home, Málaga is very proud to be the birthplace of one of the most influential artists 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 and general adult admission costs €12.

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.

If you want to visit another art museum, consider the Carmen Thyssen Museum, which is a fantastic option, as well.

After spending your time at the Picasso Museum, you have a few options for the evening. A great idea is to head out on a sunset catamaran cruise on the Mediterranean – an excellent way to enjoy the atmosphere of Málaga from the water.

Pablo Picasso Statue in Málaga
Pablo Picasso is one of Málaga’s most famous former residents

Day 2 – Food, Wine & Art

Where day one of your 48 hours in Malaga 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

One of the best things to do in any Spanish city, from Madrid to Seville to Valencia is to head to one of its local markets, and Málaga is no different.

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 no 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 market and tapas tour or this evening tapas tour!

Mercado de Atarazanas in Malaga
Mercado de Atarazanas

Museo del Vino

On the first day during your time in Málaga, 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 €6 entry fee (with discounts available for seniors and students) includes a tasting of two wines, with the possibility to taste more for a small additional fee.

Tasting a local dessert wine at the Museo del Vino
Tasting a local dessert wine at the Museo del Vino

Explore Soho

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.

street art in the Soho neighbourhood of Málaga
Just one of many works of street art in the Soho neighbourhood

Playa de Malagueta

After spending most of your 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. And the entire neighbourhood of La Malagueta is an excellent place to explore.

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 where you can hire a lounge chair instead of having to spread your towel out directly on the sand.

All in all, no 2 days or weekend in Malaga would be complete without a visit to the beach!

If you want to end your day with a cultural activity, then consider heading to a flamenco show! Though not traditionally from Málaga, it’s still a great place to enjoy this art form.

Sign at Málaga Playa de Malagueta
Málaga’s tranquil Playa de Malagueta

Have 3 Days in Malaga?

If you have more than 2 days to devote to your trip, then a great way to spend your final days is by heading out on a day trip. Málaga is well suited to visit a lot of great areas that can help you get a better understanding of the region and its surrounding area.

The whitewashed town of Ronda is located about 1.5 to 2 hours from Málaga (depending on your mode of transport) and it is well worth visiting. If you don’t want to go independently, then this full-day tour is a great choice.

Alternatively, if you don’t have time to devote a few days to the city, you can easily visit the incredible city of Granada as a day trip from Málaga. Again, it’s easy to do independently, but this organised tour is a good choice for those who don’t want to bother with the hassle!

If you want to visit a unique area, then consider heading to the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar! This is a great place to visit as a day trip and offers something completely different to other neighbouring cities and towns. You can go independently or opt for this guided group tour!

Finally, if you’re interested in getting a bit active, then walking the Caminito del Rey is a fantastic choice. You can opt to do this independently, as well, or head out on this guided day tour if that’s more your style.

View of Ronda from the City Walls
View of Ronda from the City Walls

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.

Restaurante los Hidalgos Bodegón — This is an excellent place to head for lunch, as they have a wonderful set menú del día where you get a beverage, entree, main dish, bread, and a dessert all for quite a low price. They tend to have daily specialities and it isn’t written down, so it’s easiest to eat here if you have at least a basic level of Spanish or are willing to take a gamble with your food. Regardless, the wonderful home cooking here is sure not to disappoint.

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.

El Tinglao de Lagunillas – This spot is a great place for a local bite to eat in the hip Lagunillas neighbourhood. Not far from the historical centre, they have kind owners and a great menu. They also serve as a bit of a wine shop so it’s great if you want to purchase something for later!

Las Merchanas — This restaurant, located in a quiet alley only a stone’s throw away from some of the top tourist sites, is an excellent choice for an authentic tapas meal in Málaga. They have several fresh, local specialities, friendly service, generous portions and affordable prices. Make sure you get here early if you don’t want to wait for a table!

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.

Delicious and hearty espinacas con garbanzos from La Tranca
Delicious and hearty espinacas con garbanzos from La Tranca

Where to Stay in Malaga

Hotel Sur Málaga – This hotel is a great base in Málaga, situated close to the top sites in the city. There are several comfortable rooms to choose from, private parking, air conditioning and breakfast served daily.

Vincci Larios Diez – Boasting a range of bright, modern rooms, this luxe hotel is located in the centre of Málaga. They have amenities including a bar, restaurant, room service and private parking for guests to use.

Malagueta Beach Studio – A comfortable studio apartment in La Malagueta, this is a great self-catering option for a couple. It comes fully equipped with all you may need and has a great location for exploring the city.

The Lights Hostel – Boasting a rooftop terrace, great social atmosphere, a central location and plenty of room types on offer, this hostel is great for backpackers and solo travellers planning to visit Málaga.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Málaga!

Málaga's Alcazaba sits above the Roman Theatre
Málaga’s Alcazaba sits above the Roman Theatre

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 a few days in Malaga is a great way to get an authentic, local Andalucían experience while still having a relaxing beach holiday.

Are you planning to visit Málaga? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

Comments

    • There are plenty of beautiful beaches around Málaga – Playa de Malagueta (mentioned in this itinerary) is just one great option! 🙂

      Reply
  1. We will be traveling on the Sea Dream and have a day in Malaga. What do you think we should see since it’s only one day and evening? Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Thanks for your wonderful posts full of very interesting information. I live in Spain and your posts regarding my country are excellent.

    Reply
  3. Tks for your posting. I was looking for a day-trip info from Malaga.
    Marbella and Ronda could be one and Granada another, which I assume now.
    Do you think it works, Tks.

    Reply

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