How to Spend a Day in Malaga

As the sixth-largest city in Spain, Malaga is bursting with exciting things to see and do. You’ll find a wonderful range of cultural sites including museums and art galleries, a spectacular food culture and a glorious coastline in this picturesque metropolis. 

In this article, we share all of the top 9 things to do in Malaga, Spain, along with some helpful tips on how to make the most of your short trip to the city.

Malaga: What to See in a Day

Wondering how to spend a day in Malaga? We have shared all of the must-visit attractions in the city from the home of Picasso to the best-preserved Aalcazaba in Spain. In doing so, we hope to ease the planning process.

  • Atarazanas Market

You may wish to begin your day in Malaga with a visit to Atarazanas Market. A shipyard turned marketplace, it is the perfect place to grab some fresh local snacks to begin your day. It is divided into three sections, one for seafood, another with fresh fruits and vegetables and another one with meat. 

Nibble on juicy persimmons and strawberries while wandering along the market’s buzzing stalls. As a bustling spot favoured by locals and tourists alike, it is a wonderful place to visit simply to soak up the vibrant atmosphere.  

  • Explore the Historic Centre

The Historic Centre of Malaga is one of the most magical areas of the city. Here you will find picturesque winding streets lined with fantastic restaurants, traditional tavernas and shops leading to vibrant squares.

Some of the top areas to tick off in the historic centre of Malaga in one day include:

  • Plaza de la Constitución – the main square in Malaga.
  • Larios Street – the busiest street in Málaga. 
  • Málaga Cathedral – the city’s magnificent cathedral.
  • Plaza de la Merced – the birthplace of Picasso.
  • Roman Theatre and Alcazaba at Alcazabilla Street.

  • Malaga Cathedral

Stroll along one of the most famous streets in the city to reach the stunning Malaga Cathedral. A breathtaking Andalusian Renaissance temple, the building lies nestled in the historic centre, amongst its verdant gardens and flourishing courtyard. 

If venturing inside, you will be greeted with a chic interior reflecting Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles. As one of the most significant religious monuments,  Malaga Cathedral is a must-visit sightseeing spot for those stopping here for just one day. 

  • Museo Picasso Málaga (Picasso Museum)

For those still asking themselves what to see in Malaga in one day, turn your head towards the Museo Picasso Málaga. Otherwise known as the Picasso Museum, the attraction is dedicated to exhibiting the works of the city’s most legendary former resident.  

The museum provides a thorough overview of his life and career while showcasing 44 paintings, 49 drawings, 40 graphic works and sculptures. Alongside the artistic pieces, you will find information describing it and the era in which it was created. 

Famously regarded as one of the best things to see in Malaga, this attraction can be rather popular amongst the city’s visitors. For this reason, I would recommend visiting as early as possible on the day to beat the queues or booking a skip-the-line ticket. Otherwise, you may end up spending the best part of your one day in Malaga waiting in a queue.

  • The Alcazaba Fortress

The Alcazaba can be found atop a hill in the centre of Malaga. The Arabic palace fortress dates back to the 11th century and was built to defend the metropolis from attackers and invaders, something that was particularly important for Malaga given its proximity to the sea. 

Exploring the Alcazaba involves tackling a rather sharp incline, meaning it is best explored in the morning or afternoon when the peak sun is not in force. Set aside around two hours to investigate the landmark, this will give you enough time to see all of its highlights including the courtyards and fountains.

The building is home to ornate detailing and is complete with courtyards, grand rooms and viewpoints promising breathtaking views over the city. With so much to offer, going to The Alcazaba is one of the best things to do for those planning short breaks in Malaga. 

  • Roman Theatre (Teatro Romano)

You will find the Roman Theatre just below the walls of Alcazaba. A unique landmark, it was built in the 1st century AD and was still in use until the 3rd century. However, it switched use between the 5th and 6th centuries when it became a cemetery. 

Falling out of use, the Roman Theatre lay hidden for years, until it was rediscovered in the 1950s when excavation works began for the building of a new cultural centre. Despite its abandonment, the site remains so well preserved that visiting it is commonly hailed as one of the top things to do in Malaga. 

The amphitheatre is also an especially interesting attraction to visit. Despite Malaga being one of the oldest still inhabited cities in Europe, the Roman theatre is the only ancient ruin in the whole of the city. 

  • Castillo de Gibralfaro (Gibralfaro Castle)

Gibralfaro is a 14th-century fortress that was once built to house troops protecting the Alcazaba under the foothill. Here you will find 8 different towers and two lines of walls, each representing the castle’s fascinating role in the history of Malaga. 

While exploring Gibralfaro, you will be treated to many wonderful vistas over the picturesque city below, particularly when you are walking along the defence walls. Here you will have the perfect opportunity to snap a picture to remember your short trip to Malaga. 

You may wish to leave Gibralfaro until the early evening to tick off one of the top things to do in Malaga for couples. That is, to catch the sunset at the castle. It truly is a breathtaking sight to gaze over as the blazing sun sinks below the cityscape. 

  • Malagueta Beach

When you find yourself in need of a break, venture to Malagueta Beach. It is a wonderful spot for swimming, sunbathing and taking some time to relax from all of the sightseeing. Going to Malagueta Beach also happens to be one of the best things to do in Malaga for families. 

The shoreline is bursting with water sports opportunities, including kayaking, canoeing, snorkelling and paddle boarding. For the adults, you will find beach bars serving up ice-cold cocktails for you to enjoy by the waves. 

  • Eat Traditional Tapas

With such a phenomenal food scene, it is only natural that one of the top things to do in Malaga is to sample the local cuisine. Head to the Old Quarter to try some delicious local tapas such as fried fish, gazpacho and Malaga salad. 

One of the most incredible local recipes has to be Gambas al Pil-Pil. This involves fresh prawns flash-fried with garlic, chillies, paprika and a dash of wine. However, carne en salsa, otherwise known as meat in sauce, is another old favourite. 

It consists of pork stored in a savoury sauce of tomatoes, pepper, olive oil, garlic and wine. You’ll find traditional tapas in Malaga to be extremely fresh, flavoursome and vibrant, making for delicious meals and snacks. Naturally, each dish can be accompanied by a delicious local wine. 

Tips for Spending 1 Day in Malaga

The Best Time to Visit Malaga 

When planning day trips to Malaga, it is natural to want to visit at the best possible time of year. Luckily, the picturesque city makes a fantastic destination to visit all year round. However, certain times of the year may be better suited to individual travellers. 

During the summer months, Malaga experiences its hottest weather, with average temperatures around 30°C. One drawback of visiting in peak season is dealing with larger crowds of fellow tourists. Nonetheless, if crowds don’t bother you, summer can be an excellent time to explore the city, especially for those looking to partake in seaside activities.

Malaga’s winter is much milder, with temperatures averaging around 17°C. While it’s ideal for sightseeing in a quieter environment, the water might be a bit chilly for swimming.

The shoulder seasons, spring and October, strike a balance. The weather is comfortably warmer than winter but not as scorching as summer. This makes them great times to visit, offering a pleasant climate for exploration without the peak crowds.

How to Get Around Malaga in One Day 

As such a large city with an abundance of attractions to tick off, you may be wondering how you will be able to get around Malaga in a day. You need not worry as there is a vast range of transport options. Many of the top sites can be visited on foot, making walking a great way to explore. 

However, you will also be able to rent a bike if you are planning to visit attractions that lie further away from each other. You will even be able to take one of Malaga’s famous Bike Tours, otherwise known as Trixis. They offer a quick and easy way to see the city. 

Additionally, extensive train services run throughout Malaga. There is also a two-line metro that runs from the centre to the west and south-west of the metropolis. Lastly, buses are a great option for those spending a day in Malaga as they offer swift, efficient and affordable services all over the area. 

If you’re looking for the easiest way to spend one day in Malaga, you can take a hop-on-hop-off bus that will guide you to all of the top spots without having to worry about prior planning. 

Where to Stay in Malaga

After a busy day ticking off all of the best things to do in Malaga, you will be looking for a pleasant place to rest your head. The city has a fantastic range of accommodation options ranging from hostels to rental homes to 5-star hotels. There is something for all budgets in this vibrant destination


Malaga is the perfect European city break location. While there is an abundance of exciting things to do, many lie a short walk away from each other or can be easily reached by public transport. With so much to offer in this Spanish metropolis, you cannot go wrong with a 1-day trip to Malaga. 

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Molly Corry