Holidays in Malaga - the most important sights

Spain's turbulent history has ensured that many cities are home to sights from different eras and from a wide variety of cultures. This also applies to Málaga in southern Andalusia. Cultural travelers as well as beach vacationers in the region should not miss a trip to this exciting city.

Málaga is the second largest city in Andalusia and ranks sixth in the whole of Spain. The port city has around 600,000 inhabitants and its own airport. Due to its location directly on the sea, it is still an important trade center, especially for the opposite coast of North Africa.


Furthermore, tourism plays a major role, because every year more than 20 million visitors come to Andalusia. Many head for the beaches, which are known for their beauty with white sand and crystal clear water as well as guaranteed sunshine in the summer months. But also active vacationers as well as cultural travelers like to come to the historically interesting region, especially in the somewhat cooler months in spring or autumn.

Things to know for your trip to Malaga

The Costa del Sol in the south of Spain is very suitable for a vacation with the whole family - © Madrugada Verde /
© Madrugada Verde /

There are many good reasons for a trip to Málaga, which is often combined with a tour of Andalusia or a beach vacation on the Costa del Sol. The following information can help with the organization:

Arrival and means of transport

The port city has its own airport called Aeropuerto de Málaga, which is served by many low-cost airlines directly from Germany. Especially away from the high season, a comparatively inexpensive stay in the city is therefore possible. Those who rely on public transport and would like to stay in inexpensive hotels, will certainly find one or the other vacation bargain in Malaga.

Even in the middle of the historic old town there are attractive offers for the small purse, so that a large part of the sightseeing is possible on foot. Nevertheless, it can be well worthwhile to extend the trip and also see the rest of Spain or additionally Portugal. In this case, a rental car or the bus tour is often the best choice.

Travel time, duration and financing

The best time to travel to the south of Spain is from March to November - however, it can get hot in the city during the summer months. The winter months, on the other hand, are considered to be very rainy. For a visit to Málaga, several days to a week should be planned to experience the city of cultures in its entirety. If there are other destinations in the area on the plan, even more time is necessary.

For students in particular, the city is attractive for a stay abroad as part of their studies. The focus of the universities there is on the medical and economic fields. There are also branches of various renowned IT companies.

Prices and cost of living

Prices for food or visits to bars and restaurants are similar to those in Central Europe. If you watch your spending a bit, you can find cheap menus or accommodation in Málaga. If several people are traveling, a vacation apartment is a good option for cost reasons. If you want to stay longer, you can find cheap apartments or rooms in a shared apartment, especially outside the center.


Those who lack the budget for an extended trip can look for a job locally. Working directly there is the best way to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the city, make contacts with the locals and get to know the cultural peculiarities. However, taking out a small loan is also an increasingly common option for sufficient vacation budget. This is a good alternative, if some important basic rules are observed and the necessary conditions are met.

Alternative modes of travel

Recently, more and more - especially young - people opt for models such as "Work & Travel" or "Couchsurfing". Alternatively, the so-called "Mozarabic Way of St. James" passes Málaga, which promises a very special and at the same time favorable experience in addition to the sightseeing of Málaga.

The most important sights of Málaga

Málaga has undergone a comprehensive image change in recent decades, evolving from a somewhat dingy port city into an exciting cultural center. A lot has been invested in the renovation of monuments, new museums, attractive pedestrian zones and a good infrastructure. For a visit, these are the most important sights that every traveler should have seen in and around Málaga.

Málaga old town

Culturally and historically particularly interesting is the old town of Málaga. It is the main reason for many tourists to travel to the port city, because it is the historic core, where many relics tell of the unique past.

Of particular cultural and historical interest is the old town of Málaga, Spain - © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
© Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Malaga was founded as early as the 8th century BC by seafaring Phoenicians. Since then, many different peoples have settled there and some have left diverse traces in the form of buildings, alleys and cultural influences to this day. After the Phoenician settlement, then called "Malaka", was taken over by the Romans during the Second Punic War, it experienced rapid growth. Trade was mainly in salted fish and around the year 83 AD it was granted Flavian city rights under Emperor Domitian. As a relic from this time, the Roman Theater still stands in Malaga.

However, the time of the migration of peoples followed and with it came new changes of dominion. The Vandals, Alans, Visigoths as well as Eastern Romans fought a continuous battle for the city, until finally in 711 the Moors came to Spain and took over "Mālaqa", as they baptized it.

Only eleven years later , the Reconquista finally began, although historical records are not entirely clear. The fact is, however, that in this course the Christians reconquered all the territories in Spain occupied by the Moors, including what is now Málaga. Many reforms by the Catholic kings followed, as well as a strong immigration of Jews who had fled from Córdoba. However, these were also expelled from Málaga from the year 1487.

For the time being, the last chapter of the exciting history of Malaga was the Spanish Civil War, in which the city played a key role. For it was there that the famous Battle of Málaga took place in 1937, in which around 10,000 people died.


Thus, the history of Malaga has many chapters and most have left visible traces in the old town. Those who travel to Málaga will find the most important monuments there, as well as a neighborhood that is interesting per se. Here, buildings from different eras as well as in different styles are lined up. Small squares or churches provide further highlights. A total of 1,319 buildings are listed in the historic core of Málaga.

Furthermore, there is the birthplace of Picasso and the Cathedral of Málaga. Its construction took 254 years until it was completed in 1782. Accordingly, architecture connoisseurs can recognize several eras within one building here. With Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque elements, the structure is one of the most famous in all of Andalusia. It is 84 meters high, making it the second tallest tower in the region.

Monte Gibralfaro

Not located directly in the old town, but on Mount Gibralfaro, is the national monument of Spain with the castle of the same name. The fortress was built in the 14th century, but is no longer completely preserved. Nevertheless, the trip to the Castillo is worthwhile, because some of the old buildings can still be visited, as well as some rooms or courtyards. Above all, however, this sight is popular because of its view over the entire city and the Costa del Sol.

From Monte Gibralfaro you can also get an excellent view of the bullring of Málaga, Spain - © Grisha Bruev / Shutterstock
© Grisha Bruev / Shutterstock

From Monte Gibralfaro you can also get an excellent view of the bullring of Málaga. It is called Plaza de Toros de La Malagueta and is still used for its original purpose. Around 9,000 spectators can be seated in the stands and those who wish can watch a fight on site or simply see the arena from the inside. There is also a small museum with thematically appropriate information and exhibitions.

Directly below the castle at the foot of Mount Gibralfaro is the Alcazaba fortress, another of Malaga's most important sights. It therefore makes sense to combine their visits with each other. The royal palace originates from the time of the Moors and is therefore made in the Arabian style.

It is much better preserved than the Castillo de Gibralfaro and is known for its magnificent green spaces with exotic flowers. Furthermore, different cacti can be seen here and if you are lucky, you can catch a glimpse of the settled, but wild, colorful parrots. The fortress itself can be entered. Inside there is a museum, which informs in changing exhibitions about the history of Alcazaba as well as Málaga. Exciting are also the artifacts and relics, most of which come from the excavations on site.

And yet another sight is located at the foot of Mount Gibralfaro, right next to the entrance of the fortress complex: the aforementioned Roman Theater. It is one of the oldest buildings in Málaga and for a long time could only be admired in a dilapidated state. In the meantime, however, the almost 2,000-year-old structure has been rebuilt and restored true to the original.


Port of Málaga

The international seaport of Málaga is located directly on the Costa del Sol - the so-called sun coast - and therefore offers a worth seeing promenade with a view of the sea. On one side, small fishing boats, luxury yachts and large cruise ships are anchored, on the other side, restaurants and cafés are lined up.

Pier one is the name given to the harbor promenade, which is not an ancient sight, but nevertheless one of the most beautiful and interesting corners of the city. The trip to the harbor is especially popular with visitors and locals on Sundays, when a traditional market takes place on the promenade.

Markets and malls

Another market worth seeing is the Mercado Central Atarazanas, which takes place permanently and under cover. It is the oldest and also the largest market in Málaga, but it is by no means only designed for tourists.

Here, in addition to souvenirs or local goods, especially fresh food such as fish is sold. Those who are interested in the culinary arts of the region will therefore find numerous delicacies to try at Atarazanas.

If, on the other hand, shopping for clothes, decorations or small souvenirs is more your thing, the city's malls are an excellent place to start. In Malaga, fashion enthusiasts can shop at well-known Spanish brands such as Zara or Mango, as well as international brands or small boutiques.

The Centro Comercial Rosaleda, the Málaga Plaza and the Comercial Larios Centro offer a correspondingly large selection. The textile industry has played an important role in the city for a long time, but Málaga is also known nationwide for leather goods and handmade silver jewelry.

Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica de la Encarnación

Among the historical sights in Málaga is also the church called Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica de la Encarnación, which was also built over a long period of time. It took more than 250 years before it was finally completed in 1782, so it too has architectural features from many different eras.


The Catedral de la Encarnación is famous for its facade, which is reminiscent of the "Notre-Dame" in Paris. The cathedral is located not far from the port and can also be visited from the inside. 40 statues, two marble pulpits, a magnificent vaulted ceiling and Corinthian columns characterize the interior. Although stylistically the Renaissance period predominates, there are also clear features from the Gothic, Baroque and Neoclassical periods.

Ayuntamiento de Málaga

Málaga City Hall is located on a park-like promenade lined with subtropical plants. Although it was only built at the beginning of the 20th century, it is one of the city's landmarks.

Definitely one of the most beautiful buildings in Málaga, it bears the unmistakable signature of its Spanish architects Guerrero Strachan and Rivera Vera. Although at first glance it is strongly reminiscent of the elegant Baroque, it has been expanded to include modern elements that exude lightness. The port city's town hall is particularly striking due to its bright yellow color - one of the most popular motifs for souvenir photos.

Parks and (botanical) gardens

Nature in Málaga is also worth seeing, in the form of numerous gardens and parks with their interesting flora and fauna. The most famous is the botanical garden La Concepción, built in 1855, with over 1,000 different tropical and subtropical plants, in addition to historical monuments such as the Casa-Palacio and Casa del Administrador.

The most famous park in Malaga, Spain is the botanical garden called La Concepción built in 1855 - © 1st-ArtZone / Shutterstock
© 1st-ArtZone / Shutterstock

Another popular park is the Parque de Málaga, which is located in the city center. It also includes many buildings, fountains and statues, in addition to a rich plant life. It is a popular retreat for locals, especially on hot summer days, which is why it is called the green lung of Málaga. Due to its proximity to the city hall, it is a good idea to combine the visit of these two sights.

Other parks worth seeing in Málaga are, for example, the Alameda Park on a site that was once reclaimed from the sea, the gardens called Jardines de Pedro Luis Alonso with its countless orange trees, the Jardines de Puerta Oscura on the slope of Monte Gibralfaro, the extensive Parque de Huelin, the Jardines Picasso with its hundred-year-old ficus trees, and the El Morlaco Forest Park as a Mediterranean forest that is extremely popular especially with dog owners.

Museums in Málaga

Due to its interesting history and unique cultural mix, Malaga has now become a real museum city. A total of 37 museums on various themes await visitors here and each one of them is worth seeing. Among the most interesting, largest and most important museums of the Andalusian metropolis are:

  • Museo de Málaga as a city museum with the two most important collections of the arts as well as archaeology of the city. The museum is the largest museum in Andalusia with over 2,000 paintings from the 19th as well as 20th century and more than 15,000 archaeological references.
  • Archaeological deposits "La Araña" as a museum about prehistoric times from the Neanderthals to the Neolithic and Bronze Age. This is because the Mediterranean climate has made Malaga a place that was inhabited in prehistoric times before the official establishment of a settlement.
  • Picasso Museum in the Buenavista Palace as an exhibition of the most famous artist not only of Malaga, but all of Spain. The permanent exhibition includes 233 works of the artist, who was born in 1881 in Málaga, as well as changing temporary exhibitions to deepen the understanding of his environment and work. Those interested in Picasso should also visit number 15 of the Plaza de la Merced, the house where Pablo Picasso was born, which now also houses a museum.

Art, cars, culture, bullfights, crystals, customs, sea, ecology - the list of topics in the museums of Málaga is long and thus there should be a suitable choice for every taste.

Beaches in and around Málaga

If you come to Andalusia, you definitely want to go to the beach. Malaga even has its own city beach called Playa de La Malagueta, which is not too crowded outside the high season and is therefore an ideal destination. It extends over a length of 1.2 kilometers and a width of about 45 meters.

Away from the city limits, even more beautiful beaches await for an extended day by the sea. Among them are the following:

  • the beach Playa de Los Álamos
  • the beach of Calahonda
  • the beach of Cabopino
  • the beach of Burriana
  • the beach of Bil-Bil
  • the bay Playa de Maro
  • the beach of Pedregalejo .

Excursions around Málaga

The Mezquita mosque in Cordoba impresses with its stunning mix of styles from the south, east and west, and the cathedral that rises from its center, Spain - © Artur Bogacki / Shutterstock
© Artur Bogacki / Shutterstock

Finally, it is not only the beaches that attract visitors to the surrounding area, but also the interesting neighboring cities and landscapes around Málaga. Those who are in the region anyway should definitely travel to Granada, where one of the most important sights of all of Europe is enthroned with the Alhambra.

But also the nearby Córdoba with its Mezquita, one of the largest mosques in the world, is worth a side trip. In addition, there are many opportunities for hiking and climbing around the port city, for example on the Caminito del Rey or around Ronda with the fascinating bridge structure called Puente Nuevo.