What to see and do on a day trip to Malaga

Are you planning to visit Malaga? Then this page has more information.

Malaga is popular as it is the doorway to the beaches and resort towns of the Costa del Sol, but there’s more to the port city than high-rise hotels and beachfront bars. Many tourists are surprised to discover that Malaga, with its charming historic center and booming art scene. It is the homeland of Pablo Picasso after all is more in tune with Andalucia culture hubs such as Cordoba and Seville than the flashy seaside spreads of Fuengirola and Benidorm. The leaning streets of the Old Town give themselves well to Segway tours, during which visitors short on time can tick off Museo Picasso Malaga, Malaga Alcazaba, and Malaga Cathedral (Cathedral de la Encarnacion). The city Malagueta Beach provides the opportunity to swim and sunbathe; nearby Mijas, where whitewashed houses tumble attractively into the Mediterranean Sea, is a banquet for the eyes; and Marbella, home to the rich Puerto Banus, lures a party crowd with its ritzy cocktail bars and star-decorated clubs.

The Alcazaba of Malaga

The Alcazaba is possibly the most well-known visitor attraction in Malaga. Built-in the 11th century by the Moors, this palace was both the home of Muslim rulers and a fortress to protect and defend the city from the Catholics. The site is very well maintained and protected. You’ll discover the courtyards, patios, fountains, and sumptuous gardens during your visit. As it’s built on a hill watching Malaga, it offers a lovely view over the sea and port.

There’s also a small archaeological museum showcasing Moorish pottery and ceramics.

Roman Theatre of Malaga | musementGibralfaro castleThings to see in Malaga - Castle of Gibralfaro, Malaga

This is another place you must visit in Malaga is Gibralfaro castle.

From the Alcazaba, you can go to the fort on foot via a path presenting great views over the city. It is however a bit extreme, so if you choose, you can take bus #35 from the Avenida de Cervantes to go there.

The castle was built in the 14th century to guard the Alcazaba. It had a barrack to house soldiers, as well as a lighthouse. That is the reason where the castle got its name from Gibralfaro means “mountain of light”.

There is a building right at the doorway to learn more about the history of the castle, but the visit is generally worth it for the view over Malaga and the sea from the walls. On clear days it’s even possible to see the Strait of Gibraltar.

 Malaga Roman theater

Another wonderful thing to do in Malaga is to visit the Roman theater situated at the bottom of the Alcazaba. It’s the oldest site in Malaga: it was constructed in the first century AD by Augustus and was used as a theater during the 2nd century. Then, it was transformed into a cemetery to finally be discarded. Some of the rocks from this site were used to build up the Alcazaba. The Roman theater wrecks were only found in 1951 when the building that was constructed on top was destroyed.

Nowadays, many outside concerts are taking place there. The entrance is free.

Renting Car in Spain

Rental car agencies have many offices all over Spain. Where exactly getting and returning the car depends on which regions you are visiting but usually, only major cities and visitor hotspots have car rental organizations.

Some major hubs are like Car Hire Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport, Barcelona & Bilbao in the North, and then Zaragoza & Madrid in the interior. In the South, Malaga is a major transport hub and services the whole Andalucia and coastal region. If you are scheduling on visiting Andalucia (Seville, Granada, Marbella, etc) it may well be worth your while flying in and out of Malaga airport and collecting the car at the airport – flights to the airport tend to be a lot cheaper than other cities in the region and the choice of rental cars is remarkable.

It will normally work out cheaper if you collect and return the car in the same place so do see if you can do your trip as some kind of loop. If not, then please don’t worry too much.

When you get the car, be sure to examine it carefully for any scratches or dents. These should all be logged on the sheet they give you but if you find some that are not, however small, take clear photographs with a device that records the date and time and the photograph.

Driving in Spain

The people from Spain generally drive manual vehicles. Automatic cars are rarely used and if you want one, you should consider booking well in advance of your trip to make sure they have one for you.

Driving standards are good. Speeding on the highways is very common and I saw a lot of seriously dubious overtaking.

Even though this or because of this, there are comparatively few traffic police around and you are unlikely to be pulled over on your trip.

Many Spanish drivers don’t seem worried by the odd bump, dent, or scratch. It is not uncommon for drivers to intentionally drive into the bumpers of vehicles parked in front of or behind them to move them along a bit to ease parking – this practice is known locally as “bumping”. If this also happens to the rental vehicle you have to lose some of your deposit. The only certain way to avoid this is to be very careful about where you park.

By Suryeon