Malaga is one of the biggest cities in Southern Spain, has the biggest airport in the region, and sits right on the Mediterranean. It’s an ancient city and one of the oldest in the world, with a history that dates back almost 3000 years. Beyond the historical and cultural sites in the city, there are beaches nearby, making it an attractive destination for anyone traveling through Spain.
You may be wondering, though, is Malaga actually worth visiting? Let’s dive into the topic of whether it’s worth your time, effort, and money in Spain to visit this popular Spanish destination.
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Is Malaga Worth Visiting? 11 Things to Consider
In the following sections, I’ll delve into several considerations about whether you should visit Malaga, reasons to visit, and some top recommendations about visiting the city.
1. It Has the Alcazaba – My Favorite Fortress in Spain
The Alcazaba of Malaga was such a delightful surprise. I had written it down on my list of places I wanted to visit, but hadn’t really researched it much ahead of time. I had neutral expectations, but WOW. The Alcazaba absolutely charmed me.
The alcazaba is a 10th century Moorish citadel, constructed and used by the Islamic rulers that lived in Spain. This fortress is made entirely of stone and brick, and the interior stonework tends to be constructed primarily of very artfully placed smaller stones and bricks. The fortress has large courtyards and grand chambers, but also little paths, corners, rooms, and hidden spots to explore.
There were towers to climb and fortress walls to walk along, and arched windows, doors, and balconies everywhere. Trees, palm trees, flowers, and greenery accent the arches, walls, and courtyards. It felt like something out of a fantasy novel.
Just by itself, the Alcazaba is a TOP reason to visit Malaga.
2. You Can Visit the Most Luxurious Hamman Baths
One of my favorite memories of Malaga is the hour and a half that we spent soaking in the Hamman Al Andalus luxury baths. This Hamman features half a dozen different pools that range in temperature, but are all surrounded by the gorgeous Islamic architecture.
You’ll appreciate the tall ceilings, intricately carved archways, detailed mosaics, and gauzy curtains while soaking in the rejuvenating waters and enjoying a 15 minute massage. Honestly, this activity by itself makes Malaga worth visiting 😉
And in case you were worried, this is not like a traditional Islamic hamman, where people are more or less nude – swimsuits are required here.
👉Make your reservations for the Hamman Luxury Baths here
3. Picasso’s Birthplace and Childhood Home
If you’re an art lover, one of the top reasons to visit Malaga is to visit the Picasso Museum. Picasso was actually born in Malaga and spent the first 10 years of his life in the city, before moving to Barcelona and then Paris. This museum is completely dedicated to Picasso and you’ll find only his works here.
I’m fairly lukewarm about art (sometimes I love it, sometimes I’m less interested), and I’m definitely not really into modern or cubist art. That being said, I was extremely impressed with the Picasso Museum.
There was a set route that you follow through the museum and each room is dedicated to a period of Picasso’s life. There’s a sign that tells you the name of that life period, as well as some information (in Spanish and English) about what was going on in his life and in the world that was influencing his painting, and what he was trying to accomplish or portray in the art.
This gave a TON of context to what otherwise would be art that I didn’t really connect with, and with that knowledge, I found myself quite intrigued by Picasso’s art.
The Picasso Museum is certainly a top attraction in Malaga that is definitely worth a stop when you visit.
4. A Really Spectacular Cathedral
If you’re a church person (not necessarily even a religious person, but someone who appreciates old, big church buildings), then you are going to love Malaga’s cathedral.
The Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga, sometimes referred to as just the Malaga Cathedral, is absolutely massive, ornate, and has some features you won’t find in other cathedrals.
To start, the cathedral is also known as “The One Armed Lady,” because only one of her two exterior towers was finished. You’ll also notice the many stained glass windows surrounding the cathedral, and – my personal favorite – all the intricate carvings and designs on the cathedral ceiling.
5. The Old Town is a Mix of Upscale Modern and Historical
Malaga city center was an interesting mix of picturesque, historic architecture, and more modern buildings. I adored all the historic buildings – some of them colorful, many of them in warm, golden Mediterranean hues, with railings on the windows.
I was pleasantly surprised with the more modern architecture in Malaga. The city has clearly made an intentional effort to make the newer buildings and streets still look charming and fit with the “old town” vibe. I appreciated the nice roads, the trees lining the streets, and the more simple but still nice looking buildings in Malaga.
6. Multiple Beaches Are Right By Town
Malaga has several beaches nearby the city, but most convenient is Malagueta Beach, which is directly adjacent to the Old Town and it’s attractions. This beach has a long, wide expanse of sand that ends at the clear, blue Mediterranean Waters. Other nearby, beautiful beaches include Playa de la Misericordia, Playa de la Caleta, and Playa de Pedregalejo.
If you’re traveling in the summer, you will definitely be wanting to spend the hot afternoons in the water, making Malaga a southern Spain destination definitely worth visiting.
Of course, one of the great pros about visiting Malaga isn’t just that it has great beaches, its that it has great beaches PLUS a super cute city PLUS several first rate attractions. You get a lot of bang for your buck in Malaga.
7. Easily Walkable
Malaga is one of the most easily walkable bigger cities in Spain. There is essentially no need for public transportation or taxis once you get to the Old Town – everything is very compact and you can easily walk wherever you need to go. This ease of getting around is one of the many reasons that makes Malaga a great destination to visit.
8. It’s Easy to Reach From Other Cities…
It’s very easy to reach Malaga from other cities in Spain, and even in Europe. As I mentioned in the introduction, Malaga has the biggest airport in the region, and is well-connected to other cities by trains and buses. It’s just 2.5 hours to Malaga from Cadiz or Seville, and just 1.5 hours from Granada.
9. …And It’s a Good Place to Base Yourself for Day Trips
On the other hand, Malaga is a great city to base yourself out of, and then take day trips to neighboring cities and villages nearby. You can easily do day trips from Malaga to cities like Granada, or Gibraltar, as well as nearby villages like Frigiliana and Nerja, Ronda, or go hiking on the Caminito del Rey.
10. All That Being Said, I Think I Would Still Visit Seville and Cordoba Before Malaga
If you’re asking me just straight out, generally speaking, “Is Malaga worth visiting?”, the answer is a definite yes. I loved Malaga. I was *so* charmed by Malaga. It’s a great city with one of my favorite attractions in all of southern Spain.
If you have time, FOR SURE go to Malaga. However, if you only have a couple of days in Southern Spain, I would probably do Seville or Cordoba first. It’s super hard to choose because I loved everywhere in Spain (truly), but overall, those two cities were my favorites.
If you have at least 5 days in Southern Spain, then Malaga definitely deserves a spot on your Spain itinerary.
11. However, if you’re visiting in the middle of the summer…
…my above recommendation would change. Having the beach right there in town to cool off during those hot hot hot summer days makes Malaga a better option than either Cordoba or Seville (which are both inland cities).
If you’re traveling in summertime, then Malaga should definitely be on the very top of your list.
Overall, Is It Worth It to Visit Malaga?
Yes, definitely. Malaga is an incredible city full of history, beautiful architecture, culture, and relaxing water activities. This city for sure should be on your Spain bucket list – you are going to absolutely love it!