If there’s one city in Spain that I know pretty well, it has to be Málaga. If there’s one city in Spain I would like to live in, it has to be Málaga too. Known as the “Capital of the Costa del Sol,” Málaga effortlessly combines history, culture, and a thriving atmosphere. During our international housesitting adventures, we had the chance to stay in Málaga for nearly 3 weeks, right at the beach! If you don’t have that much time, fret not, simply read on and discover how to spend the perfect weekend in Málaga.
Things to do on a perfect weekend in Málaga
1. Visit the Alcazaba
Málaga boasts a heritage that spans over 2,800 years. Founded by the Phoenicians, it has since been influenced by various civilizations, including the Romans, Moors, and Christian conquerors. This diverse history is evident in the city’s architectural wonders, such as the imposing Alcazaba fortress.
The Alcazaba is a true gem of Moorish heritage. It functioned as a fortress and palace for Moorish rulers during the Muslim occupation of Spain. As you enter, you’ll be greeted by the imposing gates, hinting at the secrets that lie within. Follow in the footsteps of ancient rulers as you wander through the intricate maze of courtyards, arches, and terraces. Fragrant orange trees and tranquil fountains add to the magic. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture lover, or simply a sucker for gorgeous views, this fortress is a must-visit destination!
2. Visit the Gibralfaro
Located on the hilltop overlooking Málaga stands the Gibralfaro, another fortification that dates back to Moorish times. During times of conflict, the Gibralfaro served as a stronghold for soldiers and played a crucial role in the defence of Málaga. It used to be connected to the Alcazaba by a walled corridor, so soldiers could move safely from one place to another. Nowadays, the castle’s strategic location provides panoramic views of the city and beyond. It’s quite a climb up the ramparts, but not to be missed!
3. Visit the Roman Theatre
The Roman Theatre is another testimony to the rich heritage of Málaga. It’s just across from the Alcazaba, so very easy to combine both. The theatre dates back to the 1st century AD, to the reign of Emperor Augustus, but it was only discovered in 1951 during construction work in the area. You can see the entire theatre from the plaza in front of it, but make sure to take a stroll inside too, walking up to the highest benches for a fantastic view.
4. Go on a tapas tour
The perfect weekend in Málaga obviously includes food! And in Málaga, you’re in for a treat! Don’t settle for mediocre tourist fare, instead stroll from tapas bar to tapas bar and try the local cuisine at the best tapas bars in Málaga. Tapas are a true institution in Spain, and even more so in Andalusia. As you venture through the bustling streets, follow the inviting aromas that waft from the numerous tapas bars scattered throughout the city. The best tapas bars are steeped in tradition and local charm, they are places where locals and visitors alike gather to savour the best of Spanish cuisine, accompanied by a few beers and a lively atmosphere. Málaga is very walkable, so you can get to all of them on foot. The best time to go is probably around 7-8pm. Every bar has its own speciality, so do some research, or better, ask the locals!
5. Visit the Cathedral
The Cathedral is nestled in the heart of the city and showcases a harmonious blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. One of the most notable features is its unfinished south tower. Due to financial constraints and other historical circumstances, the tower was never completed, that’s why locals refer to the cathedral as ‘La Manquita’, or the ‘One Armed Woman’. Within the cathedral, you can find an impressive collection of religious artwork and you can climb the tower for breathtaking views over the city.
6. Go to the beach
Málaga is the capital of the Costa del Sol, so the city’s prime location makes it a popular destination for beach lovers and sun-seekers. La Malagueta is the most accessible beach from the city centre. Needless to say, it’s also the busiest one. Personally, I prefer Pedregalejo, known for its “chiringuitos” that offer delicious seafood. It’s a very lively place, especially during the weekend, but you’ll find more locals here. Whether you want to sunbathe, relax, take in a leisurely stroll along the promenade, or go for a swim, the beaches in Málaga provide the perfect occasion for a leisurely break.
7. Visit the market
Whenever I am in a new city, I love paying a visit to the local market. And it has to be said, Spain excels at indoor markets! The Mercado Central de Atarazanas in Málaga showcases the vibrant culinary culture and local flavours of the region. From colourful fruits and vegetables, to freshly caught fish and meat, the market offers an abundance of high-quality ingredients. Stock up on fresh tomatoes, or have a coffee in one of the bars that surround the market to soak up the vibrant atmosphere. The building that houses the market makes it worth the visit too. The historic structure was originally an Arab shipyard and features a stunning mix of architectural styles. Admire the magnificent stained-glass windows, and the iconic entrance adorned with a beautiful wrought-iron gate.
8. Visit the Centre Pompidou
The Centre Pompidou in Málaga is a branch of the renowned Centre Pompidou in Paris. The museum is situated near the port and the building consists of a set of colourful blocks, whose hues keep on changing according to the light. The theme of the exhibitions is modern, contemporary art and the exhibitions are mostly temporary, so check their website to see what’s on.
9. Go in search of Pablo Picasso
There is a big Picasso museum in Barcelona, but did you know that the master was actually born in Málaga? Reason enough to dedicate a museum to him in his place of birth! In Málaga you’ll get the opportunity to explore his life and works through a very diverse collection. From his early works & sketches, to his Blue period and surrealism, the Museo Picasso Málaga collection covers almost 80 years of Pablo Picasso’s work. If that’s not enough, you can also visit the actual house he was born in. And you can find him, deep in thoughts, sitting on a bench on the Plaza de la Merced, sketchbook in hand.
10. Street art in Soho and Calle Lagunillas
The Soho district is a lesser visited area of Málaga. It’s still very close to the city centre, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t hop over. Soho is renowned for its vibrant street art scene and the district has become an open-air art gallery, with colourful and thought-provoking murals. But that’s not all. Soho is also dotted with trendy cafés, bars, and restaurants. From traditional Spanish tapas to the latest cocktail bar, you’ll find a wide range of options to choose from. The neighbourhood really comes alive in the evening.
And if you can’t get enough of the street art in Málaga, take a stroll in Calle Lagunillas, a 20 minute walk from Soho. It has long been a hub for local artists and creative individuals. As you walk along the narrow cobbled lanes, you’ll encounter vibrant street art and murals. Although it’s conveniently located to the main attractions, it gives you a total different image of the city.
As you can see, the perfect weekend in Málaga promises a mix of captivating experiences and cherished memories. From exploring the historical wonders of the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro, to immersing yourself in local tapas bars and art, this vibrant city offers something for everyone! And if you’re spending longer in the area, have a look at these day trips from Málaga for a mix of charming white villages and incredible landscapes!