Planning a long weekend in Andalusia? Here’s an easy-to-follow Malaga itinerary with lots of photos to help you rock your 3 days in Malaga, Spain!
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You are really something special.
To be honest, I’d never heard of Malaga until about three months ago.
I saw a cheap flight deal ($50 round trip!) from my home airport of Geneva nonstop to Malaga and booked it on a whim.
My tickets were for late February. This is a time when the snow at my home in the Jura Mountains is measured in feet rather than inches (sorry, metric system).
The typical weather in Malaga during this time of year? Mostly sunny and approaching 70 degrees.
Hmm, 3 days in Malaga?
3 Days in Malaga
Malaga is on the coast of the Southern tip of Spain and is serviced by a major airport.
Due to its fabulous location on the Costa del Sol, Malaga has its fair share of high-rise hotels and tourist-trap restaurants near the beach.
While you can stay in this “developed” part of town, I chose to spend my time in the Old Town and it’s what I recommend for you, too.
Since I was traveling solo, I opted to stay at the Urban Jungle Boutique Hostel which was lovely.
If you’re more into personal space and privacy, there are lots of great hotel options on
There’s plenty to see and do to keep you busy for a long weekend.
Here’s my recommended Malaga in 3 days itinerary!
Rise and shine!
The first thing on today’s Malaga Spain itinerary is the gem of Malaga: The Alcazaba.
You’ll find the entrance to this site smack dab in the middle of Old Town.
Just head up those stairs and enter the little building to buy your ticket. There’s a machine you can use that takes cash and coin.
The ticket is €3.50 for an individual. If you prefer, you can buy tickets here for multiple sites on this itinerary (like the Roman Theatre and the Gibralfaro Fortress). It doesn’t save you any money, but if might save you some time!
Once you’re inside, the labyrinth of walls leads you up to the inner sanctuary of the fortress.
The interior is filled with lush plants, giving the complex a tropical vibe.
Since you’re here early in the morning, you should have plenty of opportunities to take photos.
Built all the way back in the 11th century, Malaga has the best preserved Alcazaba in all of Spain!
Back when it was built, this palatial fortification sat snugly on the coastline. Just imagine the views!
The view over Old Town is spectacular from up here. You can really get a sense of the size of the cathedral.
If you look down from here, you can see the remains of the Roman Theatre. We’re going there next!
Take your time strolling through the gardens and courtyards on your way back down.
Head back out the same way you came in.
Once you get back to the entrance, swing a sharp right to access the free viewing platform for the Roman Theatre.
You can follow the little footbridge around to the right to take a seat right inside the theatre.
From here, the Alcazaba is directly behind you. The little glass pyramid on the top left of the image shows an underground archaeological viewing area.
To access the ruins, head to the nondescript, rectangular, army-green building you see on the right.
Okay, up next is a visit to the Malaga Cathedral.
You can wander around the outside and be done in fifteen minutes, or you can opt to pay for the “cultural visit” and go inside.
I’ve seen approximately 10,000 cathedrals on my adventures, and honestly I’m tired of paying to visit them.
Here’s a tip: If you just want to poke your head inside but don’t need to make a whole thing out of visiting, go on a Sunday morning. The cathedral is open during this time for mass. You can (respectfully!) go inside to take a quick look.
When I went in there was a little roped off area for visitors to stand and take a look. Of course you don’t want to be wandering around inside the cathedral while they are conducting a service!
This is the main entrance to the cathedral. Pretty, right?
Make sure you do a full loop around the building so you can see it in all its glory.
Notice how the cathedral has one finished tower (on the left) and an unfinished one on the right.
It was built between 1528 and 1782, but somehow they never got around to finishing that second tower.
Many locals refer to the cathedral as La Manquita (the one-armed lady) instead of using the proper name: Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica de la Encarnación.
Phew, that’s a mouthful.
Even with only one arm, she’s still a very lovely lady.
Alright, by now you’ve probably worked up an appetite.
Hopefully you’ve remembered that you are in Spain and lunch doesn’t start until around 2pm (1pm at the earliest).
Today, I recommend heading over to Meson Mariano, where you can find main dishes as well as tapas. Be sure to try the artichokes!
After lunch, treat yourself to a siesta. Most everything will be closed anyway, so you might as well get in a good nap.
After your nap, why not wander around in the old town.
I loved just looking at the beautiful buildings!
For people watching, find a shaded bench at the Plaza de la Merced.
There’s a nice fountain at the Plaza de la Constitution.
Once it gets to be around 8pm, it’s time to look for some dinner.
For your first night, I recommend hopping around to two or three places for tapas.
There are plenty of spots for tapas throughout Old Town, so why not explore on your own!
If you’re looking for somewhere to start, I really liked the atmosphere in Bar Malaga.
It can get quite packed at the bar in the evenings, but if you’re lucky enough to get a seat you can eat right there at the counter.
They also have an upstairs dining room if you’d rather sit down at a table to eat.
Either way, absolutely order the dish of fried eggplant with beer-honey.
It was my favorite tapa in all of Malaga!
Today starts off with a true “Malagan” breakfast:
Churros and chocolate at Casa Aranda!
Don’t make the tourist mistake of ordering churros for dessert. Here, they make up part of the most important meal of the day.
The churros are airy and light on the inside, and the chocolate has a consistency somewhere between hot chocolate and warm chocolate pudding.
I don’t even really like sweets and I LOVED this decadent breakfast.
After breakfast, direct yourself to the Mercado Central (central market) to do some shopping.
It’s a really lovely market! Stop here to pick up some local raisins (weirdly delicious) and almonds.
Next, take a few hours to explore the free modern and contemporary art museum: CAC Malaga.
If modern art isn’t your thing, you can simply wander around the up and coming “SoHo” neighborhood. This area is quite lively and filled with artisans.
Once you’ve tired of walking, decide where you want to go for lunch.
La Fabrica de Cerveza (The Beer Factory) Craft Brewery serves up a mean pint, and I’ve heard the truffled omelet is amazing. If you like it here, check out their events line-up for while you’re in town.
For wine-lovers, head to Antigua Casa de Guardia where you can sample directly from the aged barrels. They get really busy after 1pm, so come around noon to avoid the rush. This place is much more about wine than it is about food (although they do serve small plates). If you’re starving, fill up elsewhere before coming here to taste wine.
After your siesta, make your way to the Picasso Museum before they close at 7pm.
For dinner tonight, visit the famous Bodega El Pimpi.
This beautiful restaurant has been *the* place to go in Malaga since 1971.
Be sure to check out all of the photographs in the bar which showcase celebrities who have visited!
It can get quite busy here, so make a reservation online before you go.
Make it an early night tonight, because tomorrow morning you hike up to Gibralfaro!
First order of business (after more churros and chocolate, of course):
Okay, only kidding, that’s another photo of the Alcazaba.
But good news, the path up to Gibralfaro takes you along the upper outside of the Alcazaba, giving you an entirely new perspective of the ruins.
The walk up to Gibralfaro is absolutely lovely, and only takes about fifteen or twenty minutes.
To find your way up, head back to the entrance of the Alcazaba and turn right to walk up the hill.
There are some truly lovely views as you walk up. You can see right over the Jardines de Puerta Oscura — aren’t they lovely? Don’t worry, we’ll walk through there on our way back down.
Once you reach the top you’ll need a ticket to enter the ruins. There’s another ticket machine up here, but there was also a human behind a desk when I visited.
If you already bought your ticket when you visited the Alcazaba, just skip the ticket line and show your ticket to the guard at the entrance.
Now you’re free to explore!
I only saw a handful of other people the whole time I was up there!
I guess most people just visit the Alcazaba and don’t bother making the walk up here.
At least I had this Seagull to keep me company!
If you thought the views from the Alcazaba were nice, wait until you make it to the top of Gibralfaro. Gorgeous!
As promised, now it’s time for gardens.
On your walk back down, wander through the Jardines de Puerto Oscura.
Once you arrive back at sea level, take a stroll through the Jardines de Pedro Luis Alfonso.
There’s a lovely view of City Hall from here, too.
Keep walking towards City Hall…
… then cross the street and explore the spacious Parc de Malaga.
This is a great place to come to escape the heat. There’s plenty of shade and lots of park benches around.
When you’ve had enough of the gardens, head back towards Old Town. Lunch today is at Casa Lola, a favorite of locals and tourists alike.
Though we’re going to the beach after lunch (yay!), Casa Lola is much better than anything you’ll find at the port.
Get there early (a little before 1pm) if you want a chance at snagging a table.
Do as the locals do and order a glass of tinto de verano in lieu of sangria at lunch.
The tinto is simply red wine mixed with a citrusy soda (like lemon fanta). Order sangria and you’ll get tinto de verano with an orange slice for twice the price.
Today’s siesta will be taken on the beach.
Depending on the time of year you visit you may want to head to La Caleta to get away from the crowds.
When I visited, La Playa de Malagueta was mostly deserted so I spent my time there. It’s only a 10-minute walk from town!
If you’re not feeling a nap, walk along the beach and explore the port.
Lots of visitors rave about watching the sunset from the rooftop bar at AC Marriott.
For tonight’s entertainment, check out a live Flamenco show accompanied by a meal of delicious Spanish food. Flamenco Malaga Centro has you covered!
I hope you enjoy your 3 days in Malaga much as I did!