Planning a long weekend in Andalusia? Here’s an easy-to-follow itinerary with lots of photos to help you rock your 3 days in Malaga, Spain!
Pssst! If you’re planning a trip in the near future, don’t forget to register for travel insurance before you go!
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 Booking.com.
For a more authentic feel, use this link to snag a $30 credit towards a beautiful AirBNB!
There’s plenty to see and do to keep you busy for a long weekend.
Here’s my recommended itinerary for 3 days in Malaga!
Rise and shine!
The first thing on today’s 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, but the real reason to come here is to go to Cafe Central.
Ordering coffee is something of an art in Malaga, as there are (at least) TEN different ways to order.
You’re essentially just specifying your preferred coffee-to-milk ratio, but they have cute little names for each variation.
Cafe Central is an institution in Malaga. The first to define the myriad of ways in which one can order coffee, Cafe Central has been serving up hits of caffeine since 1910.
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!
Click Here to Keep Reading —> Day Two and Three