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1 Day in Malaga: 15 Fun Things To Do

A complete guide to the best things to do in 1 day in Malaga.

There are so many fun things to do in Malaga; how will you fit them all into a day?

Well, don’t worry, we’re here to help!

This guide will provide an itinerary to discover what to see in Malaga that can be squeezed into one day.

And if you’ve never visited the city before, you’re in for a treat as the things to do in Malaga has some of the best things to do in Spain!

If you’re staying longer than 1 day in Malaga, that’s great, as this itinerary can be adapted (two days up to one week). 

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OVERVIEW: Things to do in 1 day in Malaga

If you only have 1 day in Malaga, make sure not to miss out on these attractions:

Best Time to Visit Malage in 1 Day

A typical street design from Malaga.

To find the best time for 1 day in Malaga, stop and think for a second, where is Malaga?

Located in southern Spain on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the weather in Malaga is that of other locations along the shores of the Mediterranean.

The weather is beautiful all year round, though with seasonal variations.

The temperature in Malaga varies from extreme heat in the summer to pleasant sunny days and mild evenings in the winter. 

Therefore, if you’re visiting Malaga in winter months, don’t worry, there’s very little rainfall and a pleasant climate. It’s quieter at this time too.

When people think of Malaga, the beach is usually the first thing on their minds. 

If this is your thing, then visit during the summer months for scorching hot temperatures and the warm Mediterranean Sea.

Beware, though, it can get very crowded during this period.

If you’re planning an active vacation or just lazing on the beach, for the weather, Malaga is agreeable all year round. 

So, whatever the purpose of your trip, you can select the right time for you.

Things to do in 1 Day in Malaga

1. Start Your Day with a Good Spanish Breakfast at Casa Aranda

churros dipped in spanish chocolate, served on a wooden table.

Located down a narrow alley in the historical center you’ll find Casa Aranda, a perfect place to begin your 1 day in Malaga.

Casa Aranda is one of the oldest cafes in the city. The specialty here is that Spanish classic, chocolate, and churros. What a great way to start the day.

If this sugary sweet delicacy is not how you’d like to start your day, don’t worry; there’s a fantastic range of sandwiches on offer.

You’ll typically find this traditional café packed with locals. If you can’t get a seat, never fear as they serve food to takeaway too.

Opening times: Every day from 08:00 – 13:00 / 17:00 – 21:00

2. Atarazanas Market 

entrance of Málaga’s Central Market called Atarazana.

If you only have 1 day in Malaga, then a visit to the fantastic Atarazanas Market is an absolute must.

Atarazanas Market is also known locally as Mercado Central so if you hear people referring to this, it’s the same place.

Set in a beautiful building featuring stained glass windows, this bustling market serves a dual purpose.

First and foremost, it is a lively local market where animated conversations take place over the buying and selling of fresh fruit, veg, meat, fish, and poultry. 

And secondarily, as a foodie destination with all sorts of treats and delicacies.

Whether you’re planning to eat there or just take a look around (or both), don’t miss out on this.

Opening times: Mon–Sat 08:00 – 15:00

3. Visit the Cathedral of Malaga and its Museum

Arial view of Cathedral of Malaga.
Malaga Cathedral

If you want to know what to see in Malaga in one day, do not miss the Cathedral of Malaga.

Malaga’s quirky cathedral took over 150 years from the start of construction until completion.

It’s only ‘kind of’ completed as the original plans were for two towers, but lack of finance led to only one ever being completed. 

Locals now refer to the cathedral as La Manquita (the one-armed woman).

A small museum forms part of the cathedral (you can access it via the wooden staircase in the cathedral shop (it’s easy to miss!)).

There’s also a rooftop tour for those who don’t suffer from vertigo! You do have to climb 200 steps to get there, though!

Opening times: 

Mon – Fri 10:00 – 20:00 

Sat 10:00 – 18:00 

Sun 14:00 – 18:00

4. Museo Picasso Málaga

Street sign that shows the direction to the Picasso museum in Malaga. 10 Best Things to Do in 1 Day in Malaga

Your 1 day in Malaga is incomplete without visiting the superb Museo Picasso. In fact, where is Malaga without the input of Pablo Picasso, the city’s most famous son?

It has always been Picasso’s dream to have a museum dedicated to his work opened in his home city.

That became a reality in 2003 when the Buenavista Palace, which houses the museum, opened its doors.

Today, it is undoubtedly one of the best museums in Malaga, if not the very best itself.

So if you’re looking for things to do with friends then get yourself along to look at the 285 original works by Picasso that are currently housed there.

Opening times: 10:00 – 18:00

5. Alcazaba and the Roman Theatre

inside view of the Roman Theatre and Alcazaba in Malaga

When thinking of things to see in Malaga or things to do in Spain as a whole, the Alcazaba should be included in any itinerary.

The Moorish era Alcazaba is like something from the Arabian Nights. 

Perched on top of a hill in the center of town and linked to Gibralfaro Castle by a line of walls known as La Coracha, the fascinating Alcazaba is a beautiful and historic place to spend an afternoon.

The Roman Theater is linked to the Alcazaba. It is very well-preserved and an interesting place to explore.

Opening times: 09:00 – 20:00

6. Lunch at Chiringuito El Cachalote

Paella in a pan and a glass of red wine served at Chiringuito El Cachalote

So, it’s lunchtime and you’re wondering where to eat in Malaga. Well, one Malaga restaurant springs immediately to mind and that’s Chiringuito El Cachalote.

Highly rated and favored by locals, visiting here is one of the great things to do with your best friend.

Located on Malagueta beach (see below for more about the beach), this is a fantastic place for sampling what to eat in Malaga.

As you may expect from a beachside eatery, the focus here is heavily on seafood. And what magnificent seafood it is. 

Once you start, you’ll want to try everything on the menu. Prices are also reasonable, so you can’t go wrong here.

Opening times

 Tue – Sun 11:00 – 18:00

Closed Mondays

Related article: 14 Spots to Eat the Best Paella in Malaga

7. Relax at Malagueta Beach

A promenade near Malagueta beach nearing a sunset

Another suggestion for what to do in Malaga for a day after eating at Chiringuito El Cachalote is to get down to some serious relaxation at Malagueta Beach.

If you’re looking for fun cheap or free things to do outside, then spending some time at the beach is one of the best free things to do in Malaga Spain.

Malagueta Beach, one of the best beaches in Malaga, is one of the best places to go with friends. You can easily spend a whole day under the palm trees here.

There are countless chirungitos (beach bars), water sports galore, and a children’s play area for those with younger ones.

Malaga. Spain. Beaches. What more could you possibly ask for?

Opening times: Always Open

8. Make a stop at the Lighthouse of Malaga

a white lighthouse by a body of water with a ship

On your day of exploration in this captivating city of Malaga, make sure to include a stop at the Lighthouse of Malaga.

Perched proudly at the entrance to Malaga’s bustling port, this iconic structure is a beacon of maritime history and a picturesque landmark.

The lighthouse, dating back to the 19th century, exudes timeless elegance with its towering silhouette and striking white facade.

Take a stroll along the promenade that leads to the lighthouse, soaking in panoramic views of the sea and the city skyline.

Opening times: Open 24 hours

9. Stroll along Malaga Park

a garden with a fountain in the middle surrounded by trees

Take a leisurely stroll through Málaga Park, an oasis of tranquility nestled in the heart of the city, for a delightful day in Malaga.

Also known as Parque de Málaga or Parque de la Alameda, this lush green space offers a welcome respite from the bustling streets.

The park’s central promenade, lined with majestic ficus trees, is a perfect setting for a leisurely stroll and offers glimpses of the surrounding landmarks.

Opening times: Open 24 hours

10. Check out Plaza de Toros La Malagueta

a bullring in malaga, spain surrounded with buildings and a view of the sea

Don’t miss the opportunity to check out Plaza de Toros (La Malagueta) during your day in Malaga.

Located in the vibrant La Malagueta neighborhood, this historic bullring is a testament to Spain’s cultural heritage and traditions.

Dating back to the 19th century, Plaza de Toros is an architectural marvel and a significant cultural landmark where bullfighting events and festivals occur.

Take a leisurely stroll around the exterior of the arena, admiring its ornate architecture and soaking in the lively atmosphere of the surrounding neighborhood.

Office Opening times

Mon – Fri 10:00 – 17:00

Closed Saturday and Sunday

11. Gibralfaro’s Castle

view with the Gibralfaro castle in Malaga on a good day

No trip to Malaga is complete without a visit to the magnificent Gibralfaro Castle. 

Perched high atop the hill overlooking the city, the stunning castle (built in 929 AD by Abd-al-Rahman III) is visible everywhere, providing a striking backdrop to all things Malaga.

Therefore, if you only have one day in Malaga, make doubly sure that Gibralfaro Castle is part of your itinerary.

As we discussed earlier, the castle is connected to the Alcazaba by a line of walls known as La Coracha.

The castle has undergone several rebuilds over the years, usually after periods of brutal warfare. The scars on the walls can still be seen today.

Opening times: 09:00 – 17:15

12. Watch the sunset at Gibralfaro

an aerial view of Malaga with the sea in the distance on an upcoming sunset

As you plan your trip to Malaga in 1 day, make sure to include a memorable sunset experience at either Gibralfaro Castle or the Parador de Gibralfaro.

After a day of exploring the city’s historical sites, vibrant streets, and delicious cuisine, watching the sunset from one of these elevated spots provides the perfect finale.

As the sun descends over the Mediterranean Sea, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking vista that captures the essence of Malaga’s beauty and charm.

13. Enjoy Dinner at Restaurante Especia Parador De Málaga Gibralfaro

The facade of the Restaurante Especia in Parador de Malaga Gibralfaro

Set adjacent to the Castillo de Gibralfaro in the heart of the historic old town, the Restaurante Especia inside the Parador de Málaga Gibralfaro is one of the finest restaurants in Malaga, Spain.

In Malaga, food is taken incredibly seriously, and it’s easy to see why it has become such a destination for foodies in recent years. 

And the Restaurante Especia is an incredibly special place to enjoy a meal.

The emphasis is on local specialties, with seafood forming the central part of the menu. Dishes change depending on the seasonal availability of produce.

Above all though, the views from here are sensational.

Opening times: 13:30 – 16:00 / 20:00 – 22:30

Related article: 17 Best Resorts in Malaga and Costa del Sol

14. Have a Drink at AC Hotel Rooftop

view of Malaga's port and ferris wheel from the AC Hotel Rooftop. 10 Best Things to Do in 1 Day in Malaga

Although several spectacular rooftop bars are scattered around the city, none quite matches the luxury of the stunning AC Hotel rooftop.

With an unbeatable central location, the AC Hotel rooftop provides magnificent city and port views, with the amazing Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle hovering above.

For somewhere so abundant, you may get a pleasant surprise with the prices here, which are roughly on par with those in the city’s other central options.

Opening hours vary here, so make sure to check ahead if you’re planning on going.

Entry is free, except on Saturdays when you must buy one drink as a cover charge.

Opening times: Opening hours vary

15. Dance until the Morning at Sala Gold

view with the interior of Sala Gold in Malaga. 10 Best Things to Do in 1 Day in Malaga

If you’re looking for fun things to do with friends when visiting Malaga in one day, finish off your night at the raucous Sala Gold.

Things to do in Malaga at night don’t come any livelier than a night here, with go-go dancers and stage spectacles livening up this massive club throughout the night. 

There are video walls, hydraulic stages, and a sound system that can probably be heard from Mars.

Sala Gold is open every day until the morning, so if you’re seeking some debauchery to round off your vacation, you know where to go. 

Every night here, there is a different theme, so you’ll always find something new on each visit.

Opening times: 22:30 – 06:00

Best Hotels in Malaga, Southern Spain

1. Hotel Vincci Selección Posada del Patio ***** – Luxury

view from the Vincci Selección Posada del Patio's rooftop with the pool

If you’re seeking out luxury, then the Hotel Vincci Selección Posada del Patio is a five-star option that could be perfect for you.

The hotel has magnificent, contemporary rooms featuring everything you’d expect from a five-star establishment.

Archaeological remains of the city’s old Arabic walls have been found under the hotel. You can even visit these from inside the hotel.

2. AC Hotel by Marriott Malaga Palacio **** – Mid-Range

photo with the exterior of the AC Hotel by Marriott Malaga Palacio

We’ve already covered the spectacular AC Hotel by Marriott rooftop bar at this hotel above, a feature that sets it apart as quite possibly the best hotel in Malaga.

The rooms are spacious and contemporary, with a magnificent swimming pool and superb fitness center.

Centrally located, this is a great place to base yourself for a short stay, as it’s easily accessible to all the major attractions.

3. Hilton Garden Inn Malaga ***- Budget

photo with the pool of Hilton Garden Inn Malaga

A fantastic budget option is the Hilton Garden Inn Malaga, located outside of the center near the Málaga Convention Centre.

This is a great option for those arriving by car, as covered parking is available (though at an extra cost).

Rooms have everything you could ask for to make a comfortable stay, and there’s a great pool too.

Getting Around Malaga

a moving hop-on-hop-off-bus used to get around malaga

Malaga is a very walkable city, and if you stay centrally, you’ll find all major sights within close proximity.

You’ll be glad to hear that public transport in Malaga is excellent, with a wide range of options for getting you around.

Buses are cheap, and there are many of them, so you’ll never have to wait too long for one.

The most useful route for most tourists is line 92 (named ‘Bus Turístico’), which passes the cathedral, Malagueta beach, and Gibralfaro Castle, among other places.

There are even hop-on, hop-off buses where you can choose a 24-hour or 48-hour pass. Prices start at €20. You’ll easily know what to visit in Malaga for a day.

Check out tickets for the hop-on hop-off bus here.

Regarding taxis, those in Malaga are relatively cheap compared to other major cities in Spain.

You can identify them quickly as they are white with a diagonal blue stripe down the side.

If you’re driving into the old town, expect to pay around €20 per day for parking. Spaces can be limited, so it’s best to avoid this option unless you have no choice.

Malaga also has the famous Bike Taxis (known locally as Trixis), which are great for unhurried sightseeing.

There’s a two-line metro system. This is mainly for those traveling to the airport.

For those traveling or arriving from further afield, Malaga Airport is 5 miles west of the city center.

However, don’t worry if you’re seeking to get to (or from the airport for flights to Malaga); it’s connected to the city by excellent, frequent, and cheap bus and metro lines.

So if you’re coming from Madrid to Malaga, you can be in your downtown hotel soon after arrival. A day trip to Malaga from Madrid is ideal.

If you’re arriving or departing by train, the central station is María Zambrano Train Station, where you’ll find connections all over the country (and further). – Check out tickets here.

Right next to the train station is the Estación de Autobuses de Málaga (Malaga Bus Station), from which you can get long-distance connections throughout the country and beyond.

Check out tickets in advance here.

Check out other itineraries for one day in Southern Spain:

Short FAQ about Things to do in 1 Day in Malaga

Is one day enough in Malaga?

While you can certainly fit a lot into 1 day in Malaga, the city has so much to offer that a longer stay is always preferable.

But don’t fear, with a well-planned itinerary you can still have a fantastic day in the city.

When is the best time to visit Málaga, Spain?

The high season can get incredibly hot and extremely crowded, so if that’s not your thing, then this time of year is probably best avoided.

Try either side of this, in the spring or fall, to get the best of the weather and fewer crowds.

What are the top attractions to visit in Malaga?

Malaga’s top attractions are undoubtedly Atarazanas Market, the Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle, and the Museo Picasso Málaga.

Don’t miss out on the city’s magnificent food scene while you’re there.

What to do in Malaga in one day?

One day in Malaga, visit the Alcazaba and Picasso Museum, stroll along the waterfront promenade, explore the Old Town, and watch the sunset from Gibralfaro Castle or the Parador de Gibralfaro.

How to spend a day in Malaga?

To make the most of Malaga in a day, start by visiting the Alcazaba and Roman Theatre, explore the Picasso Museum, relax on La Malagueta Beach, and visit the Malaga Cathedral.

What is the best day to visit Malaga?

The best day to visit Malaga is typically on a weekday for fewer crowds, but weekends offer a livelier atmosphere and are ideal for experiencing the city’s nightlife scene.