24 Hours in Malaga (in Photos)
So you’ve got 24 hours in Málaga and don’t know what to do? Living in the region and having passed through Málaga numerous times, we’ve had our share of 24-hour visits to the city.
Of course there’s more to Málaga then what I have below. But if you have just 24 hours then here is what you should prioritize for your visit.
It’s a beautiful cathedral and especially majestic from the plaza in front of it (Plaza del Obispo). You’ll notice that the Cathedral only has one tower (they ran out on money). Still, the height of the tower makes the Cathedral the 2nd highest cathedral in Andalucia.
Go around to the northern side to enter the Cathedral. Unlike the outside of the Cathedral which was built primarily in Baroque style, the interior was built in Renaissance style. That’s because building of the Cathedral started in 1582 and was only completed in 1782 – that long time period (resulting from wars, lack of funds, and using different architects over the years) resulted in a mix of styles.
Still, it’s a beautiful Cathedral and should be visited. Much more on Málaga Cathedral here.
You should also visit the roof (“Las Cubiertas”). You get great views of the city including of the Alcazaba (the fortress-palace in the old town) and the Castle of Gibralfaro high on Gilbralfaro Hill.
Alcazaba of Málaga
About 10 minutes from the Cathedral is the Alcazaba, the fortress/palace built by the Moors during the 11th century.
It is a huge fortress that defended the city for over 400 years. Muslim rule ended in 1487 after a 4 month siege by Catholic forces during which the Alcazaba withstood a huge disadvantage in numbers (they only surrendered once provisions ran out).
Besides getting a first-hand view of the walls, towers and gardens in the Alcazaba, you have good views over the old town which stretches out in front of you.
Just at the entrance to the grounds of the Alcazaba is Málaga’s oldest monument – the Roman Theatre. It was built in the 1st Century BC under Emperor Augustus and was used until the 3rd century AD. It fell into ruins and then was buried under dirt and rocks when the Moors constructed the Alcazaba. It was only in 1951 that the remains of the theatre were unearthed.
Today it is at times used for open-air performances.
It’s my favorite highlight in Málaga.
Gibralfaro Castle stands at the very top of Gibralfaro hill and has incredible views of the whole city of Málaga. It is a majestic setting and, after walking the streets of the city, is a reprieve in nature.
The castle was built by the Moors in 1340 in response to the invention of gunpowder. The fear was that invaders could use the summit of the hill to fire cannons at the Alcazaba. So Gibralfaro castle was built to establish a base at the top of the hill and to protect the Alcazaba which lies directly below.
You can walk the walls of Gibralfaro and enjoy different views of the city as well as the Mediterranean. On a clear day you can see the Rif mountains in Morocco.
Explore Málaga’s old Town
Málaga has a nice old town.
Start at Plaza de la Marina. There’s a tourist information office there where you can pick up a map and get any info you need.
Cross the avenue and walk up Calle Larios which is the main street in the old town. There are a lot of major retailers on this street. It’ll eventually lead you to Plaza de la Constitución. From here branch off and explore some of the little streets of the old town. You’ll see a lot of little stores, tapas bars and restaurants along the way. You should also try to visit Iglesia de San Juan Bautista.
If you still have time, visit the port area.
Go back to Plaza de la Marina and cross the avenue to the port promenade (Palmoral de las Sorpresas). It’s a popular walking area with fake palm trees, art installations and lots of bars where you can sit down and watch the world pass by. Continue to the end where you’ll see the colourful Pompidou Center*, the first branch of Pompidou outside Paris.
You can continue walking after the Pompidou Center, walking the pedestrian-friendly harbour. If you’re curious about Malagueta beach, that’s just 5 minutes away.
*Museums. You probably don’t have time for museums if you’re in Málaga just 24 hours. But the city has some good museums: the above Pompidou Center for art, the Picasso Museum (Picasso is one of the most famous people born in Malaga), the Carmen Thyssen Museum for Spanish/Andalusian art, the Museum of Málaga (an archeological and historical museum), and the Automobile and Fashion Museum (a very popular museum). There’s more.
The above sights will fill your day.
Málaga Practical Information
I don’t usually like to recommend eating places because cafés, bars and restaurants come and go very quickly and aren’t always consistent. But here are a few places that we’ve either tried or had recommended to us.
Coffee/breakfast: La Teteria and Cafe Berlin are both recommended cafes with good coffee and breakfast located in the old town. Just a little further away Next Level Specialty Coffee has great coffee, cakes and wraps and sandwiches. If looking to try Churros, Casa Aranda is recommended.
Tapas: in the Atarazanas Food Market (itself worth a visit) is the Atarazanas Market Bar. Excellent seafood tapas. Las Marchanas is very popular for its tapas and has a couple of locations. They are known for their montaditos (small and tasty sandwiches). El Pimpi is famous in Málaga, an atmospheric place for tapas.
Restaurants for Diner: Casa Lola is very popular for traditional Andalucian food, La Alacena de Francis (meat and fish specialties).
Where to Stay in Málaga
Mid-range: ICON Malabar right next to the old town and port. Clean, well located, great breakfast…recommended. Upper end: Gran Hotel Miramar GL. For a luxury experience. Wow. Budget: Ibis Malaga Centro Ciudad. Clean, comfortable, close to all the sights, in-hotel restaurant.
Thinking of moving to Spain? Marta at Balcells Group helped us get our Visas. She’s an immigration expert and will help you with all your Visa needs. More detail here.
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it looks like a great place Frank. thanks for sharing. it’s ‘on the list’ lol.
I have not been to Malaga for a long time, your photos and descriptions have made me reminisce. My in laws had an apartment in Fuengerola and we used to visit this region. He sold the flat after he was diagnosed with cancer. We have many good memories from that time.
Great guide and photos.
Thank you Gilda!