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Did you know that Malaga is one of the oldest cities in the world? It dates back to the 7th century BC, when it was founded by the Phoenicians. It was later conquered by the Romans, and has been under Moorish and Christian rule. It's also the birthplace of Picasso, and the famous Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen fell in love with the city during his travels. There's even a statue of him near the port to celebrate his 200th birthday. Yes, I am a huge history geek, so any excuse to learn something new and I'm all ears! There are a lot of things to do in Malaga, and there really is something for everyone too. The Malaga nightlife is great, but there's tonnes of cultural and historic sites to immerse yourself in, so don't forget to check those out as well. Here are my 12 top things to do in Malaga:
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1. Take in the Views from a Rooftop Terrace
This particular photo was taken from the roof of the Marriott, but there are loads of rooftop bars throughout Malaga for you to go grab a cocktail from and take in the views of the city. You don't necessarily need to be staying in a hotel or hostel to take advantage of the rooftop, so do some research beforehand and find one that appeals to you (or a few).
2. Explore the World of Picasso
Did you know Picasso was born in Malaga? I didn't. Just behind this statue is where Picasso was born, and there's a museum dedicated to him as well. Picasso museum tickets can be purchased either in person or online, and it's one of Malaga's main tourist attractions so if you want to get out of the sun for a bit, you might as well take in some art at the same time.
3. Sample the Best Churros in Malaga at Casa Aranda
Casa Aranda is located just next to the famous market, and is spread out in various buildings down an alleyway. There are lots of places to sit, but it's constantly busy so if you find an empty seat I'd jump in it quickly. They are the nicest churros I've ever had, so I'd highly recommend going there.
4. Atarazanas Market
All of the food on display at the Atarazanas Market looked incredible (and was fairly cheap too). There's a very unique architectural entrance from the main street as well with a lot of history attached to it. If you're wondering what to do in Malaga, this is a very popular spot for both locals and tourists, and even has some tapas restaurants inside who only use the freshest ingredients.
5. Go On a Food Tour
We went on the walk and taste tour with We Love Malaga and loved every minute. They keep the groups small and intimate which is nice, so you get to feel like more of a local. These shrimps from Malaga's market were one of my favourite things I tried, and I'm not a fish lover so that's saying a lot. The tour is a great mix of food and history, so if you're looking for a walking tour in Malaga that has it all, this is a great choice.
6. Malaga Cathedral
Affectionately named the "one armed woman", Malaga Cathedral never managed to get its tower, due to funds being redirected to aid in the American Revolution. And that's how it's going to stay! There's a small entry fee if you want to go inside it, and you can also go up to the roof for some amazing views of the city below. Visiting the cathedral is one of the top things to do in Malaga and one of the cities main attractions. Even if you don't go inside of it, it's still a beautiful site to look at from the street.
7. Walk Along the Port
The pathway along the Port of Malaga makes for a very beautiful walk, and it's lined with shops and restaurants as well if you fancy a break from the sun. It's a good leisurely thing to do in Malaga, and it's only a 5 minute walk from the main shopping street.
8. Gibralfaro Viewpoint
If you have a car, driving up to the Gibralfaro Viewpoint is a must. You can also get similar views from the top of the castle. It offers stunning views of Malaga and the sea. If you have time, make a stop at the bullring as well.
9. Go on an Evening Wine & Tapas Tour
If you love wine (and food), then the wine and tapas evening tour with Spain Food Sherpas is a great activity to do in the evening. Each food stop comes with a wine taster, and it's a unique way to explore Malaga at night. There are a lot of tapas restaurants in Malaga, and this food tour takes you to some of the best.
10. Walk Along Calle Marques de Larios
If you're looking to do some shopping in Malaga, head to Calle Marques de Larios and the surrounding streets. During the Christmas period, the street is covered in lights which looks beautiful to walk under. Sadly I was there when they were in the process of taking them down, but it was still very pretty. No trip to Malaga is complete without doing some window shopping at the very least.
11. Walk on the Beach
There are a number of beaches in Malaga to choose from, which I'm sure everybody already knew. La Malagueta Beach is the closest one to the city centre, and you'll easily find it at the far end of the port area. Malaga is considered one of the best places in the south of Spain for a beach vacation, so in the summer months you'll find it very hard to find a spot to sit.
12. Roman Theatre & The Alcazaba of Malaga
The Roman Theatre and the Alcazaba of Malaga are two important parts of Malaga's history rolled into one. The theatre was excavated at the base of the medieval castle, and is another free thing to do in Malaga. All you're able to do is walk along the base of the theatre. If you want to sit at the top you need to pay a small entrance fee to enter the alcazaba (castle). The alcazaba was built in the 8th century, and is the best preserved of its kind in the whole of Spain. Gibralfaro Castle sits above the alcazaba, and it's quite a trek to the top. It dates back to the 10th century, and gives you one of the best views of the city. This one area covers three of the top sites in Malaga, and covers centuries of history too.
See? There are a lot of fantastic things to do in Malaga besides heading to the beaches and drinking all day. The old town is just waiting to be explored, and the tapas is just waiting to be eaten. Every time I visit Malaga I find something new, and in my opinion it's one of the top cities to visit in southern Spain.
Thinking of researching some day trips from Malaga? Check out 10 Unique Places to Visit in Andalusia for some travel inspiration. You can also read about my top road trip spots in the region as well. And if you're planning on visiting some other southern Spanish cities, here are some tips on what to do in Seville, Granada, Cordoba, and Cadiz. Don't forget to follow me on Instagram too!