Krista the Explorer
The Best Day Trips One Hour From Málaga
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With so many fantastic places to see near Málaga, it can be hard choosing between them all. A popular choice for many people when they're considering what day trip from Málaga to go on is Granada so they can walk around The Alhambra. Both Ronda and Cordoba are also very popular tourist destinations in Andalucía, so too are the multitude of beaches along the Costa del Sol. But, if you happen to be short on time, maybe you're wondering what the best day trips one hour from Málaga (or less) are.
During my time in the Province of Málaga, I've come across a large amount of unique places and hidden gems that seem to be virtually untouched by tourists, which is a shame because many of the traditional white villages in Málaga are bursting with history and are well worth exploring. If you're planning on driving in southern Spain, all of these off the beaten path destinations in Málaga are easily accessible, and a lot of the time the landscapes that you get to drive through along the way are equally as impressive as where you're heading. Hopefully my list of the best day trips one hour from Málaga will help you as you plan your itinerary!
Mijas Pueblo may not be a hidden gem in Málaga, in fact it's probably one of the most touristy white villages in the area, but it's certainly worth visiting at least once. Málaga to Mijas takes around 30 minutes by car and, unlike a lot of white villages, there is a large parking garage near the entrance to the village that costs just €1 for the whole day. Mijas is known for its beautiful whitewashed buildings, which during the warmer months are often lined with beautiful flowers. It also has a large number of quaint shops and restaurants to choose from, as well as some unique historic attractions such as Ermita de la Virgen de la Peña and Castillo de Mijas. Mijas has some fantastic viewpoints too that look out over the coastline, so the village is also ideal for watching the sunset from. It's one of the most popular day trips from Málaga to go on!
Unsurprisingly, the next place on my list of the best day trips one hour from Málaga is Marbella. This is another example of one of the more popular places to visit from Málaga, as it's known for its beaches, shops, and of course its nightlife. However, Marbella is much more than that, and if you happen to visit I would highly recommend walking into Marbella's Old Town, because there are some beautiful streets to walk along, such as Calle Carmen, as well as some interesting historic attractions like Iglesia Mayor De La Encarnación and the remains of the medieval town walls. Whatever you decide to do, a walk along the waterfront at sunset is an absolute must, and since Marbella is just under an hour from Málaga you won't have far to drive back.
Rincón de la Victoria
If you've travelled along the Costa del Sol before, you may have come across Rincón de la Victoria. This area is very popular for its beaches, and when I visited I came across a coastal walking route along the Paseo Marítimo el Cantal that offers beautiful views of the sea and the coastline. The walking route sits between Playa Cala del Moral and Playa del Rincón de la Victoria, and you'll have the option of passing through a man-made tunnel that was built into the cliffs which is interesting to see. There are also a couple of religious shrines along the route, which are usually beautifully decorated with fresh flowers. It's certainly a unique day trip from Málaga, and it takes only 20 minutes to drive to from Málaga's city centre too!
Nerja is another popular day trip option from Málaga, which takes around 45 minutes to drive to. The majority of people visit Nerja for its natural beauty, so in the summer months you can expect the beaches to be packed. However, if you visit during the off-season like we did, you'll find plenty of places to set up your beach towel and work on your tan. You can even try your hand at paddleboarding or kayaking along the coastline if you don't mind the cold water. My favourite thing to do in Nerja though is visiting Cueva de Nerja, which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Spain and definitely needs to be added to your itinerary because the caverns are incredible to walk around. And, if you fancy hitting up one of the many white villages in Málaga, you'll find that Frigiliana is only a short drive away from Nerja too.
If you're interested in exploring unique places near Málaga, I would suggest making a stop at Vélez-Málaga, which is just over a 30 minute drive away and is on the way to Nerja. This is an often overlooked white village in Málaga, and is the capital of the Axarquía region, which is famous for its production of muscatel grapes as well as a number of other crops such as avocados and mangoes. The main attraction though, is Castillo de Vélez-Málaga which sits dramatically overlooking the town from the top of a hill. You can get some great views of the coastline from the castle's parking lot too!
El Borge is an unimposing white village that makes up part of the Ruta de la Pasa (Route of the Raisin). There are quite a lot of driving routes around Málaga to choose from, but so far this has been one of my favourites. El Borge is known as the "raisin capital" because of its large production of raisins, but it was also once home to some of the most famous bandits in Málaga too. On top of that, it's a village with deep routed Arab origins so there are plenty of things to see in El Borge despite its small size. It takes only 45 minutes to drive to, and you pass through the gorgeous landscape of the Axarquía region as well, making it a great option for a day trip under one hour from Málaga.
Another unique inland white village in Málaga to visit, which also happens to take 45 minutes to drive to, is Archidona. This is the type of village you should visit if you want to have a more relaxed day excursion from Málaga as there aren't too many attractions to see here. The points of interest that are in the village though are very pretty, and Archidona is home to an award winning restaurant (that we actually dined at twice during our stay in the area) in Plaza Ochavada called Restaurante Arxiduna. Make sure you eat here because the food is amazing! Archidona is also very close to another beautiful white village which I would highly recommend visiting, which sits just over the provincial border in the Province of Córdoba - Iznájar.
One of the most overlooked cities close to Málaga is Antequera. If you're looking to do a full one day trip from Málaga you'll want to check out this hidden gem. Apart from its historic attractions such as the Alcazaba de Antequera, this small Spanish city is perhaps most popular for its traditional restaurants and tapas bars. Make sure you do some research before visiting Antequera, because there are a lot of restaurants that come highly recommended by locals and it will save you a lot of time if you plan where you want to eat ahead of your trip. You may also notice that the city has a lot of churches in it, and that's because there are 33 churches in total in Antequera, making it the city with the most churches per inhabitant in Spain. In my opinion, it's one of the best day trips one hour from Málaga you can go on - in fact, it's only a 43 minute drive!
El Torcal de Antequera
You can't drive to Antequera without stopping at El Torcal. I guarantee this will be one of the most unique hikes you've ever been on. And if you're not in the mood to hit up one of the hiking trails at El Torcal, you can always observe these fascinating rock formations from the road or the parking lot. No road trip in Andalucía is complete without seeing these 150 million year old limestone rock formations for yourself. There is no public transportation route that will bring you here, so you will either need to bring a rental car or join a bus tour, but there are facilities on site such as an information centre, toilets, and a cafe, and dogs are more than welcome too! El Torcal is just under an hour from Málaga, but make sure you check the weather before heading out because the temperature is often a lot cooler in the mountains.
One of my favourite white villages in southern Spain, and a fantastic option for a day trip from Málaga, is Álora. The village is only a 35 minute drive from Málaga and is on the driving route heading towards the famous Caminito del Rey hike. Álora has a vast history to discover, but is most notable for being a key Arab stronghold until the 15th century. The village can be a bit steep in parts, so make sure you bring good walking shoes, especially if you want to see Castillo Árabe. When we visited Álora we were the only tourists walking around the streets, which is always a big bonus when travelling to hidden gems. It's one of the prettiest white villages near Málaga, and most people have never even heard of it!
Ruinas de Bobastro
It may not look like it, but the Ruinas de Bobastro was once a very important castle in the Province of Málaga. After a short 20 minute hike through the beautiful landscape of the Ardales, you'll come across this 9th century cave complex and ruined castle. It's a very unique historic location in Málaga, and since it's overshadowed by the Caminito del Rey, it's usually not overrun by tourists. There is a guide on hand that will talk you through the history of the complex, but when I visited the tour was only being done in Spanish, which was a shame but I was able to arrive at the ruins quicker than the rest of the group! It's definitely a must-see in Málaga. Coming in at only 59 minutes from the coastline, it's not a bad option as part of a day trip from Málaga! If you have some extra time and don't mind driving a little further, the small town of Teba is around a 40 minute drive from the ruins, and is home to what was once the largest castle in Málaga.
Caminito del Rey
You can't discuss day trips one hour from Málaga without mentioning the Caminito del Rey. This hike was once considered to be the most dangerous in the world, but today it's very safe and you're fully equipped with a safety helmet too. As you can see from the photo, the walkway can get pretty crowded at times, so I would recommend waiting for it to clear a bit before going into this section of the hike. Caminito del Rey is only a short drive from the ruins of Bobastro (and 54 minutes from Málaga), so you can easily visit both sites in a day. Don't forget to pack a lunch, because the restaurants in this area cater for tourists and are overpriced (and not that great either).
There are many options for day trips from Málaga to choose from, but if you're short on time or don't want to drive too far from the city centre, there are more than enough day trips one hour from Málaga that you can go on. Whether you want to stay along the coast, visit some inland white villages in Málaga, or drive through some of the province's national parks, the choices really are endless in this part of Andalucía.
Do you know of any other day trips from Málaga that are less than an hour away that I haven't included in my list? Let me know in the comments section below! You can also follow my travels on Instagram, where I will be posting more photos from my trips as well as helpful tips!
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