Last updated on February 10th, 2024
Every weekend in Malaga that I had while living there, I would spend on in-depth city explorations or road trips around the region, discovering its most popular sights together with Malaga’s hidden gems.
This is eventually what got me inspired to sit down and write this post with tips on precisely what and when to do to make the most of your time in the city.
There are numerous ways how to spend 2-days in Malaga, offering a variety of scenarios to suit different preferences and interests. But I thought to create an itinerary that is good for people who are visiting Malaga for the first time and who want to maximize their time by covering the most important sites together with some must-do experiences and local cuisine.
Every day is packed with a lot of things and activities, so you will hardly have any time to pause and relax. If you think that’s too much for a short weekend break, then skip some places to adjust your itinerary.
Otherwise, if you plan a longer weekend in Malaga (more than 2 days), I have more suggested sightseeing ideas in the end of the post.
Are 2 Days in Malaga Enough?
As someone who lived in this city, I will tell that no, 2 days in Malaga is not enough. However, a weekend break in Malaga is a good starting point to get acquainted with this sunny destination and see its major highlights.
If you have a full weekend (meaning you arrive on Friday evening and leave on Sunday night), then you have an advantage and a bit more time for this city break.
In case you arrive before 18:00, join this night tour of Malaga (or a free Malaga night tour from one of my favorite companies) to cover briefly all the main points of interest and get a feel of the city. In this way, on the following days, you’ll have time to explore different neighborhoods, one or two coastal villages, hit the beach (if visiting outside of the colder season), and possibly go to coastal towns like Benalmádena or Fuengirola.
But if you have more time and want to spend a long weekend in Malaga (let’s say 3 or even 4 days), then don’t miss a chance to hire a car in the airport or city center and go on a road trip from Malaga to visit one of these many beautiful places, all located in the Malaga region.
Where to Stay on a Weekend Break in Malaga
Since spending a weekend is not that much time, you want to be centrally located closer to the Old Town as most of the activities (recommended in this itinerary) are there.
Yet at the same time, do not choose accommodation on very central streets of the old town if you have heavy suitcases or difficulty walking.
Old Town of Malaga is closed to traffic and there is no way to reach your hotel or airbnb in any way other than walking. Taxis are allowed only on some streets but everywhere else you’ll need to walk and walk a lot.
Look at the area where hotel Vincci Larios Diez is situated. It is a good example of an excellent location (in a central commercial area yet closer to the metro) and authentic stay. A cheaper alternative there is Lights Hostel.
If you plan to have a car to drive around then better consider the area where B&B Hotel is or more south where Casual Malaga del Mar is. Finding parking on streets around them is relatively easy. And in case you can’t find street parking, there are inexpensive garages nearby.
2 Days in Malaga Itinerary – Best for Active Travelers
This suggested itinerary for 2 days in Malaga is great for people who love to travel for cities, museums, ancient landmarks, and monuments with historic past. I include also a couple of natural spots with beautiful views of Malaga and of course my favorite restaurants where to try local food.
But again, the main point of this itinerary – to help you get the most out of a city visit, meaning to see a lot!
Day 1 in Malaga:
8:00-12:00 – Breakfast, Alcazaba & Museum of Malaga
If your hotel or airbnb stay doesn’t include breakfast, then start your day with one in BYOKO cafe or Sabor con Encanto (both are within a short distance from Alcazaba and you get to walk through the Old Town which is quiet in the morning which is great for the photos).
The first stop should be Alcazaba (a historic fortress and palace complex built in the 11th century, showcasing Moorish architecture). It served as a military stronghold during the Islamic rule of Al-Andalus in the Iberian Peninsula and today showcases the influence of the Nasrid dynasty. See ticket prices here with more info on the museum. And then you can purchase tickets on the spot near the entrance.
In Alcazaba, it should take approximately 2 hours to walk through the walls, listen to the audio guide quickly (there are QR codes everywhere with different info for people who have internet data), get to the top, and take photos. This is an approximate time for a visit, kind of fast-paced for people who don’t have much time in Malaga. But it is easy enough to spend a full day there too if you are all into history because the audio guide is very long!
Upon exit, make a quick stop at the Roman theater (its remains) to step back in time and then go for a quick visit to the Malaga Museum, which is a combination of the Fine Arts Museum and the Provincial Archaeological Museum with many artifacts and archaeological finds.
It is located in a historic building (which used to be a palace) near the port on the spot where hundreds of years ago there was the sea and is a very interesting museum to go to, even though many people skip it. Entrance to the museum is completely free. 30-50 minutes there will be enough.
12:00-15:00 – Malaga Cathedral, Chinitas Alley & Lunch at Mercado Central
After the Museum of Malaga, it is only a short walk away to the main cathedral Catedral de la Encarnacion, a historic Renaissance cathedral featuring a mix of architectural styles and a notable incomplete bell tower known as La Manquita. With a stop here you can admire impressive architecture, explore different chapels, and discover religious artifacts within.
Entrance to the cathedral is not free. You need to pay at the door and here are the details on how much tickets cost. My only recommendation – get the ticket for the roof as well. In the past, it was used by the cathedral’s clergy and workers responsible for maintenance, repairs, and as a lookout point for defensive purposes. Today it offers incredible views with a historical and architectural walk.
When you are done touring the cathedral, start a walk to the Central Market but make sure to lay a route in that way where you get to walk through Pasaje Chinitas (a passage that connects two streets, Calle Granada and Calle Santa Maria).
This is a kind of hidden little quarter that is easy to miss with traditional Andalusian architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, and quaint buildings adorned with wrought iron balconies. Very pretty to walk through and take photos of! Here is the central point on a map for you to find it.
From there, continue a walk to the biggest fresh produce market Mercado Central which also has vendors who cook seafood dishes. It is a place for a nice culinary experience with numerous stalls and eateries serving a variety of traditional Spanish dishes, including tapas, paella, and seafood delicacies.
15:00-20:00 – Explore Malaga Coast on a Bike
I hope you love biking because this suggestion will let you see so much more in a shorter period! Bike is a perfect type of transport if you are spending only one weekend in Malaga! Of course, you can always join a segway tour, but with a bike, you have more flexibility and time on hand.
Mark and I rented bikes in Malaga around 5 times and our favorite rental company turned out to be Malaga Bike Rentals near the Plaza de la Marina. If you are not flexible with time and need a bike on a weekend, it would be smart to pre-book it in advance (at least 2-3 days before the pick-up date) to ensure availability.
When we were renting bikes from them, the price for 6 hours was the same as what they offer now for 24 hours. So take advantage of that and go explore the coast!
The route I suggest you take (to see a lot) is the following: from the shop cruise along the Paseo del Parque and then towards Muelle Uno and Pompidou Centre. Park a bike somewhere there and stroll along the waterfront looking at expensive yachts parked in the area and listening to street performers. Muelle Uno is a modern waterfront shopping area and Centre Pompidou (a branch of the Centre Pompidou in Paris) is a contemporary art exhibition.
Continue your ride to La Malagueta Beach with brown sand and a couple of scenic lagoons and then east along the coast to reach the charming fishing neighborhoods of Pedregalejo and El Palo.
Both are famous for their seafood restaurants by the sea (chiringuitos) and have a more relaxed atmosphere where you can eat dinner. Just park your bike and walk along the coast choosing an establishment you like.
All of them have similar menus and offer fresh catch of the day as well as sunset colors. I like Restaurant Antonio and Restaurant Naval (they are nearby) but there are really many others to choose from. In Chiringuito the seafood is always cooked on the grill in the boat, just like in this photo, ha!
20:00-21:00 – Flamenco Show With Drinks & Tasting
Watching flamenco is an integral part of any Malaga itinerary, be it 2 days in Malaga, 3 days or more, particularly if you are visiting this part of southern Spain for the first time. Flamenco has roots in the Andalusian region and Malaga has enriched the diverse essence of flamenco culture.
The number of places where to watch flamenco in Malaga is high but since in this itinerary I recommend you spend early evening in El Palo and Pedregalejo, you can return for the evening show at Alegria. This is one of the best places anyways with traditional dancing and music.
They also offer an option to purchase dinner with drinks after the show, so this may be your chance if you decide to skip chiringuitos.
Day 2 in Malaga:
7:00-12:00 – Self-Guided Old Town Walk, Spanish Breakfast & Check-Out
Can you wake up very early to start your day 2 of Malaga itinerary at 7 in the morning? If yes (and it should be yes if you want to beat the crowds), leave your accommodation first thing in the early morning to go on a self-guided walk through the old town.
There are still so many places that you haven’t seen on day 1. Plus (the main thing) early morning (especially on Sunday) will mean there will be no people, like at all. Streets are going to be empty (perfect) which means you’ll be able to take awesome photos like I did so many times when I pushed myself out of bed early!
So begin your day with a stroll to Calle Nueva, a charming street lined with shops, boutiques, and cafes. Many will be opening their doors to visitors but it is still going to be quiet. Next move to the Plaza del Siglo with historic building from where turn to Calle Larios, the main shopping street with fancy stores and street decorations (this is the brightest street in Malaga for Christmas).
Plaza de la Constitucion is the city’s main square with bakeries, cafes, and old homes. During the day it is always full of people but in the early morning, it is a nice place where to relax and enjoy a peaceful atmosphere.
After a walk, if up for this, stop for a Spanish-type breakfast in one of the local cafeterias. Spanish type of breakfast means tortilla with bread (Spanish omelette with potatoes), churros with chocolate, yogurt with fruit, and pastries with toasts. So if this is something you’d like to eat first thing in the morning, then try Cafe de L’abuela or La Flor Negra (both Spanish and European breakfasts), or just stop in any bakery that you walk by.
12:00-15:00 – Gibralfaro Castle With Walking Trails & Views
Upon check-out leave your bags at the reception (or possibly airbnb flat?) or if you are staying one extra night – leave all unnecessary things in the accommodation since you’ll be heading to the highest point in Malaga and that is Gibralfaro castle.
It is a defensive structure built in the 14th century to protect the Alcazaba and serve as a military fortress. It offers a mix of historical exploration and scenic views. And while there is no museum like in the Alcazaba, there are informational boards strategically placed throughout the site that provide historical details about the castle, its construction, and its significance.
The walk to the top of Gibralfaro is beautiful opening up more and more views. Ascent involves some uphill walking, but it is not overly strenuous and there are benches along the way for those who want to rest and enjoy the scenery.
Here is the most popular vista point with an impressive view of Malaga from above. But there are a few more in the area where to stop and take in the scenery. If you stop at the grocery store before climbing the path, get some snacks for the road to eat them with a view once you reach the viewing platform.
15:00-16:00 – Tapas & Wine in Iconic Tavern ‘El Pimpi’
Oh El Pimpi, always full of people and amazing vibe. Because it is a famous, iconic establishment in Malaga with an extensive selection of local Andalusian wines, cherries, and traditional tapas with dishes. It’s a great place to sample local culinary delights and feel the ambiance.
It is basically a bodega (wine cellar) in a tunnel, set in a historic building with typical Andalusian decor, colorful tiles, rustic barrels, and traditional elements. The atmosphere is very lively and authentic.
Make a stop here to taste locally-produced wines, eat tapas, and possibly meet a celebrity. El Pimpi has gained popularity for being a favorite spot of celebrities, including Antonio Banderas who owns a penthouse in one of the nearby neighborhoods.
16:00-19:00 – Casa Natal de Picasso & SOHO Neighborhood
Casa Natal de Picasso in other words Picasso Museum is the birthplace of señor Pablo Picasso, a famous Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century and a co-founder of the Cubist movement.
Even if you don’t enjoy art, chances are high that you won’t regret a visit to the Picasso Museum (it’s on one of the main streets here). He was a groundbreaking artist with a diverse range of styles, so there’s something for everyone.
And the reason I included this stop for the second day of your 2 days visit to Malaga is a free entrance on Sundays during the 2 hours before the closing of the museum. When visiting it in winter, free access is between 16:00-18:00. In summer from 17:00-19:00. So take that chance but expect to spend some time in line waiting.
I initially visited the Picasso Museum just for the checkmark, but truth be told, I ended up enjoying the trip. There is a variety of Pablo Picasso’s works together with the insight into his life and cultural context of his art.
Overall you’ll probably spend a couple of hours there (together with waiting in line). Afterward, go for a walk to the Soho district, the artsy quarter with colorful murals that used to be an industrial area. Soho is full of trendy restaurants where you can dine in the evening.
19:00-22:00 – Evening Stroll Along Muelle Uno & Live Music
If you still have the energy (and time) to do more things in Malaga on a weekend trip, then take it slower and return to the streets that you liked most or do what you haven’t done yet but what sits high on your Malaga bucket list.
I’d suggest you also return to Muelle Uno area (waterfront promenade) which comes alive at night with its shops, restaurants, and bars. Enjoy a relaxing evening stroll there and take in the views of the port before saying goodbye to the city.
Alternative Things to Do on a Weekend Trip to Malaga
Here are a few more suggestions for what to do if this is your second trip to Malaga or if you prefer a different pace of travel:
- Malaga Wine & Tapas Tour – almost 4 hours exploring the city’s gourmet highlights
- Street Food & Market Tour in Malaga – half day of sightseeing and trying Malaga’s culinary delights
- Exploring Flamenco Interactive Center – unique experience to learn about flamenco through interactive screens
- Tuk-Tuk Tour of Malaga – full overview with a licensed guide
- Paella Cooking Class – learn how to make paella and other local dishes
If You Have a Long Weekend in Malaga (More Than 2 Days)
If you are coming for a weekend break in Malaga and have at least 3 days or longer, do not spend them all in the city. Try to get out to see more of the region.
- Cordoba for a Day – with all the awesome experiences to have there
- Frigiliana With a Hike & Wine Tasting – unique landscape full of tropical trees
- Drive Towards Valencia – the drive is long but you can cover part of it to see Andalucia and even Murcia
- Day Trip to Gibraltar – go by bus to explore on your own
- Caminito del Rey, White Village & Tapas – the scariest trail in Spain
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- Weekend in Portland – how to spend 2 to 4 days in the largest city of Oregon