One Day in Málaga, Spain (Sunshine, food and stunning palaces on the Costa Del Sol)

Málaga is beautiful. Like, full on beautiful. My visit to the Andalucían city was as a result of my cruise-ship-working life, and although ideally I’d have had more time to explore this Spanish city of DREAMS, I feel like I really made the most of my one day in Málaga. A port city on the Costa Del Sol, I was mostly expecting to see high-rise hotels and souvenir shops (mainly as a result of the fact these things both featured highly in photos of the city in my year 10 Spanish textbooks), but the sight that actually met my eyes was something a whole lot lovelier: historic buildings, autumnal tree-lined roads (’cause, ya know, it was Autumn after all) and a day full of sunshine and good times. Here are the things I did in order to make the most of one day in Málaga.

Eat Málaga Salad

It goes without saying that tapas and sangria should most certainly be on the menu for you when in Spain; I mean, both of the aforementioned items are DELICIOUS. But a true speciality unique to this city is Ensalada Malagueña; and as a strong salad fan I BIG TIME recommend it, pals. Seafood in general is all the rage around these parts- thanks to the good old bountiful Mediterranean right on its doorstep- and Ensalada Malagueña features salted cod, potatoes, oranges, spring onions, parsley and olive oil. Sometimes maybe a boiled egg or two and some olives thrown in for luck.

We visited a restaurant in the port (which is a destination in itself, filled with bars, shops and gelaterías) to try a whole selection of Málagan dishes, and were not disappointed in the slightest, particularly as the owner gave us an entire bottle of very cheap sparkling rosé wine free of charge. I mean, what more could you wish for? Classy birds, we most certainly are.

Related: Oliva and the Costa Blanca, Spain

Ensalada Malagueña is a classic dish of Malaga. Definitely eat this in the Costa Del Sol!

The lighthouse, walkable from the port in Malaga

Hit the Beach

The beach here is so pretty. And to get from Málaga’s port to the city and subsequent seaside, it takes mere minutes my friends. Mere minutes I tell you!! They don’t call it the Costa Del Sol for nothing, and as soon as you leave the port you’ll be met with the awesome view of the beach, pastel coloured hotels and apartment blocks, and the mountains behind them. And hopefully you’ll be lucky enough to visit on one of the 320 sunny days per year that this part of Spain gets. Basically you’re almost guaranteed to get some sunshine, and in October when I visited the city, there were plenty of people sunbathing and swimming to their heart’s content. The cheery little buggers.

A view of Malaga’s beach from the port

Rooftops of Malaga as seen from the Alcazaba

Stroll through the parks of the city

The city is home to several green spaces, which in turn are home to a great many cackling parakeets, but the main city park is a very convenient walk away from Málaga’s harbour. Around since the end of the 19th century, the very large Paseo Del Parque runs parallel to it, meaning it’s really not hard to miss. Beautiful tropical plants and trees live here, as well as fountains and statues galore, and every Sunday the Málaga Municipal Band gives a little concert in the bandstand for all who fancy a listen. Jolly good job.

Back to the topic of parakeets, awkwardly there was recently talk of a cull of these brightly coloured chaps as they’re widely considered to be a very threatening species. Málaga has one of the biggest parakeet populations in Spain, and these little guys have become very skilled at driving away native birds after they began escaping from birdcages in the 1970s. Poor old things.

A beautiful park in Malaga, Costa Del SolArchitecture in the Spanish city of Malaga Autumn in the Costa Del Sol

A tunnel on the walk up to the Alcazaba in Malaga

Visit the Roman ruins

Málaga is one of the most continuously inhabited cities in the whole of Europe, and right in the centre of the city is evidence of its Roman past in the form of a big old theatre built in the 1st Century BC. Those Romans really did get all over the place, didn’t they?

Related: An Ancient Roman City…in Croatia

By the AD700s, the Romans were gone and the Moors ruled the roost in Andalucía, so they decided to use the abandoned Roman theatre as a quarry in order to get the stone needed to build their fortress on top of the hill (more on that later, folks). It wasn’t until the 1950s that the remains of the theatre were rediscovered and fully dug up for all to see, and nowadays it’s one of the only remaining ancient monuments in the whole city. Back during the days of the Civil War, Málaga was an unashamedly Republican kind of a place, so Nationalist sympathisers bombed it like there was no tomorrow and subsequently destroyed a lot in the process.

Related, especially if you fancy learning a bit more about that not-so-long-ago Civil War: Exploring the Port City of Ferrol

It’s easy to admire the theatre from the city square that it sits next to, but it’s also possible to enter the site via a visitors centre to one side if you fancy a proper nose around.

Teatro Romano, open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-6pm, Sundays 10am-4pm. Closed on Mondays. Entrance is free.

Ancient Roman ruins in Spain, easily accessible from Malaga port

A busker in Malaga, Spain

See the Alcazaba

I’m a right geek and I know it, pals, but the Alcazaba was what I was really excited to see in Málaga. There are two fortresses in the city, located very close together, but the Alcazaba is one of the most well-preserved Moorish palaces in the whole of Spain. The Moors lived in this area for hundreds of years, and the Alcazaba was originally built as a form of defence from pirates and other raging enemies who might attack via the sea.

Sitting high above the city and with a vantage point looking out across the Mediterranean to Africa, the atmosphere inside the Alcazaba is quite the peaceful one. More than 100 towers still exist, and within the fortress’ walls are gardens courtyards and rooms filled with elegantly carved wooden ceilings and alcoves, beautifully patterned tiles and amazing tranquil pools of water. English Medieval castles are great and everything, but the Moors who were building their own style of castles at the same time really understood the art of interior design, know what I’m saying!? When I visited the Alcazaba I felt as if I’d been transported across the ocean to Morocco, and I was altogether astonished by how extensive and beautiful this palace is.

In 1487 the Catholic Royals of Aragon held the Moorish city under siege, which lasted a mammoth four months, and after 700 years of rule from their beautiful fortress, the Muslims were forced out.

Alcazaba, open 9am-8pm April to October, 9am-6pm November to March. Entrance fee €3.50, or a joint ticket including entry to the Alcazaba and the fortress of Gibralfaro €5. After 2pm on Sundays, entry is free.

A keyhole archway in the Alcazaba palace, MalagaLike being in Morocco, but you’re actually in SpainRooftop of the Alcazaba, pink building in Malaga SpainBeautiful palaces in Spain: the Alcazaba in MalagaHistoric buildings in Spain- a detail from the Moorish palace in Malaga A girl exploring Malaga A view of the city of Malaga, Spain The ceiling in the Alcazaba- they really knew about interior design

A guard tower in Malaga, Spain

The ornate ceiling of the Alcazaba, Malaga View of the Malaga port


  • To walk from Málaga port to the city centre takes around 15-20 minutes. I.e. nothing whatsoever!!
    To get from Málaga airport to the city also takes a mere 15 minutes but taxi or train. Brilliant.
    Whilst it’s definitely better to have some knowledge of Spanish under your belt, it’s completely possible to get by without.
    When I visited in October I got sunburnt and also wished I hadn’t worn jeans because I was a sweaty mess. So. It still gets rather toasty in Autumn, although obviously by Winter things do cool down a bit.
    In case you’re interested- it’s fully possible to get a ferry from Málaga to Morocco. It takes around 5 hours, currently operates once a week, and heads over to the city of Tangiers on the North coast of Africa.

How to spend one day in Málaga, SpainMálaga cruise port guide- what to do with one day in Málaga, SpainMust see in Málaga- the beautiful Alcazaba

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