The Costa del Sol is one of the most important tourist destinations in Spain. Every year, millions of travellers come to it from all over Europe, looking for its brilliant sun, the soft sand of its beaches, its tasty gastronomy and its famous nightlife. Its capital is a vibrant city that is well worth a visit before heading to the small towns along the coast.
Seeing Malaga in a day can even be an understatement. The city in which geniuses of yesterday and today were born, like Pablo Picasso and Antonio Banderas, has become, in little more than a decade, a cultural centre of high level, supported, in addition, by its beach, its blessed climate and that inherent joy of its citizens.
If you want to see Malaga in one day, here are a few suggestions to help you enjoy the city:
What to see in Malaga in one day
These are some of the points to see in Malaga in one day.
Larios Street and Plaza de la Constitución
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The mythical Calle Larios leads to what could be a good start to your route to enjoy the best of Malaga in one day, the Plaza de la Constitución.
This square is the heart of the city. Shops, cafes, restaurants, and it is presided over by the Genoa fountain, made of marble in the 16th century, which magnetizes tourists and locals with its elegant figure.
The Plaza de la Constitución becomes the protagonist during the traditional festivities (the Feria de Málaga being the largest of all, when the square is overflowing with people drinking, eating and laughing) and other celebrations.
It’s a perfect place to sit and watch life go by and take the pulse of Malaga. If you are here first thing in the morning, take the opportunity to have a good toast with oil, tomato and ham in the Café Central.
Enjoy art in Malaga: Picasso Museum, Thyssen Museum and Pompidou Centre
Art is very present in the streets of the capital of the Costa del Sol and is usually part of the agenda of any day trip to Malaga that is worthwhile.
In the birthplace of the genius Pablo Picasso, a museum dedicated to his figure could not be missing.
The Picasso Museum is located in a 16th century house, just a few steps from the cathedral of Malaga. Picasso’s works of art are displayed in chronological order, making it easy to understand how his style evolved. If you are an art lover, don’t be in too much of a hurry and take the time to travel through the painter’s creative stages and understand how he became the master of Cubism and a leading figure in the history of art worldwide.
As a suggestion, we would like to tell you that many people visit Picasso’s museum after learning about the artist’s first years at the Picasso Birthplace Museum Foundation.
From there, you can go along Compañía Street to the Palacio de Villalón (16th century), home to the Carmen Thyssen Museum in Málaga. This museum, inaugurated in March 2011, has a permanent collection of more than 200 works by Spanish artists from the 19th century, especially focused on Andalusian painting and which constitutes the most complete collection in Spain.
Finally, between quays 1 and 2 in the port area of Malaga, you can visit the Centre Pompidou Malaga. It is the first international branch of the prestigious Parisian art gallery. It is located in the building known as El Cubo (or The Cube of Colours) with an impressive permanent exhibition, made up of a selection of the collection of the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Here you can admire the works of artists such as Francis Bacon, Georg Baselitz, Constantin Brâncuși, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Giorgio de Chirico, Tàpies and Picasso.
The Alcazaba and the Roman Theatre
In the heart of the city, two of the best historical monuments to be seen in Malaga in one day are located opposite each other. The power of the Arabs and the Romans in one street, represented by the Alcazaba and the Roman Theatre.
The Alcazaba, built between the 11th and 14th centuries, was the fortress of the palace of the Muslim governors. It is built on the remains of an ancient Phoenician fortress, on a slope of Mount Gibralfaro, in a privileged enclave above the city.
The Roman Theatre of Malaga, located at the foot of the Alcazaba, was built in the first century BC, was in use until the third century AD. After its restoration, the Roman Theatre of Malaga has regained its value as a scenic space. In addition, the good news is that you can visit the Theatre’s Interpretation Centre, and the theatre itself, free of charge.
The first thing you will notice while you are in front of Malaga’s cathedral is that one of its towers is unfinished. For this reason, they gave it the nickname “La Manquita”.
The cathedral has mainly Renaissance features, but its main facade is Baroque. Don’t leave without taking a look inside as well, as it is even more elegant than its exterior.
When you enter, the walls and corridors richly decorated with beautiful works of art make you feel at peace. If you want to enjoy one of the best views to see in Malaga, you can climb the cathedral tower (check the timetable before).
Viewpoint of Gibralfaro
Although for views of the city those offered by the viewpoints of Mount Gibralfaro.
The mountain has two viewpoints at different heights. A first viewpoint gives good views of the Bullring, the Cathedral of La Encarnación, the Port of Málaga and the Málaga Streetlamp. At your back, the Nasrid wall separates you from the Alcazaba of Malaga.
The second viewpoint is a few meters higher and offers you beautiful views of the Malagueta neighborhood, the Plaza de Toros and the eastern part of Malaga.
It is a good place to enjoy a sunset or a sunrise during your visit to Malaga in one day.
Have a wine and some tapas at the Pimpi
Founded in 1971 and housed in an old Andalusian house from the 18th century, the Pimpi boasts of being the oldest tapas bar in Malaga. This is no mean feat in a city that, along with Granada, happens to be one of the best tapas cities in southern Spain
It still retains the unique charm that attracted celebrities like Tony Blair, Antonio Banderas and Luis Piedrahíta. Look for their signatures on the barrels.
All its rooms seem to be alive and the conversation never goes out, amplified by bouncing off the walls and barrels. The geranium pots make the terrace look like a colourful garden. The Pimpi is just a few steps away from the Picasso Museum, so it could be an ideal place for lunch.
However, if you are going to visit the Pimpi any weekend night, you better make a reservation in advance as it is usually full.
Getting a tan at La Malagueta
If you want to swim in the sea and sunbathe during your day trip to Malaga, the best option is the urban beach of La Malagueta.
Situated in the very centre of the city, a short distance from the modern Quay 1 of the port, this 1,200 metre long sandy area appears full of people as soon as the good weather arrives in Malaga. Do not expect Caribbean-looking waters, but you will find palm trees and a blue flag atmosphere.
The Paseo del Parque, which runs parallel to the port, is one of the largest public tropical gardens in Europe. Here there are more than 500 different plants from all corners of the globe. Its construction took quite some time, from 1897 to 1921, because it was built on artificial land reclaimed from the sea. Today, with its 650 meters long and 90 meters wide, it is one of the best green areas in Malaga.
Furthermore, walking around here you can admire emblematic buildings such as the Palacio de la Aduana, which houses the Museum of Málaga, with the provincial collections of Archaeology and Fine Arts. In this amazing museum, you can find more than 15,000 pieces of archaeology and more than 2,000 paintings, constituting one of the best collections of Spanish painting of the 19th century.
You will also find the old Post Office building, in neo-Mudejar style (1923), the current University Rector’s Office, the Bank of Spain, in neo-classical style (1933-36) and the Town Hall, in neo-baroque style (1911-19).
Where to sleep in Málaga
Seeing Malaga in one day is complicated, so if you decide to spend the night in the capital of the Costa del Sol to spend some more time or simply rest before leaving the next day, here are some recommendations where to sleep in Malaga:
Hotel Palacete de Álamos: located in a beautiful building in the centre of Málaga, the breakfasts in this four-star hotel are the kind that will make you wake up happy.
Madeinterranea Suites: a cosy, peculiar, clean and well-decorated boutique hotel. Located in the centre, with a charming rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the surrounding churches and outstanding buildings.
Roman Theatre Boutique Hotel: unbeatable location, right next to the Roman Theatre, for a romantic weekend in Malaga. A place that takes care of every detail and whose staff makes you feel at home.
Mariposa Hotel Málaga: this hotel has rooms with an art deco style design. Located 400 meters from Larios street. The Mariposa Hotel Málaga has bright colors and elegant decoration everywhere. All rooms have air conditioning, minibar and full bathroom.
Hotel AC Málaga Palacio: the quality/price ratio of AC hotels never disappoints. Without a doubt, its central rooftop terrace is one of the best assets of this hotel, which is among the best accommodation options in Malaga.
If you can’t make up your mind, you can look at this interactive map of hotels and other accommodation in Malaga:
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