A weekend in Malaga is a great way to dip your toes into Southern Spanish culture. 2 days in Malaga is a good amount of time to take in the city – but you can spend a month here, if you wanted! If you ever wonder about what to do on a 2 day Malaga itinerary, here’s a sample for you.
Malaga is a city on the Costa del Sol in Andalucia, Spain. It is a cultural and economic hub for Andalucia, and with the airport being so easily accessible (and direct flights are plentiful) it can be a first stop for a lot of travelers seeking the Southern sun.
We came to Malaga 2 years ago while on a road trip around the Iberian Peninsula. We were staying in Fuengirola and decided to make a day trip to this city. On first impression we were surprised by how gritty and different it was from her Andalucian sisters!
Seville is gorgeous, Cadiz feels like the edge of the world, Ronda is picturesque: where did Malaga fit into this dynamic? At first glance, we were not so blown away. At surface level we didn’t see the “wow” factor that you can get when visiting other Andalucian cities for the first time.
After living in Malaga for a month, however, I can say with confidence that a weekend in Malaga is well worth the visit – it’s a unique place; one that will scratch your itch for ancient ruins, good food, beaches, and culture.
2 Days in Malaga
Explore the Coast
Assuming you are staying in the old town, Malaga has a lot right at your doorstep. Literally. You could be staying steps away from an old church, a ruin, a famous tapas bar or all three!
I’d recommend orienting yourself to this colorful, boisterous city first by finding the beach.
Walk down to the beautiful Parque de Malaga and stroll along any of the 4 different pedestrian malls that the area has to offer. The malls are lovely: tree lined with palms and exotic looking ferns. Or the Paseo de Muelle Uno, which runs parallel to the park. This pedestrian mall runs along the sea itself and has a lovely white roof that creates an airy, fresh atmosphere.
If you continue along the Paseo, you can swing around to the beach, the Playa la Malagueta. This beach is great: walkable and pretty and the further you go you’ll get spectacular views of the mountains and Malaga city. Just bring plenty of sunscreen! 48 hours in Malaga can quickly become very unpleasant if you get a sunburn.
After you’ve taken in enough sun, find lunch.
There are plenty of places to eat around Malaga. The chiringuitos along the beach (basically upscale beach shacks serving tapas) are OK – but if you come for a weekend in Malaga, and especially during the high season, they’ll likely be very busy and overpriced.
If you can, walk back into the center of the city (not far at all from the beach, promise!) you’ll be able to find plenty of restaurants and tapas bars worth sampling, with cheaper prices and more variety!
Walk off Lunch in the Old Town
Strolling along the streets of Malaga can offer nothing but surprises and jaw dropping moments and, boy, do they come out of nowhere. I’ve never been to a city that can hide its gems like Malaga can. One minute you are wandering down a small side street and then you’ll turn a corner and a massive cathedral will spring out at you.
In the old town, most of the streets are pedestrian only so you won’t have to worry about cars. A 2 day Malaga itinerary wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t tell you to check out the main shopping thoroughfare of Calle Marques de Larios. This can be one of the busiest streets in Malaga in terms of foot traffic, but there are tons of shopping opportunities here.
See some Roman Ruins
If you continue along the calle (street) across Plaza de la Constitucion and on to Calle Granada you’ll eventually spit out at some Roman ruins.
The Roman theatre or Teatro Roman de Malaga is spectacular. It’s free to gawk and free to enter if you go between the hours of 10am-6pm Tuesday-Saturday; Sundays 10am-4pm. The entrance is closed on Mondays and holidays. The whole thing would take you about 30 min to see.
After your wander, wonder and various exploration exploits, you should get some hot chocolate and churros.
Malaga is known for a couple of tasty delights and chocolate and churros is one of them. If you don’t know what a churro is, imagine a super fried doughnut that’s really crispy and thin shaped in either a stick or a ring. The chocolate is served in a coffee cup, steaming hot, and it is so so good. Like: died and gone to heaven good.
For about 2 Euro, you can treat yo’ self to this incredible fantasy of chocolate and cholesterol by dipping the churro into the chocolate and having at it. We haven’t found a Churreria that we haven’t loved. I don’t think you can go wrong here. We went to Churreria La Malagueña about a dozen times, so: don’t feel guilty about eating this stuff up.
For dinner, feel free to hit up any number of tapas bars and restaurants. For great seafood and all around fantastic dishes, we really like Cosa Fina located in the Plaza De Las Cofradías. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to eat and sit! Malaga is many things, but one thing it is not is rushed.
This requires a reservation in advance, but you can see Flamenco over dinner at Vino Mio. You can make a reservation online (at least a day in advance – and they’ll take a while to get back to you!) or you can go there directly and make one at the restaurant. The manager there speaks English.
There are also opportunities to see Flamenco at other establishments, such as the Peña Juan Breva, which will also require a reservation.
Day 2 of your Weekend in Malaga
No 2 days in Malaga would be complete without a visit to Alcazaba. You might have noticed it once or twice the day before: it’s hard to miss. A grand building sitting on top of a hill overlooking the city. It’s spectacular to say the least.
There are two ways you can approach this visit. One is by going in the morning when it will be less crowded, but you’ll need to pay the entrance fee to get in (to see Alcazaba the entrance is 3.5 Euro each). If you go after 1pm on Sunday, the entrance is free, but you’ll be elbowing your way in with all the other tourists who didn’t want to pay.
The choice is yours. We went earlier and paid to get in, it was not too crowded and the sun wasn’t too hot by that point!
The hike up to the entrance is a bit of a butt-kicker (but hey: I did it while 6-months pregnant so I figure almost anyone can do it!) but if you really don’t feel like climbing up that path for 20 min, you can take an elevator or a bus.
The views from the top are spectacular! Really, really worth the visit. We spent about an hour walking around the Fortress. If you want, you can purchase tickets for entrance to both the Fortress and the Castle (Castillo) if you want, we paid about 11 Euro for the two of us for both attractions.
After you’ve walked all over the ruins, go find lunch!
Visit The Mercado Central de Atarazanas
If you want to skip the lines at Pimpi (arguably one of the most famous restaurant/bars in Malaga), walk over to the Mercado (Market) because this place is unreal. It’s pure Spain in all its glory: fish mongers calling out their wares, vegetable stalls, fruit stalls, butchers, cheese, cured meats, olives, nuts, spices… the list goes on. This market will attack your senses, pulling you one direction and then another.
We love this place. We went everyday. The prices were dirt cheap, the food spectacular, and the vibe was so awesome. You can get lunch here at any number of small tapas bars that are dotted around the perimeter.
Visit a Museum
Malaga has plenty of museums to choose from. The most popular being the Picasso Museum (he was born in Malaga, so of course there are nothing but homages to the man!).
Honestly, we liked the Picasso Museum, but in our opinion it isn’t a must see if you are only spending 48 hours in Malaga. If you are jonesing for Picasso there are collections around the world that will really float your boat, the Picasso Museum in Malaga is not one of them.
We really enjoyed visiting the CAC. Entrance is free (free!!) and it’s a delightful collection of really strange, ever-rotating contemporary art. The whole visit would take about 40 min. The great thing about the CAC was how utterly uncrowded it was. Everyone goes to the Picasso Museum.
If contemporary art is not your thing, you can check out the Malaga Museum. Entrance is 1.50 Euro per person (if you are a resident outside of the EU, if you are a resident of the EU entrance is free!). The Malaga Museum is large and has a really excellent take on the archaeological finds around Malaga and Andalucia. Highly recommend!
We also liked the Malaga Museum because it also has a whole wing dedicated to art done by Spanish artists (that are not Picasso!) and the collection was beautiful.
If you’re looking for dinner options many people go to El Pimpi, and for good reason: it’s delicious. We wouldn’t recommend going on a weekend day, however, as this place can get really packed. If you are spending 2 days in Malaga during the week we’d say make it a stop or be prepared to wait for a table.
The Difference Between a Weekend in Malaga vs Spending 2 Days in Malaga During the Week
We’ve noticed that the city really fills up over the weekend, even in the off season. Weekends mean the locals have time off work and out-of-towners are more likely to come in for a visit.
The cool thing about the weekend in Malaga is that there will likely be more events going on that you can catch, such as Flamenco shows.
Spending 2 days in Malaga during the week means more of a subdued city. This isn’t to say that the city is quiet, you’ll just have more of the place to yourself. El Pimpi, for example, is one of the most famous restaurants in the city and on a weekday you can walk right in and get yourself a seat – something that likely won’t happen over the weekend!
If you are on vacation and can do a 2 day Malaga itinerary during the week, I would suggest you do that to save yourself the headache of fighting through crowds.
Of course the time of year you plan to come visit makes a huge difference as well.
When is a Good Time to Spend 2 Days in Malaga?
The high season in Malaga is generally May – October and things can get pretty crowded. The beaches, the restaurants, accommodation, museums, etc can get packed. A lot of tourists will be on summer vacation and travelling around the Andalucian coast. Weekend or not: this place will be busy.
The off season (October – April) is a lot more chilled out, literally. The weather is cooler, there are fewer people in town, and things are quieter. We spent the month of January in Malaga and felt like this was a lovely way to see the city without fighting through massive cruise-ship-loads of people.
Prices are cheaper in the off-season as well. Sure, you won’t be able to sunbathe on the beach like you would in the warmer months, but the temperatures on the Costa Del Sol are definitely nice, regardless. Expect a lot of sun.
Can I Get Away with Speaking English in Malaga?
This depends on where you are. Of course the locals would prefer you to try using Spanish if you can. Likely, the person you are communicating with will know English enough to help you, but we found that many people don’t feel very confident with their English speaking abilities and would prefer to speak Spanish.
That said: you can get away with using English while on your 2 day Malaga itinerary. Ordering food, buying tickets, making reservations, booking hotels… you can do this all in English. We have found that trying to speak in Spanish (even if it’s bad) will get you a smile and a little more respect, though.
Certainly, greeting people with a simple ¡Hola! (hello!) and Gracias (thank you) would be nice.
We hope you enjoy a weekend in Malaga as much as we enjoyed being in this city. Malaga holds a special place in our hearts as a city that is flush with things to see and do. It’s easy to navigate, easy to get a hold of a good tapa or ice cream, and easy to soak in some culture and sun.
Looking for other Southern European places to visit? The Algarve Coast in Portugal is gorgeous! And if you are continuing on to Morocco, check out our 5 day itinerary. I wrote about my thoughts on Tangier as well, which is where the ferry from Malaga will take you when you arrive in Morocco.