This blog post was originally posted on August 11th, 2016 and was updated on December 5th, 2017
When it comes to beachside cities like Malaga, the more time you can spend there, the better.
That being said, 48 hours in Malaga is just about the perfect amount of time to check all the main sights off your list (as well as some of the city’s best food). This foolproof itinerary will help ensure that your trip is one to remember.
Morning & afternoon: See the sights
Start off your 48 hours in Malaga with a relaxing stroll around the city center. Go at your own pace, and keep in mind that there’s no need to rush—we’re in one of the most relaxed, laid-back cities in all of Spain, after all! By all means, stop and take some pictures whenever you want (this city is seriously beautiful), but take it easy and let yourself get lost.
As you start getting to know your way around the city, take note of the most impressive sights and stop to visit the ones that draw you in the most. Maybe it’s the Alcazaba, the imposing Moorish fortress that holds gorgeous patios, gardens and sweeping city views within. Maybe it’s the Roman Theater, with its time-worn yet excellently preserved stage and seating area that will transport you back centuries. Or maybe it’s the cathedral—Andalusia’s second largest—with its Baroque architecture and trademark single tower. No matter which sights you choose to explore, you can’t go wrong.
5:30 p.m.: Take a break in Plaza de la Merced
All this walking might start to wear you out by mid-afternoon, so head to one of Malaga’s most emblematic squares for some relaxation. Plaza de la Merced is the essential image of a sunny European square, with charming bars and cafe terraces packed with locals enjoying the city’s fabulous weather and good vibes. Grab a spot at one of them (we particularly love Café con Libros, home to the best smoothies in town) and watch the world go by as you sip your drink.
Don’t leave the plaza without paying homage to one of Malaga’s most famous sons. Pablo Picasso himself was born right here in an apartment in an unassuming building on the edge of the square. Today, you can step inside and visit the small museum that’s housed there for a more intimate look at one of Spain’s most iconic figures. As you leave the square, be sure to say hello to Picasso himself (well, his statue, anyway) relaxing on a bench nearby.
7:30 p.m.: Try some typical Malaga wine
One of the most important things to know before traveling to Malaga is that this city is old. That includes its winemaking tradition, with the most popular product being the local sweet Malaga wine. Malaga has dozens of wine bars where you can sample it for yourself, but our personal favorite is Antigua Casa de Guardia. This is the oldest wine bar in town, dating back to 1840, complete with a long wooden bar and barrels upon barrels full of the good stuff.
9 p.m.: Tuck into traditional tapas
You might have heard that we eat pretty late here in Spain, and Malaga is no different. Locals won’t start flocking to bars and restaurants for dinner until 9 p.m. at the earliest, so hold out until then and head to one of the many fabulous places to eat in the historic center of Malaga. If you can’t decide on a spot, one of our favorites is Mesón Mariano, a fun, family-run spot where everything is cooked with market-fresh ingredients (their artichokes are famous!).
9:30 a.m.: Visit the food market
Your 48 hours in Malaga are halfway up, and there’s no better way to start round two than at one of the top food markets in Malaga. Join the locals as they do their morning grocery shopping and wander among the stalls overflowing with fresh, local products. Our pick: Mercado de Atarazanas, the city’s largest food hall. Just make sure you don’t leave without sampling local olives or almonds from one of the stalls.
10:30 a.m.: Explore the park and the bullfighting arena
Just east of the city center, running parallel to the colorful Muelle Uno port area, Malaga’s eponymous park makes a great spot for a midmorning stroll. With about 300 meters full of plants and trees from every continent on earth, you’re sure to be amazed by the natural beauty here even if you know nothing about wildlife. At the far eastern end of the park is Malaga’s famous bullring, an impressive work of architecture worth checking out.
12:30 p.m.: Enjoy the port and fresh fish at the beach
48 hours in Malaga wouldn’t be complete without spending some time at the city’s rejuvenated port area, known as Muelle Uno. A funky, modern area with shops, museums, great views and more, it’s an idyllic spot to spend a few hours. Head south along the shore until you reach the little white lighthouse that marks the unofficial starting point of La Malagueta Beach, and from here you’re within reach of some seriously fabulous chiringuitos (typical beach bars). Chiringuito La Malagueta is a particularly great spot to sample Malaga’s famous espetos (grilled sardine skewers).
2:30 p.m.: Discover the artistic wonders of Soho
After a relaxing seaside lunch, make your way up to the hipster, bohemian neighborhood known as Soho. This fabulous up-and-coming neighborhood is one of Malaga’s trendiest, and is a particular favorite among artists. With plenty of street art as well as the popular CAC Museum, it’s a creative type’s dream come true. And even if art isn’t your thing, the district is still worth checking out for the interesting array of new local businesses opening their doors every day.
5 p.m.: Visit the Picasso museum
Remember how we said that Picasso was a pretty big deal in Malaga due to the fact that he was born here? You’ll definitely want to check out his namesake museum, which boasts a small but fascinating collection of works from the artist’s formative years.
Insider’s Tip: Don’t forget to check out the basement of the Picasso Museum, home to beautiful Moorish and Phoenician ruins that will take your breath away.
7 p.m.: Enjoy a drink with a view
Now that your 48 hours in Malaga are winding down, take some time to kick back and relax with good drinks and a fabulous view. The AC Malaga Palacio Hotel near the cathedral offers one of the city’s premier rooftop bars, with sweeping views across the city and port area. Don’t forget your camera.
9 p.m.: Have a great last dinner
After a long but fun day, it’s time to sit down for your last meal in Malaga—be sure to make it a good one. No matter which delicious dish you choose, be sure to order a refreshing glass of tinto de verano (a tasty mix of red wine and lemon soda—much more authentic than sangria!) to wash it all down.