Malaga is a city brimming with activities of all kinds from family fun to culinary and cultural. Even better, there are lots of free things to do in Malaga – so you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy your time in the Costa del Sol’s most exciting city.
We’ve picked 10 free things to do in Malaga, that we’re sure you’ll love.
At the base of the Moorish Alcazaba is the excavated Roman Theatre. One of the remaining symbols of Roman Spain in Malaga, there is a modern interpretation centre attached where you can find out more of the life and customs of the period before entering the theatre itself.
Afterwards, stroll through the El Pimpi restaurant where you will see wine barrels with the signatures of famous Spaniards such as Paloma Picasso and Antonio Banderas and posters from the last 100 years of Malaga feria. Stop and have a sherry or sweet Malaga wine (that bit is not free!).
Malaga’s central market dates back to the 14th century. Originally built by the Moors as a shipbuilder’s yard, the sea used to reach its arches. The Arabic name “Atarazanas” can be loosely translated as its original purpose.
The market has a wonderful atmosphere with the stained glass window depicting Malaga from Moorish times and one of the arches is original from the earlier centuries. The Malagueños (Malaga locals) shop here regularly, choosing from local produce including fresh fish and seafood, seasonal fruit and vegetables, olives and cheeses. The displays of fruit are an art form in themselves.
You’ll probably be tempted by the lovely food, so why not stop and enjoy a tapas and refreshing drink at one of the bars in the market.
A great free thing to do in Malaga, which kids will love, is to walk the back streets of the Soho and Lagunillas districts and admire the street art.
Created by international and local artists, the works decorate areas which needed a lift. Kids will have fun taking selfies next to the huge gecko or the colourful girl with dog, while adults can appreciate the skill in creating the art. Soho has some really good bistros and restaurants for when you need a rest, and Langunillas backs on to Plaza Merced, often the scene for outdoor art shows, live music and with some great cafés.
Lazy Sundays spent mooching around museums and art galleries after a satisfying lunch in a beautiful city. What could be better? Museums and galleries with free entry, that’s what.
Every Sunday in the late afternoon (the exact time depends on the museum) entrance is free to Malaga city’s museums and galleries, including the most famous – Picasso Museum, Carmen Thyssen Museum and the Pompidou Museum.
If you like contemporary art then you won’t need to wait to enjoy that for free on Sunday – the Centre for Contemporary Art (CAC) is free every day. You can also enjoy the Museum of Malaga for free all week long, too.
In the heat of a Spanish summer there’s nothing nice than to stroll in the shade of palm trees and take in the beauty of Malaga’s parks. In particular, the Parque de Malaga between the port and the historical centre is an oasis in the city centre and is the oldest park in Malaga dating from 1899.
On the other side of the road, are the Jardines de Pedro Luis Alonso. Created in 1945, the park’s orange trees fill the air with the sweet aroma of their blossoms in March and April. From these gardens you can see the Jardines de Puerta Oscura which line the slope of Mount Gibralfaro and were created to complement the aesthetic of the Alcazaba.
Beautiful Views of the City
For outstanding views of Malaga across the port and the historic centre, walk through the Jardines de Puerta Oscura to Gibralfaro Castle at the top of the hill. There are various points along the way at which you can capture the view.
The hill is steep, so if you’re not able to walk to the top there are taxis and buses which drop you off outside the castle. The castle is free to enter on Sundays after 2pm, as is the Alcazaba below, so you get the bonus of gardens, views and monuments in one visit and all for free.
Malaga is a beachside city, so we could hardly forget to mention the sandy shores in our list of what to do in Malaga. Some of the city’s most popular beaches include Playa las Acacias in the east, Playa de la Malagueta in the centre and Playa de la Misericordia in the west. All of them are family-friendly with plenty of facilities including children’s playgrounds, restaurants and beach bars.
Take a selfie in front of the sculpture at Playa de la Malagueta, before sampling the tasty sardines cooked over open flame at a chiringuito. Divine.
Muelle Uno has a fabulous choice of cocktail bars and restaurants with roof terraces where you can enjoy a sundowner or two. An impressive open-air complex with a variety of shops and eclectic eateries along a vibrant waterfront promenade, it’s great for an early evening stroll along to the lighthouse.
Look back at the city as the lights come on, highlighting the castle, cathedral and Calle Larios, the main shopping street. Picture perfect.
Wander the Streets
There’s nothing like a bit of aimless wandering to throw up some fabulous surprises. The streets of Malaga are like a child’s toy box with a variety of experiences to stimulate the senses. Note the brass newspapers inlaid into the pavement in the Plaza de la Constitución; peer into the riotous colours of a Flamenco shop windows; happen upon an authentic bar along a narrow cobbled street and admire the beautiful architecture.
See something intriguing along a side street? Be adventurous and let intuition be your guide in a city whose history dates back over thousands of years.
With over 2000 species of plants and trees, the Botanical Gardens is one of the most diverse botanical gardens in Europe. The gardens are an oasis of foliage, water features, birds and insects. It’s perfect for a picnic at one of the benches dotted among the gardens, or in the dedicated picnic area, as you spend the day in admiring the scenery and the feeling of tranquillity it brings.
During the winter months, entry is free all day Sunday from 9:30am to 16:30pm. In summer, entry is free on Sunday afternoons after 15:30pm.
If you’re going on holiday to the Costa del Sol, CLC World has wonderful resorts within 30 minutes of the city, making a Malaga day trip a must. Check out our Guide to the Costa del Sol for more top things to do in Malaga.