Málaga, in Andalusia southern Spain, is one of the oldest cities in the world. Pablo Picasso was born here and the city has become renowned for its art heritage, architecture and historic remains spanning nearly 3000 years.
I’m only a little sorry to say that our visit to Málaga was entirely motivated by a trip to Caminito del Rey and the time not spent doing that was used to sleep and recover from a few months of travel. We had two nights in the city, managing to explore our small area, the train station, and not much else. So this post will be a bit shorter and more general than usual, with a severe lack of photos, but will still have all the transport and accommodation advice you’ve come to expect.
We arrived to Málaga via bus from Nerja. It’s a short one hour trip and cost €4.52 each. Buses depart from the ‘bus station’ in Nerja, which is really just a layby on the main road around the town, and leave roughly twice an hour. There’s a ticket booth where you can buy tickets on the day as we did, or you can book online through ALSA.
Málaga is connected to the rest of Spain through Málaga María Zambrano Station; the central transport hub. Here you will find Renfe trains to and from other cities, including high speed services between Madrid (2h20m – €47.50) and Barcelona (5h50m – €58). Make sure to check schedules before departure and pay attention to travel times as there are many different services operating these routes, it would be easy to buy a four hour ticket from Madrid only to see a two hour train speed past you mid-journey.
Buses from Madrid take over six hours, which would put me off personally, but tickets can be as cheap as €25. Don’t even think about taking a bus to Málaga from Barcelona unless you are some kind of Masochist. Buses from Granada to Málaga take around two hours and have tickets from €5.25. Buses from Seville to Málaga take more like three hours and cost the same.
Ridesharing is common in Spain and is a good alternative to the bus. Journey times and prices are comparative but departure times and locations might be more convenient or flexible. Also there’s a good chance of local interaction and information, which can be invaluable. We used Blablacar during our trip.
Málaga–Costa del Sol Airport has over 20 city links in Spain and over 100 links in Europe. There are always low-budget flights available to Málaga from almost everywhere, just book six weeks or so in advance of your flight date. Domestic flights can be a good option, from Barcelona to Málaga for instance, but always add two to three hours onto the flight time to allow for airport transfers and wait times. There are direct airport to city buses that take 15 minutes and cost €3, while direct trains take 12 minutes and cost €1.70.
Málaga has a Metro system and local buses. We used the buses three times and found them easy and relatively cheap at €1.20 to €1.30 per ticket.
Hint – Hitchhiking in Spain isn’t a great option as so many people use ridesharing. We tried and failed a couple of times.
We chose a room in a family apartment in the city using Airbnb. In late June our room cost €37 per night including the Airbnb fees, it was a lovely space and we enjoyed our stay with a friendly local family.
You can find a double room in a Málaga bnb from €25 per night with an average of €45 per night. Apartments start from €35 per night and average about €75 per night for somewhere nice.
Hotel rooms in Málaga start from around €50 per night, but you will likely get somewhere pretty good for that. Upwards of €75 per night will get you a very nice room.
Málaga isn’t small so the closer to the centre city you stay the better off you will be. That being said, the transport system is good so if you are on the outskirts it shouldn’t be much of a problem getting around. We stayed near the historic centre in La Merced and found it had a great atmosphere. Beware that since it’s in the thick of it, the area can be very noisy at night.
We used Málaga as a base to visit Caminito del Rey, a really cool cliff-side boardwalk about an hour inland. If you come to Málaga make sure you set aside a day to visit, it’s well worth your time. Because the walk dominated our time and energy we really didn’t see much of the city, so I can give little actual advice, but here’s some of the main attractions.
Playa La Malaguetta is the main city beach and culture-sphere.
Gibralfaro is a castle on a hill overlooking the city. I’d say it would be a prime sunset spot.
Museo Picasso is the Pablo Picasso museum. Self-explanatory.
The Alcazaba of Málaga looks like an awesome palace/fortification.
If you’ve been to Málaga or live there, please share some suggestions for food, drink and culture spots in the comments!
Málaga (kind of) for two nights;
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