The country of Spain is home to a vibrant culture, rich history, and great food. It’s a perfect place for any visitor to Europe to take in, whether you’re heading for a short trip or a long semester abroad. Another huge benefit to visiting Spain is that it’s one of the cheaper countries to fly to in Europe from the US!

Aerial view of the city of Malaga in Andalucia, Spain.

While historically the best spots to fly to in Spain from the US were Madrid or Barcelona (and these can still be good options), there’s a new amazing city option for you to fly straight to: Málaga! Located in the south of Spain, Málaga has easy access to all of southern Spain’s amenities – from beaches to budget (read: free) attractions and more – all without taking a second flight or a longer train ride from one of the other cities in the north.

But what are some ‘must do’ activities in Málaga?

We’ve compiled a list of our top 5 recommendations for you:

1. Check out the local museums

Woman sitting in room in the Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga, Spain.

Málaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso so it only makes sense that they would have a museum dedicated to his works. The Picasso Museum Málaga is where you can see loads of Picasso’s contemporary art works. The museum is open 362 days of the year (only closed on January 1, January 6, and December 25). General admission costs €9.5 €, although the museum has free admission for the last 2 hours every Sunday, as well as specific free days throughout the year.

The other key museum to check out while in Málaga is the Carmen Thyssen Museum, which contains over 2000 pieces of art from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. The museum’s works explore 19th century Spanish painting from different famous painters and their impacts on Andalusian culture. The museum costs €6 for students under 26, or €10 otherwise. Like the Picasso museum, this one also offers free admission on Sundays starting at 4pm, as well as on various days throughout the year.

2. Explore the city centre

View of a busy street in the city centre of Malaga, Spain. The city is located in the south of Spain along the Mediterranean in the Andalucia region.

The centre of Málaga is a great place to really get a feel for the city. As the capital of Costa del Sol, Málaga has tons to offer. Here you will find fantastic eating options, as well as some of the most popular hotels in the city. The city centre of Málaga can offer you everything from a quiet tapas bar to a nightlife scene that will let you dance and party your night away. You’ll also have access to Málaga’s beaches from here. The closest ones to the city center are Playa de la Malagueta and Playa de la Caleta.

3. Visit the Gibralfaro Castle and the Alcazaba

Alcazaba de Málaga and Castle Gibralfaro both in Malaga, Spain.

Essentially a fortified palace and fortress, these two spots are awesome for everyone to visit. They are filled with rich history and gorgeous architecture. The castle and fortress are located at the highest point in the city, meaning you can get great panoramic views of the city and the ocean. With the views and the architecture, Gibralfaro and Alcazaba are just about perfect places to capture your pictures! The one thing to note is that there is a moderate hike up, which can be great exercise – which is probably a good thing after all the tapas and sangria. If you want to avoid the walk, take the bus up the hill! Reduced student admission for one of the two attractions is €1.5, or it’s €2.5 for admission to both. General admission prices are €3.5/€5.5.

4. Relax in the Paseo del Parque

Arial view of Paseo del Parque, also known as Parque del Málaga - a park in the city centre of Malaga, Spain near the city for shopping and culture, but also near the beach.

Also known as the Parque del Málaga, this is an excellent spot for you to spend some time outside, without hiking up hills, laying on the beach, or walking blocks and blocks. The park is primely located in the city making it easy to get to if you want to hang out in it or if you just want to walk through it on your way between the city and the beach. With tons of beaches, wildlife, plants and trees it’s a great spot to feel like you’ve left the city without actually needing to leave the city.

5. Take a tour of the Roman Theatre

Roman theatre in Malaga, Spain which dates back to first century BC and is the oldest monument in the city.

Located right by the Alcazaba, the Roman Theatre was first built in the first century BC by Emperor Augustus and is considered to be Málaga’s oldest monument. It is super close to the Alcazaba, but also right near the Parque del Málaga and the Picasso Museum Málaga. It’s really the perfect attraction to fit into your trip without needing to venture far away. Another plus? Admission is free.

Some other questions (and their answers) to consider before you head off to Málaga:

Is Málaga a ‘Spanish’ city, or is it all about tourists?

Málaga has a great mix of tourist attractions and a local feel. Because it’s one of the highest visited cities of the Spanish coast in Andalusia, you will definitely find lots of tourists with you. This is especially true in the high season which is summer. Don’t let that make you think it’s not “spanishy” though! There’s still loads of Spanish culture, architecture, and actual locals living there. After all, it’s still the second largest city in Andalusia and the sixth largest in the country.

What is Málaga, Spain known for?

At its heart, Málaga is known for its beaches. Many tourists come each summer to enjoy the warm weather and spend time at its beaches on the Mediterranean. Besides that Málaga also has a reputation for its great food and its vibrant culture!

Where should I visit around Málaga, Spain?

After flying into Málaga Airport, it’s easy to get around the rest of Andalucia and southern Spain. There are multiple direct trains running from Málaga to many of the other large cities like Seville, Cordoba, and Granada. Looking to leave the south of Spain and check out the northern part of the country too? You can also get trains or short intra-Europe flights from Málaga to Barcelona or Madrid.

Maro beach, or playo, in Costa del Sol region of Spain.

Ready to fly off now? Us too! Check out flights to Málaga starting at $609*.

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