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Malaga Old Town, also known as the Centro Historico, is a charming and historic district located in the heart of the city, in Andalusia on Spain’s southern coast.
With its narrow streets, stunning architecture, and rich cultural heritage, it is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the region.
The Old Town is home to many of Malaga’s most iconic landmarks, including the Alcazaba, a Moorish fortress built in the 11th century, and the Cathedral of Malaga, a magnificent Renaissance-style cathedral that took over 200 years to build.
Whether you’re interested in history and culture, feasting on tapas or simply soaking up the local atmosphere, Malaga’s Old Town has something to offer everyone. So let’s take a closer look at the top things to do, the best restaurants and hotels and how to get around.
🔥 My top pick >> Want to make the most out of your time in Malaga’s Old Town? Join my favorite tour, the Ultimate Malaga History & Tapas Experience. You get to see the Alcazaba, Malaga Cathedral, Atarazanas Market and the Roman Theatre, as well as enjoy some tapas in a local taverna!
- Malaga Old Town history
- How to get around
- Top things to see & do
- Best hotels in Malaga’s Old Town
- Best Restaurants
- FAQs Malaga Old Town
- Popular Spain guides
Malaga Old Town history
The history of the old town dates back to the 8th century when it was founded by the Moors, a Muslim people who ruled Spain for nearly 800 years, from 711 to 1492.
During the Moorish rule, Malaga was an important city and a major center of trade and commerce. The old town was the center of the city’s economic and cultural life. The Moors built many of the landmarks that still stand today, such as the Alcazaba Fortress and the Gibralfaro Castle.
In the 15th century, Malaga was conquered by the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand, and the city became part of the Kingdom of Castile. The old town continued to thrive, and many new buildings were constructed during this period.
Over the centuries, the old town has been home to many different cultures and peoples. It has been a melting pot of different architectural styles, from Moorish to Renaissance to Baroque, making it the exciting destination it is today.
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How to get around
Getting around the Old Town in Malaga is easy and convenient. The best way to explore the area is on foot, as the streets are narrow and winding, and many of the attractions are located within walking distance of each other.
You can walk from Gibralfaro Castle via the Alcazaba to Malaga Cathedral in under 30 minutes. If you arrive at Malaga Cruise Port, you can walk to the edge of the old town in 20 minutes or take the shuttle. I have included all the most important places in the map below.
For those who prefer not to walk, public transport is a great option. Malaga has an extensive bus network that covers the entire city, including the Old Town. The buses are modern, comfortable, and affordable, making them an excellent choice for budget-conscious travelers.
Taxis are also available, but they can be expensive compared to other modes of transportation. However, if you need to get somewhere quickly or have a lot of luggage, a taxi may be the best option for you. Or if you’d like to see the city from a different perspective, consider one of these Malaga boat tours.
Rent a City Bike
Another popular way to get around Malaga Old Town is by bike. Faster than walking and cooler and more enjoyable than taking public transport, a city bike is a unique way to see the sights.
🚲 You can rent bikes here and ask for suggested routes when you pick up your bikes. Opening hours are 10:00 am to 7:00 pm every day.
Ultimate Malaga History & Tapas Tour
Do you have limited time or don’t want to explore on your own? This is my favorite tour to immerse yourself in the beauty of Malaga. Wander the streets like a local and let your guide show you the best hidden gems the city has to offer.
Explore historic buildings, marvel at important monuments, and stop for some tapas and local wine in Malaga’s most popular local tavernas and bars along the way. With this 4-hour tour, you also get skip-the-line access to the Alcazaba and the Cathedral — no waiting in line for you!
🏛 Check price and availability here >> Ultimate Malaga History & Tapas Tour
Malaga Old Town map
Top things to see & do
Malaga is the perfect destination for couples, families or if you’re traveling Spain solo. There is just so much to see and do for everyone.
Whenever I visit a new city in Europe, I always head straight for the old town. It is often the beating heart of the city and where you truly get a feel for the place. Also, I’m a huge history nerd, so any chance I get to look at old buildings I take.
I love to wander around the old town of Malaga, its mix of architectural styles makes it such a beautiful area. And did you know that Picasso was born here? Let’s take a look at all the top things to see and do in Malaga Old Town.
The Alcazaba Fortress is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions and draws visitors from all over the world. It was built in the 11th century by the Moors, who ruled over the region at the time.
Originally designed to be a military stronghold the fortress was strategically placed on a hill overlooking the city and the sea. Over the centuries, the fortress played an important role, serving as a key defense point during numerous conflicts and battles.
Today, the Alcazaba Fortress is open to the public and offers visitors a glimpse into the region’s past. The fortress is a stunning example of Moorish architecture, with its intricate arches, ornate tilework, and beautiful gardens. I have explored the Alcazaba several times, and still visit every time I’m in Malaga. I just love the beautiful details.
Right next to the Alcazaba, you’ll find the Roman Theatre that dates back to the first century BC when the Romans occupied the region. It is one of Malaga’s most important archaeological sites and a stunning example of Roman architecture, with its intricate arches, columns, and seating areas.
The theatre was designed to be a venue for public performances, including plays, musicals, and other cultural events and strategically placed on a hillside overlooking the sea, providing a stunning backdrop.
Over the centuries, the theatre fell into disrepair and was eventually buried under layers of earth and debris. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the theatre was rediscovered during a construction project in the area. Since then, the theatre has been excavated and restored and is now open to the public.
From the theatre’s seating area, visitors can see the city of Malaga spread out below them, as well as the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding mountains. The views are particularly spectacular at sunset when the sky is painted with vibrant hues of orange, pink, and purple.
Gibralfaro Castle is a historic fortress perched atop a hill to the east of the old town, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The castle was built in the 14th century by the Nasrid dynasty, who ruled over the region at the time.
The castle was originally built as a military stronghold to protect the city from invading forces. It was strategically placed on top of a hill to provide a clear view of the surrounding area, allowing soldiers to spot approaching enemies from a distance. Over the centuries, the castle played an important role in the region’s history, serving as a key defense point during numerous conflicts and battles.
Today, Gibralfaro Castle is a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from around the world who come to explore its historic walls and towers. The castle is open to the public, and visitors can take a tour of the grounds, learning about the castle’s rich history and the role it played in the region’s past.
Enjoying the view from Gibralfaro Castle and Mirador de Gibralfaro is one of the best free things to do in Malaga.
Get lost in the narrow streets
The old town is a maze of narrow streets, alleyways, and plazas, lined with historic buildings, shops, and restaurants. Take some time to just walk around and don’t be afraid to get lost, that’s often when you find the most interesting places.
Calle Larios is the main pedestrian street in Malaga’s Old Town and is known for its stunning architecture and lively atmosphere. The street is lined with historic buildings, elegant shops, and bustling cafes, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. It is particularly beautiful at night when the street is lit up with twinkling lights, creating a magical and romantic atmosphere.
Calle San Agustin is another beautiful and narrow street, lined with colorful buildings, ornate balconies, and charming cafes, giving it a distinctly Mediterranean feel. At the end of the street, you can see the stunning façade of the Church of San Agustin, which is a beautiful example of Baroque architecture.
Malaga Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Incarnation, is another one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
The cathedral was built in the 16th century on the site of a former mosque. It was designed in a Gothic style, with intricate stone carvings, ornate stained glass windows, and soaring arches.
The most striking feature is its bell tower, which is 84 meters tall, second only in Andalusia to La Giralda in Seville. There was supposed to also be a South Tower, but instead, the money was diverted to help America gain independence from the British, and the original design was never completed.
Be sure to climb the 200 steps to the top of the tower, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the whole city, the Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle and the Mediterranean Sea.
Malaga Bishop’s Palace & Plaza Del Obispo
The Bishop’s Palace in Malaga is a stunning historic structure that dates back to the 18th century. It is located in the heart of the city, next to Malaga Cathedral. The palace was originally built as a residence for the Bishop of Malaga and was designed in a Baroque style, with intricate stonework, ornate balconies, and a stunning central courtyard.
Today, the Bishop’s Palace is open to the public and stands as one of the most important examples of late baroque architecture in the city. It is home to a number of stunning works of art, including a collection of paintings by the famous Spanish artist, Francisco de Zurbarán.
Both the Bishop’s Palace and the cathedral are set in one of the most picturesque squares in Malaga’s old town, Plaza Del Obispo. It is the perfect place to sit down and enjoy a drink and maybe some tapas in one of the many cafés and restaurants.
Taste the local delicacies
No visit to Malaga, or Spain in general, would be complete without tasting the local delicacies. And that’s why I highly recommend The Genuine Malaga Wine & Tapas Tour to my fellow foodies!
Experience a night of wine and tapas together with a small group of food lovers, and get an insider’s perspective on traditional cuisine and cutting-edge chefs.
Immerse yourself in the unique flavors of Spain’s southern coast while tasting your way through some of Malaga’s classic foods, from Iberian ham to tapas and wine. Yum!
🌟 Check price and availability here >> The Genuine Malaga Wine & Tapas Tour
Picasso Museum & Plaza De La Merced
The Picasso Museum in Malaga is a must-visit attraction for art lovers and history enthusiasts alike. It is housed in a stunning historic building that dates back to the 16th century and is dedicated to the life and work of the famous Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso.
The museum’s collection includes over 200 works by Picasso, including paintings, sculptures, and drawings. It is particularly interesting for those who are interested in Picasso’s early years, as it features a number of works that were created during his childhood and adolescence.
In addition to the museum, you can also visit the nearby house in Plaza De La Merced where Pablo Picasso was born in 1881. The house has been preserved as a museum and is open to the public, offering visitors a glimpse into the artist’s early life and the environment in which he grew up.
Mercado de Atarazanas
Mercado de Atarazanas is a vibrant market located on the outskirts of the old town. The market is housed in a stunning historic building that dates back to the 14th century and is considered one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
It is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, offering a wide variety of fresh produce, meats, seafood, and other local specialties. You can visit every day, Sundays and public holidays, from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. Definitely, a must if you’re a foodie like me!
Best hotels in Malaga’s Old Town
Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly option or a luxurious stay, there are plenty of great hotels to choose from.
My top pick for budget travelers >> I recommend this bright and airy apartment by Malaga City Breaks located on the outskirts of the old town, close to the Carmen Thyssen Museum and Calle Larios.
It includes WiFi and a flat-screen TV with Netflix. The private bathroom comes with a shower while the kitchenette features a microwave and a toaster. A fridge and stovetop are also provided, as well as a coffee machine and a kettle.
For mid-range travelers, I recommend >> Hotel Molina Lario, a stylish hotel housed in a restored 19th-century building, offers modern amenities like a rooftop pool and terrace. And the best part is the stunning view of Malaga Cathedral!
The rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, making it a great choice for those looking for a little extra comfort during their stay.
My top pick for luxury travelers >> Palacio Solecio Hotel is a stunning and luxurious boutique hotel that is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection. The hotel is located in the heart of Malaga’s Old Town, just a short walk from the city’s famous landmarks and attractions.
The hotel is housed in a beautifully restored 18th-century palace, which has been carefully renovated to preserve its historic charm and character. The hotel features 68 elegant and spacious rooms and suites, each one individually designed and decorated to create a unique and luxurious experience for guests.
You have to see this place, it is absolutely stunning!
🌟 Check price and availability here >> Palacio Solecio Hotel
Malaga’s Old Town is home to some of the best restaurants in the city. Here are three of the top options:
Bodega-Bar El Pimpi
Bodega Bar El Pimpi is a local institution that has been serving traditional Spanish food for over 40 years. It is housed in a stunning historic building covered in greenery that dates back to the 18th century.
Inside the walls are covered in art and memorabilia and old oak barrels adorn many of the rooms. El Pimpi is also famous for its extensive wine cellar, which has over 1,000 different wines to choose from.
The bar is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, offering a unique and authentic taste of Malaga’s rich culture and history. During the summer months, you can sit outside on the terrace and enjoy a view of the Alcazaba with your meal.
Taberna Uvedoble is a cozy tapas bar located in the heart of Malaga Old Town. The menu features a wide variety of tapas dishes, including local specialties like fried anchovies, Iberian ham croquettes and my favorite the, goat cannelloni.
The restaurant also has an extensive wine list, with many options from local wineries. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and the atmosphere is relaxed and casual.
Casa Aranda is a popular spot for breakfast or a mid-morning snack in Malaga Old Town. The restaurant is known for its churros, which are served with thick hot chocolate for dipping.
The churros are freshly made to order, and the hot chocolate is rich and creamy. Casa Aranda has been serving churros since 1932, and it’s still one of the best places to try this classic Spanish treat. Need I say more?
FAQs Malaga Old Town
Best time to visit Malaga
The best time to visit Malaga is during the spring and fall seasons, from April to June and September to November, respectively. During these times, the weather is mild and pleasant, and the crowds are smaller than in the summer months.
Is Malaga a walkable city?
Yes, Malaga is a very walkable city. The historic center of Malaga, including the Old Town, is compact and easily navigable on foot. However, some areas of the city, such as the road to Gibralfaro Castle can be quite steep and challenging to walk for some.
Which area is best for tourists to stay in Malaga?
The historic center of Malaga, including the Old Town, is the best area for tourists to stay in. This area is home to many of the city’s top attractions, including the Alcazaba and the Cathedral, as well as numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops.
What should I be careful of in Malaga?
As with any city, visitors to Malaga should be aware of their surroundings and take basic precautions to ensure their safety. Pickpocketing can be a problem in crowded areas, so it’s important to keep valuables secure. You should also be cautious when using ATMs and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
Can I drink the tap water in Malaga?
Yes, the tap water in Malaga is safe to drink. Local authorities take great care to ensure that the water is treated and tested regularly to meet the required quality standards.
However, some find that the tap water in Malaga has a slightly chlorinated taste, which can be off-putting. This taste is due to the treatment process for making the water safe to drink. Bottled water is available at every corner store and supermarket.
Personally, I always travel with my Lifestraw filtered bottle, so I can fill it up anywhere without any worries.
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