Solo Travel in Malaga
Types of Girls about the Globe – Beach GatG, Party GatG, Cultural GatG
Malaga is one of the most popular cities in Spain (especially with Brits and Europeans. During my 6 week trip from France to Portugal, Malaga was one of my first stops on the Mediterranean coast. Below is my guide to how to travel solo in Malaga. I've included lots of practical information such as where to stay, which tour company to use and how to get around. Find out how to get from the airport and what to do in the evenings.
All companies included have been recommended by solo female travellers and come with our Solo Female Friendly endorsement. Just choose the relevant section or read the full article.
- Safety Tips For Malaga
- About Malaga
- Top Must-Sees For Solos
- Activities For All Solos
- Malaga Tours
- Things To Do in Malaga at Night
- Where To Meet Others
- Accommodation in Malaga
- Where To Eat
- Where To Drink
- Getting Around Malaga
Safety Tips For Malaga
Malaga has a relaxed vibe about it. The streets are clean and it feels safe throughout the city. It is still a city though so beware of pickpockets and people selling flowers who demand money from you for the ‘present’ they give.
The people are open, warm and easy going, and are happy to converse with you in Spanish. If you get lost they help with directions and even the taxi drivers are helpful. If you hike to the Gibralfaro, there is a steep climb which can be a bit slippery so take care.
Did you know?
Malaga is one of the oldest cities in the world. It was founded in 770 BC by the Phoenicians.
Stay for – 3 nights
Malaga is a port city within the Andalusia region is located on the famous Costa del Sol. With 2800 years of history, Malaga is one of the oldest cities in the world. It has an important port and is also the birthplace of painter Pablo Picasso, arguably Spain’s most famous painter and sculptor.
African and Moorish architecture have an important influence here and it’s easy to become absorbed in the ancient history of the city. Romans, Arabs and Catholics have all had their rule here but the oldest historical remains are the walls of a Phoenician settlement, visible in the Picasso museum. Admire the Moorish castle of Gibralfaro, and the Roman amphitheatre at its foot before exploring the Alcazaba – an 11th century palace which overlooks the city. This fortress is one of the best-preserved in Spain.
Malaga is a city which promotes art at every corner, especially in the urban art scape of Soho. Street art decorates many a building and the city has outstanding museums that shouldn’t be missed. The most elegant street in Malaga is Called Larios which was built at the end of the 19th century. Even the street is lined with marble. And then there is Picasso, and the Casa Natal Picasso (his birthplace). This official heritage site is in the historic centre and contains his well-known paintings.
It’s easy to see where Picasso got his inspiration from in this rich, cultural city. History is everywhere you look in the city and historical buildings are a stone’s throw from one another. Small, intimate streets beckon you to explore them, whilst tapas bars entice you to dine in them. Being a port city, it has a beautiful harbour promenade which is lined with atmospheric restaurants and cafes.
Although it is a large city, and part of the Costa del Sol which is known for being touristy, it never has that overcrowded feel, even on the beach, of which there are plenty to choose from (La Malagueta is one of the closest). With history, culture, and more than 320 days of sun each year, there really isn’t any reason not to pay a visit to Malaga, no matter what age you are.
Top Must-sees for solos
Below we have included the top 5 must-sees for solos. There are more attractions to see in Malaga including the museums beaches and but if you're short for time these five are must-sees. Click on the link below to see all of the sights in Malaga.
This has to be Malaga’s most impressive monument. Built in around 756AD this fortress palace which overlooks the sea was created as a defence against pirates. It was rebuilt in the 11th century by the Sultan of Granada. As a palace to Moorish rulers, inside its three remaining walls, you’ll find three palaces and more than 100 towers. Entrance is approx €2.20 or you can buy a joint ticket with the Gibralfaro. There is free entry Sundays after 2pm. (TIME 3-4 hours)
2. Castillo de Gibralfaro
Built in the 14th century, this Moorish castle was used by the Phoenicians and Romans before being made into a fortress in 1340. The castle is divided into two parts and has an Interpretation Centre where you can learn about the history through its former inhabitants. You can also see the old Phoenician baths and well as well as the watchtower. The castle is open from 9am to 6pm and until 9pm in the summer months. Entrance is approx €2.20. Take a 2 hour E-bike tour from Gibralfaro to Balnerario and visit the best of Malaga (TIME: 2-3 hours)
3. Roman Amphitheatre
Built in the 1st century AD, this Roman amphitheatre is the oldest monument in the city. Located at the foot of the Alcazaba, it is one of the only Roman ruins in the Andalusia region and is separated in 3 parts with the orchestra, the stage and the public seats. There is a visitors centre which teaches you about the history. Admission is free. (TIME: 1-2 hours)
Tip – All these 3 sites are so close to each other so you could easily spend a whole day in this area.
The Malaga cathedral known as Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación, is a national landmark in the city. Built between 1528 and 1782 it is one of the best examples of religious Spanish art and has influence of both baroque and Renaissance styles. Inside are 40 finely carved statues of saints. The gardens and courtyard with orange trees are nice to visit too. Entrance costs €5 for the cathedral and museum. (TIME 1-2 hours)
Escape the crowds
At Parque de Malaga amongst the palm trees, fountains and Renaissance sculptures. You are guaranteed to find a green space to yourself within this 33-hectare park which is free to wander around.
Walking down Calle Larios through the countless streets which lead to Picasso Square.
Get a great view
Along the walkable walls at Castillo Gibralfaro where you can watch the sunset. If you prefer to be inside for a great view, the 15th floor terrace of the AC Hotel Malaga Palacio has great views and great food to match.
Interact with the locals
Playa de Pedregalejo, once a fishing village, this beach area is now full of bars and restaurants. Locals and tourist flock here during the day and night.
Places to enjoy the sun
On any of the beaches! Malaga has numerous beaches to relax on and although they aren’t up to Caribbean standards they do have sand. Playa del Campo de Golf is a long sandy beach where you can spend your afternoon watching kite surfers. If you prefer to sunbathe without a bikini, there is also a nudist beach at Playa de Guadalmar as well as a bird watching zone (not to get confused). The water can be a bit cold so swim if you dare.
- Even if you don't buy anything the Ataranzas Market is worth a visit to see its architecture. Inside the large stained-glass window and arches are the usual produce you’ll find at a Spanish market including cured meats, cheese and of course fresh tapas. The market is open daily from 8am-2pm and is closed on Sundays.
- Baños del Carmen has a flea market every Sunday where you can buy cute handmade goods such as jewellery and other handicrafts.
- On the first Saturday of every month there is an art and crafts market in Soho which also sells second-hand clothes.
Activities For All Solos
- Malaga has a long promenade so just don your trainers and walk or run along it.
- In the province of Malaga is the Caminito del Rey, a picturesque walkway which is perfect for hiking. Translated to “The King’s Little Pathway” in English this steep, hazardous path winds through cliffs and isn’t for the faint hearted. Hike past the Los Gaitanes gorge and Hoyo valley either as a self- guided hike or join a private tour which picks you up from your accommodation.
- If you’ve never tried your hand at kitesurfing, the Costa del Sol is an ideal opportunity to try this adrenalin sport. The best place to kite surf here is at Los Monteros. Learn how to do this watersport with a 3 hour guided class.
- If throwing yourself of a cliff in the name of bungee jumping sounds appealing, get your adrenalin flowing at Puerto de la Torre.
Arty & Museum GatG
Malaga has some great art galleries and museums. It feels as though there is a museum around nearly every corner. Here are our favourites:
Picasso Museum – Malaga’s must-see museum, not just because Picasso was actually born in this city but because it offers a rare insight into his past. In his former Renaissance home, you can see Roman, Phoenician, and Moorish artefacts amongst his artwork. It may be a small museum but it has one of the best collections of his work. Take the free audio guide to learn more. You may find yourself waiting in line to get in so get here early if you can.
Museo Carmen Thyssen Malaga
This art museum is based on the collection of Carmen Cervera, wife of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. The paintings are mainly from Spanish artists from Andalusia from the 19th century. You can see the styles as they change throughout the ages. This place is well worth the entrance fee and is easy to find your way around.
Museo del Vidrio y Cristal
This glass museum is such a hidden gem. The enthusiastic owner guides you through the history of glass from the Phoenicians until today. It is such a special experience and one that will warm your heart.
There are so many more such as the Museum Jorge Rando – a beautiful space with interesting artwork dedicated to the painter, Jorge Rando; the Centre Pompidou – a colourful cube building which displays modern art; or the Classic Car Museum which if you love cars is worth a visit.
Find out how to salsa for free at The Sound which holds free salsa lessons nearly every night.
El Palo is a quaint fishermen village with colourful fisherman houses near the beach. Although the fishing culture appears to be fading, and you may not spot fishing boats bringing in their catch at dawn, you can still enjoy a sardine skewer cooked on a barbecue (made from an old fishing boat) on the beach.
There is such a mix of history in Malaga, with Arabian, Roman and Spanish influences. Malaga itself feels as though it is an open-air museum. Just walk around the old town for historic arts and architecture. Spend time at the castle, fortress and amphitheatre.
Escape in some nature and enjoy some quiet from the city in the Parque de Malaga. The park has more than 100 years of history and has an open-air theatre and fountains amongst its tropical plants. Find it at the Paseo del Parque.
El Torcal is a very unique place and is only one hour’s drive from Malaga. The eroded rock formations are a great place to hike around within an ancient landscape. You can even rock climb them too.
You’ll find boutique shops here as well as international brands. For fashion shops head to Calle Larios with plenty of fashion, shoe and boutique shops plus cocktail bars to reward yourself with afterwards. Find traditional espadrilles, sombreros and other Spanish goodies at Calle Especeria.
There are several vintage shops in the city so explore the historic backstreets for unique shops or outside of the city to the Factory Outlet Malaga for some bargains. Most of the shops are open from morning until 9pm at night but local ones close for siesta between 2-5pm so check the opening hours.
Treat yourself to an Arabian bath at Hamman Al Andalus, With thermal pools, a steam room and a jacuzzi you can enjoy an 1.5 hour spa session and upgrade to a massage to make the experience even more special.
Along the beach you’ll find Malaga’s birdwatching zone, an urban area for bird lovers. The Guadalhorce river has more than 200 species of bird and is the perfect place to see flamingos, kingfishers, eagles and ospreys.
- At Antigua Casa de Guardia, one of the oldest taverns in Malaga which remains virtually unchanged since the early 19th century. It’s an atmospheric sherry bar where you can still see wooden barrels and your tab is written in chalk. They serve wines and vermouth at reasonable prices too. Find at Alameda Principal 18.
- Almacen del Indiano – If you want to try Spanish ham and olive oil, this little place is more of a shop than a bar but you can get to try excellent Spanish wine and sample local cuisine at the same time. Find at Calle Cisneros 7.
- Converse with others on a wine and tapas tour and enjoy the best of the traditional wines in Malaga with others. The tour starts in the oldest winery in the city and lasts for 2 hours.
Have a tourist moment
Having tapas at the Gibralfaro Castle or whizzing through the city on a segway tour.
Don’t have much time?
If you don’t have time to visit the museums, just walk around the old city and admire the street art. Malaga is a piece of artwork in itself.
Where to wear your heels
On the terrace of Hotel Room Mate Larios, this minimalistic terrace bar oozes chic. You don’t have to be a guest at the hotel to access the terrace which you can reach by lift from Calle Larios. It’s not cheap as you pay for the view of the cathedral which looks beautiful lit up at night but it’s definitely swanky.
Day Tours – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and day tours in worldwide destinations including Malaga. Choose from a guided tour to Caminito del Rey, a visit to Museo Picasso including an audioguide, or a tour of the Roman Theatre and Alcazaba. There are several to choose from and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online.
If you’re worried about getting lost whilst navigating yourself around the city, join a Malaga Bike Tour and pedal your way through Malaga within a group instead. During the 3.5 hour ride you’ll learn about the culture and famous landmarks before the option of stopping for a drink in a local beach bar.
Take a free walking tour where you tip at the end depending on how informative you found the tour. A walking tour lasts 2.5 hours and your guide will point out places that you may have not thought of going to.
Being Spain, it seems only fitting to watch a flamenco show. This tour takes you to the historical centre of the city to watch an original flamenco show and enjoy a drink at the same time.
Longer Tours in Spain
G Adventures – Malaga is easy to travel to alone but if you are planning on seeing more of Spain and looking for some company to do it with, sustainable companies such as G Adventures offer tours from a 4 day La Tomatina Festival to a 15 day Classic Spain tour. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them for solos.
Most tours have an average of 10 people and there is no upper age limit. Once you book your trip you pay extra for any excursions you want to do when you’re there.
Intrepid Travel is similar to G Adventures with an average of 12 people on each tour. Over 50% of people who book their trips are solo travellers. They tend to use hotels instead of hostels and have a more comfortable style of accommodation hence the trips can appear a bit more than G Adventures. Their tours range from an 8 day North Spain Discovery to a 24 day Spain, Portugal and Morocco tour. With both tour companies you share a room with someone of the same gender or you can pay extra for your own room.
Things To Do in Malaga at Night
In The Evenings
Malaga come to life at night especially within the plazas and all the side streets venturing of them. If you wander the centre of the city as the sun falls you’ll find street music and bands playing within the centre. Or go shopping as most of the bars are open until 9pm.
Learn how to salsa at The Sound Bar in the centre of the city. They host free sessions nearly every night.
If you feel more comfortable walking with others in the evening, take a Malaga at dusk walking tour which takes you around the most emblematic monuments. Afterwards you can enjoy a drink on a terrace with views of the city.
The Microteatro is a gastro and cocktail bar with a difference. They offer a creative concept of theatre and show 15 minute plays. Even if you don't enjoy Spanish it’s something interesting to do in the evening. Find at Calle San Juan Letran 12.
Malaga has a university and the bars and clubs around El Palo and Pedregalejo are always a hive of student activity.
Discover the nightlife of Malaga in a group by joining a pubcrawl with others. Visit 3 bars and get entry into the best club in town on a Night Tour.
The main club scene is around Plaza de Uncibay and Plaza de la Merced.
Where to Meet Others
Where to meet others
Malaga has lots of meet up groups from language exchanges to workouts and meditation sessions. Just join the platform (which is free) and see which events are happening during your stay.
Local’s tip – “Visit the white town of Mijas Pueblo. It’s beautiful!”
Solo’s tip – “Playas del Palo is quite far from the city centre but it has a nice fine sandy beach and the restaurants are cheaper.”
Accommodation in Malaga
You'll find hostels, hotels and Airbnb in Malaga. If you are looking for a good area to stay in Calle Larios is a good choice. This beautiful promenade is located in the centre with everything reachable by foot. If you decide to stay with a local you can save $20 off your first Airbnb stay when you book through this link.
For those of us budget Girls about the Globe we have listed below the solo female-friendly hostels as recommended by our community. For all other accommodation click the link below.
If you are looking for somewhere cheap to stay in Malaga, this bed and breakfast has 4 and 6 bed dormitories as well as single or double rooms (you could even treat yourself to the suite with hot tub if you’re feeling flush). You can rent a bike and explore the area or just catch the bus from the nearby bus stop. Prices include a continental breakfast.
- Prices from €15 per night for a bed in a 6-bed mixed dormitory room
- To book, check prices or availability for Barbatuke
Boutique and chic, this hostel is about 15 minutes from the beach. Although they have a 10 bed dorm, if you are looking for somewhere sociable to stay in your own room, the hostel offers double or twin rooms which have air- conditioning and soundproofing (so you can get a good night’s sleep). Recently renovated, all facilities are brand new giving it that clean, modern touch. The location is central and the hostel can arrange any tour you need during your stay.
- Prices start from €30 for a bed in the 10-bed mixed dorm
- To book, check prices or availability for Picnic Dreams Boutique Hotel
Is this really a hostel? Located just a few minutes walk from the beach is this premium property in Malaga. Called Alcazaba Hostel because it is literally only 2 minutes away from Malaga’s most important landmark. The location is unbeatable and the staff are super friendly. There is a very cool rooftop bar so you can mingle with the other guests. It is in the party area so expect a bit of noise. The hostel has a range of dormitories from 6 to 10 bed, including a 8- bed female only dorm. Breakfast is optional.
- Prices start from €36 for the 8- bed female dorm
- To book, check prices or availability for Alcazaba Premium Hostel
Where to Eat
Typical food and drink
There are many restaurants in Malaga whatever your budget. Find restaurants serving Mediterranean food, beach restaurants with open grills, and more tapas bars than you will have time to entertain. Just follow the crowds of locals to any restaurant. You may even be lucky enough to be serenaded by an accordion player as you dine.
Malaga is known for its fried fish (“pescaito frito”) such as boquerones (anchovies) and calamari but barbecued sardines are also a dish synonymous with this area. Try the ensalada Malagueña, their typical dish made from cold potato salad with cod, green olives, onion and oranges (it sounds strange but it’s a great twist). Don’t forget to try the Malaga sweet wine too.
$ – Da Saveria. If you need a change from Spanish cuisine, pop into this Italian restaurant instead. With chequered tablecloths and pictures of all things Italian on the walls you’ll feel at home in this family-run restaurant. You have to go off the beaten path to find it but the pizzas are definitely worth the hunt. Find at Calle Ancha del Carmen n 30.
$$ – Garum. This Mediterranean restaurant is in a lovely location overlooking the ocean. It is a great place for people watching so you won’t feel that awkwardness when dining alone. You can sit outside in the summer months too. Choose expertly cooked dishes such as grilled octopus, prawns or tuna plus tapas dishes. Find at Calle Alcazabilla, 1.
Restaurants for typical cuisine
$ –Terral Gastrobar. This small and intimate gastrobar offers tapas dishes such as iberian pork as well as Mediterranean and other European dishes. The black pudding is definitely recommended but see if you can reserve a table in advance just in case it’s busy. Find at Calle Moreno monroy 6.
$ – Gloria Hoyos. With an interesting selection of tapas, the food here is full of flavour. The hosts are really welcoming and the place has a chilled vibe. They have really nice burgers and cater for vegetarians too. If you stay into the night you may even be there for the DJ. Find at Calle Carreteria 89.
$$ – La Barra de Zapata. Close to the cathedral, they offer a bit of a twist on tapas dishes. Try the pimientos de patron, or the beef carpaccio (which are to die for), or opt for a Russian salad instead. With both the food and service standards being high it’s definitely worth a visit. It’s a favourite with the locals too. Find at Calle Salinas 10.
$ – Vegetarian El Calafate. This vegetarian-friendly restaurant even has it in the title. Serving gazpacho, tapas and plenty of vegetables, you won’t have to wait long to get served here. The portion sizes here are large but if you’re unsure of what to order then opt for the set evening meal which will cost you less than €13. Find at Calle Andres Perez 6.
$$ – El Gastronauta. Small with a relaxing atmosphere, this restaurant is located steps away from one of the busiest areas in one of the side street. The food is delicious and the service very welcoming. Try the vegetarian tacos, eggplant with cheese or go Spanish with patatas bravas. They are known for their paella but cater for vegetarians too. Find at Calle Echegaray No 3.
Enjoy a Coffee and a Cake
Recycle Bike Cafe – Near to Atarazanas Market is this funky cafe with bicycles hanging from the wall. If you don’t drink coffee they have tasty smoothies as well as energy breakfasts. With good WiFi you can plan the rest of your trip from a friendly, quirky atmosphere. Find at Plaza Enrique Garcia Herrera 16.
Casa Aranda – Enjoy a traditional hot chocolate and churros at this cafe complete with an outside terrace. Located on a street full of packed churro places, this is definitely one of the best. Find at Calle Herreria del Rey 1.
Dulces Dreams – This cafe is in a lobby boutique hostel so it’s an ideal place to meet others in nice decor. Take advantage of sitting outside whilst tucking into a brownie cheesecake or fresh fruit and yoghurt. The service is super friendly too. Find at Plaza Martires 6.
Head to Mercado Central Atarazanas before 2pm on a weekday for the tapas bar which serves the freshest shrimp skewers at a reasonable price.
Where to Drink
La Tranca – This bar has a great atmosphere and buzz. It’s one of the most friendly bars in the city and a great place to order a vermouth and enjoy some tapas. Find at Calle Carreteria 93.
The Shakespeare – If you are missing England, this brew pub is a taste of England in Spain. They have a good range of beers and spirits and you’ll feel instantly relaxed as you walk through its doors. You can always choose a seat at the bar to chat to the bar staff for some entertainment if there is no live music playing. Find at Calle Muro de Puerta Nueva 5.
La Madriguera Craft Beer – This bar is small and cosy with a warm atmosphere. If you love beers then it’s right up your street with 12 draught beers to choose from. They also offer snacks so you can sample a craft beer from a local brewery and tuck into nachos whilst you decide on your next brew. Find at Calle Carreteria 73.
Getting Around Malaga
If you enjoy walking, Malaga city is a good city to explore on foot but it does have good transport systems too.
Hiring a bike is a good way to explore the never-ending quay and you could cycle to the city’s closest towns (or El Palo beach if you want to stay closer).
You can also get around by bus with a company called EMT. The buses cost approx €1.50 for a single ticket or you can buy a multi trip card which is rechargeable and can be bought from the EMT office at Alhameda 15. The buses have air-conditioning. Check the citys’ bus stops with this website.
There’s also the hop on hop off bus which not only takes you around the city but gives you the history and facts about the various points of interest. Tickets cost from €18 and there are 14 stops around the city.
From Malaga Airport
Whether you stay in Malaga city or one of the areas outside, you’ll find direct airport buses to take you to various areas. Line A Express goes to the city centre and takes approx 25 minutes. It cost approx €3 which you pay on board the bus. Buses run from 7am until midnight.
The train takes approx 12 minutes to the city centre and other areas of the Costa del Sol. The station Centro-Alameda is the stop for the city and trains depart every 20 minutes costing approx €3.
There is also a taxi rank at Terminal 3. You may have to pay extra for your suitcase or backpack so expect to pay at least €11 for one way. Check modes of transport on Rome2Rio.
Intercity buses run frequently to other places in the Malaga province. Malagas’ main bus station is at Paseo de los Tilos. From here you can travel all over Spain such as Madrid, Valencia, and Cordoba and even onto France.
Being a port city means that you can take a boat from Malaga to Melilla, a province of Spain on the coast of Africa, neighbouring Morocco. It does take 4.5 hours so be prepared.
The RENFE train runs from Malaga to other coastal areas such as Fuengirola. Check here for routes.
Have you been to Malaga? Do you have any more tips for solos?