Malaga is one of those destinations that require multiple visits because there is just so much to see and do. This attractive Costa del Sol location can offer so much to visitors, especially those who are looking to hire a car in Malaga during their stay. What makes the location even more of an attractive proposition for your next Spanish holiday, however, is the fact that there exists a plethora of fantastic free things to see and do while you’re in the area. There’s no need to break the bank with a trip to Malaga, you can see incredible sites and enjoy top attractions without spending a penny! Interested? Read on to discover our guide to free things to do in Malaga.
Before we get started, we thought that we would bring you a few glowing words about Malaga from Paulina of Paulina on the Road: “Why do I love Malaga so much? Because it is the perfect blend of urban feeling and beach vibes. There is always a party going on and the large number of museums ensure a cultural offer at a high level. However, the main reason why I fell in love with the town is its people: warm-hearted, cheerful and ready to enjoy life to the fullest.”
Sunset views from Castillo de Gibralfaro
One of the jewels of Malaga’s historical treasure trove is Castillo de Gibralfaro, a spectacular 10th-century castle that overlooks Malaga from up high. A true icon of Malaga, it is an attraction not to be missed during your visit. While there is usually a fee to visit, Jennifer and Tim of the couples adventure travel blog Luxe Adventure Traveler recommend exploring the paths nearby for spectacular views:
“The best free thing to do in Malaga is to watch the sunset from Castillo de Gibralfaro. The castle itself is not free to visit and it closes one hour before sunset, but there are walking paths around the castle. Follow the walking paths to the cliff overlooking the entire city. The Plaza de Toros de La Malagueta sits just below the terrace on the cliffs and the glistening sea is beyond. As the sky turns shades of pink, orange and purple, there’s hardly a better spot to take in a sunset from.”
This is truly one of the most beloved free things to do in Malaga, as demonstrated by Paulina of the travel blog Paulina on the Road also recommending enjoying the sunset from Gibralfaro:
“There are plenty of free things to do in Malaga, but if I have to decide on one, it would be walking up the Gibralfaro just before the sun goes down to enjoy the sunset from the Moorish fortress with a beer. Indeed, the view of the Mediterranean Sea while the sun warms your face is a unique experience that comes with no price tag. The climb can be a bit tiring, but you’ll be rewarded with the best views over Malaga and the coast.”
Explore the city
Malaga is a truly majestic city to explore, and, as such, taking the time to walk around at your leisure is a must. There’s no need to have a specific agenda, with so much to see, from natural beauty to incredible architecture and a thriving cultural atmosphere, enjoying a nice stroll is certainly recommended. In fact, this is the number one recommendation from the team at Málaga Flow, a local guide in English and Spanish where you can find helpful information about things to do in Malaga:
“If we had to suggest one free thing to do in Málaga, it would definitely be to spend the day walking around the city. Starting from El Soho, you can go up Calle Larios and walk around the old streets to enjoy the views of the Cathedral, la Alcazaba Castle and the Roman Theatre. Then, get lost in el Parque de Málaga and walk your way down to the port, called Muelle Uno, where you can have a bite and check out the Lighthouse.”
One free thing not to miss when you’re in town during late February/early March is Malaga Carnival, a truly unique occasion that celebrates the Christian festive season of Carnival. Carnival takes place every year just before Lent and includes wonderful parades, costumes, and myriad performers. Carnival 2019 officially gets underway on Saturday 23 February in Malaga with the grand opening and the tradition of selecting the ‘carnival gods’ – two people who will represent the carnival. Throughout the following week there is plenty to enjoy, including children’s fun and games, parades, and finishing with a huge bonfire on Sunday 3 March. To learn more, take a look at this full rundown of the festivities.
Francisco Javier Cristófol Rodríguez, from the foundation behind Malaga Carnival, spoke to us about what they believe makes the carnival a must-see spectacle: “In Carnival time, the city is full of light and music. From the 23rd of February until the 3rd of March the historical city centre will be a space for the traditional street carnival, where you can see the ‘murgas’ and ‘comparsas’ play for free. Also, the main square in Málaga (Constitution Sq) is the heart of the party with costume contests on weekends.
“Málaga Carnival is a party for families and young people. We in Málaga have a really cosmopolitan way of life and we will be glad to help you to be part of the Carnival. We guarantee a great atmosphere for visitors. Málaga is well-known for its gastronomy and for the good weather, even in Winter. February will be a perfect time to visit Málaga and enjoy one of the greatest parties in the city.”
Atarazanas Central Market
The Atarazanas Central Market was built back in 1876 and is one of the true highlights of any visiting to the city of Malaga. We featured this location in our article about ‘Historical attractions in Malaga’ but it is also well worth recommending here as a free thing to see and do. Paul Johnson, the editor of A Luxury Travel Blog – a travel site for those who enjoy the finer things – recommends the market highly: “One of the best free things to do in Malaga is exploring the Atarazanas Food Market. Not only is the building itself well worth a visit, with its incredible Arabic archways, but it’s also an amazing feast for the senses – the sights, the smells… and of course, the tastes! For incredible local and seasonal produce, it is a must.”
El Parque de Malaga
Malaga has a true mix of delights to offer its visitors and something that just adds to its virtues is its numerous green spaces. If you are looking to relax in pleasant surroundings during your time in Malaga, make sure to head on over to El Parque de Malaga – a lovely park and garden just outside the city centre. Covering a space of 30,000 square metres, Parque de Malaga was created during the 19th century with the purpose of providing a free park for citizens to enjoy. Here you can see lovely flowers, plants, and trees from all over the world, along with tranquil fountains and interesting statues – all coming together to create a truly peaceful haven inside the city.
Relax at the beach
Of course, no holiday to sunny Spain would be complete without spending some well-deserved time on its incredible beaches. Luckily, there is no better place to soak in the Spanish sun than right here in Malaga as there are numerous top beaches to choose from. One great spot to choose is right in the centre of its coastline and a very family friendly location called Playa de la Malagueta. Close to bars, restaurants, shops, and children’s playgrounds, this is the perfect spot to make camp for an afternoon, allowing you to enjoy the best of what Malaga has to offer with great convenience. Between La Malagueta and other fantastic beaches of Malaga, you are spoiled for choice!
Another enticing component of a trip to Malaga is the fact that the city is home to so many fascinating museums. Better yet, one of the best of the lot, CAC Malaga, is free to visit! Unveiled in 2003 by her Royal Highness Infanta Cristina, The Contemporary Art Museum Malaga exhibits a fantastic collection of around 400 pieces loaned to the museum by private collectors. On top of notable works from the last several decades, there are also exhibitions dedicated to emerging Spanish artists. Furthermore, after enjoying the art on display you can grab refreshments at the museum’s respected bar and restaurant. For additional museums to visit in Malaga, take a look at our guide to culture in Malaga.
Of course, we can’t speak of Malaga attractions without mention the great Alcazaba, especially as it’s free to visit on Sunday’s after 2 pm. We’ve written previously about this important site in our piece on historical attractions to visit in Malaga but it is well worth bringing up again here. This ancient fortress was built in the early 11th century and is the best-preserved construction of its type in Spain. It was designed as a defensive fortress by the Moors, featuring idyllic gardens and an impressive palace. Walking in its courtyards, visitors can add wonderful views of Malaga to the fascinating history on display at the site. There is also a nearby Roman Theatre, making an excursion to Alcazaba even more alluring.
Things to do in Malaga without spending a penny
- Sunset views from Castillo de Gibralfaro
- Explore the city
- Malaga Carnival
- Atarazanas Central Market
- El Parque de Malaga
- Relax at the beach
- CAC Malaga
- Alcazaba (free on Sundays)
As you can see, Malaga has myriad delights to offer visitors without requiring a single Euro to be spent. You can explore this beautiful city and experience the best of its culture, history, and entertainment and perhaps save money for a fancy meal at one of Malaga’s incredible restaurants. No matter what you decide to enjoy during your Costa del Sol holiday, we are sure wonderful memories will be created. So, get planning and note down a few of the above to add to your Malaga to-do list!