Solo Traveler’s Guide to Malaga: Top Things to Do

Canoeing in Nerja – Fun outdoor activities in Malaga and surroundings

Malaga is one of the best solo travel destinations in Spain. It is walkable, safe, and full of life with activities happening all year round. Whether you like to explore historical sights, browse the museums, relax at the beach, or party all night, there are plenty of fun things to do in Malaga for solo travelers.

With over 320 days of sun a year, Malaga is a favorite destination for anyone chasing great weather in Europe. After all, it is the capital of Costa del Sol (coast of the sun)!

Read on to explore the best things to do in Malaga for solo travelers.

Where to stay in Malaga for solo travelers

When looking for the best places to stay in Malaga for solo travelers, the old town is where you find all the hostels where you easily can meet other travelers. The area is in the heart of Malaga where you find bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. It is within walking distance of all the top attractions as well as the Muelle Uno Marina and La Malagueta Beach.

On the other hand, if you want to stay in a hotel or rent a studio for privacy, I recommend the Soho district. This is a hip up-and-coming district next to the old town with the city’s best street art and bohemian bars. It is still a short walk from everything mentioned above.

Getting around Malaga

Malaga is a safe and walkable city, and there is no need for public transport let alone a car when visiting the city.

If it is your first solo trip, I can assure you that Malaga is one of the best places to visit in Spain for first timers.

Even as a solo female traveler it is safe to walk home at night (besides, the historic center is mostly pedestrian). I have never felt unsafe walking around at night, there are usually more people in the streets even at night. However, I do recommend being cautious and avoiding dark, empty alleys. 

If you are looking to get around to towns near Malaga there are buses and trains. The train goes westbound and ends in Fuengirola. But it is an easy and affordable way to visit other Costa del Sol destinations. There are also group tours taking you to the most popular places around Malaga.

Things to do in Malaga for solo travelers

Explore the beaches

Malaga is home to amazing beaches including the city’s own urban beach, La Malagueta, which you can easily reach on foot from the old town. With all necessary amenities like showers, sunbeds, and parasols for rent, and plenty of “chiringuitos” (beach bars), the summer months are best spent on the beach. But even in the off-season, you can enjoy sunbathing on the beach and there are always some bold tourists in the water even in the coldest winter months.

But there are other beaches near Malaga too, whether you take the train to Fuengirola or the bus to Rincon de la Victoria you will find fabulous beaches to explore.

Visit Malaga’s castles

The Alcazaba of Malaga was built by the Arabs in the 11th century on the remains of a Roman fortification. It is the biggest tourist attraction in Malaga and a must-visit. The beautiful castle boasts stunning views of the city and the marina and houses beautiful courtyards and Arab architecture.

You can purchase Alcazaba of Malaga tickets at the door, but if you prefer going on a guided tour (which I highly recommend for meeting other travelers!) make sure you book in advance. Some tours include the 1st-century Roman Theater which was discovered in the mid-1900s and sits at the foot end of the Alcazaba.

You should also go for a walk on top of the hill to visit the Gibralfaro fortress which was built in the 14th century to protect the Alcazaba. The views from there are unmatched, but you will also enjoy sweeping views on the way up – the perfect excuse to catch your breath on the way. You can purchase tickets to Gibralfaro together with the Alcazaba ticket if you get it at the door. This way you can skip the line when you reach the entrance of Gibralfaro.

Go on a boat tour

One of my favorite ways of meeting people when visiting Malaga solo is to get on a boat trip. There are so many different tours you can join from party cruises to sunset cruises. 

In the summer months, there are also snorkeling tours to join and if you go together with people from the hostel, you might even rent a private yacht for a few hours.

You can usually get on a boat on the Muelle Uno marina, but in the high season it is best to book in advance, so you don’t get disappointed when you reach the marina. It also makes it a lot easier to plan your itinerary.

Stroll around the old town

Malaga old town is the bustling heart of the city. There you will find the top attractions like the Alcazaba, Gibralfaro, Roman Theater and the cathedral. This is also where the best shopping, tapas scene, and bars are located. You will enjoy the beautiful architecture, the vibrant squares, and colorful street art that hides in the historical streets.

If you like spending time exploring museums, the Picasso Museum is a must. Malaga was the artist’s natal city so not only can you see his art in the museum, but you can also visit his natal house right outside the historic center.

Hike Caminito del Rey

Intrigued to check out one of the most dangerous hikes in the world? Well, it might not be anymore. El Caminito del Rey was reopened after a complete makeover in 2015 so now you can visit it securely (with a helmet). The famous pathway is pinned 100 meters on the gorge wall of the mesmerizing Gaitanes Gorge only 45 minutes from Malaga city.

You can take the train from Malaga to El Chorro and a shuttle bus from there to the start of the hike, which is one way and ends in El Chorro by the train station. Alternatively, you can join a guided tour with transport from and back to Malaga.

Either way, you must book in good time as tickets to this Spanish famous hike sell out fast! Also, be aware that you must stick to the time slot you book, so make sure it works with the train schedule. I recommend arriving at the train station at least one hour before entrance time as it is a 20-minute walk to the ticket checkpoint from where the bus drops you off.

Join a tapas tour

What better way to experience the Andalusian tapas culture than joining a tapas tour? Tapas is all about trying different food with others, and you shouldn’t miss out just because you travel alone. 

First, let me clarify what tapas are. Tapas are small dishes of any kind of food really. It is the size of the dish, not what is served. A tapa is usually just enough for 2-3 people to have a bite each. As an integrated part of the Andalusian eating and drinking culture, it is customary to order a few tapas for the table with drinks and when you order more drinks you can add a few more tapas if you want more food. And this is how the Spanish spend hours eating and drinking. 

While most Spanish tapas are based on meat and seafood, there are naturally vegetarian and vegan tapas too, like Tortilla de Patatas (vegetarian), Patatas Bravas (mostly vegan, make sure they don’t mix mayo in the sauce), Pimientos al Padrón (vegan), Gazpacho (vegan) to mention a few. For traditional Spanish tapas made vegan, head to La Vegana, they kick ass!

Take a day trip to Gibraltar

You can easily go on a day trip from Malaga to Gibraltar, the tiny British territory on the southern tip of Spain. This is the only place in Europe where you can see wild monkeys (though very cheeky monkeys!)

Make sure you take the cable car to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar for epic views, there you will also pass the Ape’s Den where the monkeys hang out. Besides, St. Michael’s Cave is worth visiting. You might also get time for some shopping before returning to Malaga.

There are organized group tours every day, so you don’t have to worry about how to get there. However, make sure to bring your passport, check if you need a visa to enter, and read this Gibraltar comprehensive guide before going.

Go shopping

Shopping in Malaga is epic. From the bustling Calle Larios where you find high-end designer shops and everyday brands like Mango and Desigual to the unique boutique stores and antique shops hidden in the narrow streets of the old town, there is something for everyone.

You also find shopping malls like El Corte Ingles once you step outside the historic center.

Take a tour to Nerja Caves and Frigiliana

Another epic tour you should join is to Nerja Caves and Frigiliana. The prehistoric caves are impressive with several halls where you can see enormous stalagmites and stalactites, including the world’s largest stalactite with 33 meters of altitude and a base of 13×7 meters.

Nerja town itself is lovely with shops and restaurants and beautiful views of the coastline from Balcón de Europa. 

Finally, Frigiliana is one of the most beautiful white villages in Costa del Sol with its steep. Cobbled streets weaving their way through whitewashed houses decorated with colorful pot plants. The views of the coastline are spectacular! Besides, there are plenty of cute restaurants and cafés where you can grab a drink or something to eat. 

Hike Rio Chillar

Rio Chillar is one of the most mesmerizing river walks near Malaga taking you through narrow ravines and to refreshing waterfalls. There are tours you can join in the summer months when it is hot enough to walk in the river (most of the trail goes in ankle-deep water). 

Make sure you bring adequate shoes for this. Some old sneakers with a good grip that let water in and out easily are great. 

This is truly one of the most beautiful hikes in the region and should not be missed. It is fairly easy, though you will be walking on the rocky riverbed most of the way and some scrambling is required if you walk it to the end.

Summing up: What to do for solo travelers in Malaga

Summing up, there are so many fun things to do in Malaga for solo travelers so whether you are looking for a relaxing weekend break or a trip full of adventure, there is something for you.

Malaga is also located right next to bewitching nature and magnificent towns and villages you can explore on easy day trips.

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