Wondering which are the top things to do in Malaga with kids? Ethical and adventurous, this post will show you nine of the best.
Malaga is an enchanting city, full of history and charm and it is surrounded by charming villages and breathtaking nature. Due to its climate with mild winters and warm summers, yet not as hot as many other southern Spain cities, Malaga has become the most popular family destination in Andalusia.
But what are the best activities for kids in Malaga? They probably want to do more fun stuff than just sit at tapas bars and go sightseeing.
But there is no need to worry! There are a lot of great things to do in Malaga with kids and this post takes you through a wide variety of activities that we think your kids might love.
Most of these activities are best explored by car.
Top things to do in Malaga with kids
1. Go paddleboarding in Nerja or Fuengirola
The world of paddleboarding is great for kids and adults alike. Both in Nerja and Fuengirola you can rent paddleboards or take guided tours. While Nerja is the most beautiful place to go due to the astounding cliffs along Maro, just up the coast from Burriana beach, Fuengirola offers a safe area with not-so-deep water if you take smaller kids or they are learning.
You can book your kids in kids’ groups with instructors looking after them if you are not comfortable going with them alone. But if you are, you can even have one adult and one kid on each board.
All rental places offer life vests for you and the children. If you haven’t tried paddleboarding before, we can assure you that it is an easy-to-learn activity and if you are not comfortable holding your balance on your feet, you can sit on it, which makes the board feel more stable.
2. Spend the day at El Chorro Lakes
The lakes in El Chorro are a wonderful getaway inland in Malaga. It is recommended to drive as it can get complicated to reach the lakes by bus. Alternatively, you can take the train to El Chorro (village) and take the Caminito del Rey shuttle to El Kiosko restaurant where you will have to walk back on the road for a bit to get to the recreational area La Isleta.
There, you will find shade under the pine trees with picnic tables. You can also rent kayaks or pedal boats to see the lakes from a different perspective. There are also inflatable slides and a jumping area in the water for the kids.
The ground in the lake is a mix of muddy and rocky and you should make sure your youngest kids have water shoes so they do not hurt their feet. The bigger kids might also enjoy cliff jumping and there are beautiful walks around the lakes. If you want to go all-in, why not camp at the campground for the night?
3. Walk around Malaga city
Although perhaps not the most adventurous on the list, the city of Malaga has many attractions to keep kids of all ages entertained and having fun.
4. Explore Rio Verde
Rio Verde is a beautiful river with several waterholes and a waterfall that is ideal for a day out in nature with the kids. The river is situated just past Istán village in Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park and is only reached by car (it is Not to be mistaken for Rio Verde in Granada).
From the parking, you can either walk up the dirt track both ways to the waterholes by the waterfall, this is recommended with smaller kids that can’t walk too far.
The other option, which is fun for older kids, is to walk in the river on the way up (and take the dirt track back down) to make it a round trip. If you do this, make sure you all have good shoes for river hiking as the riverbed can get slippery and is mostly rocky and uneven.
Either way, this is one of the best ways to spend a hot day in Malaga with kids. Bring a good lunch and enough drinks in your backpack, and remember to leave no trace.
5. Go snorkeling in Nerja
Are your kids little sirens? Then you should take them to Nerja for snorkeling in the crystal-clear water. This is the most beautiful place for snorkeling in Malaga. Head to the far end of Burriana beach and snorkel along the cliffs towards Maro.
There are a lot of fish and underwater caves and just around the corner, there is a small beach that you can only reach by swimming or hiking. There are also cliffs there that you can take the older kids cliff jumping from.
You can buy snorkel and fins from any of the beach shops along Burriana beach if you don’t travel with it.
6. Hike to Cañada del Lobo in Torremolinos
If you have active kids that like being outdoors, a fun hike to do is Cañada del Lobo. Expect it to take between 2 and 5 hours depending on the age group of your kids and how many breaks you take.
The hike is easy to follow and can be done mostly on a dirt track. Once at the top, you will be met by a statue of a wolf overlooking spectacular coastal views.
Large parts of this trail are exposed to the elements so make sure your kids (and adults alike) have caps and sunscreen on, even in winter. Even though it is hot when you start walking, it is always recommended to bring something to cover up with in case it should get cooler later in the evening or if there is wind at the top. This is particularly important in the winter when the weather tends to change a bit more.
In the months from January until summer, you also must be careful about pine processionary caterpillars in Malaga’s nearby natural parks. These creatures walk in lines up to two meters and have millions of little hairs that are poisonous. So make sure your kids don’t touch them or step on them.
7. Day trip to the Smurf village
Yes! There is a Smurf Village in Malaga! Among all the white villages, there is a blue one, called Juzcar. And the village has gone full-on Smurfy for the kids (and adult kids alike.)
You can look for Smurf paintings on the blue houses, take pictures with big Smurf statues, shop Smurf things, and play at a Smurf playground.
They often have Smurf workshops too. Where the kids can decorate their own Smurf hats or play Smurf games. They often offer face paint too.
All in all a Smurfy village built up around fun activities for the kids!
8. Visit the rescued donkeys in El Refugio del Burrito
Donkeys are always fun for the kids. Unfortunately, the most famous place to see and ride donkeys is in Mijas Pueblo. The donkeys there are not treated well and you should avoid the activity.
But do not worry!
There is a wonderful safe place for rescued donkeys from all over the country just about an hour from the city. At El Refugio del Burrito, you can even meet some of the retired Donkey Taxis from Mijas Pueblo.
It is a great way to interact with the loving animals and learn about ethical donkey interactions. This is not only interesting and fun for the kids, but it should be a wonderful experience for the entire family.
There are information boards that tell you the story of each donkey and how they were rescued. They are all running free in large paddocks where they can play and cuddle with each other and they are free to come and say hello to visitors when they want to.
You should not be surprised if you get an affectionate donkey cuddle during your visit. The staff is amazing too and will answer all your questions.
There is a donation to pay to enter and you can buy fun donkey-related things in their shop or even adopt a donkey.
This is without a doubt one of the most ethical, interactive, and educational things to do in Malaga with kids.
9. Walk in El Torcal de Antequera
Another fun activity to do with kids in Malaga is to go for a walk in El Torcal de Antequera. This is one of the most unique karst landscapes found in Europe. Millions of years ago this area was pushed up from below the ocean and with time, fun shapes have been created that make a child’s (or an adult’s) imagination run wild.
There are different trails you can walk from 45 minutes to 2 hours but playing in the fun landscape, pointing out shapes in the rocks, looking for mountain goats, exploring caves, and eating your lunch, usually makes this a good day trip.
Be aware of the ethics around wildlife when you see mountain goats. They are used to people so you can be lucky to see them up close. But they are wild animals, so do not chase them, feed them, try to touch them, or scream around them. Be as quiet as you can and admire them if you are so lucky to see them because the experience is worth it for both you and the kids.
Insider tip: When arriving at Malaga airport, often the easiest way to get to your final destination is pre-booking an airport transfer. Solhop transfers are a reputable company covering all the major airports within Spain. They also allow you to pay the driver on arrival. This is ideal when traveling with kids.
Things Not to do in Malaga with kids
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of unethical animal activities for tourists in the Malaga area. Make sure you avoid these activities and rather help your kids understand why you should not exploit animals for tourism.
Examples of these activities are:
- Biopark Fuengirola is a for-profit zoo that takes in exotic animals without the intention of releasing them when possible.
- Benalmadena Butterfly Park is a place to see exotic butterflies that naturally do not exist in Spain
- The Donkey Taxis in Mijas Pueblo are not treated ethically. They must stand up all day and all night with little to no room for moving and denied all normal donkey behavior
- Avoid any horse carriage rides, the animals are forced to walk on concrete all day and stand in the scorching sun. There have been occasions where the horses have collapsed.
- The bullrings are unfortunately still in use in Malaga province. Even if you go on a tour of the bullring outside of performance times, the money still goes to support more events and torture and kill more animals.
I hope these tips will help your family vacation in Malaga become more ethical, knowing that you do not support unethical activities directly or indirectly and that your kids will grow up with good values.
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