Situated on the coast of southern Spain, Malaga is a city full of history, sunshine, and food. As you wander through the city, you'll see the remnants of the Romans and Moors who once ruled the city. Today, Malaga is a cultural hub with some great food, shopping, and beaches.
While Malaga is not the biggest city in Spain, there are still several neighbourhoods which are suitable for visitors to base themselves. You have areas with lots of history, neighbourhoods on the beach and others with a more local or hip vibe. Here are some of our favourite places to stay in the city.
The ever-popular Centro Histórico gives first-time visitors the best location to explore the city. You are truly in the heart of everything, from the historical sites to the restaurants and shopping. It's also a very large neighbourhood compared to the others on this list, so you can stay here for your whole stay and still not see or try everything in the area.
History lovers will thrive in the historic centre since most of the city’s history is rooted here. One of the most important sites in the whole city is the Alcazaba. The old Moorish castle is one of the oldest structures in the city, and there is a lot of history within its walls. And, you can get some great views of the city from the castle.
Another great historic site in the historic centre is the Teatro Romano de Málaga, aka the Roman Theatre. The theatre is right in front of the Alcazaba, and there is also a museum with information and artefacts from the days when the theatre was used. The Malaga Cathedral is also in this neighbourhood, which dates back to the 16th century.
You also have a lot of museums to visit in the Centro Histórico. One of the best is the Museo Picasso Malaga, which has works from Pablo Picasso. It is a special place to visit since he was born in Malaga, and more than 200 of his works are on display here. Other museums include the Malaga Museum, home to a fine art collection, and the Museo Revello de Toro, another art museum with portraits.
Shopping is also prevalent in the neighbourhood. On Calle Marques de Larios alone, there are blocks full of shops and restaurants. On the surrounding streets, there are plenty more options too, and you will never run out of food to try or shops to visit.
And, if you want to experience some of Malaga’s nightlife, many of the clubs are in this neighbourhood. The clubbing and nightlife in Spain are unique since it goes late into the morning, so it is something to experience, but rest up and be prepared.
Stay at the Málaga Premium Hotel in the centre of the neighbourhood.
Soho is surrounded by the three neighbourhoods above and the Mediterranean on the fourth side. The art district of Malaga, Soho is a great neighbourhood for wandering through art galleries and museums and eating good food. It's has a reputation for being the hip area in Malaga.
The highlight of the art scene is the murals painted outside the MAUS art museum. You will find them scattered about the neighbourhood, and it is fun to walk around and try to spot as many works as you can find. Or, you can find a map of all of their locations on the MAUS website.
You can also find a more traditional art museum called the CAC Malaga in Soho. The museum is a contemporary art museum that displays works from Spanish artists. The free museum has permanent and temporary exhibitions that change, so there is always something new to see.
Many dining places in Soho are brewpubs and cafes where you can get drinks and hang out with the locals. Many of these establishments also highlight local art and artists in their decor. As for food, there are some Spanish restaurants, sushi, and Moroccan food, which is pretty good considering the country is just across the sea.
Stay in Icon Malabar with spacious, beautifully-decorated rooms.
Malaga is a very family-friendly city with a huge amount to do with children from beaches and parks to child-friendly museums and galleries. Families could easily stay in any of the areas on the list, however we think La Malagueta is a great option. With sandy beaches and sunny weather, it's the perfect place to stay for a family beach trip. La Malagueta also has a good playground and is only a 10-minute walk from the centre, making it a very convenient place to stay.
One of the more popular beaches in Malaga, Playa la Malagueta, is in the area. While relaxing at the beach, you will see the Mediterranean on one side and the city on the other, making it quite a unique location. You will also find many restaurants in the neighbourhood, including beachside options, so you don’t have to leave the sand to grab dinner. The restaurants primarily serve fresh seafood, oftentimes caught right in Malaga. Or, you can try some authentic Spanish or Andalusian food.
And, it’s not only about the beach in La Malagueta. The area is also home to the Centro Cultural La Malagueta. The museum is home to many of Malaga's history and artefacts covering over six centuries of information. The museum is unique in that it is in a 19th-century bullfighting ring, the history of which is also in the museum.
The La Farola de Málaga is at the end of the neighbourhood, which sits on a peninsula. A walk along the beach to the lighthouse is a great way to see the neighbourhood and some of the best views of the sea the city has to offer. And many of the shops and restaurants in the neighbourhood are right by the lighthouse.
Stay at Hotel MS Maestranza Málaga to be within walking distance of the beach.
Perchel Sur is a much smaller area than the Centro Historico, but it gives for a more authentic experience. The primary appeal of the neighbourhood is the local restaurants. You will find many options for Spanish food here or you can try another international cuisines like Italian and Indian food.
You will also find one of the local markets in Perchel Sur called Mercado El Carmen. You will find a huge variety of local produce at the market, including meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables and pastries. The markets in the city are a great place to go if you are cooking for yourself during your stay or you want to see how the locals do their shopping.
It is also a quieter area if you want to be away from the hustle and bustle of the heart of the city. You can still easily walk or take a bus to one of the other neighbourhoods if you want to visit the historic sites or the beaches. And, you are right by Malaga’s train station for easy day trips around Andalusia.
Stay at the Hotel Guadalmedina for river views.
Polígono Alameda is a commercial district with several upscale shopping options. Easily accessible from the city centre, this area has a mix of local shops and popular European chains. There are a couple of malls in the area, including the popular El Corte Inglés, as well as a number of smaller businesses on the street.
When you need a shopping break, check out Jardines Picasso on the neighbourhood's west end. The park is dedicated to Picasso. There is a lot of green space and benches to rest after a long day of shopping and exploring Malaga.
Poligono Alameda is also very well-situated for exploring the city, with Soho and the historic centre within walking distance. There are a number of museums, galleries and food options nearby, including the Contemporary Art Center of Malaga and the Central Market Atarazanas.
Stay at Hotel Málaga Alameda Centro, Affiliated by Meliá, for its good shopping on your doorstep.
Torre de San Telmo is a neighbourhood a little further out from the centre of Malaga and the other neighbourhoods on my list. Still, it is great for a more authentic experience if you want to stay in an actual residential neighbourhood.
Unlike the others, there are not many sites to see in the neighbourhood itself, but you will have a quiet place to stay. And, there are still some restaurants and local shops to get what you need.
The neighbourhood is right next to Playa Pedregalejo, so if you are primarily coming to the city to spend time at the beach, you are in a good spot. There are also some restaurants and bars on the beach, most of which serve seafood and have great views of the sea.
And, you can easily hop on a bus or grab a taxi west to all the other neighbourhoods. Torre de San Telmo is about five kilometres from the historic centre, so you will have to plan travel times and costs for your stay, but your accommodation will likely be cheaper, so it’s a good place to stay on a budget.
Stay at El Nogal Home for a local experience.
Planning a trip to Malaga? Read our Spain travel guide.
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Last Updated 7 September 2023