Confession time, before our trip to Spain I barely gave Malaga a second thought. I knew it was in the south of Spain, in Costa del Sol, but that was the extent of it. It wasn’t calling out to me like Barcelona or Madrid (the typical spots to visit). But being a research junkie, especially when it comes to my travels, Malaga started screaming out to me, finally I decided to spend one week in the area (more time than Madrid).
As usual, I contact the tourism office (Malaga Turismo – Plaza de La Marina, 11, Málaga, 29001, Málaga). Margarita and I started to plan my time in Malaga. As always, the tourism people are full of great information and advice. This is always my top recommendation to get the know-how and what of each place by going to the source.
With my time being limited I decided to do one major day of visiting the most iconic spots. In our family, even while traveling, we like to have play dates with each of our boys. This gives us a chance to connect with them better in many ways. For this day, I had the honor of sharing it with my youngest boy, while my oldest son and husband went climbing (their priority for visiting this country).
What To Do In Malaga – A Day Tour
In all honesty, coming up with a fun, educational day with a five year old was somewhat of a challenge. Mainly because there is so much to see, but not everything is going to totally get my son’s attention and help him remember the cool things.
After lots of deliberation and consulting with Margarita, we came up with a great plan that would work for all ages and allow everyone to have a great time.
This is a perfect way to get around the city, see the main places to visit, learn about it all and also get the kids excited.
The double decker bus is 80 minutes all around, if you do the full tour. You get to to hop on/hop off 14 different stops.
I decided to do 30 minutes of touring (picking the best spots to hop on and off) and then walking down back to our hotel through the two most iconic landmarks in Malaga. Ending up in the historic district where you can get lost in the windy streets with plenty for adults and kids to see, do and taste.
1. Castillo de Gibralfaro (Gibralfaro Castle)
The castle is at the highest point of Malaga overlooking the entire city and onto the Mediterranean Sea. And the perfect spot to ride up to, with amazing views and then slowly walk our way down to the other attractions.
- This Castle was built in the 14th century to house troops and protect the Alcazaba.
- It is one of the most visited monuments in Málaga.
- From its walls you can see spectacular views of the city.
- It was named after the lighthouse at its peak (Jabal-Faruk, the light mountain).
- It was used by the Phoenicians and Romans, in 1340.
- Then the Nasrid King Yusuf I made the place into a fortress.
- During the reconquest (i.e. the Reconquista), in the summer of 1487, it was besieged by the Catholic Monarchs.
- Ferdinand the Catholic made it his temporary residence after the victory. In addition, he designated the castle as a symbol on the coat of arms of the city.
- It was considered the most impregnable fortress on the Iberian peninsula for a time.
- It has two lines of walls and eight towers.
- Gibralfaro and Alcazaba are united by underground tunnels.
- The Castle is divided into two parts. The upper part is called the main courtyard, and houses the Main Tower (Torre Mayor), 17 metres high, the Phoenician well and the baths.
- The lower part, or courtyard, held the troop barracks and stables, the watchtower or White Tower (Torre Blanca), a water tank, auxiliary buildings and storerooms.
2. Alcazaba (Fortress)
This leads you all the way down to the historic center of Malaga. The trail from the Castle to the fortress is, without a doubt, one of the most scenic in Malaga and is highly recommended to do. You can go up as well, but I prefer the easy route.
- This old Arab fortress is one of the most iconic buildings and monuments of the city.
- It was built between 1057 and 1063 by the arab king Badis of Granada.
- It has an Arab style that mixes the defense qualities on the outside with gorgeous gardens on the inside.
- It is one of the most important muslim fortresses from the old days of Spain. It is complete with dungeons and towers.
- During its best days it was surrounded by a pretty advanced town for its time that even had indoor plumbing in most homes. The town has disappeared completely.
- The fortress went through two reconstructions during the XX century.