Rock of Gibraltar in southern part of Iberian Peninsula: A perfect day trip from Malaga Spain

11 Best Day Trips from Malaga Spain (+ 2 NOT to Take!)

Planning which day trips to take from Malaga, Spain can be tough!

This beautiful city is surrounded by wonderful places to visit, from small white-home villages that ooze with Spanish culture and feel like a trip into the past, to stunning mountains, and large stretches of gorgeous coastline. Additionally, it’s close to three of Andalucia’s most important cities, Seville, Granada, and Cordoba.

So in this guide, you’ll find the best Malaga day trips with the information you need to plan the day!

11 Best Day Trips from Malaga Spain (+2 NOT to Take!)

Malaga is a fantastic city that deserves a spot on your southern Spain itinerary. There’s enough to do in the city itself, from historic sites, museums, beaches, and an endless amount of delicious tapas. But, it would be a shame to miss out on all the places to visit from Malaga!

Malaga makes a great option for a base in Andalucia because of its central location and its airport. It’s convenient to take a quick flight from other points in Spain, like Madrid and Barcelona, or from cities around Europe to get to Malaga. From the airport, it’s possible to rent a car or arrive in the city by taxi or public transportation.

Once you’re settled, you can begin to discover the city and the surrounding region!

ProTip: The best way to get around southern Spain is by car. While you won’t need to drive around cities like Malaga or Seville, having a car to reach smaller towns and villages, beautiful beaches, and other main attractions allows you to be flexible with your planning and makes the best use of your time.

1. Caminito del Rey

Hiking trail 'El Caminito del Rey' - King's Little Path, former world's most dangerous footpath Ardales, Malaga province, Spain, wooden path with mountain on the right and water to the left

The Caminito del Rey has a legendary reputation as “the World’s most dangerous footpath” and for being one of the scariest hikes in the world.

Not long ago, the trek led you on a tiny path no wider than a few inches at some points, and with spots that had to be climbed. However, after a major restoration project in 2015, there’s now a very safe and solid wooden footpath attached to the rock face of the creek.

The path winds its way through the El Chorro gorge, 100 meters above the Guadalhorce River. The waters below are bright blue, and the walk has stunning views into the gorge and down the valley.

It’s not too long either, overall the route is about 4.3 miles in total. It’s worth bringing a hat, sunscreen, and lots of water though, especially in summer when it gets extremely hot in the afternoon. Because of its wide-reaching popularity El Caminito books up quickly, so make sure you book far in advance, especially if you want to visit on a weekend.

Once you’re there, they’ll give you a helmet and a short safety briefing before sending you on your way. But don’t let this put you off – El Caminito del Rey is really safe now and doable for all levels of fitness and outdoor expertise.

How to Get to Caminito del Rey from Malaga

Luckily, the Caminito del Rey is very close to Malaga, just 45 minutes away by train from Malaga’s Maria Zambrano station to El Chorro. From there, you’ll have to take a shuttle bus (cash-only ticket bought from the driver) to Ardales. This takes about 20-ish minutes. From Ardales, you’ll walk about 1.25 miles to the Caminito del Rey entrance.

If you choose to take the train, you must have your Caminito del Rey tickets already. It’s a timed entrance ticket and you’ll need to coordinate that with the train back to Malaga.

By car, it’s about an hour northwest of Malaga. The journey is about 38 miles long. If you’re using Google Maps, look for the Caminito del Rey North Entrance Ardales parking area to park your car at the start of the hike.

Caminito del Rey Day Trips from Malaga

Many people opt for a guided tour to Caminito del Rey because individual tickets from the official site are tricky to get and also because of the logistics of getting there by public transportation.

This Caminito del Rey tour from Malaga is a top pick. It includes transportation from the Malaga city center directly to the start of the hike in Ardales, entrance to Caminito del Rey, and transport back to Malaga. When I was in Malaga, I went on a guided tour because I just wanted to enjoy the day and not fret over the transportation details. I was happy I did!

If the above tour doesn’t have availability on your date, check out this tour, too.

2. Nerja

Scenic resort town of Nerja with small sandy beach on Costa del Sol by the Mediterranean Sea in Spain, southern Andalusia region, Malaga province.

Nerja is a coastal town along the Costa del Sol area. It’s by far one of the prettiest towns along this stretch of coast, and it has some of the best beaches you can find. The Sierra de Almijara mountain range rises behind the city and the azure sea laps against the sand and rocks. It’s a perfect day trip for anyone looking to enjoy the sun and sea!

Although there are plenty of souvenir shops and fancy restaurants dotted around Nerja, it’s kept a lot of its authenticity despite becoming a newly popular tourist destination.

Walk through the city center and discover the little white sand beaches that are hidden down flights of winding stairs. Or roam around in tiny coves, go snorkeling offshore, and generally let yourself be awed by the surprising variety of aquatic life (it’s not uncommon to spot an octopus or even the occasional dolphin pass by!). You can also rent a kayak on Burriana Beach or go out on a SUP and go for a nice long paddle around the area.

Be sure to visit the Balcon de Europa before leaving! It is a large palm-lined plaza that sits on the foundations of an old fort. There are great views of the ocean from there!

You also can’t skip a trip to the Nerja Caves, which have made it into the Guinness Book of World Records and have intricate cave paintings dating back to the Paleolithic period. The cave paintings are out of view and under preservation but nonetheless, the caves themselves are an impressive sight!

How to Get to Nerja from Malaga:

It’s just a 45-50 minute drive (depending on traffic) east from Malaga to Nerja along the A-7 highway. The journey is roughly 38 miles long.

You can also take a direct bus between Malaga and Nerja. The ride takes about 90 minutes and makes a few stops, with Nerja finishing the route. You can buy your tickets in advance on Omio.

Nerja Day Trips from Malaga

If you’re looking for a relaxing day trip away from Malaga without worrying about the logistics, consider booking a day tour.

On this day trip from Malaga to Nerja, you’ll split your time between Nerja and Frigiliana, one of Andalucia’s famed white villages. With the help of your guide, you’ll learn more about towns, as well as have free time to walk, eat, shop, and enjoy the coastal scenery.

3. Gibraltar

Rock of Gibraltar in southern part of Iberian Peninsula.

Gibraltar is a politically and culturally curious place. It’s a British Overseas Territory that has been influenced heavily by the number of British individuals that live in the city. You’ll find that in Gibraltar everyone is bilingual, and many things about it that are very British, like the pubs and red telephone boxes. People even use Pounds in Gibraltar! Its novelties are why it’s one of the most popular day trips when traveling around Andalucia.

Although, you can walk into Gibraltar, you’re technically crossing a border so you’ll need to show your passport at passport control.

One of the most popular activities in Gibraltar is to take the cable car up to the top of a 400m rock, simply called “The Rock”, that looms over the city. You can even visit the family of Barbary Macaques that live there. The only wild monkeys in Europe, they’re a unique sight, and with their smart aleck-y and curious personalities, they’re sure to charm your socks off.

It’s also worth taking a tour of the Great Siege Tunnels. Together the tunnels form a complex labyrinth of underground connections that stretch for miles. They were dug during the 1779 to 1783 Great Siege of Gibraltar. General Eliot ordered their construction, and most of the digging was done with sledgehammers in just a few weeks!

If you want to get to know Gibraltar’s history then head to the Gibraltar Museum which explores the colorful past of this culturally complex territory. There’s also great information on the military and natural history of Gibraltar in the museum. In the basement, you can check out the ruins of what was once an Arabic bathhouse.

Another important historical site is Main Street’s Convent, the oldest building in Gibraltar. It dates back to 1531 and it was originally the residence of Franciscan Friars. Later, in 1728, it became the home of the Governor of Gibraltar. Rumor has it, the building is haunted by the Lady in Grey, a Spanish nun who was tragically walled in alive in one of the rooms of the convent by her father!

When the Spanish sun starts to get too much around midday, take a stroll around Old Town and stop for a pint in Casemates Square, or try a traditional British meal like fish and chips or perhaps cottage pie at one of the local pubs. Gibraltar really is a little Britain in the sun!

With everything the city has to offer, it’s not surprising so many people take a day trip from Malaga to Gibraltar!

How to Get from Malaga to Gibraltar

Gibraltar is about 84 miles southwest of Malaga. The trip takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes along highway AP-7. Parking in Gibraltar is a major pain point so it’s better to take a bus or a guided tour.

Buses run between Malaga to La Linea multiple times a day from the Malaga bus station just near the Maria Zambrano Train Station in Malaga. Book your tickets in advance through Avanza.

The upside to doing the bus independently is you can extend your day in Gibraltar and return on a later bus compared to a guided tour which will have a set time for departing Gibraltar.

If you do choose to drive, it’s better to park in nearby La Linea de la Concepcion and walk across the border. Also, remember that Gibraltar is a U.K. Territory. Since the U.K. is no longer part of the E.U., you’ll have to go through border control with your passport.

Day Trips from Malaga to Gibraltar

If you’re worried about bus logistics, day trips from Malaga to Gibraltar are a great choice. The transportation and border crossing is handled by the guide, who also will organize the day with a choice of activities and free time to explore on you’re own.

This Gibraltar day trip from Malaga is a fantastic and popular option for a hassle-free day!

4. Ronda

Ronda Spain view of the new bridge and the canyon below. The white buildings of the town are on the cliff

Ronda is by far one of the most spectacular and charming towns in southern Spain. Even if you don’t have the time to make a Ronda day trip from Malaga, find a spot for it somewhere in your southern Spain itinerary! You won’t want to miss it.

As you wander through the pretty streets you’ll come across stunning view after stunning view. It’s one of the “white-home villages of Andalucia” and its advantageous position atop a high rock in the El Tajo gorge makes it one of the jewels of Spain.

Stroll over the Puente Nuevo, an 18th-century bridge that hangs over the 100-meter-deep Tajo gorge and the Guadelevin River that splits the town in two. There’s an old prison in the middle arch of the bridge which you can visit. Walk down the winding stairs that go deep into the gorge and admire the bridge from the bottom, then stop for some lunch with a view at one of the restaurants that are carved into the side of the cliff.

Next, go to the Jardines de Cuenca by one of the cliff sides on the ledge of the gorge and visit the stunning gardens that were dedicated to Ronda’s twin city Cuenca. Another great thing about the gardens is that you have spectacular views of all three bridges and the surrounding valley from there!

Visit the Arco de Felipe V next and walk down the cobblestone path that leads you to the Arab Baths. It’s worth taking some time to explore these 13th and 14th-century bath houses as they’re incredibly well preserved and there are super informative displays and videos on site that explain how the baths worked – from getting the water in there to heating the steam rooms!

Don’t miss the lovely Fuente de la Duquesa de Parcent and stop in to see the Iglesia de Santa Maria la Mayor. The church was built on top of a former Mosque, and if you climb the stairs near the altar, you’ll reach an open viewing area where you can gush over Ronda’s pretty white buildings and natural beauty.

Stroll along the Plaza de Toros de Ronda and walk to the Puerta de Almocabar, one of the 13th-century gates along the city’s walls. Nearby, you can take a few moments to see Iglesia del Espiritu Santo.

If you have some time, make a stop at Casa del Rey Moro, which has a misleading name as it was never actually the home of a Moorish king! The mine and the garden are the highlights.

Quaint, rich in historical relics and architecture, and quintessentially Andalusian, Ronda is a must-do day trip if you’re in Malaga or traveling throughout southern Spain.

How to Get from Malaga to Ronda

Ronda is 63 miles east of Malaga and about 1 hour and 30 minutes away by car. I recommend driving over taking a train or a bus because it will be quicker and you’ll be able to go and return on your timetable. The newer area of Ronda has paid parking lots, and from there, you can walk into the old town.

Train and bus options exist from Malaga. They can take anywhere between 2 and 3 hours, although a few buses do get there in just under 2 hours if you time it right. A couple of things to consider if you choose one of these options.

Depending on the transportation schedules, you might need to take the bus one way and return on the train or vice versa. This could help you save time and find the most flexible pairing for planning your day.

Also, some options might combine a train and bus combination. The town of Antequera Santa Ana has more direct trains to Ronda. So taking a bus from Malaga to Antequera and then a train to Ronda is also a possibility.

Use Omio and Trainline to check your options and purchase tickets in advance.

Day Trips to Ronda from Malaga

You can easily join a day tour from Malaga to Ronda. These tours often include a stop in Setenil de las Bodegas, one of Andalusia’s most famous white villages because of the way its homes are built into the rocky cliffs.

I recommend a Ronda day tour like this one or this one because they are full-day tours with a combo of guided and free time in Ronda, as well as some time to marvel at Setenil.

5. Pueblos Blancos/White-Home Villages

Mosaic staircase in Frigiliana Spain with white houses on either side

The Pueblos Blancos (White Villages or White-home Villages) around the city of Malaga are bursting with Andalucian character and rural culture. Two of the most popular, putting Ronda aside, are Frigiliana and Setenil de las Bodegas, although others, like Mijas, Casares, and Grazalema, are worth a mention too.

Frigiliana is made up of small white-washed houses built in the traditional Spanish style, with small windows and little balconies. The towns are connected by narrow cobblestone streets. Wander around and discover the cutest hidden bars and tiniest shops in the maze of steep roadways.

There’s not a whole lot to do in this sleepy small town, so enjoy a laid-back day and get into the slow pace of life that characterizes all of Andalucia’s White-home Villages.

If you’re there for lunch or dinner make sure you try Migas (a traditional Spanish dish of fried breadcrumbs with fried green peppers and chorizo), my favorite Berenjenas con caña de Miel (fried eggplant covered in a drizzle of honey), and Ajo Blanco (a cold almond and garlic soup).

Setenil de las Bodegas is a little different from the other White-home Villages, as the houses are mostly in caves or tucked under the overhangs of the jagged rocks that run throughout the town. The River Trejo splits the town in two, and centuries ago it carved out the scenic gorge the town is built into.

Fascinatingly, people have been living in the caves since the Stone Age, some 12,000 years ago! Sip on a cold caña and enjoy plate after plate of local olives, hams, and cheeses. (You can never have too many olives in Spain!)

How to Visit White Villages from Malaga

The best way to visit the white villages around Malaga is by car. These are small towns with little to no public transportation. And although you may be able to take a bus to one village, like Mijas for example, it’ll be logistically very difficult to get to another white village from there without first returning to a bigger city like Malaga.

On my visits to southern Spain, it was a lot of fun spending days hopping from one white village to the next. This wouldn’t have been possible without a car.

Frigiliana is 50 minutes east of Malaga. Setenil is about 1 hour and 15 minutes to the northwest of Malaga and not far from Ronda. Mijas is just half an hour away. While Casares is about 45 minutes past Mijas.

ProTip: By driving, you could also combine white village hopping with a visit to the caves in Nerja.

White Villages Day Trips from Malaga

There are some day tours that combine a white village like Frigiliana with nearby places and activities. This Frigiliana day tour also includes time in Nerja. Or visit the Nerja caves together with Frigiliana on this guided tour.

6. Granada

Dusk view of the Alhambra in Granada Spain

Enchanting and laid-back, Granada is consistently referred to as “the prettiest city in Spain”. It has a culture that has been heavily influenced by the Moors, and it was in fact the last place reigned over by the Moors before they were evicted from Spain in 1492. The controversial history of the city is evident in the mix of architectural styles you’ll see.

If you don’t have much time in Granada, I suggest focusing first on the Alhambra. The red-brick Moorish palace that looms over the city was built between 1238 and 1358 when southern Spain was reigned by Ibn al-Ahmar and was a part of the Nasrid dynasty. It’s the absolute highlight of the city.

You must book Alhambra tickets in advance because they sell out nearly every day. The palace and its grounds are vast. You might also want to consider a guided Alhambra tour to fully appreciate this historic treasure.

It’s undeniable that the Alhambra and Sierra Nevada mountain range are the stars of the show at the stunning viewpoints around the city; like the Mirador de San Cristobal and Sacromonte. You’ll get your best Granada and Alhambra pictures from these spots like I did in the one above.

There’s often a street artist or two playing flamenco in the background, which adds that touch of romance and liveliness to the experience that you will love!

After visiting the Alhambra palace, explore the prettiest areas of the city on foot and make the most of the province’s tapas culture. Walk through the Albayzin neighborhood, where the streets are narrow and steep but every step takes you somewhere beautiful.

Be sure to pass by the Cathedral which is also where the Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand lie in rest. The Monarchs are responsible for spearheading the construction of the Cathedral after they retook the city from the Moors.

Stroll through the city center and stop at any and all tapas bars in sight – Granada is the only province in Andalucia where Tapas come free (yes, free!) with the purchase of a drink!

Another great thing about Granada is that there are loads of cool adventure trips just an hour’s drive away from the city. You can paraglide off the mountains in the Sierra Nevada during the Spring and Summer. Or go skiing there in the winter months! But if that isn’t your cup of tea, you can also drive down to the stunning beaches along the Costa del Sol coast instead.

If you’re in the city in time for breakfast, order a “tostada con tomate y queso, y un cafe con leche” – the local favorite.

Of all the places you would want to visit around Malaga, Granada is one of the best day trips. And if your Andalucia itinerary is tight, Granada can easily be seen in a day if you plan accordingly.

How to Get to from Malaga to Granada

Granada is just 1 hour and 30 minutes northeast of Malaga. The journey is about 80-90 miles along a few of southern Spain’s major highways. You can drive to the city center and park in a paid lot before setting off on foot.

There is also a direct train from Maria Zambrano Station in Malaga to Granada. The ride is just over an hour. You should buy your tickets in advance, especially if you have timed-entry Alhambra tickets. Also, RENFE, the main train operator in Spain, does increase prices the closer you get to the travel date.

You can also take the bus from Malaga to Granada in just under 2 hours. But given how quick the train is, I’d choose that over a bus.

You can search for both train and bus tickets on Omio or Trainline.

Day Trips to Granada from Malaga

Going with a guide is also a great option for your Malaga to Granada day trip. Tours like this one include the Alhambra with a local guide, a guided stroll in the city center, and some free time to visit the Cathedral and a Tapas bar…or two! It’s a simple way to avoid the rush for Alhambra tickets and maximize your time in this beautiful city.

7. Marbella

Luxury yachts at Puerto Banus marina on Costa del Sol, Marbella southern Andalucia, Spain.

Marbella is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain. People from all over Europe flock to the city to spend time in the sun, lounge on the beach, and enjoy Marbella’s energetic nightlife.

It’s by no means a particularly local or traditional town, and there will be a lot of other tourists around. But if you like a bit of luxury, then Marbella is a great day trip destination! (Though if you are a bit of an introvert, I’d probably skip it.)

There’s a flashy marina in Marbella called Puerto Banus, where you can watch the luxury yachts and posh cars of the local rich and famous coming and going. Golden Mile is the epicenter of the city and is lined with extravagant clubs, five-star hotels, and glamorous expensive restaurants.

Marbella is also surrounded by the stunning Sierra Blanca which attracts nature lovers and visitors wanting to spend a day trekking in the mountains. Marbella’s old town, Casco Antiguo, showcases the city’s more local flavors. It’s a great spot to stroll and enjoy a meal or a drink sitting outside amongst the orange trees.

How to Get from Malaga to Marbella

Marbella is just a 45-minute drive away from Malaga, heading west close to the coast for approximately 37 miles. As you would expect, driving gives you the most flexibility to plan your day in Marbella and perhaps make a few impromptu stops along the way.

You can also take a quick and easy 1-hour bus ride with Avanza from the Estación de Autobuses de Malaga to Marbella.

Day Trips to Marbella from Malaga

Because Malaga and Marbella are so close to one another, there aren’t full-day tour options. However, once in Marbella, you might want to do some kayaking, sunset stand-up paddle boarding, hop aboard a catamaran, or unleash your adventurous side with some canyoneering.

8. Tarifa

View over the white houses and rooftops in Tarifa Spain on a blue sky day

Tarifa is the southernmost point in Spain and just 14 miles of water separate it from Africa’s northern coast. Many visitors pass through Tarifa intending to take a day trip from Tarifa to Tangier in Morocco and miss the opportunity to find out what Tarifa is all about. For those that do, a gem awaits!

Tarifa’s position along the coast makes it a popular beach spot. In fact, there are 2 beaches separated by a strip of land with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Mediterranean Sea on the other. It’s not often that you can say you spent the day at both an Atlantic and a Mediterranean beach!

While you’re there, you can try out kitesurfing and even head out by boat for some whale watching. The Strait of Gibraltar is not only busy with shipping boats, but it’s also home to pilot whales, orcas, and bottlenose dolphins.

The Castle of Guzman el Bueno sits just next to the port. It was built by the Moors as a defensive structure in the latter half of the 900s A.D. From the ramparts, you can enjoy the sweeping ocean views and, on a clear day, see the coast of Morocco.

Also from this vantage point, it’s easy to see why a defensive fort was needed. This channel of water was and still is a strategic waterway for all kinds of vessels. While you’re at the top of the castle, don’t forget to also look back toward Tarifa’s bright white buildings and rooftops.

Afterward, wander through Tarifa’s labyrinth of tiny streets. Along the way, look for signs of Tarifa’s mixed historical and cultural past from the Arabic keyhole archway leading into the Mercado, the historic walls including the 13th century Moorish gate Puerta de Jerez, and the Church of San Mateo with tombs from the Visigoths who were in the region even before the Moors!

If you’re up for a short drive from Tarifa, just 14 miles away, you’ll find Playa de Bolonia. Not only is the beach gorgeous, but there are also Roman ruins possibly dating back 2,000 years! These ruins are among the best preserved in all of Spain.

How to Get to the Tarifa from Malaga

By car, you can go from Malaga to Tarifa in just under 2 hours southwest along southern Spain’s coastline.

If you’re visiting during peak season when the weather is warm, make a parking plan. There is limited 1-hour street parking, as well as paid municipal and private parking lots. For these parking lots and the shipping port lot, reservations may be necessary to ensure there is parking when you arrive.

There is also a bus that travels between Malaga and Tarifa. However, buses run by Avanza and TGComes can take up to 3 1/2 hours one-way. Driving to Tarifa in your own vehicle is the best way to make the most of your day.

Day Trips to Tarifa from Malaga

There are no organized day trips from Malaga to Tarifa.

9. Morocco

The old medina of Tangier, Morocco, facing the Strait of Gibraltar and the Spanish coast.

One of the most exotic things you can do on a trip to Andalucia is to take a trip across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco!

Now, of course, it’s just for the day (unless you decide to take some extended time in Morocco) so you’ll just get a small taste of life on the north African coast. I spent 2 weeks in Morocco and could go back to see places I didn’t have time to visit. But, day trips from Malaga to Morocco are worthwhile nonetheless if you can spare the time.

Tangier is a bustling mix of old and new. In some ways, it’ll feel familiar and in others not. However, the overlapping histories and cultural influences that join Morocco and Spain are fascinating to connect, especially once you’ve spent time in Andalucia.

In Tangier, stroll through the medina, or old town, visit the kasbah with its sweeping views, and shop in the city’s souks for handicrafts, spices, and other souvenirs. You can go for lunch and try a traditional Moroccan tagine.

If you have a sweet tooth, you’re in luck! Moroccans do too. Taste a sweet from a bakery while sipping on some freshly brewed Moroccan mint tea. If you prefer your tea unsweetened, say “sans sucre” or else your tea might be a lot more sugary than you expected!

How to Get to Morocco from Malaga

As fun as a day trip to Morocco sounds, let me be crystal clear about the logistics. This is a strong move to pull off from Malaga, but not at all impossible. Ideally, you’d at least start or end the day in Tarifa to avoid driving the round trip to Malaga.

Ferries depart from the morning until late in the evening. Other places besides Tarifa have ferries to Morocco but the Tarifa ferries have the shortest crossing time. You’ll be in Tangier within 45-70 minutes depending on the boat and voyage.

If you intend to do this day trip independently, plan to leave Malaga in the very early morning hours. You’ll need to drive to Tarifa which will take about 2 hours. Check to see if you can make a parking reservation so you don’t need to worry about finding parking when you arrive in Tarifa.

Be sure to reserve your ferry tickets in advance and have your passport. You will need it to enter Morocco.

Once you arrive in Tangier, be prepared for guides, some official some not, to be hawking their services for the day. A better plan would be to book a Tangier guided tour in advance.

Lastly, you must be prepared for changes. The ferries are subject to the weather and sea conditions. Doing this day trip independent of a guide means you’re confident in your travel abilities to come up with a Plan B.

Day Trips from Malaga to Morocco

If you have your heart set on a day trip from Malaga to Morocco, I strongly recommend going with a guide. They will handle all the logistics from getting to Tarifa to ferry tickets and passports. Once you arrive, a guide with an itinerary awaits. It’s truly the best way to maximize your experience with a day trip like this.

This Malaga to Morocco guided tour is a great option and includes logistics, a guide, and lunch.

If you’re confident you can drive yourself to Tarifa, this option includes a fully guided day while this tour is partially guided but with some free time, too.

10. Antequera

Monoliths at the Torcal Antequera site in Andalucia Spain

If you’re hoping to get outside of southern Spain’s towns and villages to explore some of the countryside, Antequera has just what you’re looking for. Although the town itself has white homes, narrow lanes, and an impressive 14th-century Moorish Alcazar, it’s the rocks and the area’s archaeological past that steal the spotlight.

Visitors come to see the UNESCO-recognized Dolmens. There are 3 prehistoric tombs of note, Menga Dolmen, Viera Dolmen, and El Romeral Dolmen. Dating back thousands of years to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, the Dolmens were used as burial tombs and for important ceremonies. They are among the most important prehistoric remains in Europe.

In nearby El Torcal de Antequera, you can hike amongst the limestone rock formations in the nature park which have been shaped by water, wind, and the elements over millions of years. Trails range from simple walking paths to treks that you can devote a few hours to savor the beautiful rock landscape all around. Hiking in this area reminded me of my day spent day-tripping from Barcelona to Montserrat.

How to Get to Antequera from Malaga

The town of Antequera is just 50 minutes north of Malaga by car. To visit the Alcazar, you’ll need to drive to the town itself. The Dolmens and the Torcal de Antequera Nature Reserve are just outside the town and are easy to reach by car.

Direct trains and buses run from Malaga to Antequera. Trains take just half an hour, while buses take about 50 minutes. From the main train station in Antequera, there are local buses that can help you get to the nature park and the Dolmens.

Day Trips from Malaga to Antequera

You can also meet up with a guide in Malaga and spend half a day on this Torcal Antequera and Dolmens tour exploring the archaeological ruins and doing a short hike through the rocky landscape.

11. Las Alpujarras

Alcolea, Small village in the Alpujarra, Almeria, Spain, mountains in the background

The Alpujarras are a string of small, white-home villages on the other side of the Sierra Nevada from Granada. They’re known for their unmatched charm, traditional way of life, and sleepy atmosphere. Connected by winding roads that run through the valley and up the mountains, you’ll definitely want a car to make the most of your adventure in Las Alpujarras.

Of all the villages in Las Alpujarras, Orgiva is considered the capital. It’s one of the bigger towns in the area and has become known for its peculiar mix of traditional and unconventional. The town itself seems stuck in the past, but it’s contrasted by three surrounding hippie communities.

If you come on a Thursday morning you can check out the market, which is now divided into two. In the main square, the Plaza de la Alpujarra, there’s a collection of small stalls selling homemade beauty products, art, and jewelry. If you head a bit further up, you will find all the fruit and vegetable stalls, plus a few super cheap clothes stalls.

Looking for somewhere to stop for lunch or perhaps dinner? The best spots in town for pizza are the Pizza and Love (which has great veggie and vegan options) or the Pizzeria Almazara. But if you want some traditional food, head to the Hotel Puerta Nazari.

But Orgiva isn’t the only village in Las Alpujarras that is worth visiting. Others, like Trevelez, are known for their extensive selection of local products, such as their Jamón Ibérico, which is some of the best in the country. The drive up to Trévelez is very windy, so not very pleasant if you get car sick. However, the scenic views along the way should help compensate.

There are also some incredible hikes from Trévelez and up the Sierra Nevada, like the Siete Lagunas hike. You can even camp at the top, but bear in mind this isn’t a light stroll! The lakes and incredible night sky at the top are worth the arduous 8-hour uphill hike for those who are skilled trekkers.

How to Get to the Alpujarras from Malaga

To explore the villages of the Alpujarras, you’ll need a car. As with the white villages, there isn’t a way to go between different small towns to effectively explore the area.

Orgiva is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Malaga. Trévelez is a bit further and will take just over 2 hours to reach from Malaga.

Day Trips to the Alpujarras from Malaga

There are no organized day tours that depart from Malaga.

2 Day Trips NOT to Take from Malaga

While technically possible, I don’t recommend taking a day trip to Seville or Cordoba from Malaga. These 2 cities are among the most precious jewels in southern Spain’s crown. They deserve at least a few days unto themselves.

Decide if you want to base yourself in Seville and then daytrip to Cordoba by train. Or instead, stay in each city for a couple of days. I’ve done both and preferred staying a few nights in Seville and 1 night in Cordoba instead of day-tripping to it. I had the time to see the sights directly in the city, as well as see the ruins of Medina Azahara just a few minutes away by car or bus from Cordoba’s old town.

I’ve included some information on these 2 fantastic Andalucian cities below, as well as links to more detailed guides to help you plan your southern Spain itinerary.


Ouside view of Cathedral of Seville with palm trees and a horse and carriage

Seville embodies the true essence of Andalucian culture. The city center is absolutely stunning and has a rich diversity of architectural styles including countless bars and restaurants.

Two landmarks that you have to put on your to-do list are the Plaza de España and the spectacular Alcazar. The Plaza de España is an enormous square that was designed by Anibal Gonzalez and revealed in the 1929 Exposición Iberoamericana. There’s a small man-made river that runs through the center of the square that you can row boats in.

There are always street performers at the plaza too, so if you’re lucky you’ll get a free flamenco show on your visit! Once you’ve seen the plaza, stroll through the Parque Maria Luisa, which is the prettiest park in the city. Head to the end of the park and you’ll find another cluster of must-see beautiful buildings.

Don’t skip the ‘Real Alcazar’, a grand palace that mixes Mudejar and Christian architecture. It was originally a fort, built as far back as 913. Over the last 11 centuries, it’s been added to and perfected. The most impressive part of the Alcazar is the 14th-century Palacio de Don Pedro.

Another crown jewel of Seville is the Cathedral. It was built between 1434 and 1517 and it’s actually the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world! The highly decorated and detailed exterior of the cathedral is going to leave you awestruck. Be sure to get a picture with the Giralda, the legendary bell tower, and the Capilla Mayor that has an astonishing gold altarpiece.

There are so many things to see in Seville the list is endless, but make sure you spend an evening strolling the narrow streets of the old Jewish quarter (La Juderia), visit the Museo de Bellas Artes, the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes, and the Iglesia de San Luis de los Franceses.

Read more about how to plan your Seville itinerary in this detailed guide.


Close up of the red and white arches in the Mosque-Cathedral in Cordoba Spain

Like all of Andalusia’s cities, Cordoba has gorgeous squares, beautiful Mudejar architecture, and countless bars with tapas and cold beers! The city is most known for its breathtaking Mezquita, which is just one of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It perfectly showcases how heavily influenced Spain was by both the Moors and Christians.

You’ll walk through the Puerta de las Palmas and be greeted by 850 red and white striped columns and arches that never seem to end. There are still remnants of the original mosque that was built in 786 by Abd ar-Rahman I.

It wasn’t until 1146 that the mosque became a cathedral. This is when the tower, choir, chapel, and transept were added. The mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Moorish architecture, plus the diverse spaces for worship in the Mezquita makes it truly unique.

Next head to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. The old medieval citadel is in Cordoba’s historic center, and it was once the primary place of residence of Isabella I and Ferdinand II. The interior is nowhere near as impressive as the Mezquita, but the gardens are incredible. Fascinatingly, it also housed the first permanent tribunals of the Spanish Inquisition, which meant that in the 15th century many of the rooms, like the Arab bath quarters, became torture or interrogation chambers, yikes!

Peep into the colorful courtyards of the homes in the San Basilio neighborhood to see some of the prettiest patios in Cordoba, then go to the Palacio de Viana where you can visit twelve gorgeous hidden patios allocated throughout the museum.

Cordoba also has a fair amount of Roman architecture. Start exploring the old ruins by crossing the Puente Romano, the city’s famous Roman Bridge, which dates back to the 1st century. A large part of it was rebuilt in the 10th century, but there are still some original features.

Lastly, take a few moments to admire the Ancient Templo Romano which wasn’t discovered until the 1950s!

Read more about how to plan your time in Cordoba in this detailed guide.

Bottom Line: Malaga Day Trips

Malaga is a great city in southern spain surrounded by incredible sights and destinations. Regardless of which you choose, planning day trips from Malaga is an excellent way to enhance your Andalucia itinerary and make the most of your trip!

So, what are you questions about planning and taking day trips from Malaga?

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