As we mentioned in our other favorite day trips series, if you will be able to spend ample time in Málaga or if you even plan on moving to the city we want to ensure you don’t miss some of the gems just outside the city. That’s why, in today’s post, we’re bringing you our ten favorite day trips from Málaga!
Before we dive into the list, let us put the term ‘day trip’ into perspective to avoid questions like “What about Sevilla, Córdoba, and Granada?” The truth of the matter is that Málaga is very well-connected and you could easily travel to any other city in Andalucía (and even outside of the communidad) within one day. However, we would not RECOMMEND that you do that. Each of the three cities mentioned above deserve a longer visit (a few days/nights) to real begin to know them. That being said, this list is made up of places within a 1.5 hour-drive radius of the city of Málaga. We have selected them because they are small enough that spending the day and returning for the night in Málaga will feel worthwhile but not rushed.
Rincón de la Victoria
The closest place we’d recommend you visit from Málaga city center is Rincón de la Victoria via bicycle. There are many places in the city to rent bikes for a day or a half day and taking off along the Paseo Marítimo in the direction of Rincón de la Victoria (to the east) is a wonderful plan. The ride to this town in approximately an hour, although you shouldn’t rush it and instead stop for as many photos and ice creams or snack as you fancy. For more of a challenge, continue on to Torre del Mar which is approximately an hour further.
How to get there: We personally recommend biking to this destination and taking in the views along the Paseo Marítimo. The journey will take you around one hour (allowing for some time to stop and take photos along the way). Alternatively, if you feel especially adventurous you could try walking it, although we do not recommend trying to do so in the heat of the day. Either way, if you get worn out (or are just not into the athletic options) there are local buses to get you either or both ways as well.
We’ve already written two posts about Nerja so we won’t go into all the details here. However, this beautiful white village and its impressive caves are just a 45 minute car ride east of the city. Read our overview of Nerja here and our Do-it-in-a-Day guide here.
How to get there: While there are options to take either the local coastal bus or a tour bus trip to Nerja, we would personally recommend driving as it is only a 45-minute car ride but taking the bus could end up being between 1.5 and two hours depending on how far you need to walk to and from the bus stations.
This famous white village is located approximately a 30-minute car ride west of the city and is well worth the trip. Due to its location in the hillside (what some of us from flatter parts of the world would consider mountains), there are ample incredible views and lookouts. The winding streets are also a lot of fun to get lost on and you can take a donkey taxi if that’s something you’re interested in.
How to get there: We would recommend traveling by car as this destination is quite close to Málaga but the bus route can get long. Even so, there are a few inexpensive bus options in place if you prefer that. Simply be forewarned that the road to Mijas pueblo (not Mijas costa, which is located at sea level) can be very windy and carsick-inducing, especially on the bus.
Caminito del Rey (Ardales)
Famous for being Spain’s most dangerous hike, el Caminito del Rey has undergone a lot of restoration and development in recent years and is not actually that terrifying anymore. Still, you’ll be overcome with awe at some of the beautiful views of the gorge below and when you walk past what remains of the original path. Because of the nature of the path and the limited entries per day to ensure its preservation (therefore a specific time slot for you to enter in a group) this route does not afford many options to stop and picnic. Either bring your own food and plan to eat it once you get to the end of the caminito or plan to stop for lunch at the restaurant near the entrance (a bus is provided at the end of the route that will take you back upon completion). It’s a little pricey, but the views are beautiful.
How to get there: This one can be tricky to get to without a car or an organized tour, so be sure to plan ahead. You can get more information about tour bus options from the tourism office in the city of Malaga to decide what works best for you. If you opt for driving, be sure to check out our article about the Caminito del Rey for detailed directions as it can be easy to miss.
Just a fifteen minute car ride or a quick Cercanías C1 train journey away, you can find the colorful and vibrant Torremolinos. This city seems cute enough when you exit the train station in one of the main plazas but it only gets more beautiful as you wander down through the winding roads to the beachfront. There are a lot of hills and steep steps to climb if you want to see all of Torremolinos but for the less mobile, getting the train to the town center and staying in that area or getting the bus to the coast and staying in that area will still be enjoyable. Whether you are looking to spend the day at the beach, wander the quaint winding roads of a coastal town, or even go out clubbing (Torremolinos is known for its nightlife, particularly for the LGBTQ community), this close day trip option has something for everyone!
How to get there: As mentioned, you can easily take the C1 Cercanías train to the town center. This is the quickest and most convenient way to arrrive, but may not be ideal for those who can’t do a lot of steps but want to visit the seaside. If you are particularly interested in the coast, we recommend taking the bus. Of course, you can also plan to take the train in one direction and the bus in the other to avoid having to go up and down the steep hill.
Just a 10-minute car ride or a 40-minute walk from Torremolinos you’ll find its sister city, Benalmádena. (Okay, they’re not actually sister cities but they are often paired together). If you’re feeling up for it, we highly recommend walking along the seaside between the two (then just take public transport to get back to Málaga or to whichever one you left your car in). Alternatively, if you arrive in Benalmádena by car we would also recommend visiting the Castillo de Colomares, more details about that here.
How to get there: Pairing Torremolinos and Benalmádena is a great option, in which case we recommend the C1 to Torremolinos and the bus back to Malaga. Many different bus timetables can be found here. Of course, driving is a convenient option as well.
As you can imagine there are a lot of beautiful port cities within a close distance of Málaga and Marbella is another one. Whereas Torremolinos and Benalmádena tend to bring in a lot of holiday-makers from all walks of life, Marbella tends to attract the most affluent. This tendency is reflected in the pricing of accommodations but if you’re looking for just a taste of the high life it’s the perfect place for a day trip. The stroll along Avenida del Mar is particularly interesting for lovers of art as you can find ten unique sculptures along the route that were created by Salvador Dalí. Looking to get even more fancy? Take a stroll up the “Golden Mile” to Puerto Banús and treat yourself to an expensive cocktail among all the yacht clubs.
How to get there: As with many of the options on this list, driving or carpooling is the most convenient option. However, you’ll find that plenty of the coastal towns and cities are connected by various bus lines. Find the best option for your needs here. If you don’t mind the many stops, this is a great way to see more of the coast and potentially string together two or more of these destinations.
A bit sleepier of a town than the aforementioned, Estepona maintains the Spanish flair a bit more than its more commercialized and resort-y counterparts. Just an hour’s drive from Málaga, you can find this quaint white village with the emblematic blue flower pots hanging from many houses’ walls. It feels like life moves at a slower pace when you’re enjoying lunch or a coffee in one of Estepona’s cafes so we recommend you really kick back and appreciate that in the historic center. Then amble along the artistic murals route or visit the beach for more kicking back in the sun. More details on our recommendations here.
How to get there: Again, driving is the quickest and easiest, but you can also opt for the coastal bus.
Setenil de las bodegas
If you’ve been following Spain on Instagram, chances are you’ve seen photos of this village whether you realized it or not. This village is famous for the unforgettable way many of its buildings are literally built into the cliffs. It’s a sight to see and worth a visit for the experience and photos. That being said, it’s a small village and there’s not much more to see or do after you take in the unique architecture. For this reason, we’d recommend pairing it with a day trip to Ronda or using it as a pit-stop on your way to a further destination like Cadiz or Sevilla (if you’re willing to take the scenic route).
How to get there: As we said, this is a small town and so it’s probably not worth it for you to organize your day around and deal with length of trip on public transportation. We’d recommend driving here, especially if it falls on your route to an additional destination.
We’ve personally spent more time than a mere day trip in Ronda and, like many other places on this list, you easily could too. However, a day trip is generally long enough to take in the basics of what this historical city has to offer. Check out the beautiful (and very famous) bridge that joins the old and new parts of the town, walk all around the gorge to take in the different, impressive views, and maybe even tour the plaza de toros. Even if you’re not a fan of bullfighting, it can be interesting to see the bullring that is said to be the home of modern bullfighting. Read more here.
How to get there: Many touristic day trips to Ronda exist, so if you like the idea of having things planned for you, that might be a good option. Otherwise, traveling by train, bus, or car are all good options, each with its own up- and down-sides.
We hope you find these ten recommendations useful and we would love to hear what you think if you end up visiting any or all of them! Additionally, if you have a favorite day trip destination that we didn’t mention let us know what it is and why you love it. Happy travels!