Looking for the best day trips from Malaga?
Malaga’s strategic location makes it a great base from which to explore the surrounding areas of southern Spain, including some of the prettiest Andalusian white villages and the beautiful Costa del Sol.
Malaga boasts beautiful hotels and a great food scene, and you’ll love returning to a relaxing dinner and a luxurious bed after your day trips.
And it is extremely well-connected, with a network of bus or train routes, making day trips very convenient, even if you want to explore independently using public transport.
Of course, a car makes most of these day trips from Malaga very easy, and you can opt for guided tours as well.
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The Best Day Trips from Malaga!
Seville, Granada, Gibraltar, and even Tangier in Morocco make for day trip destinations from Malaga, although these day trips would involve long and active days.
And places like Seville and Granada offer so much to do that they deserve at least two to three days. But of course, it is better to visit them as day trips from Malaga than not visit at all.
Many of the day trips from Malaga we have listed below feature destinations less than two hours away from Malaga, even using public transport.
You can explore these destinations at a comfortable pace and be sure that you have covered all the highlights. You will also have time for a relaxed lunch in the middle of the day.
But we’ve also included popular day trip destinations you can access if you have a car or you wish to join a guided tour.
Here are my suggestions for the best day trips from Malaga:
El Caminito del Rey
For many visitors to Malaga and the Costa del Sol, walking the Caminito del Rey route is a bucket-list adventure. It’s one of the top day trips from Malaga you can do!
The close to 8km (almost 5 mile) path traverses the landscapes of Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, a spectacular gorge carved by the Guadalhorce river.
Highlights of the Caminito del Rey: What to See and Do
El Caminito del Rey held the dubious distinction of being one of the most dangerous walkways on the planet, but it has since been extensively restored. Nonetheless, it is an adventure, for sure!
In fact, the new pathway has been built over the old path, which still exists below. The new path is suitable for most visitors.
The scenery is fantastic. The shapes and textures of the rock formations, the awe-inspiring cliffs, and the views of the river below will leave you spellbound.
You’ll walk over a suspension bridge, along suspended walkways halfway up towering cliffs, and along sections of cliff paths. The end section, which goes through a box canyon with sheer faces, is especially thrilling.
Many types of wildlife and birds inhabit the canyon, and if you are lucky, you may spot some of them as you walk. During the day, you’ll most likely see raptors such as griffon vultures and golden eagles soaring above the canyon.
The route is one-way and you need to reserve tickets in advance if you are not planning on joining a guided tour. Slots are released a few months in advance and sell out quickly. Get your tickets online!
The walk is about 7.7 km (about 4.8 miles) end to end, and takes 3 to 4 hours, depending on how often you stop to snap photos!
Getting to El Caminito del Rey
If you have a car, you can drive to El Caminito del Rey. It’s about a 50-minute drive to the town of Ardales, the starting point. You can park at a designated area and then walk to the entrance to the hike. On completion, take the shuttle back to the parking area.
You can also take a bus from Malaga to Ardales: the journey time is about one hour.
A guided tour from Malaga is a popular way to do the excursion to El Caminito del Rey. This highly-rated tour includes transportation from and back to Malaga, and a local guide. The tour lasts about 6 hours and the price includes the entrance fee.
Mijas Pueblo is one of the most charming white villages in Spain and should definitely be on your list of the best day trips from Malaga.
Located on a mountain about 1,500 feet above sea level, Mijas Pueblo offers stunning views of the Sierra de Mijas mountains and the Mediterranean Sea below.
HIGHLIGHTS OF MIJAS: WHAT TO SEE AND DO
You’ll find the streets of Mijas really picturesque, with whitewashed houses, antique street lamps, and colorful flower pots bursting with bright pink, red or orange geraniums.
In fact, they are so pretty that you will spend a good part of your time here just wandering around soaking in the quiet and beauty around you!
Start your day in Mijas Pueblo with a tour of the Santuario de las Virgen de la Peña, best seen in the light of the morning sun. The shrine was excavated by a monk in the later part of the 17th century. Legend has it that this is where the Virgin appeared to two children in the year 1586.
Climb up to the Paseo de la Muralla, the viewpoint of Mijas, from where you will get jaw-dropping panoramas of the surrounding countryside and the Mediterranean Sea.
The walk up to the viewpoint is beautiful, and you’ll see beautiful plants and splashes of color from flowers as you walk. There are benches if you want to sit and take in the views for a bit.
If you enjoy hiking and started out early from Malaga, you may be able to squeeze in a short hike into the Sierra de Mijas. You can pick up maps at the tourist office in Mijas.
Make sure you are appropriately dressed for hiking and bring sunscreen, sunshades, and plenty of drinking water. The best time of year to hike here is from October to April.
Getting to Mijas
To get to Mijas independently using public transport, take a bus or train from Malaga to Fuengirola. There are frequent departures.
From Fuengirola, take the local bus to Mijas. In all, it takes about 90 minutes from Malaga to Mijas.
If you have a car, you can drive to Mijas in about 30 minutes. There is ample parking in the village for a nominal fee.
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You can also visit Mijas Pueblo on a guided day trip from Malaga. On this private tour, you will travel to Mijas and back in an air-conditioned minivan, and be shown around the village by a guide.
Nerja is a pretty and popular coastal resort, sometimes called the “Jewel of the Costa del Sol.” It offers beautiful beaches as well as a pretty historic center.
HIGHLIGHTS OF NERJa: WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Start by strolling the magnificent Balcon de Europa, a promenade built on a edge of a cliff at the site of a former Moorish castle. Take in the beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea, and the stunning coastline on both sides.
You will love this main square and promenade with its arches, walkway and colorful flowerpots against the dazzling white walls. Don’t miss the sculpture celebrating the discovery of the Caves of Nerja.
Wander the old quarter, with its narrow alleyways, whitewashed houses, little squares and churches. This part of Nerja retains its old world charm, and is a refreshing sight on the overdeveloped Costa del Sol.
Visit one of Nerja’s stunning beaches for some fun in the sun and sand. The town has close to 10 miles of silver sand beaches. You can go water skiing, sailing, or scuba diving. Burriana Beach is a good place to stop for lunch.
About two miles from the town center are the famous Caves of Nerja, with stunning formations of stalactites and stalagmites. The caverns cover over three miles, and contain the world’s largest stalagmite formation.
You can drive to the caves if you arrived by car, or you can take the local bus or a taxi.
Looking for a cool activity to do on your day trip? Check out this kayak and snorkeling tour in Acantilados de Cerro Gordo-Maro Natural Park! The start point of the tour is just a 20-minute drive from Nerja (the bus takes 30 minutes).
On the exciting 2.5-hour trip, you’ll explore caves set below the dramatic Cerro Gordo cliffs, and dive into crystal clear waters rich in marine flora and fauna.
Nerja and Frigiliana (see below!) are just 15 minutes apart by bus, and can therefore be combined for a lovely day trip from Malaga.
Getting to Nerja
If you want to use public transport, take the bus to Nerja from the Malaga bus station. The direct bus takes a little over one hour, and the drive is scenic. There are plenty of buses every day.
If you have a car, you can drive to Nerja in about 50 minutes. On street parking is free but may be difficult to find.
There are two paid car parks: the Municipal Underground Car Park in the town center and the Parking Balcon de Europa — Carabeo parking lot, fairly close to the town center.
Frigiliana is located a little inland, on a mountaintop about 1,000 feet above sea level. It borders the Sierras de Tejeda y Almijara Nature Park.
HIGHLIGHTS OF FRIGILIANa: WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Frigiliana is a picture postcard pueblo blanco. It has been called the prettiest village in Andalusia, and once you visit, you’ll know why.
There’s not a long list of things to “see and do” here, so just wander the pretty streets of the upper old section, oohing and aahing at the pretty sights and great views.
The cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses and colorful front doors are truly the stuff of picture postcards. Wrought iron railings and flowerpots filled with geraniums decorate porches.
Relax in the shady plazas and enjoy a glass of the local wine or browse the little shops selling ceramics and baskets.
Walk up to the ruins of the old Moorish castle at the top of the hill for stunning views of the town and the surrounding countryside. On a clear day, you can see all the way to North Africa!
There’s a little red train you can take for a tour of the village if you’d rather not tackle the steep streets on foot, but I recommend at least a little exploring on foot for the best experience in this pretty little village.
Getting to Frigiliana
It’s about a one hour journey from Malaga to Nerja, and a 15-minute ride from Nerja to Frigiliana.
You can also opt for a guided tour from Malaga that covers both Nerja, including the caves, and Frigiliana in one day trip.
If you have a car, you can drive to Frigiliana in about 50 minutes. Park in the large municipal car park at the entrance to the village.
Antequera (and El Torcal)
Antequera is another stunning pueblo blanco that can be visited as a day trip from Malaga. Antequera’s location is unique, in that it is the geographical center of Andalusia. It is located close to the El Torcal nature reserve.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ANTEQUERA: WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Start your day trip to Antequera by exploring the Alcazaba, the historic Moorish fortress.
Then stop by at least two or three of the several dozen churches in town: don’t miss the Los Remedios Convent and the Renaissance Real Colegiate de Santa Maria la Mayor.
Wander the streets lined with the whitewashed houses characteristic of the region. Climb to the Almensilla viewpoint for a fantastic view of the rooftops of the town.
You must definitely visit the Municipal Museum of Antequera, housed in a Baroque palace.
It is home to a multitude of treasures, including the Ephebe, a full-sized bronze statue of a youth. The statue was only discovered in 1963, and is considered one of the most valuable Roman era finds in Spain.
You will also see lots of religious paintings, and crosses encrusted with precious stones.
The Antequera Dolmens are a UNESCO World Heritage site and should be on your list of things to see when you visit. The Dolmens (at least two out of the three) are about a 20-minute walk from the town center. The third one is about a mile further.
You can take a taxi to the burial mounds as well: negotiate a price for the round trip as well as a reasonable wait at each site.
You can combine your visit to Antequera with a hike in the nearby El Torcal nature reserve, known as one of the best karst landscapes in Europe. Its limestone formations are very impressive.
If you use public transport to get to Antequera, you will need a taxi to the El Torcal Visitor Center. Again, negotiate a round-trip price with a wait period built in.
Getting to Antequera
To get to Antequera independently using public transport, take a bus from Malaga. Buses run regularly between Malaga and Antequera and the ride takes about 60 minutes.
You can also opt for a guided tour from Malaga. This highly rated small group half-day tour includes El Torcal and the Dolmens of Antequera, while this well-reviewed tour takes you on a hike in El Torcal.
This private tour from Malaga is focused on the village of Antequera and the Dolmens. The six-hour tour includes a guided walking tour through Antequera, plus time to explore on your own. Book this tour now!
If you have the time to do only one day trip from Malaga, our vote would go to Ronda. The city is stunning, the El Tajo gorge is simply gorgeous, and the road to get to Ronda is almost as beautiful as the destination.
Ronda is located in the heart of the Serrania de Ronda, an outstandingly beautiful part of Andalusia, about 60 miles from Malaga. It is perched high on a plateau overlooking the countryside.
You can easily spend several days here, but it’s worthwhile spending even one day in Ronda if your time in Andalusia is limited.
HIGHLIGHTS OF RONDa: WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Take the walkway to the gazebo near the entrance to the town for panoramic views of the countryside below. Stroll around the Alameda del Tajo park. In the spring, you will find the area ablaze with pink and white flowering trees.
Next, take in the stunning views of the Puente Nuevo and walk across the bridge over the El Tajo gorge to the older parts of the city. The New Bridge is actually not that new: it was completed in 1793.
Take the path at the Plaza de Maria Auxiliadora to walk down to a couple of viewpoints from where you can see unobstructed views of the Puente Nuevo, the gorge, and the little river.
If you visit in the spring, you will see lots and lots of wildflowers. This walk and view are one of my most favorite memories from our first visit to Andalusia.
Walk the streets and alleyways of the old town. The whitewashed buildings accented with deep yellow or orange are striking. Don’t miss the statue of El Toro. Pause to take in the wonderful architecture at the Plaza Duquesa de Parcent and the Plaza del Socorro.
Visit one of the palaces: the Palacio del Rey Moro y la Mina with its pretty gardens and steps leading down to the river, or the Mondragon Palace, which houses a museum and has beautiful gardens.
Getting to Ronda
To get to Ronda independently using public transport, take a bus from Malaga. Renfe operates trains to Ronda as well. Both the bus and the train take a little less than two hours. The bus will likely work better in terms of maximizing sightseeing time in Ronda.
You can also opt for a guided tour from Malaga.
This air-conditioned bus tour combines Ronda with another unique white village, Setenil de las Bodegas.
Estepona is a lovely resort town on the Costa del Sol. It is relatively low key, unlike its more glitzy neighbors such as Marbella. But there is a lot to do in Estepona!
You can visit both Estepona and Casares (see below!) on a day trip from Malaga, since you can drive to Casares via Estepona.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ESTEPONA: WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Start by walking the waterfront promenade, the Paseo Maritimo de Estepona, with its beautiful views. Stop at one of the cafes that dot the walk for a snack and a drink.
Spend some time at one of the beaches. Many of Estepona’s beaches are “blue flag” beaches, which means they are rated highly for cleanliness and hygiene. La Rada Beach is right in front of the town and offers a long stretch of lovely sand.
Wander the alleyways in the historic center, lined with colorful flowerpots, with the characteristic whitewashed houses on either side.
Each street we passed had its own unique color and pattern of flowerpots, making for a really unified, attractive appearance. Here you will feel like you are still in the Estepona of Old Spain!
The Castillo de San Luis is a 15th century fortress, and the Plaza del Reloj houses a picturesque clock tower.
If you enjoy murals, pick up a map at the tourist office in the Plaza de las Flores and go on a self-guided tour to discover Estepona’s public art!
Getting to Estepona and Casares
If you are taking public transport, you can take the bus from Malaga to Estepona. The ride is about one hour and forty minutes to two hours.
If you have a car, you can drive to Estepona in about one hour. The Promenade Car Park is convenient to the old town and the waterfront.
In a region dotted with spectacular pueblo blancos, Casares will still sweep you off your feet with its pristine old world appearance and charm and its stunning mountaintop location. It personifies the words “sugar cube village.”
Casares is my favorite white village in all of Andalusia. When you first set eyes on it from the road, your jaw drops and you can’t help exclaiming over the beauty of the dazzling white village snoozing under the Spanish sun.
HIGHLIGHTS OF CASARES: WHAT TO SEE AND DO
From the visitor center, you will come to the main square, the Plaza de España, with the Iglesia de San Sebastian and other historic buildings, many of them dating back to Moorish times.
Here you will see a statue of the Andalusian Nationalist leader Blas Infante, who was born in the village.
Walk up the hill, pausing to take in the pretty side streets. Keep going up all the way to the top of the village to the old castle.
Your legs may complain by the time you reach the top, but once you see the views from the walls of the castle, you will forget your discomfort. You can see all the way to the coast, and even across the ocean to North Africa on a clear day.
There’s a beautiful little church here, now a community center. The walk up and just relaxing at the top in the peaceful surroundings really made my day!
Make your way back down, exploring little side streets that look interesting. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant in the village, and my husband and I both agreed it was one of our most memorable meals in Andalusia. Fresh ingredients, tastefully prepared…yum!
Getting to Casares
If you are taking public transport, you can take the bus from Malaga to Estepona, and from Estepona, the local bus to Casares.
There’s only one bus in the morning and one in the evening both ways, so make sure you don’t miss the morning bus to Casares and the evening bus back to Estepona!
If you have a car, you can drive to Casares in about one hour. You can park at the visitor center on the west side of Casares, or park at the top of the town and walk down to the main square.
Cordoba really deserves at least two days because there’s so much to see and do in Cordoba.
But if your time in Andalusia does not allow for two days, visiting Cordoba as a day trip from Malaga is way better than not seeing it at all.
The Mezquita of Cordoba is one of the top five monuments you must visit in Andalusia, and that alone justifies a visit to Cordoba.
HIGHLIGHTS OF CORDOBA: WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Start by visiting the Mezquita. You will be awe-struck by the size of the Great Mosque, a stunning example of Islamic architecture. The most eye-catching feature inside is the row upon row of double horseshoe arches with candy cane tops.
The interior is ornate, with lots of gilt mosaics and inscriptions. In the center of the mosque, the Christians inserted a cathedral after the Reconquista. The cathedral is ornate as well, incorporating Baroque and Renaissance architectural elements.
Next, walk out through the gorgeous Puerta del Puente to the banks of the Guadalquivir river to view the stolid Roman bridge that ends at the Calahorra Tower on the opposite side.
Then wander around the Juderia, with its narrow cobblestone streets and cute houses. Find a place here for lunch and try some of Cordoba’s famous tapas.
Stop at the Callejo de las Flores to view the tower of the mosque-cathedral at the end of the street. Take photos of the pretty street with its blue flower pots filled with bright geraniums.
Finally, make your way to the Alcazar, Cordoba’s Moorish fortress. If you are short on time, do a quick exploration of the interior and walk the ramparts to check out the views before heading out to the gardens.
Allow for enough time to walk around the gorgeous gardens of the Alcazar. Laid out in Moorish style with flowerbeds boxed by clipped hedges, lots of topiary sculptures, ponds, and fountains, the gardens are wonderful to explore.
Getting to Cordoba
The quickest and best way to reach Cordoba from Malaga is by high speed train, which takes just a little over one hour. From the train station, take a taxi to the Mezquita.
The historic center is walkable. Take a taxi from the Alcazar to the train station at the end of your day here.
If you have a car, you can drive from Malaga to Cordoba. The drive takes about an hour and forty-five minutes.
There is a car park near the Mezquita. It’s more convenient to take the train if you are planning an independent visit.
Of course, you can also choose a guided tour. This well-reviewed full day tour of Cordoba from Malaga includes entry to the Mezquita. You will also enjoy a guided tour of the beautiful Jewish Quarter. Book this tour now!
Marbella is known as a glitzy resort along the Costa del Sol, but it has a charming Old Town that makes for a splendid day trip from Malaga.
HIGHLIGHTS OF MarbellA: WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Wander the streets of the Old Town to savor their charm. With citrus trees, colorful bougainvillea, blue flowerpots filled with geraniums, and whitewashed houses, the streets here are made for photos!
Spend some time relaxing with a drink at the lively Plaza de los Naranjos. It’s an excellent place for people watching!
The Iglesia Mayor de la Encarnacion is a beautiful church to visit at the Plaza de la Iglesia. Marbella’s Moorish castle dates from the 9th century, but today only some portions of the walls remain.
Love art? Make time for a stroll along Avenida del Mar, where you can admire several bronze sculptures by Salvador Dali.
Marbella is known for its many beautiful beaches, so plan on spending some time by the water! Playa del Alicate is an excellent beach not too far from Old Town Marbella.
Getting to Marbella
If you are taking public transport, you can take the bus from Malaga to Marbella. There are frequent departures in both directions, and the journey takes about one hour each way.
If you have a car, you can drive to Marbella in about 50 minutes. Parking can be difficult, especially in the summer. Look for the public parking lot of Hotel Fuerte Marbella or the Amare Beach Hotel Marbella.
Train and Bus Travel in Spain
We did some of our day trips from Malaga as independent visits using public transport and some as guided day tours.
We found the buses in Spain clean and comfortable and they ran on time.
The high speed trains are wonderful. We opted for first class seats for a touch of luxury and loved our train journeys through Spain. You don’t have to travel first class though, every seat is comfortable.
We use Omio to book train and bus travel in Europe. We find the website very efficient to navigate, the booking process is easy and quick, and we’ve had no problem having US credit cards go through.
So there you have it: the best day trips from Malaga you absolutely must do when you visit Andalusia! Have you done any of these day trips? Which one is your favorite? Comment below to respond with your thoughts!
Planning a trip to Andalusia? We have a Southern Spain itinerary you can use as a guide to plan your trip.
And if you plan to enjoy a longer stay in the Andalusian capital, we have a comprehensive round-up of the best things to do in Seville, one of which is a Seville to Cordoba day trip to see the world-famous Mezquita.
You can do some other wonderful day trips from Seville as well.
And if you are planning a winter trip, we have a complete guide to Seville in winter. The city is dazzling during the holidays and mild temperatures mean that you can explore outdoors in relative comfort.
Also be sure to visit Granada, the home of the magnificent Alhambra!
If your trip is short and you are wondering whether to visit Granada or Seville, we have some information that may help you decide!
And if you have just 3 days to spend in Andalusia, check out the top 5 sights in Andalusia you must not miss!
We also have an in-depth guide describing the best things to do in Cordoba.
If you are planning to explore broader in Spain, consider one of these amazing Spain road trips.
Barcelona, one of the best places to visit in Spain, is of course a must on any first-timer’s itinerary for the country. Check out our 3-day itinerary for Barcelona, and consider adding a few day trips from Barcelona to explore other nearby destinations, including some pretty white villages.
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