There are so many amazing day trips from Malaga to check out when you are visiting the Costa del Sol.
This entire region of Spain is packed with beautiful villages, stunning beaches, and challenging hikes.
Malaga is perhaps my favorite beachside city in all of Spain. It has history, culture, amazing restaurants, and stunning beaches in abundance.
You could easily spend a week in Malaga, never leaving the city, but doing or seeing something different each day.
However, if you have a week or more or you’re visiting Malaga for the second or third time, you will want to have a look at all of the cool day trips from Malaga in the area so that you can get to know more of the Costa del Sol as well as the stunning region of Andalusia.
Getting around to the Malaga Day Trips
Most of the towns on this list can be reached from Malaga by public transportation. The bus and train network in this area of Spain is quite good, however, you don’t have very much flexibility if you want to explore in one day and use only public transportation.
You can book trains directly on the Renfe website, which is the national train company that operates all lines around the country. I find the website to be a little bit confusing, but it’s a good way to check times and you can then book tickets online or at the train station.
I prefer using Omio to check train and bus times in Spain ahead of time. I find the prices to be pretty much the same and if you book in advance, Omio often offers discounts or cheaper tickets for first-class seats. Check Omio for your Spain trips here.
Most buses and trains can be booked on the day of travel, but it’s always better to at least pre-book trains because the prices tend to be lower when you book in advance.
If you want more freedom, the best option for seeing the most and having the most freedom when traveling around Malaga is to rent a car.
I always use Discover Cars to rent cars around the world. The great thing about renting a car in Spain is that you don’t need to have an international driver’s permit if you have a driver’s license from the UK, Canada, or the USA. You can rent a car as normal.
The third option is to take a tour from Malaga. If there is a good tour option available for any of these Malaga day trips, they will be listed below.
These tours will pick you up and drop you back off in Malaga and include all transportation to get you to these wonderful destinations.
Most will also include a tour guide so you get the added bonus of not worrying about transportation and learning more about the destination you are visiting.
Check out our guide to the Malaga Airport here for more information about getting from the center of town back to the airport or from the airport to other parts of the Costa del Sol.
Map of the Day Trips from Malaga
Best Day Trips from Malaga
Check out one of these amazing Malaga day trips if you want to get out and explore more of Andalusia.
If you want to try something unique or different to the usual things to do near Malaga, check out this list of amazing meditation retreats in Spain which include a few located near Malaga.
Marbella is an incredibly easy day trip from Malaga. If you don’t have a rental car, you can head to the Malaga bus station and take the next available bus to Marbella.
There are buses nearly every 15 minutes from Malaga to Marbella from 6 am until 11 pm. It only takes about 45 minutes by bus from Malaga to Marbella and once you are there you can access the entire beautiful seaside town on foot.
Tickets cost between €5.50 and €6.90 depending on which bus you take. You can check all bus times on the Avanza website and even pre-book if you would prefer to have your ticket beforehand.
The old town of Marbella is well worth some of your time. This is where you’ll find some of the best restaurants, where the architecture is most interesting, and where the museums and cultural activities take place.
If you are in Malaga during the month of June, try to time your day trip to Marbella to enjoy the San Bernabé festival. Held each year around the 11th of June.
The festival goes on for a whole week and includes great food, drinks, street shows, and fun nightly events. You can learn more about the San Bernabé festival here.
There are dancers in traditional costumes, there are bars set up on the streets, and there are games for kids and kids at heart to play well into the night. In general, it’s a convivial atmosphere that you won’t want to miss if you are around the Costa del Sol at this time of year.
Ronda is another easy day trip from Malaga.
If you have a rental car and want to make the drive yourself, just know that the road is incredibly windy and zig-zags along the edges of the mountains. If you are not comfortable with this type of driving, then I highly recommend leaving the driving to someone else.
The best way to visit Ronda from Malaga is with a tour like this one. It includes transportation from Malaga and a knowledgeable guide who can tell you all about the history of this beautiful town.
The history dates back to Roman times and the more modern history, particularly that of the bullfighters, is something that still affects locals to this day.
The tour also includes a stop at another cute and easy day trip from Malaga, Setenil de las Bodegas. This is a great addition to a day out in Ronda because they are quite close to each other and neither really require too much time to explore.
Setenil de las Bodegas is full of white-washed buildings that have been built into the cliffside. It’s a unique experience to walk along the town’s streets while the mountains hover above your head.
If you want to get to Ronda on your own, but you don’t want to drive, you can take the bus there and back in one day. The buses leave Malaga at 8 am and 9 am and you can return from Ronda at 4:30 pm or 6 pm. The bus takes just under three hours each way, so it’s a long day, but it’s easier than driving.
This gives you almost all day to explore, eat a nice meal in Ronda, even do some of the shorter hikes in the area or simply sit back and sample some wine from this region and take in the incredible canyon views.
You can also purchase a cheap audioguide tour from GetYourGuide here which allows you to learn all about the town without having to explore it with a tour group.
3. Caminito del Rey
Visiting the Caminito del Rey is another day trip option that is best done by tour. Not only because the road to get there is similar to the road to Ronda, but also because there is an interesting history of this area that you will want to learn about from a guide.
Caminito del Rey was, not so long ago, named one of the most dangerous roads in the world.
However, the path was completely rebuilt and reopened to the public in 2016 as an incredibly safe tourist attraction and one of the most beautiful things to do near Malaga.
The best way to see Caminito del Rey without a car of your own is to take a tour. You can take the train to El Chorro, but from there you’ll need to catch a bus and there is really only one train per day that matches up with the opening hours of the Caminito del Rey.
This article explains a lot about exploring the Caminito del Rey on your own if you plan to drive there.
The walk may not be dangerous anymore, but it’s still not for the faint-hearted.
The path clings to the cliffside as you wind your way through the gorge and even as someone who is not particularly afraid of heights, I could feel my legs shaking at certain parts of the trail.
This tour is one of the highest-rated guided tour options from Malaga and will ensure you are completely safe on your walk through the gorge. The guide will also offer some interesting information about the different things you will see.
It includes pick up and drop off in Malaga and the entry ticket to the Caminito del Rey. You can book that tour here.
Nerja is one of the most popular beach spots along the Costa del Sol.
If you are based in Malaga and you want to visit a nearby town that has great beaches near Malaga, delicious food, and an interesting history to explore, then Nerja is without a doubt one of the best options for a day trip from Malaga.
There are buses from Malaga to Nerja roughly every 30-45 minutes between 6 am and 11 pm. The journey takes one and a half hours and costs €4.84. You can check the timetable or book buses on the Alsa website.
One of the most popular things to do in Nerja is the visit the caves of Nerja which are 184 meters (603 ft) above sea level.
Another must-do thing while in Nerja for a day trip from Malaga is to visit the Balcony of Europe. Located on top of what was once a fortress, when you stand at this viewing platform you understand why it was such a good vantage point for keeping an eye out for pirates.
Nerja also has a beautiful old town to wander with white-washed buildings and artisanal shops filled with local crafts to purchase.
If you are visiting during the summer months, be sure to pack your swimsuit and spend the day at Playa de Burriana. This long beach in Nerja is packed with seafood restaurants and little bars to enjoy a meal or a cocktail with the sound of the waves as a backdrop.
If you would prefer to visit Nerja on a tour, this tour is a fantastic option for getting to know the villages of Nerja and Frigiliana.
5. Mijas Pueblo
Mijas Pueblo (not to be confused with Mijas Costa) is a great place to spend a day if you are staying in Malaga.
There are four buses per day between Malaga and Mijas Pueblo, 6:35 am, 9:50 am, 1 pm, and 9 pm. You can return to Malaga from Mijas Pueblo at 7:45 am, 11:30 am, 7:25 pm, and 10:20 pm.
It takes about an hour and a half by bus to get to Mijas Pueblo from Malaga. These bus times mean that you can arrive in the morning and spend a good portion of the day exploring the pueblo.
Alternatively, if you have a rental car of your own, it only takes about 45 minutes to get here by car.
Once you arrive in this beautiful pueblo blanco (white town), there are tons of great things to see and do. You can visit the Ermita de la Virgen de la Peña, the Plaza de Toros, Castillo de Mijas, and enjoy some seriously fantastic food (like in most places in Andalusia!).
This beachside town is a great little getaway from Malaga. It’s also very easy to get to from Malaga.
If you have a car, it only takes 30 minutes to drive between Malagan and Fuengirola. You can take the bus from the Malaga bus station which leaves several times a day and takes one hour and costs €3.50. You can check the bus times here.
The third option and best in my personal experience is the Malaga suburban train, known as the Cercanías. The C1 train operates from 5 am to 11:30 pm every 20 minutes and it taks 45 minutes to reach Fuengirola.
Sohail Castle built by the Moors was built in 956 AD. However, it was renovated and reopened to the public in 2000 and is now home to cool cultural events, concerts, and can simply be explored on foot on a day trip to Fuengirola.
The castle is amazing, but the main reason people take a day trip from Malaga to Fuengirola is for the beaches.
Walk along the Paseo Maritimo (boardwalk) which will take you almost the entire length of the 7km of beach. Enjoy lunch at one of the beachside chiringuitos for great seafood and ice cold beers.
Granada deserves several days if you have it, but if you want to get a taste for this city, it is a relatively easy day trip from Malaga.
There are three trains per day from Malaga to Granada with the best day trip time being at 9:25 am and returning from Granada at 5:53 pm. It takes just over two hours and costs about €15-24 depending on how far in advance you book tickets.
Buses between the two cities are much more frequent and run every 20-40 minutes from 5 am until 9 pm. The bus costs €14 each way. Check the timetables here.
There are so many wonderful things to do in Granada with the best thing being the Alhambra. If you only do one thing while you’re in the city, it should be to explore the Alhambra. You could easily spend hours exploring this incredible fortress.
If you have time, you can also walk up the Camino del Sacromonte and visit the Sacromonte Abbey which was built in the 17th century and offers some incredible views back over the Alhambra.
If you want to take a tour of the Alhambra and don’t want to worry about public transportation to and from Malaga, you can book this tour which includes all of your transportation, a guided tour of the Alhambra and some time to explore Granada as well.
8. Alhama de Granada
The name can be a bit confusing when you are also considering visiting the Alhambra in Granada, however Alhama de Granada is a completely different town.
The only real way to enjoy this day trip from Malaga is to have a car of your own. You may be able to hire a private guide or find local tours while you are in Malaga, but the best option is to rent a car and drive the hour and a half from Malaga to Alhama de Granada.
The name of the town comes from the Arabic word al-hammah, which are thermal baths that are located in the town.
Simply wandering around the town is worth the day trip. The cobbled streets, beautiful old buildings and cute little cafes and restaurants will keep you stopping for photo-breaks every few steps.
However, the main reason to spend a day in Alhama de Granada is to visit the ancient thermal spas. You can read all about it and make a reservation at the spa on their website here.
Torremolinos is one of the best beach towns near Malaga for a fun day trip. The town is accessible from the C1 Cercanías train towards Fuengirola. It takes 45 minutes to reach and trains run very regularly all day long.
The old town here reminds me a lot of Marbella. It’s very beautiful with colorful bougainvillea growing all over the white buildings.
You can go shopping at cute boutiques along Calle San Miguel or you can simply pack your beach towels and head from the train station straight to the beach.
Cordoba is an absolutely amazing place to visit and one of the best day trips from Malaga that you can take.
Like many of the larger cities on this list, if you have more time, by all means spend at least a night or two here. It’s also a great place to visit if you are based in Seville, as it’s only a 45-minute train ride away from there as well.
However, if you want to see what all the hype is about in a day trip, it’s very easy to get to Cordoba from Malaga.
There are trains twice an hour between 6 am and 8 pm and it takes just under an hour to get to Cordoba, so it’s a great option for a day trip from Malaga without a car.
Cordoba has four different UNESCO World Heritage, which means it has the most UNESCO world heritage sites of any city in the entire world (even more than Rome!).
This itinerary of Cordoba gives you the best information about what to see, where to eat, and how make the most of a Malaga day trip to Cordoba.