The city of Málaga serves its visitors enchanting cultural riches with a big smile and a good dose of warm Mediterranean charm. Lazing on the Playa la Malagueta, it’s easy to forget the rest of Andalusia has plenty to offer, from breathtaking natural wonders to charming historic towns and vibrant coastal destinations. If you’re able to tear yourself away from the art and food scene of the sunny port city, there are several day trips from Málaga to consider. You just have to find the one that’s right for you.
- There are several exciting day trips from Málaga you can take if you’re in the region for a few days. Options include Ronda, Granada, Nerja, Gibraltar and Marbella.
- You can take a day trip from Malaga to Morocco, but why would you, when there are so many wonderful things to discover in Andalusia?
- Go to Nerja or the Caminito del Rey if you want to see some of Spain’s most amazing natural wonders.
- Find the lush luxury of old-time Andalusia in Granada and modern opulence in the seaside city of Marbella.
Caminito del Rey in El Chorro
Train from Málaga to El Chorro: Takes 40 min. (one-way)
This amazing path, high up in the mountains of El Chorro, is definitely one of the best things to see when you’re in the Málaga Province. It challenges your courage as you walk through narrow parts, cross hanging bridges, and admire the impressive engineering of the new pathway.
Once considered one of the most dangerous in the world, the path has been restored in recent years and is much safer now. But it’s still possible to see what the Caminito looked like before, the path has been restored in recent years and is much safer now. While you might be worried about it being unsafe now, it was even scarier and much less family-friendly.
On average, it takes about 3 to 4 hours to hike the Caminito del Rey, which is 7.7 kilometers long. As you walk along the high and narrow walkways, you’ll be treated to stunning, panoramic views of deep gorge and the flowing Guadalhorce River below. This fantastic hike can only be done in one direction, starting in Ardales and ending in El Chorro.
Tips Before You Head to El Chorro:
- Book in advance : Getting a spot for this experience can be tough because there aren’t many tickets, and lots of people want them.
- Make sure you’re heart is in it: If you’re afraid of heights or not very fit, the hardest (and highest) parts of the trail in El Chorro could be tough for you. Being at 105 meters high, with the view of the river rushing below, isn’t for everyone.
- Leave the flip-flops at home: Although it’s quite safe, it’s still a real hike. Put on proper shoes (no high heels or flip-flops), and follow safety rules.
On the other hand, the Caminito isn’t the only thing to do in town. There are other beautiful viewpoints near El Chorros:
- Mirador de Tres Embalses
- Mirador de las Buitreras and the Pico Convento
- Pico Huma
Getting to the Caminito del Rey with public transport
It takes about 2 hours to get to the Caminito del Rey from Málaga without a car. You’ll need to first take the train to El Chorro (which takes around 40 min.) and, from there, take a bus to the North Access, where the hike begins.
Ride from Málaga to Ronda: Takes 1 h 15 min. (one-way)
If you’re planning a trip to Andalusia, you’ve probably seen pictures of the beautiful town of Ronda. Sitting on high cliffs and connected to the rest of the world by one of the tallest bridges you can imagine, the town is the image of romantism.
What makes Ronda different from other White Towns in Andalusia is its location on the El Tajo gorge. However, the gorge wouldn’t be as impressive without the famous Puente Nuevo (meaning new bridge) that connects the old and new parts of the town.
You can’t visit Ronda without taking a picture of this amazing bridge. It makes any pictures taken there look fantastic.
But there’s more to do in town than just going from one mirador to another for photos:
- The bottom of the gorge: You can also take a hike to the bottom of El Tajo to see the bridge from below.
- The Ronda Bullring: The Plaza de Toros is one of Spain’s oldest bullrings. Exploring the bullring and its museum is a great way to learn about the traditional practice of bullfighting outside of big cities.
Getting to Ronda
It can also be challenging to find parking in the town center, you might want to look for parking in Ronda outside the main old town area.
Otherwise, consider taking the 2-hour bus from Málaga and leave your car in the city.
Want to explore more of Málaga?
Train ride from Málaga to Granada: Takes 1 h 15 min. and costs €37 (round-trip)
No matter your plans, Granada is a must-visit in Andalusia. The beautiful Alhambra Palace is what makes the city a top destination.
The Alhambra is none other than the best-preserved Arab palace in the world, and it’s no surprise it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s a lot to love about this place: its detailed tilework, lovely courtyards, and gardens that are simply from another world.
The Alhambra is very popular. If there is any attraction you should reserve in advance, this is the one, especially if you’re in Andalusia during the summer months. I’d recommend getting tickets as soon as you know when you are going to Granada.
Other Things to Do in Granada:
- Explore the mysterious Sacromonte Caves.
- Discover the Albayzín neighborhood, the city’s oldest Moorish neighborhood. It resembles villages in the Las Alpujarras region and it’s a must-see if you don’t plan to visit Capileira or Frigiliana.
- If you’re spending the night, consider visiting the Alhambra at night.
Getting Around Granada
Navigating Granada’s narrow and winding streets can be tough in a car. It’s usually better to use public transport in Granada.
Ride from Málaga to Nerja: Takes 1 h (one-way)
There are lots of beautiful towns along the coast of the Mediterranean in Spain, but none of them offers as much excitement and natural beauty as the quiet Nerja.
While Spain boasts its fair share of rugged cliffs kissed by the turquoise waters, the area here is particularly beautiful. But what sets the town apart, is not its beaches but the amazing Cueva de Nerja (caves of Nerja). It is in fact one of the top things to see in this part of the Costa del Sol.
These natural wonders are actually a series of caves where you can see colossal stalactites and stalagmites. There’s something truly special about the massive size and beauty of the underground in Nerja. It’s a place unlike any other in the region of Malaga.
Unlike the crowded tourist spots, this coastal town has a real Spanish character, giving you a genuine taste of traditional Andalusia. For nature lovers, there are not one, but two waterfalls to explore.
Best Beaches in Nerja:
- Burriana Beach: East of Nerja, it’s a long 700-meter stretch of sandy beach.
- Playa de Maro: Just a short 10-minute drive from Nerja, it’s a great place for snorkeling.
- Calahonda Beach: Right next to the Balcony of Europe, it’s a small, rocky beach situated between the cliffs. Great for photography.
Adventure Time: Book a Kayak Tour to the Cascada de Maro in Nerja
Bus from Málaga to Marbella: Takes 1 h and costs €19 (round-trip)
Marbella doesn’t need an introduction. It’s a posh resort town loved by the rich and famous. In fact, Puerto Banus attracts billionaires like bees to honey. (Case in point, Marbella hosted the Kuwaiti-Spanish Festival in 2016 and 2023.)
And it’s no surprise why. Palm trees swaying with the stunning La Concha mountain in the background make this whitewashed city simply beautiful.
But even if you’re not rich OR famous, there’s no harm in giving Marbella’s upscale scene a try. You can enjoy its high-end shops (even if it’s merely for window shopping) and lively nightlife. (In fact, I made Marbella part of my itinerary for 1 week of the beaten path on the coast of Malaga.)
Relaxing in Marbella
There are many ways to relax in Marbella. Your options include:
- Shopping at Puerto Banus: Cívitas Puerto Banús is considered the epitome of luxury in Spain.
- Sunbathing at Playa de Venus: There’s nothing like some time on the beach under an umbrella with a cocktail in hand.
- World-class spas: Treat yourself to a day of pampering at one Marbella’s luxurious spa resorts.
Things to do in Marbella
- Outdoor Yoga: If you like the sun but don’t want to be lazying on the beach all afternoon, Marbella has lots of yoga classes.
- Sailing: Set sail for another great day (or learn to sail!) on the Costa del Sol.
- Golfing: If you’re into golf, eucalyptus, pine and cork trees are waiting for you at the Marbella Club.
Ride from Málaga to Gibraltar: Takes 1 h 45 min (one-way)
Gibraltar is a spot that really grabs your attention as soon as you get there. This small piece of land at the very tip of Europe is a unique blend of British vibes and Mediterranean warmth. One second you’re inside a pub, with the smell of dark beers and fish and chips, and the next, you’re outside in the blazing sun, standing at the gates of Morocco.
There are two reasons that drive people to visit Gibraltar:
- Its curious blend of Northern and Southern European culture
- Its adorable monkeys!
When you go for a day trip to Gibraltar, one of the top attractions is explore the famous Rock of Gibraltar. It’s a bit of a climb, but it’s worth it. You’ll come across the only wild monkeys in Europe, these cheeky Barbary macaques. Hiking along the Mediterranean coast is wonderful wherever you are in Europe, but what makes Gibraltar special are these animals.
For the history buffs of this world, another great thing to do during a day in Gibraltar is visiting the old tunnels from the time of the American Revolution. (Say what?) They are proof that there’s always a quirky historical fact to discover no matter where you go.
Crossing the border Spain-UK
Crossing the border takes time. When crossing from Spain into Gibraltar, you’ll need to wait in line for a passport check. Just make sure to plan your day with this in mind.
Where to eat typical Gibraltar food?
- Go to Amar, the oldest bakery in Gibraltar, for the best Japonesas (sweet fried doughnut filled with a custard-like cream).
- Try the iconic coffee shop called Sacarello’s and try their Calentitas (baked pancakes) and Torta de Acelgas (think spanakopita).
Off-Beaten-Paths Day Trips from Malaga
Ride from Málaga to Frigiliana: Takes 50 min (one-way)
Located between the beautiful Sierra de Almijara and the Mediterranean Sea, just a short drive north of Nerja, you’ll find the charming village of Frigiliana. It’s often called the most stunning town in the province of Malaga, and it’s easy to see why.
Bougainvillea, geraniums, and jasmine decorate every corner of this Moorish town, making it a place you can’t help but fall in love with.
After the Puente Nuevo de Ronda, it’s one of the most beautiful places to take pictures in all of Andalusia.
Train from Málaga to Antequera : Takes 25 min (one-way)
Sitting at the crossroads of key cities in southern Spain, Antequera has been a well-known destination for a long time. It’s no surprise that it’s still one of the most popular places to visit in Andalusia and a great choice for a day trip from Malaga.
Like many cities in the area, its history goes back to the time of the Roman Empire. Antequera is famous for its impressive historical sites. Additionally, the natural beauty around Antequera is stunning, with hiking trails that take you to the heart of the nationally famous Torcal de Antequera.
Setenil de las Bodegas
Ride from Málaga to Setenil de las Bodegas: Takes 1 h 10 min (one-way)
The province of Cadiz in Andalusia is all about beaches, sun, and surfing. But if you head to the far east, you’ll discover Setenil de las Bodegas, a place like no other in Spain.
What makes Setenil de las Bodegas stand out from the other white villages in Andalusia on the same route is its massive rock formation. that there’s a massive rock that’s a big part of the town’s look, and most of the houses are built under and around this rock.
Its most famous streets are Calle Cuevas de Sombra and Calle Cuevas del Sol.
Setenil de las Bodegas is quite small, and the only way to get there is by car.
Ride from Málaga to Órgiva: Takes 1 h 20 min (one-way)
Orgiva, Pampaneira, Bubion, Capileira, Trevelez – these are just a few of the pretty white villages hidden in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
The Alpujarra in the Granada province is a special place in Andalusia. With its high-altitude views, nestled under the highest peaks in the region, lovely towns, and interesting history, it’s a great spot for a getaway from Malaga.
The gorgeous alpine landscape and Trevelez’s famous jamón are only 2 of the reasons to visit this part of the country.
If you’re interested in the region, see my complete guide of Las Alpujarras.