Cruise Port Atlas | Malaga, Spain Day Trips | Attractions

Malaga, Spain Day Trips | Attractions

With limited time in port, planning is the best way to make the most of your time. Should you strike out on your own? Should you hire a local guide? Or should you book a shore excursion offered by the cruise line or an international tour company? Below we have listed the attractions and activities that many other cruisers have enjoyed. This information should help you plan.

The advantage to cruise line tours is that they are timed for your visit and give you flexibility to change your mind after your trip begins. The advantage of using a large international firm is that tours are often less expensive than cruise sponsored tours. The advantage to using a local tour company or guide is that prices can be significantly lower or you may be able to get a customized trip just to see the attractions that interest you most.

Cruise lines that visit Malaga: Star Clippers, Windstar, Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal, Oceania, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club, Silversea, Celebrity, Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Costa, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean

Key Attractions: Gibralfaro Castle, Alcazaba Fortress, Malaga Cathedral, Picasso's Museum, Bullring, Roman Amphitheater, Atarazanas Market, Mijas, Chapel of the Virgin de la Pena, Marbella, Encarnacion Church, Puerto Banus Marina, Nerja, Balcon de Europa, Nerja Caves, Alhambra (Red Palace), Generalife Palace and Gardens, Charles V Palace, Fountain of the Lions, Grenada Cathedral, Royal Chapel, Charterhouse, Albayzin, Sacremonte, Costa del Sol beaches, Playa de la Malagueta, Playa Huell�n, Playa Las Acacias, Playa Benajarafe

Malaga Attractions

Port to Attractions - All are within a 10 minute taxi ride or a 16 minute walk
Link to Full-Page Google Map

The Moors ruled Malaga for over 750 years and left a significant mark on the city. Dominating the skyline and overlooking the harbor is Mount Gibralfaro and its Castle, which was a fortress from the time of the Phoenicians in the 8th century BCE. The Moors built the existing castle to protect the port. The view from the castle on a clear day is not to be missed. It is also a great place to start a walking tour of the city, as your walk will be mostly downhill. The castle is connected by the walled Caracha passage to the Alcazaba Fortress at a lower altitude on the hill and has outer and inner walls enclosing the fortress buildings and defenses. Just below the fortress at the edge of Malaga's medieval center is the 1st century BCE Roman Amphitheater which is being excavated and was only recently rediscovered. Immediately to the west of the theater is the Picasso Museum and a block to the southwest of the museum is the massive Malaga Cathedral, a renaissance building that remains unfinished, but has a dramatic interior with classic art works, including Gothic and Neo-classical altars. Further to the west at the edge of the old district is the Moorish Atarazanas Market, which houses the city's fresh market. South of Mount Gibralfaro is the historic Malagueta Bullring, built in the Neo-Mudejar (Moorish influenced) style and houses a Museum of Bullfighting.

Home of Flamenco music and dancing, Malaga and Andalusia are the ideal place to experience a dramatic live performance!



Photo of Malaga Harbor by Jean-Marc Digne

Alhambra (Red Palace)

Port to Alhambra (Granada) - 130 KM, 1 hour 30 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Begun in the middle of the 13th century by Ibn Nasr, founder of the Nasrid Dynasty, the Alhambra was the last and greatest flowering of Moorish architecture. Built on a hill in the city of Granada, the complex is a series of quadrangles surrounded by colonnades with intricately carved arches leading into the rooms and chambers of the palace. The exterior of the palace is plain, but the interior contains stunningly ornate carved ceilings and arches. Within the courtyards are gardens dominated by pools and fountains, the most famous of which is the Fountain of the Lions. The entire complex has a reddish glow, reflecting the red clay on which the palace was built. After the re-conquest of Spain in 1492, the palace was used for some state function by Ferdinand and Isabella, including perhaps their audience with the Italian ship captain, Christopher Columbus. The Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, built a large palace on the grounds of the Alhambra in the 16th century.

Adjacent to the Alhambra is the Generalife Palace and Gardens. The formal gardens contain a large variety of flowering trees and bushes, with hedges trimmed to form arches and towering walls of foliage. Palm trees and enormous cypresses border paved paths edged with irrigation channels. After centuries of neglect these gardens were entirely overgrown until they were re-designed in the mid-20th century in Andalusian style.



Photo of Alhambra ceiling details by Liam987, Photo of Court of the Lions by comakut

Granada Attractions

Port to Granada - 130 KM, 1 hour 30 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Besides the Alhambra and Generalife Palaces, Granada has much to attract the tourist wanting to discover Andalusian culture and history. The stunning cathedral, built on top of the main mosque was begun as a Gothic structure, but was completed as a massive Renaissance building with Gothic touches. Adjacent to the Cathedral is the Royal Chapel where many Spanish monarchs are interned. Besides its stunning architecture, the Chapel also houses an impressive collection of Spanish, Italian and Flemish Renaissance paintings. The other important religious and artistic monument of the city is the baroque Charterhouse, a monastery just north of the city center. Within sight of the Alhambra are two atmospheric and historic neighborhoods which offer visitors a journey into the past. The Albayzin is the old Moorish neighborhood which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its well-preserved homes and narrow streets. West of Albayzin is the Sacremonte, the gypsy neighborhood where some of the homes are cut into rock and the original Andalusian flamenco guitar can be heard as you walk through the streets.



Photo of Motril Cathedral by Pom2, Photo of Albayazin by Mihael Grmek


Port to Mijas - 33 KM, 34 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Mijas is a large, beautiful whitewashed village (now really a city) built on the slopes 450 meters above the Costa del Sol seaside. The stunning views, excellent shopping, dining opportunities, and golf courses continue to attract tourists who walk up and down the narrow streets enjoying the Andalusian ambiance. Along the coast below the historic center is a long stretch of sandy beach. There are several historic churches including the beautiful Sanctuary of the Virgin de la Pena. The city is also well known for its crafts market.



Photo of Mijas street


Port to Marbella - 59 KM, 46 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Marbella is a large coastal city about 60 kilometers southwest of Malaga that is known for attracting the jet set. It is an especially popular for British, German and Saudi tourists. The nearby Puerto Banus marina, built in the 1960s, is considered one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean and attracts power and sailing yachts from around the world. Most of the city is modern and new, but there are several historic districts which display the ancient origins of the area. In the Barrio Alto around the Plaza de la Naranjos are buildings from the period after the re-conquest of the area from the Moors. Also of interest are the baroque Encarnacion Church, the Bazan Hospital - built not long after the eviction of the Moors and reflecting Moorish architectural influence, and the remains of walls and fortifications built during the Islamic era.

Among the more modern parts of the city is the long coastal stretch between Marbella and Puerto Banus that features modernist resorts, golf courses, and seasonal mansions. The beaches in this area are urban in nature and several have been awarded blue flags. The city is well-known for its high-end shopping and haute cuisine.



Photo of Puerto Banus by Tomas Fano, Photo of Marbella Beach by David Iliff

Nerja and the caves

Port to Nerja / Nerja Caves - 60 KM, 50 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

TThe coastal town of Nerja has been inhabited from prehistoric , with evidence of early settlers found in the nearby and massive caves in the form of Paleolithic paintings. Rockier than much of the Costa del Sol, the town of Nerja has a section known as the Balcon de Europa, a cliff-top colonnaded promenade that offers incomparable views of the coves and cliffs on which the town was built. The same cliffs make this area a center for scuba along the Costa del Sol.

A few kilometers inland the famous Nerja Cave is found. This massive cavern features a large chamber which is used for concerts and ballet every summer. Remains of humans from as early as the 24th millennium BC have been found in the cave and some skeletal remains are on display in the area that tours visit. Besides the regular stalactites and stalagmites, the cave includes the largest known calcite column yet known and a hall where columns seem to have been altered by early inhabitants to produce different musical notes. The area of the cave with prehistoric paintings is not visited during standard tours and visitors to these areas are strictly controlled.



Photo of Nerja Cave by Luzzyacentillo, Photo of Balcon de Europa by Tomer A.

Beaches near Malaga

Port to Playa de la Malagueta - 1.3 KM, 3 minutes
Port to Playa Huellin - 3.6 KM, 8 minutes
Port to Playa Las Acacias - 5 KM, 10 minutes
Port to Playa Benajarafe - 26 KM, 30 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

This is the Costa del Sol, one of the world's most renowned beach regions, so much of the coast near Malaga is a series of beaches. Marbella, Nerja, and just below Mijas, are excellent beaches, but if your goal is to visit a nice beach, you don't need to travel that far. In fact, just outside the port is Playa de la Malagueta, which despite its urban location has earned a blue flag. If you like city beaches, this is a fine one with bars, restaurants and water sports available. Just to the south of the port is Playa Huelin, with a nice promenade and accommodations. Playa las Acacias attracts a young crowd, is very popular, and not as large as the others mentioned here. Less urban is Playa Benajarafe, just 30 minutes east of Malaga. Most beaches along this part of the coast have gray or black sand.



Photo of Malagueta Beach by elfeffe

Interests Key:

Art Architecture Beach Children Wild Animals Local Cuisine Flora Gardens-Parks Geology

Diving UNESCO Views Wine Dance Music Shopping History Hiking

Walking & Wheelchair Accessibility:

No Walking Easy Walking Normal Walking Difficult Walking Accessible Limited Not Accessible