Heading to Malaga and wondering which destinations would be the best day trips from Malaga city? I got you covered! We spent a couple of weeks in Malaga and explored all the best day-trip destinations around the iconic city in Andalusia.
Malaga is excellently positioned to discover most of the bucket list destinations in Andalusia. From caves deep underground to hikes above the ground, from grand royal palaces to hidden villages in the mountains – everything is a short drive away from Malaga.
In this blog post, I mostly focused on places that are no further than a 1h30min drive away from Malaga which means you can wake up in the morning, drive to the destination, explore it, and comfortably come back in the evening. A perfect day trip!
I have been to and explored all of these places! Here you will find all the best day trips from Malaga with descriptions, photos, and locations where they can be found on Google Maps. I hope you enjoy Malaga and Andalusia as much as we did!
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1. Ronda – the town with the iconic bridge!
Ronda is one of the most iconic towns and one of the most beautiful places in Andalusia and in Spain. With the spectacular Puente Nuevo bridge over the deep El Tajo gorge it is a landmark place for any visitor to Spain.
Ronda is located a 1h30min drive away from Malaga making it one of the best day trips from Malaga that you can do! You can either rent a car and drive on your own or you can join a guided tour from Malaga with a bus transfer and free time in Ronda.
The iconic Puente Nuevo bridge is a bucket list destination in Andalusia, so taking a photo of the famous bridge is a must! Find the best photo spots of the famous bridge in Ronda here! Other must-visit places in Ronda include the Arab baths, Plaza de Toros, and Jardines de Cuenca among others.
One of my favorite places to visit and a true hidden gem in Ronda was La Casa del Rey Moro. It is a historical site that includes the house, the garden, and a secret water mine where you can descend through a tunnel into the El Tajo gorge right by the river!
2. Setenil de las Bodegas – Spain’s iconic cave village!
One of my favorite places to visit in Andalusia was the iconic Setenil de las Bodegas cave village! The most famous thing about the village is that people here still live in cave houses and work at shops and cafés built under rocks.
Setenil de las Bodegas is located a 1h20minute drive away from Malaga AND just a 22-minute drive from Ronda. If you rent a car, you can easily visit both of these places in one day or you can join a group bus trip from Malaga to Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas with free time in both places!
The most popular place in Setenil de las Bodegas village is Calle Cuevas de la Sombra (Street of Shadow caves). It is the only street in the village completely covered by rocks and this is where you will get one of the most iconic photos in Setenil de las Bodegas!
There is only a small part of the street that goes under the rock (like 100 meters or so). So I really recommend walking there and back to see this place from both sides of the street.
If you have more time, there are other bucket list things to do in Setenil de las Bodegas including shopping in the deepest cave in the village! Setenil de las Bodegas was definitely amongst the most beautiful villages in Andalusia that we visited!
Location: Calle Cuevas de la Sombra
3. Caminito del Rey – the famous hiking trail!
Caminito del Rey is one of the bucket list things to do in Andalusia and is amongst the best day trips from Malaga! It was considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the world but since reconstruction a few years ago it is now a relatively safe and easy hike!
Caminito del Rey is located a 1h10min drive away from Malaga. We rented a car so we got there on our own, joined a guided tour, and walked the trail. If you don’t have a car, there are bus tours from Malaga to Caminito del Rey that will take care of everything for you. You just have to show up!
If you don’t stay in the center of Malaga, you might want to check out bus tours to Caminito del Rey from other areas at Costa del Sol and see if there are better pick-up locations more suited to your needs. In any case, I think hiking Caminito del Rey is a must-do thing when visiting Malaga!
Caminito del Rey translates as the King’s Little Path – the King of Spain really was here and even crossed one of the bridges! It is a unique walkway pinned along the steep walls of a narrow gorge. It is one of the most beautiful places in Andalusia!
The hike is about 8 kilometers long from start to finish (there is a 1 to 1.5-kilometer walk from the parking lot to the start of the trail). It goes along a wooden and concrete walkway. The hike offers some of the most scenic views in Andalusia!
To walk in complete safety and find out more about the gorge and the iconic hiking route I recommend joining a guided tour (it is included if you go on a bus tour!). We did this and the guide was really fun and energetic. One of my favorite memories from Andalusia!
Location: Caminito del Rey
4. Marbella – the most beautiful Old Town in Andalusia!
Marbella is one of the most famous whitewashed towns in Andalusia and also one of the most beautiful ones. Although it has grown to be quite a big city, the Marbella Old Town is still the same authentic Andalusian town with flower pots and narrow streets!
If you are looking for those Southern vibes in a typical Southern town with white houses, winding cobblestone streets, flower bushes, and plants everywhere, then paying a visit to Marbella is a must.
Marbella is located on the coast of the Mediterranean less than 1h away from Malaga. You can either drive there by car, take public transportation or, if you are a fan of guided tours, there are guided bus trips to some locations on the coastline, including Marbella.
We spent a couple of days exploring Marbella Old Town. Some of the best places to visit in Marbella include the Plaza de los Naranjos Square, Calle Carmen Street – one of the most beautiful streets in Marbella, and the Santo Cristo de Marbella chapel.
Enjoying tapas at El Boqueron or MIA CAFE – Tapas & Bar is definitely amongst the best things to do in Marbella! There are many beautiful spots around Marbella Old Town and countless photo-perfect corners everywhere you look! Marbella was one of my favorite whitewashed towns in Andalusia.
Location: Marbella Old Town
5. El Torcal de Antequera – the most unique rock formations in Andalusia!
El Torcal de Antequera is a nature reserve in the province of Malaga – a mountain range that is considered one of the most impressive karst landscapes you will see in Europe! This place was one of my favorite hidden gems in Andalusia!
The unusual thing about this place is that this mountain range actually once was the bottom of the sea. Due to the tectonic activity, the bottom of the sea was pushed up high above the sea level. And, actually, this activity continues to this day!
As proof of that, you can find many fossils and seashells up in the mountains. This is pretty bizarre if you think about the fact that the highest point in El Torcal de Antequera currently stands at 1336 meters above sea level!
The layered rock formations have formed due to erosion. The water washes away the soft part of the mountains and leaves these unique layered towers for you to enjoy! This is definitely something I had never seen before!
The easiest way to visit this place is to drive up to the Visitor’s Center, park your car, and then choose one of the hiking trails they offer. They are marked pretty well and it would be hard to get lost there.
If you don’t have a car, there are excellent options for day trips from Malaga to the Torcal Antequera National Park with round-trip bus transfer and a guided hike in small groups included in the price.
Location: El Torcal de Antequera
6. Stand on the Balcony of Europe and dive deep underground in the caves in Nerja!
Nerja is a charming whitewashed coastal town in the famous Costa del Sol area in Spain. It is a 50-minute drive away from Malaga and offers authentic Andalusian experiences in a relaxed atmosphere.
Nerja is probably one of the best day trips from Malaga you can possibly take! The scenic town is famous for its Balcony of Europe – a large clifftop platform overhanging the Mediterranean coast offering scenic views of the sea and the mountains.
Another tourist attraction amongst the best things to do in Nerja is Nerja Cave. I have been to a lot of similar caves and, honestly, Nerja Cave sits at the very top! With large underground halls and walls of stalactites and stalagmites, there is so much to admire!
We spent five days exploring everything Nerja had to offer so it is a great destination to visit. Many tourists actually choose to skip the big city buzz and stay in Nerja instead of Malaga as it has that small-town vibe and charming atmosphere!
Location: Balcony of Europe in Nerja
7. Frigiliana – the most charming whitewashed flower village in Andalusia!
Frigiliana is considered one of the most beautiful whitewashed villages in Andalusia, Spain. With narrow cobblestone streets, houses, and stairs decorated with flowerpots and plants, this is a charming destination in the South of Spain.
We spent 3 fantastic days exploring the historic center of Frigiliana. The village has unbeatable views and it is one of my favorite places in Andalusia! Check out the best places to visit in Frigiliana and the most beautiful photo spots in this charming village!
If you want to get away from the crowds and discover Andalusia off-the-beaten path, then Frigiliana is a great choice! Frigiliana and Nerja are located right next to each other so visiting both of these places in one day on your own or on a guided tour will be one of the best day trips from Malaga you can take!
8. Alhambra – the world-famous fortress in Granada!
Alhambra is arguably the most famous tourist attraction in Granada, Andalusia, and possibly in Spain. It is a massive fortress on a hill in Granada at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain and is one of the best places to visit in Andalusia.
Inside the citadel, there are multiple palaces and residences built for kings, expansive gardens, and other infrastructure made for Alhambra to be a self-contained city. It is one of those bucket list places you simply can’t skip!
The Nasrid palaces – multiple royal palaces built by different Arab kings from the Nasrid dynasty – are the crown jewel of Alhambra. If you don’t visit the Nasrid palaces, then you haven’t seen Alhambra!
No wonder Alhambra was amongst the finalists at the New 7 Wonders of the World voting contest! If there is one place that must be on your Andalusia bucket list then those are the Nasrid palaces in Alhambra, Granada!
Lucky for you, Granada is just a little above a 1h30min drive away from Malaga, so the perfect destination for a day trip. There are tours from Malaga city to Granada as well as from other Costa del Sol towns to Granada if you don’t have a car.
Important! Make sure to select an option INCLUDING a visit to the Nasrid Palaces. There is nothing more beautiful and important to see in the Alhambra than the Nasrid Palaces – some of the most important examples of Islamic architecture in the World!
9. The most flowerful village in Andalusia – Iznájar!
Iznájar is a small hilltop town in Córdoba province – a typical Andalusian mountaintop town with whitewashed houses and a castle on top. However, it has a secret right in the heart of it – Patio de las Comedias.
Patio de las Comedias in Iznájar is one of the most beautiful places in Andalusia! It is a small square between buildings that is meticulously decorated with blue flower pots, plants, plates, colorful doors, tables, and chairs as well as a fountain.
Apart from the famous courtyard, there are a couple more things to do and places to see in Iznájar like the Santiago Apóstol church and Iznájar castle. My favorite places were the impressive viewpoints with stunning views you get from this hilltop town!
Iznájar is located just a 1h15min drive away from Malaga and is amongst the best day trips from Malaga for sure! It is a bit of a hidden gem in Andalusia so you might need to rent a car for this or work out some public transportation combinations to get there.
Location: Patio de las Comedias in Iznájar
10. Montefrío – the village with the most beautiful view in the world!
Another day-trip destination you should consider visiting is Montefrío village – one of the most beautiful whitewashed villages in Andalusia and one of the villages with the best view in the world!
Did you know that National Geographic made a list of villages with the best view in the world and Montefrío village in Granada province in Andalusia was one of them? Check that photo above again and see for yourself!
There is a viewpoint named after National Geographic where you can see the exact view that has captured the world. The village is one of the hidden gems in Andalusia with its Iglesia de la Encarnacion being the only completely round church in Spain!
Even if you don’t have time to explore the whole village and drive up to the castle and church on top of the iconic cliff, I highly recommend stopping at the viewpoint (location below) to see the view to tick that off your bucket list!
Montefrío is located just 1h drive away from Iznájar. If you decide to embark on a village quest from Malaga, then both of these villages are very much possible to visit in one day – especially if you have a rental car!
11. Olvera – the town with the most picturesque views!
Featuring some jaw-dropping views, Olvera is one of the most beautiful towns in Andalusia with some unmatched picturesque views! It sits on a hilltop with a church and castle standing high above the rest of the village.
Located 1h30min drive away from Malaga, it is a great day trip destination in Andalusia. This town is closer to Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas village, so you can plan your visit or even a weekend getaway by combining these places as you see fit!
Must-do things in Olvera whitewashed town include exploring the Historic Center of the town and climbing up Calle Calzada street to the scenic Iglesia Mayor Parroquial hilltop church.
The best place to visit – Olvera Castle! The castle was built in the 12th century as part of the defensive system for the Nasrid Kingdom. It sits on a rock at 623 meters above sea level and offers some of the most picturesque views in Andalusia!
If you visit the castle (it has working hours and an entrance fee), there are stone stairs leading up the cliff to the castle and at one point you can get this iconic view of the massive church below you! One of the most iconic Instagram spots in Andalusia!
12. Júzcar – the blue Smurf village of Andalusia!
The Smurf village Júzcar is Spain’s bluest village and one of the most unique hidden gems in Andalusia! Although it was once a regular whitewashed Andalusian village, it was all painted blue for the marketing purposes of The Smurfs movie!
When the movie came out they decided to keep it blue (although the deal was to paint it white again!). Because of its unusual color, Júzcar now attracts a lot of tourists – probably the main reason locals wanted to keep the color and not go back to white.
Some of the best things to do in Júzcar include walking around the narrow streets of the village, finding all the street art paintings on the walls, buying Smurf souvenirs, riding the zipline over the village, and, of course, finding where is Papa Smurf!
Although Júzcar is located a 1h45min drive away from Malaga and might seem too simple for a day trip, it also sits just a 30-minute drive away from Ronda. If you happen to travel in that direction, you might as well stop by the Blue Village on your way!
13. Pueblos Blancos (White villages) in Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park!
Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park is a beautiful mountainous area with white hilltop villages deep inside the natural park. If you crave something away from the tourist hotspots, then I recommend a scenic drive through the mountains with visits to three wonderful villages!
For this adventure, you, for sure, need a rental car. The trio is located about a 40-minute drive away from Ronda, so you can plan your visit to that area accordingly. maybe it is worth spending the night close by, like, in Ronda?
1. Pueblos Blancos: Zahara de la Sierra – the iconic hilltop village!
Zahara de la Sierra is definitely amongst the most beautiful and scenic villages in Andalusia. The whitewashed village is located on a hillside with a castle on top of a massive rock. It makes this one of the most picturesque villages for sure!
I recommend taking a walk through the narrow streets of the village, checking out some of the many viewpoints the village has, and visiting the castle on top of the rock. The village is located next to a beautiful man-made lake.
Location: Viewpoint of Zahara de la Sierra
2. Pueblos Blancos: Grazalema – the rocky village in a high valley!
Grazalema village is located in a high valley at 812 meters above sea level and offers some of the most picturesque views with the rugged limestone mountains surrounding it.
The village is a popular base for visitors to the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park where you can go hiking. We made a short stop and hiked up to the Mirador del Santo viewpoint to see the village and the mountains in the background from above!
3. Pueblos Blancos: Villaluenga del Rosario – village inside the valley!
With a population of less than 500 people, Villaluenga del Rosario is a tiny but very scenic village in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park right down the Navazo Alto mountain. It doesn’t get more authentic than this!
There is a beautiful viewpoint – Mirador Villaluenga del Rosario – right in the heart of the village where you can climb up to see the village from above. The village has a unique cemetery built inside the ruins of a church destroyed by Napoleon’s troops.
Besides the unique cemetery which is considered to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Spain, there is another reason to go to Villaluenga del Rosario. This village is the home of the Payoyo cheese!
Payoyo cheese is only made from the milk of goats and sheep that graze in Villaluenga del Rosario and other areas of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park! The Payoyo cheese has received many prestigious awards and is considered a Spanish delicacy.
Weekend getaway from Malaga? Go to Seville or Córdoba!
Malaga is very well connected by fast roads to most of the bucket list destinations in Andalusia. If you are looking for a whole weekend getaway from Malaga, I recommend going to either Seville or Córdoba (or staying longer in Granada)!
Both of these cities – Seville and Córdoba – are amongst the best cities to visit in Andalusia. But because it takes more than 2 hours to get there from Malaga and because there is just so much to see it is not a good day trip destination!
To visit most of the must-see places in each of the cities you would need a whole weekend or 2 full days! Each of the cities has places that are a MUST-SEE on every Andalusia bucket list, so I won’t choose for you which city is the best, haha!
The most famous places in Córdoba include the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba, flower patios (courtyards), Palacio de Viana, the Puente Romano de Córdoba bridge, Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos as well as the Game of Thrones castle – Castillo Almodóvar del Rio.
From the Royal Alcazar of Seville, the landmark Cathedral of Seville with the tomb of the well-known explorer Christopher Columbus to authentic local food markets and ancient Roman ruins, Seville, too, has so much to offer for any visitor to the city!
Seville hosts one of the most beautiful places in Andalusia – the bustling Plaza de España square which was built for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition that took place in Seville. And you must not skip a visit to one of the lively flamenco shows!
More Malaga travel inspiration!
- Malaga Bucket List: 11 best things to do in Malaga, Spain
- 19 best Instagram spots of the coolest places in Malaga, Spain
- 13 hidden gems and unique spots you should see in Malaga, Spain
- 7+ best rooftops and cool places to see Malaga from above!
- 15 best breakfast cafés and specialty coffee shops in Malaga, Spain
- 9 most beautiful places to visit in Malaga, Spain
Malaga is a must-visit city in Andalusia, the Southern region of Spain. It is a year-round destination known for its palm-lined sandy beaches, Castle of Gibralfaro, Alcazaba of Malaga fortress, and also as the birthplace of the famous painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso.
Malaga is the best place to go to catch some sun as well as embark on a road trip around Andalusia. I hope you enjoy your time in Malaga as much as we did and get some inspiration from my blog to make your trip even more adventurous, fun, and unforgettable!