If you just fly into the airport at Malaga and go onto its more ritzy neighbours like Marbella and Puerto Banus, you are missing the delightful city of Malaga itself. The Costa del Sol with kids is fabulous – you really can’t go wrong with the sun and sand formula for a family vacation. When you tire of these most famous of the Costa del Sol attractions at the hotels and mansions in Spain, head back into the city of Malaga for some great food and culture.
Malaga’s attractions are family-friendly, too. There are plenty of things to do in Malaga with kids, especially older children. Malaga’s family-friendly attractions include lots of historic buildings and charming side streets full of shops and cafes. There are also quite a few free things to do in Malaga that children will enjoy such as sampling their way through food markets and checking out the fabulous street art.
Things To Do in Malaga with Kids
Here are choice of 10 things to do in Malaga with kids:
For Junior Culture Vultures
In terms of culture you have a choice of famous structures dating back to the Romans and the Moors as well as a handful of good museums.
Historic Buildings and Architecture
The majority of the remains of the Gibralfaro Castle are its impressive ramparts which kids will love exploring. It was built in the 10th century by the caliph of Cordoba.
The Gibralfaro Castle was captured during the Reconquest by Ferdinand and Isabella after a 3 month siege. Unfortunately the Spanish were not in a forgiven mood and the entire Moorish population of Malaga were put to death or enslaved,
The Alcazaba is an 11th century Moorish palace and fortress built on the ruins of a Roman predecessor. It’s the best preserved Moorish fortress in Spain.
Another plus point? Once you’ve climbed up to the Gibralfaro you’ll have a terrific view over the city.
The Roman Theatre was built in the 3rd century and is located pretty much at the bottom of the Alcazaba fortress. The theatre was built by the Romans under Emperor Augustus in the first century B.C.. After the Romans left, the Moors repurposed some of the stones from the theatre for the Alcazaba.
Malaga Cathedral was built over the Mosque that stood in its place when Ferdinand and Isabella conquered Malaga. It’s an impressive structure but was never completed because the project kept running out of money – even though the construction was ongoing over 250+ years!
Fill Up On Fine Art
The Pompidou Centre in Malaga is set in the city’s harbor and the colorful cuboid glass building itself is entrancing. It is the only branch of the Pompidou outside of Paris. It’s got works from the 20th century such as old favourites like Frida Kahlo, Matisse and Rene Magritte.
Set in an old mansion, the Picasso Museum showcases the works of the Malaga-born artist. The museum has works by Picasso donated by his daughter-in-law and grandson. After a redesign in 2017, the museum is arranged in chronological order and houses more than 150+ of Picasso’s works. There’s a great rooftop restaurant at the Picasso Museum which is a local hotspot in its own right.
The Picasso Museum is the most visited museum in Andalusia! Remember not to mix it up with Casa Natal which is Picasso’s actual birthplace and has only a small exhibition dedicated to him.
For Foodie Families
Tapas Bar Hopping
In the historic centre, you can spend hours going from tapas bar to tapas bar. We visited quite a few tapas bars, mostly nameless. We did go to El Pimpi one of the more famous tapas bars in the historic district which was frequented by many celebrities, including the Picasso family (surprise!).
The Mercado Merced
Located near the house where Picasso was born, the Mercado Merced located in the Plaza del Merced is a revitalised foodie market where you can find any number of delicious dishes to wile away a lazy lunch.
Free Things To Do in Malaga
Playtime at the Beach
The Costa del Sol has over 150 kilometres of coastline so chances are you will find the perfect beach for you.
One of the fun things to do in Malaga is eat the freshly grilled sardines on the beach.
Explore the Old Town
The historic centre of Malaga is easy to walk and fun to explore. It’s got stores, cafes, bars galore.
It’s not all tourist shops either. I found my all-time favourite camera strap at a camera store in this are and have never been able to find something similar elsewhere.
Street Art in Malaga
Malaga has a thriving street art scene because of the efforts of a local artistic initiative called MAUS (Malaga Arte Scene SoHo). This local initiative reminds me of the home-grown efforts in Houston to revitalise an urban area with street art.
A large variety of Malaga’s street art can be found in the up-and-coming arts neighbourhood behind the Center for Contemporary Art. My kids love street art because it’s colorful and witty. And, you don’t have to visit a stuffy art gallery.
Built in a former shipyard close to Malaga harbor in 1879, Atarazanas Market is a chef’s delight. Like other food markets we have visited, my son loved checking out the market and my daughter was aghast at the smell of fresh fish and meat.
Centre for Contemporary Art
Set in a former warehouse that was the Wholesalers’ Market, the the Centre of Contemporary Art has a fun collection of 20th and 21st artists. It’s a great museum including kid-favourite Damien Hirst and pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. And, it’s totally free!
Nearby Costa del Sol Attractions
So many families come to the Costa del Sol every year that there are some great theme parks located near Malaga.
My kids have never met a waterpark that they did not like and Aqualand Torremolinos would not prove to be the exception. On a hot sunny day, racing friends on waterslides is one of the best of childhood pleasures.
Tivoli World is an amusement park which has rides that are suitable for younger kids as well as older kids. You can buy ride tickets individually (which quickly adds up and drives me crazy) or an mostly-all-you-can ride pass. Note that there are popular rides that the kids will want to ride (such as bumper cars) that aren’t in the all-you-can-ride pass.
Malaga is a very easy destination to visit from the United Kingdom and many parts of Europe because of its airport. The airport is modern and easy to navigate. I know – I did it 3x in one day because I had to pick up different people from the airport!
In terms of accommodation, you have a choice of hotels, villas and mansions in Spain as you would expect from such a popular tourist area. We have rented both villas as well as stayed in hotels in Spain. Our kids definitely prefer villa holidays with friends because they have the freedom of a house and pool.
This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.