Malaga is a favorite Costa del Sol city, rich in relaxing beaches and illustrious art museums. Before you get to enjoy any of that, though, you need to figure out where to stay in Malaga, Spain. Deciding where to stay in Malaga can be a tough decision because there are tons of alluring neighborhoods to choose from.
After spending over a month exploring southern Spain, I realized that the best places to stay in Malaga are different for every person. For party animals, the best things to do in Malaga are located in La Merced, but families with children might prefer Pedregalejo. Let’s get to the bottom of the best place to stay in Malaga for you.
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Best Places to Stay in Malaga
Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Malaga? Here are my top picks:
- 🏆 Best Overall Hotel – ICON Malabar
- ✨ Best Luxury Hotel – Palacio Solecio
- 👨👩👧👦 Best for Families – Aunt Antonia Beach House
- 👔 Best for Business – Livemalaga Pedregalejo Suites
- 🏨 Best Boutique – Soho Boutique Urban
- 🏖️ Best Near The Beach – Gran Hotel Miramar GL
- 💵 Best Budget – Rafaela Guest House
Ok, let’s do a deep dive into the best areas and neighborhoods in Malaga.
7 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Malaga
Malaga is one of those cities that makes it easy as pie for visitors and locals to get around without a car. Around the city center, it’s completely walkable. Beyond that, Malaga’s public transportation system is fantastic, cheap, and will take you anywhere you need to go.
Whenever I’m visiting a city for the very first time, I try to suss out the ultimate neighborhood for newbies to the area. It’s a place that’s centrally located and easy to get around with tons of the city’s emblematic attractions nearby. In Malaga, that place is in Centro Historico.
Centro Historico is the city center of Malaga, which is the best place to stay for first-time visitors. Here you’ll find the city’s top historical sites like the Alcazaba and the Malaga Cathedral. Along with some of the most intriguing museums in all of Spain, including the Picasso Museum and Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga. It’s a major cultural hub of Malaga.
However, there is always another side to the coin. While Centro Historico is fun and filled with things to do, it also gets very crowded with tourists hoping to see all the sites. Particularly in the high season when the weather is at its peak perfection from June to August.
Pros of Staying in Centro Historico Neighborhood:
- Central location
- Perfect place for first-time visitors
- All the city’s top sites are within walking distance
- Lots of hotels are available at varying price points
Cons of Staying in Centro Historico Neighborhood:
- Very crowded with tourists
- Can be overwhelming
📚 Centro Historico Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for All Types Of Attractions
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Centro Historico
🍽️ Where to Eat – Cantarrana Restaurant ($$), Casa Lola ($), Astrid ($$)
🍸 Where to Drink – Antigua Casa de Guardia, Chester & Punk, The Pharmacy
🎟️ Top Attractions – Alcazaba, The Picasso Museum, The Malaga Cathedral, Malaga Park, Malaga Museum, Teatro Romano de Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga
At a prime oceanside location on Costa del Sol, many travelers want nothing more than endless days by the beach. If that sounds like you, deciding where to stay in Malaga is simple.
Pedregalejo is definitely the best area to stay in Malaga for beaches.
This area should be listed next to “idyllic beach town” in the dictionary. Pedregalejo is just the definition of a cute, quiet seaside paradise that’s the perfect place to stay in Malaga for beach lovers.
On their renowned Spanish beaches, you’ll come across spots to eat local food and tiny beach bars to grab a cocktail. When you’re not chilling on the beach and soaking up the Spanish sunshine, there are a bunch of incredible restaurants to try, such as Sapino and misuto.
You probably saw it coming this time, but there is a caveat to all of Pedregalejo’s peacefulness. It’s located around 15 minutes outside of the Malaga city center by car. So, you’ll need to become close friends with the public transportation or the local Uber drivers to reach the bulk of Malaga’s big attractions.
Pros of Staying in Pedregalejo Neighborhood:
- A relaxing beach town
- Less busy and noisy than other neighborhoods
- Nice mix of apartments and hotels available
Cons of Staying in Pedregalejo Neighborhood:
- Few major attractions nearby
- Outside of the city center
📚 Pedregalejo Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Peaceful Beach Days
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Pedregalejo
🍽️ Where to Eat – Sapino ($$), Miguelito El Cariñoso Restaurante ($$), Restaurante El Caleño ($$), misuto ($$)
🍸 Where to Drink – Bar Kali, Bar Centro
🎟️ Top Attractions – Playa Pedregalejo
If Pedregalejo isn’t quite your speed, the nearby coastal town of El Palo might be the right move for you. El Palo a popular choice for families with young children because the area has an overall chill aura to it.
El Palo is a tried and true beach town. You’ll spend your days spent in the sun and evenings gorging on delicious meals at places like Gastrobar Gallarvi and Casa Manuel de la Lonja. Luckily, anywhere you decide to dine will likely serve up scrumptious seafood thanks to the city’s oceanside location.
Similarly to its next-door neighbor, El Palo does have one major con to it – it’s located a 15-minute drive outside of Malaga city center. It’s more than an hour-long walk. So, you’ll probably have to invest some time figuring out the bus schedule or some money in hiring a driver.
Pros of Staying in El Palo Neighborhood:
- Lots of large accommodations for big families
- Quiet and calm
- The town is right on El Palo Beach
- Nice seafood restaurants
Cons of Staying in El Palo Neighborhood:
- 15-minute drive away from the city center
- Far from most big tourist attractions
📚 El Palo Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Families With Kids
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in El Palo
🍽️ Where to Eat – Casa Manuel de la Lonja ($), Gastrobar Gallarvi ($), La Chamaca ($$)
🍸 Where to Drink – Anbata Irish Pub Copas El Palo Málaga, Los Pibes Bar
🎟️ Top Attractions – Playas del Palo, El Peñón del Cuervo, Yacimientos Arqueológicos de la Araña, Alberto Suárez Pipi Garden
Are you longing for a beachy slice of heaven that is still right in the center of Malaga? You don’t have to give up a central location for peaceful beach days on Costa del Sol. Let me introduce you to the seaside neighborhood of La Malagueta.
La Malagueta is optimally situated right in the city center, but it’s still perfectly placed on the coastline. It’s within walking distance from some of Malaga’s other top neighborhoods like Centro Historico and La Merced.
However, there is so much to do within the La Malagueta district that you may never need to leave. Playa la Malagueta has some great attractions and can keep you entertained. Plus, the district has some of the best upscale dining establishments in the entire city, namely El Refectorium Malagueta.
This neighborhood might not have any pitfalls if it wasn’t for the fact that accommodations are few and far between. During the summer, it can be nearly impossible to find a place to stay in La Malagueta.
Pros of Staying in La Malagueta Neighborhood:
- Perfect seaside location
- Famous urban beaches
- Tons of restaurants at varying price points
- Direct access to other major neighborhoods
Cons of Staying in La Malagueta Neighborhood:
- Only a few hotels in this neighborhood
- Bars are scarce
📚 La Malagueta Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Beachside Location
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in La Malagueta
🍽️ Where to Eat – El Refectorium Malagueta ($$$), Casa Carlos 1936 ($), Azafrán ($$)
🍸 Where to Drink – Camden Town Pub, El Gallo Rojo
🎟️ Top Attractions – Playa la Malagueta, La Farola de Malaga, Centre Pompidou Malaga, Centro Cultural La Malagueta, Mirador de Gibralfaro
When I first started exploring the world, I was the definition of a broke traveler. Looking to get around and find accommodations as cheaply as possible, so I could see new places. If you’re searching for somewhere affordable to stay in Malaga, the answer is La Trinidad.
Located right next to the Guadalmedina River, La Trinidad makes it simple to find a budget hotel or Airbnb that doesn’t give you the heebie-jeebies. Such as the adorable Rafaela Guest House. Beyond the cheap accommodations, La Trinidad has the benefit of being close to major neighborhoods. Centro Historico, La Merced, and Malagueta are easy to reach on public transportation or on foot. However, you’re not so close that the district is polluted with noise or crowds.
The only issue with staying in La Trinidad is that there isn’t much of a nightlife scene. So, if you’re trying to figure out where to stay in Malaga for out-of-control parties, Trinidad isn’t it.
Pros of Staying in La Trinidad Neighborhood:
- An abundance of affordable accommodations
- Near other major neighborhoods
- Easy access to public transportation
Cons of Staying in La Trinidad Neighborhood:
- Minimal nightlife
- Must travel to major Malaga attractions
📚 La Trinidad Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Budget Travelers
Soho is home to the best luxury hotels in Malaga, plus a nice selection of boutique hotels and lowkey stylish stays.
The other huge advantage that Soho has is its food. It’s one of the best places to visit in Spain for excellent eateries at a range of price points.
For travelers in Europe on a budget, I recommend the delicious Picnic Soho. If your tastes are calling for something a little more elevated, try the tapas from Mesón Ibérico. You’ll also have endless places to party in the Soho district, like Café de Estraperlo and La Terraza De Valeria rooftop lounge.
All this excitement, beauty, and opulence comes at a high price though. Soho is one of the most expensive places to stay in Malaga. If it’s in the budget though, treat yourself!
Pros of Staying in Soho Neighborhood:
- Delicious restaurants and tapas bars
- Many cute boutique hotels and luxury hotels
- Rich nightlife
Cons of Staying in Soho Neighborhood:
- Expensive accommodations
- Gets busy
📚 Soho Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Luxury Hotels & Tasty Food
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Soho
🍽️ Where to Eat – Picnic Soho ($), La Antxoeta Art Restaurant ($$), Mesón Ibérico ($$)
🍸 Where to Drink – El Rincón Del Cervecero, La Terraza De Valeria, Gin Tonic, Café de Estraperlo
🎟️ Top Attractions – CAC Málaga, Mercado Central de Atarazanas, Palmeral de Las Sorpresas
If you’re figuring out where to stay in Malaga for the nightlife, then head straight to the neighborhood of La Merced. This district features one of the most vibrant nightlife scenes in the entire city and has a super welcoming atmosphere. With everything from no-frills dive spots like Bar Lemmy to chic gay bars like Kipfer & Love.
La Merced also has plenty of comfortable places to turn in for the night once you’ve had your fun. Hotel Brö is a particularly nice choice for parties because it offers a nice little rooftop pool to relax off any hangovers. A bite to eat at Picasso Bar Tapas will help, too.
If you’re visiting Malaga during the high season, it can be very difficult to find an available hotel. So, book in advance or you may be out of luck when it comes to staying in this popular neighborhood.
Pros of Staying in La Merced Neighborhood:
- High-quality nightlife scene with a variety of bars
- LGBTQ+ friendly
- Right near Centro Historico and many attractions
- Easy to find a luxury or boutique hotel
Cons of Staying in La Merced Neighborhood:
- Hotels are pricey and sell out fast in the high season
- Very busy
📚 La Merced Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Top-Notch Nightlife
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in La Merced
🍽️ Where to Eat – BYOKO ($$), Picasso Bar Tapas ($), Restaurante Cortijo de Pepe ($), Dynamit ($$)
🍸 Where to Drink – Bar Lemmy, Road House, Malaespina, Kipfer & Lover, La Destilería, Mojito Bar
🎟️ Top Attractions – Plaza de la Merced, Interactive Music Museum, Museo de Vidrio, Teatro Cervantes
Tips for Staying in Malaga
Find Malaga’s Pristine Hidden Beaches
One of the biggest things that Malaga has in the pro column is its impeccable location right on Costa del Sol. That means tons of gorgeous beaches.
You don’t want to squander the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful beaches in the Andalusian region, so lounge seaside for a good chunk of time.
Ask For The Check At Restaurants in Spain
I will admit, much to my embarrassment, that I have sat in restaurants in Spain for over an hour waiting for a check to arrive out of thin air. It was one of those culture shocks I never saw coming because, in America, there’s this instinctual check drop that waiters seem to acquire.
In Spain, you could sit in a restaurant for 6 hours with empty plates in front of you and they won’t bother you until you ask for the check. Lesson learned!
Check Out The City’s Famous Museums And Historical Sites
Malaga is renowned for its beaches, but it also features some of the best museums in Spain.
As the home city of the famous Pablo Picasso, Malaga offers tons of art museums like the Picasso Museum, CAC Malaga, and Museo Carmen Thyssen Malaga. Don’t forget to work some of these iconic museums into your Malaga itinerary.
👉 Read Next: Where to Stay in Barcelona
Malaga Gets Crowded During The Summer Season
Beaches and historical attractions? Yup, you guessed it. Malaga is one of those places that’s covered in crowds during the high season. There are exciting festivals, full beaches, and lots of fun things to do in Malaga during the summer.
If you’re in Malaga from June to August, be prepared for heaps of tourists. Hotels in Malaga will fill up fast and the streets will be full of people. Be prepared for that and book in advance!
Plan to Walk or Take the Bus
Malaga has one of the highest walkability scores I’ve ever seen – a perfect 100%. If you’re staying in the city center, you definitely won’t need to rent a car to get around or even reach most of the main tourist attractions in Malaga.
Even if you plan to make a further excursion, there are plenty of buses, trains, and rideshares to take you where you need to go.
Take The Line A Express From Malaga Airport
Getting from Malaga Airport to the center of the city is a breeze and super cheap when you opt to take the Line A Express bus into town.
This bus leaves from Malaga Airport every 15-25 minutes and costs 3€, which you can give directly to the driver. There are 10 stops along the journey and it ends right in Plaza del General Torrijos in the heart of Malaga.
FAQs About Where to Stay in Malaga
Where is the best area in Malaga?
The best area for the average traveler in Malaga is La Malagueta. It’s close to the city’s top attractions and restaurants, but not right in the middle of it all.
If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Malaga to experience the local nightlife, La Merced is the best choice. Alternatively, if you want to know where to stay in Malaga with children, the answer might be a neighborhood slightly out of the city center, like El Palo.
Is it better to stay in Marbella or Malaga?
Restaurants and hotels in Malaga tend to be cheaper than in Marbella, so it’s better for budget travelers. There is also plenty of historical attractions and museums to wander in Malaga.
Marbella offers a selection of elegant boutique hotels and beautiful beaches that are perfect for a relaxing getaway. Making it a more desirable spot for a special vacation like a honeymoon.
Is it worth staying in Malaga?
It is worth staying in Malaga to get a real sense of the city and its beloved attractions. There are a lot of stunning places to stay along the Costa del Sol, but Malaga is one of the richest in art history and museums. Plus, it’s only a stone’s throw away from a bunch of other interesting places to visit in Spain.
Where should I stay outside Malaga?
The best places to stay just outside of Malaga are Fuengirola, Torremolinos, and Benalmádena. These nearby cities are only about 30 minutes outside of Malaga with easy access to the city and lots of accommodation options.
Thanks for reading my thoughts on where to stay in Malaga. I hope I’ve helped you find the best places to stay in Malaga for you. Also, Spain changes with the seasons, both weather and price-wise. So, don’t forget to read my guide to the best time to visit Spain for the full scoop. Happy travels!
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