The biggest town on the Costa del Sol, Malaga is the ideal combination of relaxed southern style and Mediterranean glam.
But with the town’s areas spread along such a long narrow stretch, how do you decide which is the best for you?
Never fear, as our travel gurus have come up with this guide packed with local tips on where to stay in Malaga. It’s broken down by interest and style so you can find the best neighbourhood, based on what matters to you!
Planning where to stay should be the easy part, so you can spend your time planning your approach to the tapas tables instead.
So onward! And by the end of this article, you’ll navigate the city like a pro, knowing exactly where to stay in Malaga!
Quick tips – Where to stay in Malaga
- Where to stay in Malaga your first time – Old Town
- Where to stay in Malaga on a budget – El Perchel
- Best area to stay in Malaga for nightlife – La Merced
- Coolest place to stay in Malaga – Soho
- Best neighborhood in Malaga for families – El Palo
In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:
- Appreciate the local genius at the Picasso Museum.
- Explore the ancient Alcazaba and step back in time.
- Check out the ornate Catedral de la Encarnación.
Table of Contents
- Where to stay in Malaga
- Malaga’s neighbourhood guide
- Malaga’s five best neighbourhoods to stay in…
- #1 Old Town – Where to stay in Malaga your first time
- #2 El Perchel – Where to stay in Malaga on a budget
- #3 La Merced – Best area to stay in Malaga for nightlife
- #4 Soho – Coolest place to stay in Malaga
- #5 El Palo – Best neighborhood in Malaga for families
Where to stay in Malaga
Not worried about the neighbourhood and just looking for a place that’s right for you? Check out our recommendations for Malaga as a whole!
Best Hostel in Malaga – The Urban Jungle Rooftop Hostel
The Urban Jungle Hostel is a green hostel with rooftop terrace located in the historic heart of sunny Malaga! They are the only 5-star Hostel in the city, the top-rated hostel in Malaga and one of the few located in the city center!
Head over to our comprehensive guide to the best hostels in Malaga before starting your backpacking adventure!View on HostelWorld
Best Hotel in Malaga – Halcyon Days
This 4-star hotel is located a short stroll from the Picasso Museum and the Museum of Malaga. The property has 6 apartments, all of which are filled with a range of facilities to ensure a comfortable stay. Guests can visit Calle Larios and Malaga Cathedral, which are steps awayView on Booking.com View on HotelsCombined View on Agoda
Malaga’s neighbourhood guide
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Malaga
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Located on the south-west coast of Spain, not far north of Gibraltar (great day trip!), lies Malaga.
Most famous for being the birthplace of Picasso, whose image and artworks can be found adorning statues and walls, it’s an ideal travel destination.
It’s large enough to have everything you could want but small enough to navigate easily. As with all Spanish cities, it’s easily and affordably accessible from within Europe. For this reason, it’s a hugely popular weekend trip from the UK, and you’ll sometimes run across five or six hens or stags on their ‘last weekend of freedom’ dressed in outrageous regalia.
It’s not all party though – the Picasso link alone testifies to the cultural clout of the place. And then there’s the beach; the Spanish coastline is always a sight for sore eyes!
In terms of neighbourhoods, you have plenty of choice. Try Malagueta for an upmarket beach vibe or El Candado for a quieter coastal experience. The fishing village of Pedregalejo is the perfect place to sample the freshest seafood, while Huelin is an ideal alternative to our pick of El Palo, for families. And if you’re saving your pennies but El Perchel doesn’t appeal, try the calm atmosphere of Ciudad Jardin.
Malaga’s five best neighbourhoods to stay in…
There’s somewhere for every taste, budget and style here – we’ve chosen the five best neighbourhoods to stay in Malaga to help you decide!
Start off on Calle Marques de Larios, the wide boulevard that is both a renowned shopping street and the gateway to the old town of Malaga. From here you can veer off down any side street for the real Malaga, or stay on course to get a broad overview of the area.
This is our pick for where to stay in Malaga your first time as there is so much within walking distance and you’re spoilt for choice on what to eat, drink and do.
The triangular group of streets that encompass the old town also contain a whole swag of museums, palaces, plazas and all that jazz, so you won’t run out of things to see!
The ornate balconies of the upper windows of the streets in this area are worthy of your attention. Most streets are much narrower than the Calle mentioned above so this can make for some particularly charming pathways.
And since you’re in Malaga, you have to check out some Picasso. The Museo Picasso is a building dedicated to his life and his art, and is found right here in the old town.
This is also a great area to park up at a Calle-side bar or restaurant, and let the Andalusian way of life wash over you!
Things to See and Do in Old Town:
– Appreciate the local genius at the Picasso Museum.
– Explore the ancient Alcazaba and step back in time.
– Check out the ornate Catedral de la Encarnación.
– Get hands on at the interactive music museum.
– People-watch with a glass of sweet Malaga red and a tiny plate of something tasty.
Best Hostel in Old Town – Alcazaba Premium Hostel
The rooms at Alcazaba Premium Hostel offer a modern and simple décor and parquetry throughout, and most of them offer outstanding views of the Alcazaba monument. Each room has a private bathroom including a shower, and bed linen is also provided.View on HostelWorld
Best Hotel in Old Town – Molina Lario
Offering views of Malaga and Malaga Cathedral, Hotel Molina Lario is located near a range of bars and clubs and treats guests to a rooftop pool and a rooftop terrace. This modern, centrally located 4-star hotel offers a sun deck, 24-hour room service and a coffee bar.View on Booking.com View on HotelsCombined View on Agoda
Best Hotel in Old Town – Spain Select Calle Nueva Tres
Situated a short walk from Malaga Train Station, Spain Select Calle Nueva Tres offers guests a convenient base while in Malaga. There are a variety of facilities at these apartments on offer to guests, such as babysitting/child services and a fitness centre.View on Booking.com View on HotelsCombined View on Agoda
Just southwest of the old town, across the Guadalmedina river and a touch closer to the beach, is the neighbourhood of El Perchel. We’ve chosen it as the best place to stay in Malaga on a budget as it is super close to the centre of things, but far enough away that prices for accommodation and entertainment is lower!
It’s a bit rough around the edges and is perhaps a little more like the ‘real’ Malaga, or the way it used to be. You can still find fishermen bringing their catch in here and you won’t have to look far to find yourself some truly fresh seafood.
There’s a whole lot to be done in this neighbourhood, and a lot of it for free – bonus for the budget traveller!
If you can find it, the Convento de San Andres is worth a visit. It’s not much to look at but its long and eclectic history as a convent, a hospital, a barracks and a prison means it deserves your attention.
You’re right by the port in El Perchel too, so why not head down to watch the boats go to and fro and see the catch of the day arrive?
Things to See and Do in El Perchel:
– Appreciate the historical relevance of the Convento de San Andrés.
– Take a breath in the Jardines Picasso, with its public artworks.
– Get to another dimension at the VR Park Spain. This one’s not free!
– See multiculturalism in action at the ornate Malaga Mosque.
– Grab a delicious seafood dinner with the freshest ingredients from the Mercado del Carmen!
Best Hostel in El Perchel – Pension Terminal
Pension Terminal is located in central Malaga, just 200 meters from Maria Zambrano train station and bus station. The reception is open 24 hours and the rooms are spacious and offer air conditioning and Wi-Fi.View on HostelWorld
Best Hotel in El Perchel – Barcelo Malaga
Guests can enjoy the sun on the terrace or have a drink at the bar. The plunge pool and fitness centre provide great places to work out. The air-conditioned rooms offer views of the city and are fitted with modern luxuries like minibars and flat-screen TVs.View on Booking.com View on HotelsCombined View on Agoda
Best Hotel in El Perchel – Hotel Sercotel Malaga
Providing 4-star accommodation with air-conditioned rooms, this hotel has panoramic city views, plus massage services, a coffee bar and an all-inclusive meal plan. Guests staying here can enjoy the luxurious rooms that offer a flat-screen TV, an in-room safe and a mini bar.View on Booking.com View on HotelsCombined View on Agoda
Northeast of the old town is La Merced, our choice for the best neighbourhood to stay in Malaga for nightlife. It’s got more bars, clubs and restaurants than you could shake a stick at and you’ll always have an onward destination!
La Merced is the entertainment centre for the city. You especially have to find your way to El Microteatro – the mini theatre where you can enjoy a drink while getting a theatrical experience, in miniature scale!
For the culture or history buffs, this is the birthplace of Picasso. The Plaza de la Merced was where he was born, yes, but also the area he spent his childhood. There is street art adorning the walls of the area; a part tribute to him, part original local expression. Also – you can find a street market here if you happen to be visiting on the last Sunday of every month.
The covered market of this neighbourhood, Mercado de la Merced, is a great place to sample a whole range of dishes ranging from local delicacies to crowd favourites. Might we suggest a tapas crawl? Just go easy on the ‘Malagas’.
The bars and clubs of Calle Alamo and Calle Carreteria are your best place to follow on to, once you have a full stomach. There are masses of different venues so you’ll be sure to find one, or three, that suits your style!
Things to See and Do in La Merced:
– Check out Picasso’s birthplace at Plaza de la Merced.
– Enjoy a tapas feast at the Mercado de la Merced.
– Check out the theatrical displays at El Microteatro.
– Relax after a big night out at the Arabic Baths.
– Weave your way down the entertainment streets of Calle Alamo and Calle Carreteria!
Best Hostel in La Merced – The Lights Garden
This typical hostel is a charming 100+-year-old traditional Andalusian house with a friendly, urban feel. The hostel was created as an idea by travelers that want to make your stay in this beautiful city as comfortable and memorable as possible.View on HostelWorld
Best Hotel in La Merced – Minimal Rooms
A satisfying breakfast is prepared every morning at Minimal Rooms, and there are numerous cafés and eateries close by. Malaga’s attractions, including Malaga Cathedral, are within easy walking distance of the property.View on Booking.com View on HotelsCombined View on Agoda
Best Hotel in La Merced – La Siesta Malaga Guesthouse
The guest house is close to nearby attractions, including the Picasso Museum and Malaga Cathedral. There are a range of facilities available to guests of La Siesta Malaga Guesthouse, such as luggage storage, a tour desk and a ticket service.View on Booking.com View on HotelsCombined View on Agoda
If you’re a fan of street art then Soho will be right up your alley… It’s home to an exciting scene with murals, large and small, to be found around every corner. The range is impressive, from detailed portraiture to colourful abstracts.
What can be done with a spray can is truly astounding, and locals and world-renowned artists have all been in on the act!
You can get a map from Málaga Arte Urbano Sohoto find your way around it all (available at your hostel or hotel), or you can spend a day exploring it on your own.
When one of our travel pros went through Soho by car without having known the area in advance, they spontaneously stopped to get out and walk around for a few hours! On foot is the only way you can appreciate the breadth and details of the scenes.
While Soho was once the place to live amongst Andalusians, it’s now a bit shabbier and neglected. This means you won’t find the crowds here to the same extent of some other areas, just one of the reasons we have named it the coolest place to stay in Malaga.
It’s also a very small neighbourhood, so you can head on into the centre once you’ve seen your fill, and it’ll only take you ten minutes to walk there!
Things to See and Do in Soho:
– Feast your senses at Mercado Central de Atarazanas. Food, wine, fiesta!
– Wander around the streets, checking out the artworks on display.
– Start your walk into the old town from Marqués de Larios statue.
– Relax at Plaza de la Marina, by the water.
– Have a picnic or siesta in Malaga Park, created in the late 19th century.
Best Hostel in Soho – Alameda Hotel
This hostel is in a great location to visit the historical center, Cathedral, Picasso Museum…on foot. Refurbished rooms in April 2012 now each have a private bathroom, TV, air-conditioning – heating, hairdryer and Free WIFI. Alameda Hotel is proudly recommended by Guide Routard.View on HostelWorld
Best Hotel in Soho – Life Apartments Alameda Colon
Life Apartments Alameda Colon is a comfortable setting while visiting Malaga and is close to everything the area has to offer. It also offers a 24-hour reception, a concierge and free Wi-Fi.
The property has 8 apartments and has been recently refurbished.View on Booking.com View on HotelsCombined View on Agoda
Best Hotel in Soho – Room Mate Valeria
Room Mate Valeria provides 4-star accommodation, as well as an outdoor pool. It is ideally positioned for those wanting to visit local attractions. Staff are available 24 hours a day and can assist with booking tours and tickets.View on Booking.com View on HotelsCombined View on Agoda
For this part of Malaga, you may want to hire a car to see the more central areas – which is fine because car hire is cheap and easy here -, or just grab a public bus (line 3 or 11).
El Palo is out to the east of the old town and surrounds, further along the coast. It’s our pick for the best neighbourhood to stay in Malaga for families because of its brilliant beaches!
The long smooth stretch of sand here is also where the fishermen still come ashore with their catch, and their boats make a picturesque background for a day of fun in the sun.
The promenade running alongside the beach makes for great, slow wandering with a cool drink or even cooler ice cream!
This neighbourhood is directly beside that of Pedregalejo, another great family holiday location. There are play areas dotted right the way along the promenade of both neighbourhoods, so there’s plenty to keep the kids entertained if the beach isn’t enough!
And when you want to head into the centre to check things out, it’s an easy drive or bus ride just 5km back along the coast.
To be honest though, the seafood restaurants and festivals found in El Palo may just keep you captive right here the whole time!
Things to See and Do in El Palo:
– Try the pescaito frito, fried fish you can see on strings on beach-side stalls and restaurants.
– Swim, read, relax, repeat.
– Take a family photo with a jabega, the unique Phoenician boat, in the background.
– Wander along the promenade, stopping to play where necessary of course.
– Get amongst the locals at one of the many festivals celebrated here throughout the year!
Best Hostel in El Palo – La Moraga de Poniente Malaga
Malaga Hostel is five minutes walking distance from the best beaches of the famous area Pedregalejo. This Hostel is the first one in Malaga East. It opened in June 2011 and is designed for medium and long term stays.View on HostelWorld
Best Hotel in El Palo – La Francesca Suites
Providing a shuttle service to Malaga Airport, as well as complimentary Wi-Fi, La Francesa Suites is a comfortable base in Malaga. It also provides a swimming pool, a concierge and a safe. Guests can enjoy the outdoors on the terrace or have a drink at the bar.View on Booking.com View on HotelsCombined View on Agoda
Best Hotel in El Palo – Hotel La Chancla
Hotel La Chancla provides cosy 3-star accommodation in Malaga. It has a spa and wellness centre, as well as a rooftop terrace, a sauna and a Jacuzzi. The hotel has recently been refurbished and offers massage services, a coffee bar and free Wi-Fi.View on Booking.com View on HotelsCombined View on Agoda
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Malaga
Malaga is a winding city with hundreds of tiny streets to get lost in; the best way to travel, if you ask us!
Now you’ll be living like a local, thanks to our handy guide. There are many areas to explore while you’re there though, so if you find a hidden gem, be sure to let us know.
Our best hotel overall, Halcyon Days, is a great place to start, situated right in the midst of the action. Their charming apartments are a home away from home and the perfect base for adventures.
That’s it for the tips and recommendations on where to stay in Malaga from our travel team.
So get your art critic hat on and we’ll see you in Soho, or your party pants on and we’ll catch you in La Merced. Adios!
While Spain can be very safe, it’s super important to make sure you get travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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