Aerial view of Malaga Botanical Gardens with Malaga cruise port in background

Malaga Cruise Port Guide: Alcazaba, Ruins, Picasso & Beaches

Sunshine, vibrant culture, and a beautiful historic heart – Malaga, Spain has it all! While organised tours can be convenient, exploring this vibrant city independently puts you in the driver’s seat. Malaga’s compact size makes DIY touring a breeze.

Yes, it’s a 30-minute troll to reach the enchanting Old Town (yes, I walked it) but I’ve got public transport tips below if you don’t feel like doing the walk. So let’s get planning!

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Malaga Cruise Port: Is a DIY Excursion Easy? ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž (Easy Peasy)

Planning a DIY Shore excursion at Malaga cruise port? Here’s why I rate Malaga cruise port highly for easy independent exploration ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž:

  • Walkable to Old Town: Yes, it took me 30 minutes but the route is scenic. It takes you past beaches and the Botanical Gardens – perfect for those who enjoy a leisurely stroll.
  • Convenient Bus to City Centre: Prefer to save your energy for exploring? There’s a bus stop just a short walk from the cruise terminal. Tap your contactless card and you’ll in the heart of Old Town in a flash!
  • Explore Further with the Metro: For attractions slightly further afield, Malaga’s metro network offers a fast and efficient way to get around.
  • Compact Old Town: The historic Old Town is packed with must-see sights, all conveniently located within easy walking distance of each other.

Malaga Cruise Port Essentials: All You Need to Know

Malaga Cruise Port Address: P.ยบ de la Farola, 25, 29016 Mรกlaga, Spain

There are three cruise terminals: Terminal A, Terminal B and the Palm Grove Terminal (only fit small ships). If you’re arriving on a large ship, then you’ll be in either Terminal A (marked) or Terminal B (slightly further south). My walk into Old Town was from Terminal B (30 minutes).

  • Currency: Euros
  • Language: Spanish
  • Official websites: 
  • Recommended Transport App: I would recommend using Citymapper to navigate bus routes and the metro. Google Maps also worked fine!
  • eSIM for roaming in Spain: For a great data connection without the huge roaming fees, use an eSim data pack from Airalo. I always recommend having a smartphone with a valid plan when youโ€™re at port touring independently. Get US$3 off your first eSIM data pack from Airalo when you use ROXANN1666 when you sign up or apply it at checkout

Malaga Cruise Port to City Centre: Getting your Bearings

My Malaga Map: ๐Ÿ‘‡ Click on the upper right hand corner to see a bigger version. If the map is not loading, then click here to see it on Google Maps.

1. Walking Route

Lighthouse of Malaga Spain
Lighthouse of Malaga – use this as your landmark
  • Find the Lighthouse: Once out of the cruise terminal, orient yourself by looking for the Lighthouse of Malaga (La Farola de Malaga). The beach will be on your right.
  • Left at the Botanical Gardens: Keep walking and when you see the luscious Botanical Gardens, either walk to the end of the gardens and then cross the street, or follow the blue route in my map ๐Ÿ‘† above for a marginally quicker route to the Cathedral, in the heart of Old Town.
  • Journey Time: This walk took me 30 minutes at a leisurely pace.

2. Bus Route

  • Bus Stop at Lighthouse: As above, walk towards the Lighthouse. The bus stop for Bus #14 is just past the lighthouse.
  • Tickets: Bus fare is โ‚ฌ1.40. The easiest way to pay the fare is to tap your contactless card or Apple/Android Pay on your phone and smartwatch. You can also pay cash to the driver.
  • Hop Off 5 stops later, called “Paseo del Parque – Plaza Marina“. Stops are also marked on my map above ๐Ÿ‘†.

Must-See Sights Close By Malaga Cruise Port

1. The Alcazaba

This magnificent Moorish fortress, built way back in the 11th century, has witnessed centuries of history unfolding around it. But it’s way more than a fortress! It was a palace fit for sultans!

Climb the fortified walls for stunning panoramic views that encompass the city, the port and the Mediterranean. Don’t miss the Torre de la Vela (watchtower), the Alcazaba’s highest point.

Courtyard gardens at Alcazaba, Malaga Spain
  • How to Get There: Few minutes walk from within Old Town. It’s well signposted. If all else fails, look up, you’ll see it!
  • Opening Hours: 9am to 8pm daily from April to October, 9am to 6pm daily from November to March.
  • Tickets: โ‚ฌ3.50 for adults, โ‚ฌ1.50 for students and seniors 65+. You can purchase online on its official website but there’s also ticket machines to buy from. Combined tickets with the Gibralfaro Castle is โ‚ฌ5.50 for adults, โ‚ฌ2.50 for students and seniors 65+ – you have to visit both within 48 hours.
  • Free Audio Guide: Bring a fully charged phone and headphones! You’ll see a QR code to access the included audio guide. Here’s the direct link to it.

2. The Roman Theatre (Teatro Romano)

Roman Theatre in Malaga, Spain

Tucked at the foot of the Alcazaba, you’ll find the Roman Theatre, a testament to the city’s ancient roots. Dating back to the 1st century AD, this remarkably preserved theatre once entertained thousands of spectators.

Built in the time of Augustus (yes, the same Roman Emperor that spent time in Capri), this Roman Theatre was in use until the 3rd century. Much of its construction material such as stones, columns and carved stones were later used for building the Alcazaba.

It’s free to enter but you can also get an excellent view from the main road Alcazabilla.

3. Malaga Cathedral: A Renaissance Masterpiece (With a Twist!)

Facade of the Malaga Cathedral, Malaga Spain

Malaga Cathedral, also known as the “La Manquita” (the one-armed lady), is a grand example of Renaissance architecture with a unique backstory. Construction began in the 16th century, and while the cathedral boasts stunning details, it was never fully completed. Due to a lack of funds, one of the towers was never finished, giving the cathedral its distinctive asymmetrical appearance and its endearing nickname.

Step inside and marvel at the soaring ceilings, intricate carvings, and ornate choir stalls. (I’ve been to hundreds of churches and even I was wowed by this one!) Works by renowned Spanish Baroque sculptor Pedro de Mena adorn its chapels. Don’t miss the beautifully landscaped courtyard, dotted with fragrant orange trees, offering a peaceful place for reflection.

  • Opening Hours: 10am to 7pm Monday-Friday, 10am – 6pm Saturday, 2pm – 6pm Sunday.
  • Tickets: ยฃ10 for adults, โ‚ฌ9 for seniors 65+, โ‚ฌ7 for students, free for kids under 13.
  • Included audioguide: Don’t forget to pick up the free handset. There’s a separate audioguide for kids. If you follow the audioguide, it will take you about
  • Rooftop closed: The climb to the Cathedral’s rooftops is currently closed for 3 years for renovation. So in the meantime, enjoy watching the following video for what it’s like!

4. Picasso Museum & Picasso’s Birthplace Museum

Picasso Museum Malaga The Echo of Picasso Exhibition
Photo courtesy of Picasso Museum Malaga

Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga and lived there until he was 10. So it’s fitting that there’s more than one museum dedicated to him in Malaga!

The Picasso Museum is housed in the beautiful Buenavista Palace and holds a 300+ collection donated by members of Picasso’s family. There’s family portraits, childhood sketches and works that real his enduring fascination with traditional Spanish themes like bullfights.

  • Opening Hours: 10am to 7pm daily.
  • Tickets: Online tickets are cheaper – โ‚ฌ12 adults, โ‚ฌ10 for seniors and students, free for kids <18. Include a free audio guide. Note that tickets are dated and timed. Tickets at the box office cost โ‚ฌ1 extra. Link to official website’s ticket office here.

Picasso’s Birthplace Museum (Museo Casa Natal Picasso) is a few minutes’ walk away. The exhibition rooms are focused on Picasso’s early artistic training as a child, under his father’s guidance. Open 9:30am to 8pm daily. โ‚ฌ3 for adults, โ‚ฌ2 for seniors and students, free for kids.

If you only have time to see one, I would recommend going to the Picasso Museum.

5. Gibralfaro Castle (Castillo de Gibralfaro)

The 14th-century Gibralfaro Castle stands atop a 132m mountain overlooking Malaga. Initially built for defensive purposes, it became a near-impregnable fortress thanks to its strategic position and construction. Connected to the Alcazaba by the double-walled Coracha passageway, it served as a vital defensive link. While originally built with a Phoenician and Roman presence, it was the Moors who developed the castle into the fortress seen today.

The castle boasts a fortified barbican surrounding the entire structure, ensuring protection from all sides. Its internal features include a 40m Airรณn Well, rainwater collection cisterns, and even bread ovens from the Christian occupation era. While initially featuring a mosque, the castle was later transformed into barracks and a prison by the Catholic Monarchs after their conquest.

  • How to get there: Bus #35 will take you to the entrance (final stop). The most convenient stop is “Paseo del Parque – Plaza Marina“. I’ve marked it on my Malaga map above ๐Ÿ‘†. Link to the full route on Citymapper here. Pay the โ‚ฌ1.40 fare with a contactless card.
  • Opening Hours: 9am to 8pm daily from April to October, 9am to 6pm daily from November to March.
  • Tickets: Combined tickets with the Alcazaba is โ‚ฌ5.50 for adults, โ‚ฌ2.50 for students and seniors 65+ – you have to visit both within 48 hours.
  • Tip: For keen walkers, the path linking Gibralfaro and the Alcazaba has spectacular views too. The walk is steep, so the easiest alternative is to catch the bus up and then walk back down to the city centre.

If you only have time for either the Alcazaba or Gibralfaro Castle, I would recommend visiting the Alcazaba instead.

6. Mercado Central de Atarazanas

Stained glass windows in Mercado Atarazana in Malaga Spain
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Experience the vibrant should have Malaga at this historic market. Admire the magnificent 19th century architecture with intricate ironwork and a stunning stained-glass window depicting the city’s history.

You can assemble your perfect picnic from here, with samplers of Manzanilla olives and jamรณn ibรฉrico. There’s bakeries and patisseries for both sweet and savoury ready-to-eat goodies. Not a picnic person? Then just grab at seat at one of the market’s tapas bars.

How to get there: Walking distance from the Cathedral in Old Town.

7. Malagueta Beach

Just want to unwind on a Mediterranean beach? Then Malagueta beach, right by the cruise port, is perfect for renting a sun lounger, soaking up the sun and taking a dip. There’s restaurants & bars all along the beach.

How to get there: The long stretch of beach starts opposite the Lighthouse at Malaga cruise port.

8. Calling Art Museum Buffs…

If you’re a museum buff like me, there are four more museums which may interest you:

  • Malaga Museum: Dive into the region’s rich history and artistic heritage at this two-for-one museum. Explore archaeological finds illuminating Malaga’s past, then admire a fine arts collection spanning centuries of Spanish creativity.
  • Carmen Thyssen Museum: This elegant museum offers a captivating journey through 19th-century Spanish and Andalusian art. Discover vibrant landscapes, captivating portraits, and scenes exploring regional traditions with works by masters like Sorolla and Zuloaga.
  • Interactive Music Museum: Get hands-on with music at this fun and engaging museum. Explore instruments from around the world, try your hand at playing different instruments, and immerse yourself in musical experiences in their dedicated interactive rooms.
  • Pompidou Centre Malaga: Modern and contemporary art at this outpost of the renowned Parisian institution. Conveniently located on the walk back to Malaga cruise port.

Featured Image by 14578371 from Pixabay shows the Lighthouse close by the cruise port and the Botanical Gardens which you’ll see on route to Old Town.

I hope this blog post empowers you to make the most of your Malaga stopover. Whether you crave history, art, beaches, or simply a taste of local life, this city has something for you. And if you found my tips valuable, please consider sharing this post with other cruise enthusiasts. Have a wonderful time discovering Malaga!

2 thoughts on “Malaga Cruise Port Guide: Alcazaba, Ruins, Picasso & Beaches”

  1. Tressa Hassie

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