Malaga is getting fashionable. Headlines heralding Malaga city as ‘the’ holiday destination for 2014 seem to be popping up almost daily. More and more people are beginning to realise that there is so much more to Malaga than just an international airport. A place to quickly drive through as you head onto the more popular Costa destinations.
What about the more traditional attractions? The ones we more commonly associate with the Costa del Sol. The sun and the beaches.
Here’s a guide to Malaga's city beaches. None of them would ever make a best beaches in Andalucia list, but they all have their own special charm and if looking to break up a morning’s sightseeing and have a quick swim to cool off, you are spoilt for choice.
Being a coastal city, a beach is never far. Nearly all the ones mentioned below are within easy walking distance from the centre of Malaga.
These are not your typical tourist beaches. You won’t find row after row of sunbed rentals and the usual bucket and shade crew, in fact, you’ll be hard pressed to hear anything other than Spanish on them. Which just adds to their appeal. Many of them are also home to some reasonably priced and good restaurants.
According to the official town hall website, there are 15 beaches within Malaga’s city limits. Several of them have been merged into one in this guide. We focused on the more popular, more accessible beaches and the ones that are worth seeing.
Playa del Campo de Golf - San Julián
Sitting directly behind the golf course that belongs to one of Malaga’s two Parador Hotels, the Parador Malaga Golf Hotel, you have an expanse of beach, that is known as the Playa del Campo de Golf - San Julián. A popular spot with kite surfers. Wind permitting, you can see dozens of sails in the air from afar.
The sandy beach is long, approximately 3,5km and extends from Los Alamos to the Guadalhorce river. Parking is never a problem, even at the height of summer.
Playa de Guadalmar
The Guadalmar beachsits adjacent to the San Julian beach, directly behind the urbanisation with the same name. The beach is approximately 450m in length and runs right up to the Guadalhorce river estuary. Sections of it are frequented by naturists, normally around the sand dunes closer to the river estuary. In fact, its Malaga city’s only official nudist beach.
If in the area, a visit to the neighbouring Guadalhorce river estuary natural area is recommended. On both the San Julián and the Guadalmar beaches there are showers, toilets and beach bars. The Chiringuito Servando is probably the best. One important point to bear in mind, is the area sits right under the flight path into Malaga's airport, so expect plenty of low-flying aircraft.
Playa de la Misericordia
Going further eastwards, towards the centre of Malaga and skipping the smallish Playa deSacaba, you have the Playa de la Misericordia, Misericordia beach. The dark sand beach is 1,2km in length and approximately 30m wide. One of Malaga’s most popular beaches, it sits midway between Guadalhorce and Huelin.
Keep your eyes open for an old industrial chimney that sits just next to it. The beach is regularly cleaned and offers all amenities. A recommended place to have lunch would be the Restaurante Vicen-Playa.
Misericordia is one of the best beaches around to experience the Ola del Melillero. The much-loved summertime waves that hit Malaga’s city beaches and the beaches as far away as Rincon de la Victoria.
Every evening, around 7.30pm, you'll see dozens of children with their surfboards at the ready, waiting for a series of waves that seem to appear out of nowhere. Waves that take many unsuspecting tourists and their belongings by surprise. The phenomenon is caused by the approach of the high-speed Malaga - Melilla ferry (nicknamed the Melillero) that arrives in Malaga’s port every night.
Playa de San Andrés
The San Andrés beach is forever ingrained in Malaga’s history as being the spot of the execution of General Torrijos, Boyd and fellow revolutionaries in 1831. The tragic event has been commemorated by the obelisk in Plaza de la Merced.
History aside, it is an increasingly popular beach, with children’s playgrounds, grass areas and all amenities. The dark sand beach is 650m in length and approximately 50m wide. The chiringuito Restaurante Gutiérrez Playa is probably the best around.
Playa de la Malagueta
The large man-made beach sits adjacent to the neighbourhood with the same name. Bars, restaurants, children’s playgrounds, shops, every convenience is at your fingertips. Its a very short walk into the city centre. The beach is popular with local Spanish families and gets crowded during the summer months.
There are ample bars and restaurants to choose from, including the exclusive La Moraga restaurant. For a more reasonably priced and traditional option, the Chiringuito Tropicana, on neighbouring La Caleta beach is recommended. The beach is 1,2km in length and about 45m in width.
Playa de la Malagueta is the first beach in the world to offer a new lifesaving device. The 'Punto Naranja,' literally translated as the 'Orange Point.' After extensive testing, three devices have been in operation since the beginning of April 2014.
The 'orange point' is a concrete structure that houses an electric motor and 400 metres of rope. One end is attached to a harness and the other back into the base. Lifeguards and members of the public can quickly attach someone who is in danger of drowning and have them pulled back to safety, quickly and effortlessly. The machines are also 'Smart' with an integrated GPS system that can pinpoint accidents to the emergency crews.
Playa de la Caleta
One of Malaga’s most popular city beaches, La Playa de la Caleta sits between Playa de la Malagueta and Baños del Carmen, on the Pablo Picasso promenade. A large beach, its about 1km long and 20m wide. A popular spot with local Malagueños. Beach volleyball, cycling, running and working out on the mini outdoor gyms that adjourn the paseo marítimo. You name it, its being practised.
The beach is cleaned daily and is renowned to be the cleanest in the area. All facilities offered, including wheelchair access - for more information see our article on Malaga's accessible facilities and beaches.
Baños del Carmen
Baños del Carmen was home to Malaga’s first spa. The Balneario Nuestra Señora del Carmen was opened to the public on the 16th of July 1918, marking its place in Spanish history as being the first public spa to allow mixed bathing - an almost revolutionary concept at the time.
The much loved Malaga landmark has been fiercely protected by local Malagueños throughout the years. All attempts to develop this prime piece of real estate have been successfully resisted. Although slightly run down and decrepit, its still a great place to wander around and have a bite to eat.
The beach itself is small and popular with university students and Malaga’s younger crowd. The chiringuito, Natural&Mente offers some fantastic Moroccan dishes (try the vegetable couscous). It also provides the setting for many summer parties and concerts. Topless sunbathing, deep water…..its not an ideal family beach, but a great place to visit, have a drink and watch the sunset. The smallish sandy cove is 550m in length and 15m in width.
Playa de Pedregalejo - Las Acacias
Pedregalejo is one of Malaga’s most happening neighbourhoods. Clean, friendly and traditional. A visit is highly recommended. Although predominantly Spanish, several large language schools ensure there's a steady stream of foreign language students gracing its shores every year. Home to plenty of good bars and restaurants.
The seafront in Pedregalejo is also a popular spot for nightlife. Monday nights are traditionally the busiest, with ‘ladies' night,’ in most bars and nightclubs. The beach itself is 1,2km in length and around 20m in width.
Two restaurants that are highly recommended are the Maricuchi and El Caleno. A couple of Malaga's best.
Playa de El Palo
El Palo is Pedregalejo’s working class neighbour. The stretch of beach that makes up El Palo (an extension of Pedregalejo) is popular with locals and foreign language students.
The Paseo Marítimo is a hive of activity, with bars, restaurants and chiringuitos. All facilities offered, including showers and toilets. You can also rent parasols and sun loungers in most places. The beach is 1,2km in length and 25m in width.
Playa El Dedo
Going further eastwards from El Palo. The next expanse of beach is known as El Dedo (the finger). It extends up to the marina at El Candado. Very similar in layout and facilities as on the neighbouring beaches. There are ample bars, chiringuitos and restaurants along the paseo.
There is one in particular, that should be high on any visitor’s wishlist, El Tintero, which has become an institution over the years. Plates of fish and salads are shouted out by waiters, you just point and choose the ones you want. People are charged by the plate at the end. The beach itself is 550m in length and around 25m wide.
Playa El Candado
El Candado is a small exclusive beach that is linked onto the Club Náutico El Candado and the El Candado marina. Only 200m in length and 30m in width.
The restaurant Candado beach has terraces and tables backing onto the beach and serves gourmet traditional dishes. The food is fantastic, although can be a little pricey. The three course set menu at 18€ is a cheaper and better option.
Peñon del Cuervo
A famous Malagueño landmark. The Peñon (the rock) juts out to sea and is clearly visible from numerous spots in Malaga. A popular beach with the younger crowds. It sets the scene for numerous summer beach parties and barbecues, being far enough removed as to not cause problems for the neighbours. There is large picnic/BBQ area, parking and not much else. There are no restaurants and/or facilities. The nearest bars and restaurants are in neighbouring La Araña.
The beach is 450m in length and approximately 25m in width. A beautiful spot, the only blight on the landscape is cement factory just behind it. Notwithstanding, its one of the best beaches in the area.
Getting there is fairly tricky, you need to come off at the exit for the cement factory, double back on yourself and eventually go through a tunnel that leads back to the beach. If you get lost, ask….everyone in the area knows it.
If wanting to discover some of the beaches just outside of Malaga city's limits, the beach at neighbouring La Cala del Moral is recommended. Stay on the old N340 heading eastwards, driving past the cement factory and the beach at La Araña. Take the next exit off for La Cala del Moral. The beach was awarded a Blue Flag in 2013 and makes a great place to spend the day.