11 Top-Rated Beaches in Malaga

Written by Michael Law
Mar 13, 2023
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Author Michael Law spent 10 weeks in 2022 traveling through southern Spain visiting beaches and towns while on assignment for PlanetWare.

Malaga is the perfect place to hit the beach in southern Spain. A thriving and interesting city with ancient forts, Roman ruins, a delightful Old Town, and great restaurants ensures you'll have a fun vacation on and off the beach.

Malaga is set right on the water, so finding a beach in Malaga is never difficult. You'll find busy urban beaches with wonderful walkways, small natural beaches with interesting offshore features, and long stretches of uninterrupted golden sand all along the Costa del Sol. Rent a bike or, even better, an e-bike, and take to the trails that connect most of the beaches east and west of the city center.

The key to finding your best beach in Malaga is the port. This major cruise ship and commercial port divides the waterfront into east and west sections. Beaches to the east of the port are easy to walk to and have interesting neighborhoods behind them. The beaches to the west are larger, longer, and have less infrastructure behind them until you get closer to Torremolinos.

Find your perfect beach in Malaga with our list below.

1. Playa de la Malagueta

Playa de la Malagueta
Playa de la Malagueta | Photo Copyright: Michael Law

A favorite beach of those living downtown, Playa de la Malagueta has a bit of everything for everyone. Easily accessible via public transit or by foot, bicycle, or e-scooter, this beach is wide, with soft tan sand.

It's a place to see and be seen, with many of the city's beautiful people strutting their stuff along the palm-shaded walkway at the back of the beach.

A large offshore breakwater divides the beach into east and west. The area to the west tends to be busier as it's closer to downtown and is backed by large condo towers. The sand here is a golden brown, and the water is generally fairly calm for swimming. A few chiringuitos (beach restaurants) are located along here as well.

Off in the distance is the Port of Malaga, most days massive cruise ships can be seen docked at the piers.

Street parking is almost impossible; however, parking garages are available at the western end of the beach. Note that the eastern end of this beach is called Playa Caleta and some people call the entire beach by that name.

Read More: Best Beaches in Spain

2. Playas del Palo

Playas del Palo
Playas del Palo | Photo Copyright: Michael Law

Playas del Palo is one of the best urban beaches in Malaga. Unlike others closer to the city, this beach and the area behind it have a beach town vibe. You won't find tall condo towers or big hotels here, but what you will find are small buildings and narrow streets full of restaurants and shops.

Mature trees line the back of the beach. See if you can snag one of the coveted tables in the shade and have a long lingering lunch. This stretch of walkway is popular and usually busy, and the people-watching is second to none.

The beach is a series of sandy arcs in between man-made breakwaters. These offshore features ensure that the waves never get too large and that the water warms up slightly. Swimming here is still a chilly experience though, even in the height of summer.

Each Saturday, a local fruit, vegetable, and general market springs up at the western end of the beach. It's an ideal spot to grab everything you need for a picnic on the beach.

Cars are limited to one narrow, one-way road, at the back of the beach. This ensures peace and quiet but makes parking here nearly impossible.

3. Playa de Alamos

Playa de Alamos
Playa de Alamos | Photo Copyright: Michael Law

As you stand atop the Alcazaba in Malaga soaking up the view, the beach you see off in the distance to your right is Playa de Alamos.

A mix of people use this beach; some are local, some are from the surrounding area, and some are tourists who want to stay near downtown but still have access to the water.

This is a beautiful stretch of sandy beach, with lots of restaurants and a walking trail that takes you right into the heart of Malaga. Views to the distant mountains are spectacular.

Unlike the other beaches close to town on the west side, parking here is easy and free.

4. Playa Bajaondilo

Playa Bajaondilo
Playa Bajaondilo | Photo Copyright: Michael Law

If you've flown into Malaga and are looking for sun, sand, and relaxation on a beach backed by restaurants and hotels with a fun vibe, look no further than Playa Bajaondilo. This long stretch of sand and pebbles is tourist central; you'll hear English, French, German, and Spanish on the sand.

You won't be hurt for choice finding a restaurant or sunbed rental. Establishments are practically side by side all the way down the beach; each offers food and drinks. The beach scene gets livelier and louder as you head farther west toward the large headland.

Extensive accommodation choices are on offer here. One of the best is the Melia Costa del Sol.

Accessing the beach is tricky if you have a car, as the city of Torrelimos is set high on a bluff up from the beach.

5. Playa de Calahonda

Playa Calahonda
Playa de Calahonda | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

This is likely the beach you've seen on postcards or on social media. Located in the heart of Neerja, about 45 minutes east of Malaga, this beach is tiny but so beautiful. It's worth taking the time to see.

Set in a small cove with towering headlands on either side, this beach is spectacular in every way. Azure waters wash in on tawny sands while sun worshippers lie out on their tanning beds. Other more active folks splash about in the small waves in the shallows.

Protected on almost all sides, Playa de Calahonda is one of the best places to go when the wind is up or the seas are rough. Even if you don't hit the beach, wander up to the Balcon de Europa, a walkway and scenic lookout with views over the beach and coast. Or, head to one of the restaurants perched high on the cliffs directly behind the beach and have lunch while you soak up the scene.

Access to the beach is easy if you are driving; a large underground parking lot is located mere minutes away.

6. Playa Maro

Playa Maro
Playa Maro | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

If you crave a bit of nature in your beach experience and don't mind a bit of a drive from Malaga, then head to Play Maro.

This beach, located just under an hour from downtown Malaga is the most natural of all the beaches in the region. A picturesque curve of sand between two giant headlands lapped by impossibly clear waters; this is one beach you don't want to miss. No hotels, condos, or other developments are located here, it's just the ocean, sand, and hills.

This beach is not for the faint of heart. The road down to it is paved but steep and narrow. You'll likely end up parking up the road and walking down a fair distance. You may want to be judicious in the amount of beach gear you bring knowing that you'll need to bring it all back up again.

7. Playa Butibama

Playa Butibama
Playa Butibama | Photo Copyright: Michael Law

Just a bit east of Malaga, Playa Butibama, is a huge expanse of sand where you'll never have trouble finding a perfect spot to set up your beach gear.

Stretching for many miles in either direction, this beach is a mix of soft sand and pebbles near the shore. It has a relaxed vibe and sees few tourists. People from the surrounding areas often come here instead of traveling to busy Malaga.

Playa Butibama has everything that beaches to the east have; the only thing it doesn't have are the crowds. Pleasant chiringuitos (beach restaurants) serve up fine seafood and other beach treats but at lower prices than Malaga.

The eastern area of the beach is particularly scenic, with a large headland extending into the ocean. If the winds are up, this area tends to be more protected. An offshore breakwater also ensures that the waves are smaller at this end.

A wide pedestrian and bicycling walkway runs behind the beach. The section heading east goes around the headland and through several tunnels before emerging at Playa del Rincón de la Victoria.

8. Playa del al Misericordia

Playa de la Misericordia
Playa de la Misericordia | Photo Copyright: Michael Law

If you want to hang with the locals, head to Playa de la Misericordia. This friendly spot is where the folks from Malaga head to with their friends and families. This is a huge beach with lots of room to roam. The best part of the beach is at the east end closer to town.

A few chiringuitos (beach restaurants) are out here but for the most part, it's just beach, beach, and more beach. Volleyball nets in sand courts along with football (soccer) pitches are set up near the back of the beach, and it's easy to join in a game even if your Spanish is rusty or even nonexistent.

A wide walkway runs along the back of the beach and is perfect for walking, biking, or jogging.

Playa de la Misericordia is also the local surfing hot spot. Expect to see lots of surfers bobbing just offshore waiting for the next seven-second ride on a perfectly breaking roller. A couple of spots are available on the beach, the most consistent and popular is right between the two new towers being built.

The area in behind the beach is slated for redevelopment and is changing quickly. In a few years, this will be one of the up-and-coming beach spots in the city. Parking is plentiful, easy, and free.

9. Playa de la Carihuela

Playa de la Carihuela
Playa de la Carihuela | Photo Copyright: Michael Law

Around the headland to the west of Playa Bajaondilo, Playa de la Carihuela is a low-key place with a relaxed scene. You'll find lots of English spoken here, as the beach is a magnet for those from that rainy little island up north.

The beach is wide with several large restaurants right on the beach. It's a scenic spot with the large headland dominating the scenery at the eastern end. The western end is dominated by the massive marina at Benalmadena.

The city area in behind the beach is a mix of small hotels and condos.

10. Playa Peñon del Cuervo

Playa Peñon del Cuervo
Playa Peñon del Cuervo | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

For a beach that is both parts scenic and very local, head to Playa Peñon del Cuervo. This offshore island is swimmable and has a jumping point on the right hand side. The beach is small and rarely crowded. Pack a barbecue lunch; a number of free BBQs along with tables are set back in the trees behind the beach.

A walkway runs behind this beach along the shoreline all the way to central Malaga. Beyond the beach, the walkway passes through a tunnel on the point but ends shortly after. Don't confuse this beach with the one of the same name close to the Puerto de Candado.

Playa Peñon del Cuervo and walkway
Playa Peñon del Cuervo and walkway | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Pack your snorkeling gear, the area around the little island is a good spot to see colorful and interesting marine life. Along with the snorkeling gear, also pack a bit of your inner daredevil — the island has several large outcroppings that are just perfect for jumping off into the clear waters below.

Parking is easy and plentiful here, although it's important to note that if you are driving a campervan, you may not be able to make it through the tunnel under the highway.

11. Playa Granada

Playa Granada
Playa Granada | Photo Copyright: Michael Law

Off most people's radar is Playa Granada, located a fair distance to the east of Malaga in Motril.

This is the beach to come to if you are a bargain hunter. Food and accommodation are cheap out here, and those who like to camp will find a large campground located across the road from the beach.

The beach is absolutely huge and is backed by a long grove of tall palm trees. A wide walkway runs along this area, providing shady spaces for throwing a Frisbee or a game of boules.

Not far from the beach to the west are a series of good hotels and golf resorts. One of the best is the Impressive Playa Granada Golf, with its massive pools, a decent beach, and small golf course.