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11 most beautiful towns near Malaga

A visit to any of the picturesque communities in the vicinity of Malaga will reveal a distinct environment, each possessing its own unique character and flavor. They are only different, not superior or inferior to those in other places. I recommend visiting them. You will fall in love with their streets, cuisine, architecture, and people as soon as you get there.

Andalusians are known to be a bit different—not in a bad way by any means. You can feel it in the hospitality with which they welcome you when you visit. That's why their towns receive millions of visitors from around the world every year. We love people, we are passionate about the lively atmosphere, and we love to open our doors to have them come and see us.

In this post, I have chosen 11 of the most beautiful towns near Malaga. Each of them holds a special memory for me: a school trip, a getaway with friends, summer festivals, a family trip, or any other significant event in my life.

Now that I am returning as an adult and living in another distant place, I always have that feeling of coming home. I hope and wish that you enjoy them as much as I do.

Table of contents

Towns near Malaga you should visit

Are you ready to discover the most charming towns in this Andalusian province?

1. Frigiliana, among the most beautiful towns near Malaga

axarquia malagueña
Frigiliana

According to National Geographic Travel, it is the most beautiful town in Malaga, and I have to say that after my last three visits in the last two years, I really think it is a spectacular village. It is a place that grabs your attention and makes you fall in love. The same thing happens to everyone who visits, and Frigiliana has something that I can’t explain (besides what you see) that makes you come back.

Its peace, its landscape, its colors, and its light will take you to a state of calm and tranquility that you will surely want to keep. What does Frigiliana have to rank at the top of this list? I could write an entire essay answering this question. Frigiliana has so much, and everything is amazing.

This little yet unique white Axarquian village is located just 57 kilometers east of Malaga’s city center, toward Granada. There are many attractions in this town. Like the Botanical Garden, the Casa del Apero, the Castle of Lizar, and the Palace of the Counts of Frigiliana, which is home to Europe’s only operational cane honey production.

In addition to its places of historical interest, Frigiliana must be highlighted for what makes it an exceptional village: its urban center. Its pristine white houses, decorated with potted flowers and brightly painted doors, are its hallmark. Its small, steep streets with cobblestone floors are captivating, and no matter how tiring it may seem, you will not stop walking them.

Frigiliana, its people, and its town hall take unique care to make their town splendorous, and without a doubt, they succeed.

If you want to know more in detail about everything this town has to offer and plan your itinerary through its key places, here is a much more detailed post about the best things to do in Frigiliana.

🎟️ If you want to learn more details about one of the most beautiful towns in Málaga, I recommend booking this private tour of Frigiliana, which lasts 2 hours. Alternatively, you can choose to go on a hike with wine and appetizers, a very interesting activity.

2. Ronda

beautiful towns near malaga
Ronda

They say it is the perfect town in the province of Malaga for a romantic getaway. To me, Ronda seems impressive and totally essential, whether you travel as a couple, with family, friends, or alone.

Ronda is unique. It has a charm that makes it mysterious, perhaps because of the ancient legends of the gypsy women who were fortune tellers and got entangled with the military personnel at the time (Ronda has one of the most important barracks in Malaga, which was very strategic in the past due to its geographical location). Anyway, Ronda is really special, and that is why it is considered a historic-artistic site.

There’s a pleasant ride over mountain roads on the way up to Ronda. This is your fortunate day if you enjoy a road full of turns. If not, you can easily travel from Malaga’s city by train (18 euros each way). There are only 109 kilometers between Malaga and Ronda, with a substantial portion (if desired) being a toll highway. Nonetheless, the turns start as soon as you reach Marbella.

What comes to mind when anyone thinks of Ronda is that view of the bridge between mountains that crosses the Tagus River. It is spectacular; there is no denying it. But Ronda is much more than that. Important personalities of art and literature such as Hemingway, Orson Wells, García Lorca, or Alberti knew it well and found in its streets the best of their inspirations.

In the historic center, the key points follow one another, and through them, you can discover much of the history of the town. The Arabic influence is reflected mainly in the Palace of the Moorish King and at the Palace of Mondragón or the Marquis of Salvatierra. From the modernist period, the house of San Juan Bosco. The religious temples include the Church of Santa Maria La Mayor, the Charity, and the Holy Spirit (if you like Easter in Ronda, it has a special character).

Of course, in Ronda, you have to enjoy the Arab Baths, as they are the best preserved in all of Spain. Before finishing your visit to Ronda, you should definitely see the Plaza de Toros (Bullring). The building is pure beauty, dating from the eighteenth century, and is one of the landmarks not only of the history of Spanish bullfighting but also of tradition and art.

Spending a nigh in Ronda is a good idea. Waking up in that environment is the best gift you can give yourself. The Catalonia Ronda Hotel is a 5-star hotel with stunning views of the Plaza de Toros. Other very well-known hotels are the Hotel Don Miguel and Los Pilares de Ronda Boutique & Hotel (they are 5-star hotels, but the city has a wide range of accommodations for all tastes and budgets).

🎟️ No better way to explore this beautiful town than taking this free tour of Ronda, giving you the opportunity to visit the most emblematic places.

3. Genalguacil, one of the best towns near Malaga

Genalguacil
Genalguacil

On the way to Ronda from Malaga, there are other very interesting villages to visit, which you can include in your travel itinerary. Genalguacil is one of those places that should not be missed. Perhaps it is less known but really worth a stop, especially for those who love hiking and nature (not everything is going to be a historical monument).

From this village located in the western part of the province of Malaga (on the way up to Ronda, past Estepona), you can start numerous hiking trails, allowing you to learn about the province’s unique natural heritage without sacrificing its historical significance.

This white village is like a living museum since in its streets are embedded different works of great artistic and historical value. Its cat-shaped chimneys, the sculpture of the little old lady at the foot of the slope, the paintings hung on different facades, or the works of urban art that every summer 10 chosen artists leave on its walls are curious.

The best parts of this village are its streets and alleys, its physiognomy, and getting lost in its calm. Wandering aimlessly will surely bring you great discoveries.

4. Estepona

Estepona
Estepona

Here it already smells of sea—a lot of sea. To that Mediterranean sea that is so Malaga and that has so fascinated us all. Estepona is one of the most surprising destinations in the province of Malaga. Everyone always has Marbella in mind, but just a few kilometers further on, another very interesting, beautiful, and even authentic scenario opens up (away from the tourist hustle and bustle).

Estepona has all the essence of the coastal towns of Malaga. Coastal and fishermen because, as in most of the municipalities bathed by the sea, this corner owes much of its life and economic activity to everything that comes from the Mediterranean.

In fact, it is so linked to the sea that in its streets, you can see and contemplate different large-scale murals that reflect it. It is curious that essence, tradition, and modernism come together in a perfect marriage. One of the biggest current attractions of Estepona is its street art route, which will accompany you casually on your walk through its streets.

Don’t forget to visit this coastal town, its old town that has positioned it as one of the most beautiful villages of Malaga and Spain. It is essential to visit its Moorish castle and, obviously, enjoy its beaches and gastronomy (leaving without an espeto must be a mortal sin). We also recommend a tour of Estepona.

5. Benalmádena

beautiful towns near Malaga
Castillo de Colomares

Following the coastal route of the western part of the province, we must make a stop in Benalmádena. This town is well known to tourists and has many attractions for lovers of the sea, the beach, and water sports. But… Benalmádena has much more, and its historic center, a little far from the beach, is really beautiful.

The Colomares Castle is a must (you can book a guided tour of it!) and a perfect starting point to continue discovering other places like the Jardines del Muro (by César Manrique), the Bil-Bil Castle, the Pre-Columbian Art Museum of Felipe Orlando, or the Buddhist Stupa, which has an impressive night illumination (the largest stupa in the West).

One of the best ways to see all of Benalmádena and much of the coastline of the Costa del Sol from above is to take the cable car. The ride is very pleasant, and once at the top, you can go biking or hiking.

Just like in Estepona, the beaches are also very nice here, the promenade is perfect for strolling, and the beach bars are extraordinary for a good espeto. If you want to get to know the best of this town with a guide, do not hesitate to book this free tour of Benalmádena.

6. Antequera, one of the most beautiful towns near Malaga

towns near Malaga
Antequera

Returning to the interior and almost out of the province of Malaga to the north is Antequera, a jewel of our history that is enjoyed both historically and gastronomically (you can’t not try the porra antequerana).

Located between Seville and Cordoba, Antequera is famous, among other things, for its historic complex of Dolmens, recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2016, along with the Peña de los Enamorados and the Natural Park of El Torcal (a mandatory excursion in all schools in the province).

Getting to Antequera is very easy because the communications have been greatly improved, something that attracts more and more tourism and strengthens this industry for the locals. Nowadays, there is an Ave (high-speed train) station in Antequera, making the journey from Madrid or Malaga very pleasant.

In Antequera, you have to write down the places to visit to have time for everything (I recommend staying there for at least one night because it is very nice). The following places cannot be left out of your itinerary through the town: the Church of Carmen, the Torreón de Asalto, the Almenillas viewpoint, the Alcazaba (so typical of the province and its Mozarabic stronghold), the Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor, the Plaza del Portichuelo, San Sebastián Plaza, and Plaza del Coso Viejo.

Of course, you have to reserve a morning or afternoon (it all depends on how hot or cold it is) for the Dolmens and the Torcal. You can visit them on your own or by booking this organized and guided day trip to both sites.

Take advantage of your visit to try two of the delicacies of Antequera: the porra antequerana (it is something between gazpacho and salmorejo) and the molletes (the typical bread in the region that is incredible, especially for breakfast with tomato, extra virgin olive oil, and ham).

Visiting Antequera is a pleasure and can be done on your own, but to not miss anything and get to everything (especially to know its secrets, which really have many), it is always better to opt for a guided tour like this walking tour of Antequera.

7. Archidona

Archidona
Archidona

Leaving Antequera behind and following the A-92, between the mountains of the interior of the province of Malaga, we find this small village well known to us (the Malagueños). For those who land there by chance, it is quite a surprise that “La Señora de la Altura,” as it is known, is really impressive.

In this white village, the first thing to visit is its viewpoint, from which you can see the whole valley that runs at the foot of the Sierra de Gracia. Only there will you get an idea of what covers this mountain range with special charm and the reason for its colloquial name.

In Archidona, there are several legends of apparitions of the Virgin to the Christians during the wars against the Moors. But it also has many interesting places to visit, such as La Villa Alta (archaeological site of the castle, Mezquita Eremita de la Virgen de Gracia), the remains of the Almohad, Puerta del Sol, the Ermita de la Virgen de Gracia (which also now houses the Interpretation Center of Mozarabic culture), the Ermita del Santo Cristo, the Villa Baja, the Plaza Ochavada (baroque jewel), and the Enamorados de Archidona, protagonists of another of the legends of the town.

Archidona is one of those places that perhaps you do not have on your travel itinerary, but when you add it, everything takes on a greater meaning.

8. Mijas (Town), a unique town near Malaga

mijas
Mijas

Before leaving the area and the west coast, you have to go up again to visit what everybody knows as the village of the “burrotaxi,” Mijas.

Mijas village (because there is also Mijas costa) is the pure essence of the white villages of Malaga. The village is full of slopes and steep streets flanked by white houses with hanging pots of geraniums. It is a key point on the Costa del Sol that no one should miss.

It is so acclaimed and visited by tourists from all over the world during the year that parking there becomes a bit difficult (especially in the summer). The Town Hall, aware of this situation, has set up a large parking lot (in a vertical building) in the town center and another open-air parking lot at the top (in an old mine), from which shuttles (minibuses) constantly go up and down.

Despite being a relatively inland village (any village in Malaga that is not on the beach is considered to be inland), it is characterized by the use that its neighbors make of the color blue for the decoration of flowerpots, chairs, tables, and street furniture. A color that combines perfectly with the white of the whitewashed facades and the green of the lush and well-kept plants.

In Mijas village, the most interesting thing is to walk through its streets because they are really beautiful. In addition, the village has points of historical interest that could not be otherwise: the Plaza Virgen de la Peña (from where I recommend you start your walk), the Ermita de la Virgen de la Peña, the Casa Museo de Mijas (famous for the movie La Trinchera Infinita), or the only oval bullring that exists.

The use of donkeys in Mijas dates back to a long time ago when they were used as a means of transportation for tourists in the 1950s due to the steep terrain (initiated by a British tour operator). In its day, it was a great tourist attraction and a significant marketing move, the results of which persist to this day. Fortunately, the town has decided that it is not necessary to continue this use of these beautiful animals, and donkey taxis no longer exist.

In Mijas, there are many accommodation options to choose from. It all depends on whether you prefer the inland area – Mijas Pueblo or the beach – Mijas Costa. Either way, these options are perfect for relaxation: La Zambra Resort GL or Ilunion Hacienda de Mijas.

🎟️ Would you like to discover the most curious facts and the most charming places in this beautiful town? Don’t miss this free tour of Mijas. It’s very interesting!

9. Nerja, one of the most beautiful towns near Málaga

beautiful towns near malaga
Nerja

It’s time to leave behind the western and inland part of the province to reach the most beautiful towns in the east of Málaga (we seem like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, with the Witches of the East and the West, in this case, no witches but charming towns). Frigiliana is also in the eastern part, but I placed it first on the list because it is considered the most beautiful town in Malaga, Andalusia.

There is no better way to start this area than by reaching the easternmost point of the province: Nerja. It is the last town before entering Granada (and beyond, you find other marvels like La Herradura, Almuñecar, or Motril belonging to the Granada region).

Nerja is one of those towns that needs no introduction and will appear in every guide, report, or magazine discussing the province of Malaga or even Spain.

It is one of the quintessential white villages of Andalusia, in this case, coastal. The essence of the sea permeates it in every aspect. Nerja is authentic Mediterranean, and it neither can nor wants to hide it. Today, fishing and tourism are its two main economic engines (in addition to tropical agriculture with mango, avocado, and papaya).

There are a lot of places to visit in Nerja: the Caves of Nerja, the Balcón de Europa, its beaches, the Church of El Salvador, and of course, its urban center perfect for strolling and enjoying a peaceful and authentic day. Furthermore, its surroundings are a natural treasure. You can discover unique beaches there that are part of natural heritage and reserves (such as the beaches of Catarriján).

🎟️ One of the best ways to explore Nerja, one of the most charming towns near Malaga, is by joining one of the many tours in Nerja. You’ll love it!

10. Comares, located in the mountains of Málaga

things to do in comares malaga
Source: Bart / CC BY-NC 2.0

Comares. So little yet so beautiful. I love a small, lesser-known, charming village. If you want to experience the pure essence of the mountains of Málaga, you have to go to Comares. It is located in the northeast part of the province, and although I visited it when I was young, returning as an adult has been another rediscovery.

Certainly, Comares is always very present in the lives of all Malagueños because our most special wine comes from there, the sweet wine or Moscatel… Another level! This is the best wine I have ever tasted for an aperitif or, even better, for dessert. Pair it with some cheese, and indulge yourself. If you have it right there in Comares, it tastes different (you know that everything in its place of origin has a different flavor).

You’ll find the Balcony of Axarquía there. Peering over it allows you to see the entire Vega of the region in a privileged way. In addition to its views and gastronomy (wine and ajoblanco), Comares also offers interesting visits such as the Puerta de Málaga, the Street of Forgiveness, the Baluarte La Tahona Castle, the Camino de la Aguada, or the Route of the Fountains.

If you’re curious about this village and want to discover more about it, I recommend checking out this more detailed post on things to do in Comares, entirely dedicated to it.

11. Torrox

things to do in torrox
Torrox

We conclude this tour of some of the most beautiful towns in Málaga with a final coastal stop: Torrox. Well, it’s actually a town split in two, with one part by the sea and the other inland (although there are only 4 kilometers between them).

Torrox is just before reaching Nerja when coming from Málaga, and personally, I recommend starting by visiting Torrox Pueblo and then ending the day with a sunset over the sea along the Torrox Costa promenade.

Between the two, you have various options to explore, such as the old town, the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation, the Palace of La Joya, the statue of El Toque de la Caracola, El Ingenio, or the statue of El Miguero. However, Torrox’s greatest charm, as in most of the towns we’ve visited on this route, lies in its streets. Here, they are also whitewashed, and the vivid colors of their doors stand out. Essential streets to explore include Calle Silva, Plaza de Oriente, and Calle Nerja.

To recharge in Mijas, there is no debate; you must try Migas accompanied by grapes.

From this town, I leave you another exclusive and detailed post about things to do in Torrox so that you can plan your visit.

Map of the best towns near Malaga

To help you organize your trip through these 11 beautiful towns near Malaga, you can find them all marked on this map. This way, you can clearly see their location in the capital, which is a starting point for many.

These are the 11 most beautiful villages near Malaga that I have chosen for this post. I used past memories, experiences, and also cross-referenced with the opinions of tourism experts and visitors to create this list.

Perhaps you might miss other towns near Malaga, such as Alpandeire, Ojén, Marbella, Archidona, or Genalguacil. All of them are also wonderful towns deserving of being on this list, but I had to make a selection. If you know these or other towns in Malaga and have a different opinion or comments, don’t hesitate to write to me. I’d love for us to chat about this.

Check this Spain travel guide to keep planning your trip!

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