5 Must-do sporting activities in Malaga
As Guide to Malaga fans know, we like to get off the beaten track every so often. And we’re also fans of hiking and cycling. It turns out that all three come together nicely in Malaga, a city with perfect Feng Shui, according to Chinese tradition. ‘You Shan, You Shui’ means ‘has mountain, has water’. To make the most of this, join us for five suggestions for sporting activities in Malaga. And even better, they come with a view!
Go electric on goat paths
AKA a mountain bike ride up to the peaks of the Montes de Malaga Nature Reserve. A stunning 5,000 hectares of 1,000-metre peaks, hidden waterfalls, crystal clear streams and discovery trails. And all a mere 5km from Calle Larios!
The Montes de Malaga include some tough hiking and biking, but to make things easier, hire an electric-assisted mountain bike. You’ll still get plenty of exercise, but also have enough puff left to enjoy the views when you get to the top.
Ride the dedicated bicycle lanes out of the city centre straight north past the Rosaleda football stadium, through the Ciudad Jardín palms and citrus trees until the well-marked gravel paths that start at the nature reserve entrance in the San Telmo neighbourhood.
There is a 45km and 1,700m vertical gain loop called MiniMTBCabra (little mountainbike goat), enough a half-day adventure for most riders. Admire the work you’ve put in from lookout points such as Mirador Vazquez Sell and recharge with a stop for a picnic at the tables in the Cerrado area.
- Take plenty of water and sunscreen (even in winter).
- Make sure your phone is fully charged.
- Wear layers of clothing appropriate for the season. The north-facing slopes stay below freezing well into the day in the winter, while the south-facing slopes bake in the summer sun.
Visit the Concepción Botanical Gardens, 500m from the nature reserve entrance, to see some of the loveliest gardens in southern Spain.
Get high on the Arab Stairway
AKA a mountain hike near El Caminito del Rey. This is perhaps the most challenging of our suggestions for sporting activities in Malaga, but the views from the top of your climb are more than worth it. Nature lovers are in for a treat and you get 360º views of mountain ranges in Malaga province and as far as Sierra Nevada in Granada.
And this isn’t just a one-off hike. The whole area around the whistle-stop village of El Chorro offers many additional options for hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers and nature lovers. But this sporting activity is about getting up to the 1,200m summit.
Take the morning train bound for Antequera from María Zambrano station, a 39-minute ride to El Chorro station. Start your hike at a moderate pace through the village, following signs to the Escalera Arabe through the pine forest. The name Arab is misleading to say the least because the stairway climbing 750m through a rock fault is actually just over 100 years old.
When you reach the top of the stairway, take a break for a snack and to admire the views before the final push for the summit about an hour straight ahead. The mountain path is well-marked with yellow and white stripes, but look out for sudden changes of direction. Take an afternoon bus and train combo back to Málaga, or the evening direct train.
- Take plenty of water, some energy snacks and sunscreen (even in winter).
- Make sure your phone is fully charged.
- Wear suitable shoes to give you a good steady grip on the path.
- This hike is best in autumn, winter or spring. Avoid July and August because of the heat.
Where to eat
Restaurante la Garganta, with terraced views over the dam and the jaw-dropping footbridge at the exit of the Caminito del Rey. Look for ‘Sabor a Málaga’ menu markers and dishes such as Chivo Lechal Malagueño and Ensalada de Queso de Cabra y Pipas.
Extend your hike by 2 hours to El Salto de la Zorra (the vixen’s leap) or stay the night before your hike at B&B Don Camilo on the plateau to split the hike over two days.
Go rock-climbing in Malaga city limits
Our next suggestion for sporting activities in Malaga might surprise you. Firstly, because it’s right within the city limits and secondly, because it involves rock climbing. The single-pitch wall really is less than half an hour from the city centre. And it offers you a range of climbing activities with some even suitable for children.
A mere 12-minute bus ride (take the No 7 or No 17 from the Alameda Principal) and a 10-minute walk take you from the bustling city centre to the sunny climbing cliff behind the Asilo de los Angeles retirement home on Calle Pedro Gomez Sancho.
- Take water, some energy snacks and sunscreen (even in winter).
- Wear the right gear for climbing.
- Don’t over-estimate your climbing skills.
Make a full morning of your excursion with a hike up to the sugarloaf-shaped El Coronado cliffs, an additional 30 minutes uphill for great views in all directions.
Halfmoon, pipe and ramp it in Malaga
AKA a tour of Malaga skateparks. The city has no less than four public parks plus one private park, all well-managed and catering for all skateboarding skills.
Start the day at the brainchild of world-famous local Rubén Alcántara’s eponymous park, where 10,000m2 of well-sculpted concrete and wooden terrain offers options for all levels of riders. Rent your equipment here if you do not have your own, and you will quickly feel like the €3.50 entrance fee is the best bargain in town.
Next, walk about 20 minutes south to the smaller Portada Alta park, for a quick stop to carve and shred on the excellent launch ramps, quarter pipes and spines.
Then, get the No 11 bus eastwards all the way across town and walk about 15 minutes to reach the shaded eucalyptus grove where the El Limonar skatepark is a surprising feature. This upscale neighbourhood concrete pool has mostly three-foot lips, while the five-foot almost-vertical halfmoon section is a challenging feature for any advanced rider.
Buses No 21 and 28 go to the Skatepark from the Alameda Principal. The No 11 takes you from Portada Alta to El Limonar. The No 32 will take you back to the city centre.
- Wear the right gear including a helmet
- Don’t over-estimate your boarding skills or under-estimate your age!
Where to eat
The Abreboca Tapas y Algo Mas café sits just across the road from the El Limonar skatepark – a casual patio to enjoy a beer and a quick bite in the late afternoon and reflect on your cuts, bruises and advancing age.
Pop into the Dacks Surf & Skate Company shop by the Maria Zambrano train station for all the skateboarding supplies and outrageous shirts you need.
Go birding and beachcombing
AKA a visit to the Guadalhorce Natural Park and much less strenous than our other ideas for sporting activities in Malaga. Once a neglected wasteland between the motorway, the seaside community of Guadalmar and the popular Misericordia beach , the Parque del Guadalhorce has been set aside and protected by the city of Málaga as a nature reserve.
Runners and walkers can enjoy long loops among the coastal vegetation, while birders benefit from an astonishing variety of local and migratory birds in this river-mouth delta. Pink flamingos and exotic-looking spoonbills frequent the lagoons, while ospreys and eagles can be seen soaring overhead or diving for prey by careful observers. The park’s five raised observation shelters are spaced along the Rio Viejo and Laguna Grande paths.
A good way to take in most of the park is to take bus No 40 to Sacaba Beach and walk about 20 minutes to the park’s new bridge, an architectural gem that undulates its way across the northern arm of the river.
Continue with either one of the two path loops, or explore both, and finish by crossing the older bridge across the southern river arm into the Guadalmar neighbourhood to catch the No 5 bus back to the centre.
- Take water and sun screen (even in winter).
- Keep to the paths at all times in the reserve and as quiet as you can.
Where to eat
If you’re looking for fresh fish and seafood, you can’t go wrong with any of the beach restaurants along the Misericordia beach. Try the local speciality, grilled sardines – perfect washed down with an ice-cold beer or glass of wine as you watch the sun set over Malaga bay.
The 1km beach section between the mouths of the two river arms of the Guadalhorce has some lovely shells in all colours, shapes and sizes. You’ll also find some interesting driftwood.
Where to stay in Malaga
To easily access public transport to all these sporting activities, stay in central Malaga.
Casa de las Artes has everything on the doorstep. Tastefully decorated with two bedrooms (facing away from the street so nice and quiet), a/c, open-plan living and fully-fitted kitchen plus sunny private terrace. Book your stay now.
Mikael Morn for compiling this list of five great sporting activities in Malaga. He’s given us some inspiring ideas for getting out and about for some exercise and lovely views!
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