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getting around Malaga by car

Getting around Malaga by car and metro

Getting around Malaga is easy because it’s a flat city with most of the attractions concentrated in one central area. This means you should be able to take in most of the sights in Malaga on foot, but to see some of the things further afield or if you’ve chosen a hotel outside Malaga you need your own wheels or public transport.

In part 3 of our guide to getting around Malaga we take a look at driving in Malaga and the metro system. Read Part 1 (getting around Malaga by bike) and Part 2 (getting around Malaga by bus).

Getting around Malaga by car

A holiday in Malaga is certainly doable without a car. Add to this the heavy traffic in the city centre plus expensive parking fees and you might want to give driving a miss. But if you’re planning to visit other resorts on the Costa del Sol or want to get out and about in the Malaga countryside during your holiday – for example to visit Caminito del Rey – then you may want your own wheels.

There are dozens of companies offering car hire in Malaga. Most are based at Malaga Airport, although several have offices in Malaga city. If you’re hiring a car, make sure your accommodation in Malaga has somewhere to park – preferably a private car park or easy street parking. Find out if parking is included in the room price. If it isn’t and you’re staying for more than a few days, try to negotiate a cheaper daily rate to keep your costs down.

Our top tip: Don’t hire a car in Malaga for the days you plan to spend in the city itself. Walk or use public transport while you’re sightseeing in the city to save time, money and stress.

What you need to know

Essential documentation – You’re required by law to carry personal identification and your driving licence when driving. If the police stop you you may need to show documentation for the car (e.g. the insurance policy) so ask your Malaga car hire company to show you where this is.

Old quarter – Unless you have an amazing sense of direction or the latest GPS sat-nav, don’t drive round the old quarter. You risk getting lost in the one-way system or landing a fine – some areas in the old quarter are restricted to residents’ only but they’re not always well-indicated so it’s easy to enter a no-go zone.

Getting around Malaga city centre by car is a challenge
Driving in Malaga city centre is a challenge

Parking – Like all Spanish cities, Malaga has a serious parking problem. To save yourself the hassle of driving round looking for parking, use the public car parks in the city centre. But be prepared for expensive fees. Blue zone parking is cheaper, but you can only stay for a maximum of two hours.

Rush hours – Traffic in Malaga city centre is almost always busy but be prepared for extra heavy traffic jams between 8.30-9.30am, 1.30-3pm and 7-9pm.

Traffic cameras – Speed cameras operate along Avda del Pacífico (west side of the seafront promenade) and at some traffic lights. To avoid a fine, keep your speed down and don’t jump a red light (take no notice of all the local drivers going faster than the limit and speeding through a red traffic light!).

Valuables – Don’t leave any valuables in your car, even out of sight in the boot.

Getting around Malaga by metro

Malaga Metro is a very popular way of getting around Malaga for locals and visitors travelling into the city centre from the west side. Benefits of using the metro include its speed – journey time between the Sports Stadium and the Alameda Principal is around 15 minutes – it always leaves on time and it’s cheap. On the other hand, there are no lines to the east of the city.

getting around Malaga by Metro
Malaga Metro

What you need to know

Accessibility – Malaga Metro is fully accessible with lifts and ramps for wheelchairs at the stations and designated wheelchair areas on the trains.

Bikes – there’s space on the metro for bikes (in front of the folded seats in the centre of the carriage) and you’re allowed to take your bike at any time as long as there’s room for it (outside rush hour there usually is).

Cost – a single journey costs €1.35, but if you buy a metro card (known as a tarjeta monedero) it costs €0.82. The tarjeta monedero can be used by several people so this is a good option if you’re travelling in a group.

Note that until the end of 2024, a single journey on the metro costs €0.33 if you have the metro card.

Sign outside metro station in Malaga saying "next train to the heart of Malaga
Next station – the heart of Malaga

Frequency – depending on the time of day, trains run every 6-10 minutes on weekdays and every 10 minutes at weekends.

Lines – There are 2 metro lines: Line 1 from Andalucia Tech to Atarazanas (central train station) and Line 2 from the Sports Stadium (Palacio de Deportes) to Guadalmedina (outside El Corte Inglés). Both lines stop at the main train station (El Perchel).

Tickets – you need a valid ticket to enter and leave the metro station. You can buy them from the machines at the station entrances.

Contact-less entry – you can pay for your journey by contact-less debit or credit card. Just place your card on the box at the entry stile. Note that the payment is usually taken from your account between 24-48 hours after your journey.

Times – Both lines have the following timetable:

Mon-Thurs 6.30am to 11pm

Fri – 6.30 to 1.30am

Sat – 7 to 1.30am

Sun 7am to 11pm

How to get to central Malaga by metro

Atarazanas Malaga metro station in the Alameda Principal
Atarazanas station in the Alameda Principal

In late March 2023, the much-awaited extension opened to the city centre. You can now travel by metro to the Alameda Principal on both lines.

Travelling from Andalucia Tech/Teatinos/University district – you don’t have to change trains because Line 1 goes all the way.

Travelling from Palacio de los Deportes/Huelin district – to get to the centre, you need to change at Guadalmedina station. Just cross the platform and wait for the next train, usually a maximum of two minutes.

Why would you use Malaga metro?

We get asked this a lot because the metro service doesn’t travel east beyond the Alameda Principal. Here’s our answer:

  • It’s great if you’re staying anywhere in the west of the city because it gets into Malaga centre quickly and easily (it’s much quicker than the bus, for example).
  • If you’re in central Malaga and fancy exploring the western districts, the metro provides a quick way to get there. For example, maybe you’d like to try some of the great restaurants in Teatinos. Perhaps you want to walk around the Guadalhorce Natural Park. Or walk to visit the Huelin district and then walk back into town along the western seafront. All are easy on the metro.
  • El Perchel station is just a few minutes walk from the main train station (local trains to El Chorro (Caminito del Rey), Torremolinos and Fuengirola; high-speed trains to Madrid, Seville and Cordoba) and the main bus station.

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