The Safest Areas (and the Areas To Avoid) in Málaga for Peace of Mind

From peaceful mountain villages to family-friendly resorts, Málaga is one of the most attractive destinations in Spain


View of the Cathedral of Malaga with mountains in the distance, Málaga

Málaga is one of Andalusia’s most wonderful provinces. Known for its fantastic beaches and lovely weather, it’s home to the aptly named Costa del Sol, or Coast of the Sun. It’s one of our favourite spots for a fun-filled holiday, offering something for solo travellers, couples and friends and families alike. Before going on a trip, it’s perfectly normal to consider the safety of the place you’re headed to, but the good news is that there are very few areas to avoid in Málaga. Our travel experts at Plum Guide have spent plenty of time here and know the area inside out. Ease your worries with our guide to the safest areas to stay in Málaga.

Málaga City

Cityscape from the Alcazaba citadel, with sea views, Málaga

Cityscape from the Alcazaba citadel, with sea views, Málaga

The capital of Málaga province, Málaga City, is a wonderful place to stay if you’re looking for an action-packed holiday. There are barely any areas to avoid in Málaga, with safe neighbourhoods like Soho and El Palo offering family-friendly attractions and beaches. Málaga’s Old Town, also known as El Centro, is where the heart of the action is. With a history dating back to 770 BC, there’s a wealth of historical attractions to discover, such as the 16th-century Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga, Gibralfaro Castle and the Alcazaba Fortress. Art lovers can discover Pablo Picasso’s hometown at Casa Natal (Picasso’s birthplace) and the Picasso Museum. Despite its high safety record, there’s really only one area to avoid in Málaga, and that’s Palma-Palmilla. Like any other major city, it’s wise to keep your wits about you.


Just a half-hour drive from Málaga City, Fuengirola is another popular holiday destination and one of the safest areas to stay. Its main draw is the coastline, with three fabulous beaches to choose from: Playa de Fuengirola (the main beach that runs up to the marina), Boliches-Gaviotas (a quieter beach with a bit more space), and Torreblanca (an even quieter option that still offers facilities like water sports centres and food kiosks).

Should you fancy a break from the beach, make your way to Museo de Historia, where you can dive into the region’s intriguing past. Continue your explorations to the Arab Castle at Sohail, built in the 10th century as a citadel with a watchtower. We recommend checking the calendar before visiting, as there are often exciting events and concerts held here throughout the year.


Aerial top view of luxury yachts in Puerto Banus marina, Marbella

Aerial top view of luxury yachts in Puerto Banus marina, Marbella

Looking to add a touch of luxury to your holiday? Fashionable Marbella is a hotspot for the rich and famous, where exclusive golf courses, chic beach clubs and high-end dining establishments are the places to see and be seen. It’s one of the region's safest areas, and while crime does exist at a low level, it isn’t directly targeted at tourists.

Marbella’s Old Town is a refreshing contrast to its glamorous side. Its historic Moorish centre has a down-to-earth atmosphere, where you can take a leisurely stroll down the winding alleyways past whitewashed houses decorated in colourful blooms. Make your way to Plaza de los Naranjos to relax in the sunshine, blossoming orange trees filling the air with a sweet citrus scent. Also worth visiting is Puerto Banús, a bustling marina flanked by high-end eateries and boutique shops. Marbella also benefits from some incredible sunsets, and the best place to catch them is down at the palm-lined promenade. With the Sierra Blanca mountain range in the background, this is one of Málaga’s finest views.


White-washed buildings and terracotta flower pots in Frigiliana, Málaga

White-washed buildings and terracotta flower pots in Frigiliana, Málaga

One of the best things about the Costa del Sol is that you can be as lazy or active as you want, and Frigiliana is the ideal place to do both. Perched on the side of a mountain, this is considered one of the prettiest villages in Andalusia. The oldest part is situated higher up, and its Moorish influence is still visible from the stunning mosaics and ceramics which decorate the buildings. A stroll up the El Fuerte hill will lead you to the ruins of an old Moorish fort – it’s a workout, but the views are worth it. Craving even more exercise? There are tons of hiking trails which lead you through the mountains. If you change your mind, the beach is just a twenty-minute drive away.


The rural region of Guadalhorce is one of the safest areas to stay in Málaga. This picturesque river valley is like something out of a postcard, with its fertile agricultural plains dotted with charming towns. Nicknamed ‘the garden of Málaga’, Guadalhorce is the perfect place to unwind amongst nature. It attracts people keen to hike the famous Caminito del Rey trail, an 8-kilometre route which was once known as one of the most dangerous trails in the world. Thankfully, it no longer has that reputation, but the experience of standing on a walkway 100 metres above a sheer cliff face is enough to make your spine tingle. Those who aren’t thrill seekers will prefer to wander through towns like Alhaurin el Grande and Coin, or spend the day swimming and kayaking at the El Chorro lakes.


Picturesque coast in Benalmadena town with orange building in the distance, Málaga

Picturesque coast in Benalmadena town with orange building in the distance, Málaga

Heading to the Costa del Sol with the family? Benalmadena is a family-friendly resort town with plenty of things to entertain all ages. It’s split into three main areas – the Old Town area of Benalmadena Pueblo, the coastal area of Benalmadena Costa, and the touristy area of Arroyo de la Miel with its pretty plazas, bars and restaurants. The Old Town is a wonderful place to explore, with its maze of cobbled streets set on the hillside looking over the coast. Down in Benalmadena Costa, you’re spoilt for choice with a huge selection of beaches stretching along the waterfront. There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re after sandy beaches with plenty of amenities like Playa de Santa Ana and Torre Bermeja, or quieter spots like Playa La Viborilla surrounded by lush vegetation.


Often thought of as the ‘real’ Andalusia, Axarquia is made up of rugged mountainous landscapes, tranquil hilltop villages and friendly seaside towns. Those looking to escape the beach clubs and immerse themselves in nature will enjoy the peace and quiet that this region offers. The surrounding mountains provide plenty of opportunities for hiking and cycling, with routes and trails available for all abilities. One of the most scenic routes is the ascent to La Maroma from Alcaucin. The highest peak in Malaga at 2066 metres, La Maroma boasts spectacular views of the whole of the Sierra Nevada and the Viñuela reservoir. Prefer to take it easy instead? Explore the whitewashed village of Comares, tee off at Añoreta Resort or relax on the beach at Maro.


Arieal view of beach in Nerja, Málaga

Arieal view of beach in Nerja, Málaga

Also in Axarquia is Nerja, one of its best seaside towns. It has a laid-back, village-like feel to it, with a fantastic range of independent shops and restaurants. Beach days are aplenty here, and you’ll find it difficult to choose which one to visit. Looking for a family-friendly beach with watersports and all the amenities? The large and sandy Playa de Burriana is the best choice. On the flipside, those seeking somewhere quieter will love Playa de Alberquillas, a natural and protected beach where clothing is optional.

When you’re not at the beach, head underground into the Caves of Nerja. Home to the world’s largest stalagmite, these caves will blow you away with its remarkable rock formations. Up for a challenge? Walk to Rio Chillar along a river up into the hills, where you can cool off in waterfalls and rock pools.


With a record-low crime rate, the resort town of Estepona is one of the safest areas in Málaga. Its Old Town is one of the most beautiful in Andalusia, a maze of white streets lined with buzzing squares and splashes of colour. Slow down and wander at your own pace, admiring landmarks like the church of the Virgen de los Remedios, the Clock Tower and the Castle of San Luis. El Orquidario de Estepona is one of the city’s best attractions, home to over 1,300 species of orchids and other flowers, plus a waterfall, all under three glass domes. Fit in some retail therapy at Calle Terraza and Calle Real before taking a breather at Playa el Cristo, a sandy cove with calm waters and fantastic views.


Picturesque white-washed street in Mijas with flower pots in facades and views to the sea, Málaga

Picturesque white-washed street in Mijas with flower pots in facades and views to the sea, Málaga

Mijas is the perfect destination for a blend of seaside and countryside. It’s quite a large area and includes the village of Mijas Pueblo at the foot of the Sierra mountains, as well as Mijas Costa along the coast. Mijas Pueblo is the oldest part, a traditional Andalusian village where cobblestone alleyways and whitewashed houses provide a striking contrast against the Mediterranean scrub of the surrounding mountains. Catch the breathtaking views from the vantage points around the village, including the old walls and the terracing at the Plaza de Toros.

Meanwhile, Mijas Costa is a delightful place for a bucket and spade holiday. Stroll along the boardwalk at La Cala, sunbathe on the golden sands and dine on fresh seafood at the many restaurants and beach bars. Each Wednesday and Saturday, a large street market takes place here where you can buy everything from leatherware to souvenirs.

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