Is Malaga Expensive? Our Money Guide To The Beach Town

Is Malaga expensive
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This sunny city on the south coast of Spain offers rich Mudejar history, a gorgeous old town with Baroque churches galore, and a series of sparkling, yellow-sand beaches with beautiful Mediterranean water. Tempted? We thought so. But is Malaga expensive and how much will a trip here set you back?

That’s where this guide comes in. It will run through all the costs of planning a jaunt to this corner of Europe to give you an idea about what you’ll need in the travel budget to make the most out of your adventure. We’ll run through the average cost of what a vacation comes in at, and then delve a little deeper to offer insights into the price of hotels, food, nightlife, and more.

So, no matter whether you’re scooting down for a quick city break or want to explore the whole of the palm-threaded Costa del Sol, be sure to read on for essential info on the how heavy your wallet will be hit while in Spain this season…

The average cost of a holiday to Malaga

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We’d put the average cost of a holiday to Malaga at around about $1,395 per person, per week. That’s an estimation for a midrange trip, staying in three-star hotels and partying only twice in seven days. It’s also based on a trip in the early summer, which isn’t quite the peak season but also not as cheap as the early spring or winter.

Of course, you can really push out the boat and spend over $5,000 a trip if you want to – there are some hotels in Malaga that will cost $3,500 for seven nights, along with yacht charters for the daily activity and fine-dining bistros for dinner. Budget trips to Malaga, on the other hand, can be done for WAY less. Thanks to hostels and cheap tapas joints, you can probably get away with around spending about $550 a week if that’s all the budget allows.

Is Malaga expensive for accommodation?

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There’s a pretty huge spread in the cost of accommodation in Malaga. The cheapest places can cost under $10 a night but the most expensive will set you back over $500 a night. That’s all down to a couple of things, but mainly the fact that the town is suitable for both backpackers and jet setters. The upshot? It’s home to five-star palaces and hostel dorms.

Here’s a look at some places at both ends of the spectrum:

  • Gran Hotel Miramar GL ($$$) – Rising above the salt-breezing boulevards behind La Malagueta Beach, the Gran Hotel Miramar GL is one of the most prestigious five-star hotels in town. It’s got views of the Med and even suites with hot tubs on the roof. A stay in June can set you back >$3,000 for the week!
  • Soho Boutique Urban ($$) – This well-rated hotel channels a real boutique feel, throughout lobbies that feel like they were designed by Frida Kahlo and rooms with bamboo and marble fittings. It’s a lovely spot that costs about $800 for the week in June.
  • Hostal Vidamia ($) – This backpacker-centric stay gets all the basics right. That means a good location in the historic center of Malaga, clean rooms, and a very welcoming vibe. You’re looking at less than $500 for a week in June here.

The other thing that will seriously impact the cost of rooms in Malaga is the season you decide to travel. Basically, summer is WAY more than winter, just as it is all up and down the Costa del Sol. Come to see the history sights in December and you might find that hotels have discounts of up to 50% or more!

Overall, we’d estimate that the average cost of a hotel in the early summer in Malaga is $90-140/night.

Is Malaga expensive for food?

Tapas
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One of the top reasons to make Malaga your next stop in Spain is the food. Tapas, seafood, paella – it’s all here. It’s a quintessential part of a trip, and – here’s the kicker – it doesn’t have to break the bank!

The average price of a single tapas dish in one of the city’s many bars (and there are a great many of them!) is around about $4-6 a pop. Before you get carried away, remember that tapas eating is all about ordering multiple plates. Most couples will go for between four and eight to share between them, and more if you’re in a larger group. Either way, tapas meals with wine tend to equate to something around the $15-20 a head mark, which is hardly Monte Carlo level.

It’s common for hotels to offer breakfast as part of the nightly rate here. But, if they don’t, then you can often do as the locals do and keep it small. Morning meals in Spain are often just a strong coffee and a churros or pastry. If you’ve got self-catering accommodation, you could also save loads by hitting the Mercado Central de Atarazanas in central Malaga and doing some food shopping for yourself.

Overall, we’d estimate a budget of about $30-40 per person for food and drink per day here.

Is Malaga expensive for nightlife?

Bar in Malaga
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Malaga is actually one of the cheaper places on the Costa del Sol for nightlife. It’s not quite as cheap as some of the 18-30s resorts or more affordable destinations further up the Spanish coast, like Benidorm or Torrevieja, for example), but you can still get some good bang for your buck when it comes to partying in these parts.

Beers cost between $2-4.50 depending on how classy you want to go. Cocktails in the famous Old Town bars (places like Mañana Cocktail Bar Malaga and The Pharmacy Speakeasy) are around about $9 (that’s €8) each. That said, there are often fantastic drinks deals on certain nights of the week and during happy hour, especially at the beachfront kiosks along Playa la Malagueta on the Malaga beaches.

Overall, we’d say budget about $60 for a night out in Malaga. That’s $120 for two parties during a week-long vacation.

The cost of activities in Malaga

Horses near Ronda
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Whether you came here to hike the sierras of the Montes de Malaga, wonder at the rich art pieces of the Old Town museums, or simply laze on the beaches, we think it’s a good idea to set aside a little bit of the travel budget for activities. Some people will spend more than others on this part of their trip. It really all depends on how active you want to be.

Here’s a selection of the top things to do in Malaga and how much you can expect to fork out to check them off your bucket list…

  • A day trip to Ronda and the Andalusian sierras ($215 per person) – This day-long outing will whisk you to the amazing city of Ronda, which straddles a huge gorge and has a famous bullring.
  • Entry to the acclaimed Picasso Museum Malaga ($10 but there are reduced rates for students and retirees) – This is the must-see art gallery in the town, hosting masterworks by Pablo Picasso himself!
  • Entry to the Alcazaba ($4 for entry to the Alcazaba, but $6 for combined entry to that and the Gibralfaro castle, which we’d recommend) – An exquisite Moorish fortress and palace that has some of the most striking architecture in the city.

Overall, we’d say budget around about $10-20 per day for activities in Malaga.

The cost of flights to Malaga

Malaga Airport
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To enjoy the sunshine and the salty waters of Malaga, you first have to get there. That’s actually pretty easy these days since this town is considered the gateway to the Costa del Sol from the air. It’s home to the Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport, which is just on the south-western side of the town, roughly 20 minutes in a taxi from the old center.

Massive expansions in 2010 (adding a new terminal) and in 2012 (a new runway) have helped this one to become one of the premier hubs of southern Spain. It now handles upwards of 19 million passengers in a normal year, and a whopping 141,000 aircraft movements in all. Flights come in from all over Europe and there are loads of services on low-coast carriers like Ryanair and easyJet. On top of that, you can pick from a bunch of longer connections that go to North Africa, Kuwait, and Moscow.

Thing is, it’s hard to estimate exactly how much a flight to Malaga will cost. That’s because airfare vary considerably throughout the year. However, a ballpark figure for the average cost of a ticket in from London during the early summer is around about $80-120 return per person including bags.

Is Malaga expensive? Our verdict

Malaga isn’t that expensive at all. Yes, it’s the gateway to some of the most jet-setter locations in Spain – Marbella, Mijas – but it’s also a student city and top place for weekend breakers thanks to the stacks of low-cost airlines that now link it with the rest of Europe.

Overall, we think you’re looking at spending around $1,395 per person, per week in these parts. Trips can be done even cheaper if you come in the shoulder seasons or low seasons, which run from the late fall to the early spring.

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Joe has been a freelance travel writer for over nine years. His writing and roaming have taken him from the colonial towns of Mexico to the chowks of Mumbai to the Southern Alps of New Zealand. When he's not putting together the next epic blog on the best Greek islands or ski fields in France, you can usually find him surfing or hiking – his two top hobbies.