Best Places to Live in Malaga: The City’s Top 9 Areas
Want to know all about the best neighborhoods in Malaga? Coming up, good ol’ Homelike have brought you the best places to live in Malaga, along with lots of helpful details on each one.
Sitting in the very south of Spain, Malaga is well-known as a tourist hotspot. But compared to lots of the nation’s bigger cities, it’s unfairly overlooked as a relocation hub.
But that’s slowly starting to change, as people from around the world flock to Spain’s sixth-most populous city. Living in Malaga, you get laid-back vibes, sumptuous seafood, endless outdoor adventures, loads of festivals, excellent proximity to lots of great beaches, and more than 300 days of sunshine every year.
Home to Pablo Picasso, soaring mountains, and some of the most interesting history and heritage in western Europe, Malaga can be a great place to live. And best of all, it’s a little more affordable than some of Spain’s more well-known cities, perfect if you have a limited budget.
But Malaga’s different neighborhoods all have different atmospheres to one another… and what might be perfect for one person won’t necessarily be perfect for another. So in this guide, we’ve covered the best neighborhoods in Malaga and the best places to live in Malaga. Whether you’re looking for residential zones, endless nightlife, or good proximity to beaches, we’ve brought you it all.
So if you want to join the approximately 600,000 people who already live in the city, we’ve got all the information you need! In our guide to the best places to live in Malaga, we’ve covered the following 9 neighborhoods:
- Centro Historico
- La Goleta
- La Merced
- Plaza de Toros Vieja
- La Malagueta
- El Palo
Want to know all about the best places to live in Malaga? Crack out your swimsuit, slap on the sunscreen, and come join the fun!
1. Centro Historico
Best for: Living close to all the major sites, perpetual people-watching, great food and drink, and feeling like you’re on constant vacation
You don’t need to speak any Spanish to work out that ‘Centro Historico’ is the historical center of the city.
One of the cutest and quaintest city-center neighborhoods in the whole of Spain, this labyrinthine mish-mash of largely-pedestrianized streets is always brimming with diners, drinkers and walkers, made up of an eclectic collection of both locals and tourists.
If you like cafe culture, people-watching, and lazily letting your day slip by, you’ll absolutely love the place.
When you’re not just sipping and slurping, other attractions in the neighborhood include the Picasso Museum, the Revello de Toro Museum, and the verdant and vivid Alcazaba, an iconic Moorish-style Medieval fortress. For indulging in most of the city’s art, history, heritage and charm, Centro Historico is a brilliant place to spend your time.
If you want to feel like a full-time tourist, this is definitely one of the best neighborhoods in Malaga. But if you prefer a laid-back life, you might want to look elsewhere.
Because this is the very center of the city, it can be difficult to find a good apartment, with lots of competition for only a small few places. For that reason, it’s often easier to eschew the traditional channels… and instead find a serviced flat or a serviced apartment in this part of Malaga.
But no matter how you get your apartment, this is the priciest part of the city—so it’s only for those with a big budget!
2. La Goleta
Best for: Saving money, making friends with young people, and living centrally but affordably
Just to the north west of Centro Historico, you have La Goleta, which is undergoing some pretty heady gentrification. Once a run-down neighborhood with few things to love, it’s slowly being eaten up by the center of the city.
Though it’s a lot nicer and more welcoming than it once was, it’s still largely a residential area—and the type of people who typically live here are the type of people who want to be close to the center of the city without spending lots of money.
That said, there are some small pockets of hip bohemians living on the cheap… so in and around the neighborhood, you get laid-back cut-price restaurants, trendy tapas bars, and some little cafes selling great food and coffee. A firm local favorite is Café Bar Monteblanco, which is always brimming with Spanish meal-munchers.
In short, La Goleta is one of the best places to live in Malaga if you want to live centrally while on a relative budget… and it can be a great choice if you’re young. But without walking into other parts of the city, you won’t find a huge amount of action or adventure here.
Best for: Hanging with hipsters, getting all arty, exploring independent venues, and having the trendiest friends around
Southwest of Centro Historico, the diminutive neighborhood of Soho is the most well-known creative hangout in the city, perpetually brimming with trendy hipsters and edgy artists.
And although it’s only a small district, it’s crammed with lots of interesting stuff.
On any aimless wander, you’ll always stumble upon vintage stores, independent businesses, artists’ studios, private galleries, and some of the best street art you’ve probably ever seen. This seemingly-endless street art is what makes the district so famous… and lots of tourists wander to this part of town just to see it.
One of Soho’s most popular hangouts is the Contemporary Art Center, which displays lots of interesting stuff, both permanent and visiting. One of the best contemporary art galleries in southern Spain, it features paintings, sculptures, audiovisual exhibitions, and loads of weird and wacky stuff.
The neighborhood is also home to the The “Made in Soho” market, held on the first Saturday of every month. It features local people selling local goods, including art, crafts, food, and lots of unique and unusual oddities.
Just to the east of the neighborhood, you have Parque de Málaga, one of the nicest green spaces in the city. It has sculptures, fountains and botanical gardens, and it’s popular with couples, families, groups of friends, and everyone in between.
If you’re hip, happening and young, Soho is definitely one of the best neighborhoods in Malaga, and you’ll feel right at home. But because it’s quite a small district, it can be difficult to find a place to live… so it’s often easier to find a serviced apartment or a serviced flat in this part of the city.
4. La Merced
Best for: Great nightlife, a bustling vibe, and constant eating and drinking
Bordering Centro Historico to the north east, you have Merced, most famous as the home of Picasso Birthplace Museum.
But it’s also well-known as a hotspot for drinking and dining, with a seemingly interminable number of bars, restaurants, cafes and tapas bars crammed into its relatively small proportions. Bar Lemmy is popular with the city’s rockers, while Sala Flamenca Amargo is always crammed with locals who come to lap up the venue’s popular live flamenco (both modern and retro).
The central part of La Merced is Plaza de la Merced, one of the prettiest squares in the city. It’s always full of skateboarders, cyclists, artists, families, and kids, and it’s a perfect spot for slurping on a coffee and chilling in the sun.
Last of all, La Merced is also a great neighborhood for picking up fresh produce. It’s home to Mercado de la Merced, a fresh food market with some cut-price eateries inside. A great local hangout, it’s an excellent choice for some tasty, authentic, local food.
If you like eating, drinking, and dancing the night away, La Merced is one of the best places to live in Malaga. It’s trendy in a classy, cosmopolitan and international way, and it’s a very popular place to spend time.
Best for: Living amongst locals, saving some money, and residing on the outskirts of the center
East of La Merced, you have Laguinallas, a small residential district.
Full of street art, locals, and some nice low-key bars, it’s one of the most affordable neighborhoods in the central part of the city—so it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Malaga for anyone relocating on a budget.
It’s not the most bustling district, and it’s mainly made up of family homes and apartments. But because it’s close to the city center, you can easily access all the fun—by both public transport and your own two feet.
Of all the neighborhoods we’ve featured, Laguinallas is the most rough and rowdy. It’s a perfectly safe place to live… but it’s a little gritty, and it’s not as pretty as some of the other neighborhoods on this list.
6. Plaza de Toros Vieja
Best for: A quiet life, focusing on work, and moving with family
Southeast of Soho, Plaza de Toros Vieja is a very small district, made up of only a few short streets.
Translating to ‘old bullring,’ this district was the location of the first bullring in Malaga. Now, there’s not so much action—and just like Laguinallas, it’s mainly made up of families, locals, houses and apartments.
But there are some highlights—Plaza de Toros Vieja has some nice riverside stretches, while the district is also home to O2 Centro Wellness El Perchel, one of the best and biggest fitness centers in the city.
Because Plaza de Toros Vieja is over the river from the very center of the city, and because it’s pretty quiet, it’s not a particularly exciting place to live.
But if you’re work-focused, moving with family, or a little older, it can definitely be one of the best places to live in Malaga…. especially if you don’t want to spend too much money.
Best for: Living in the far north of the center, finding good schools, having a quiet life, and watching some soccer
In the far north of central Malaga, you have Segalerva, another largely-domestic neighborhood with lots of locals.
It’s very close to La Rosaleda Stadium, the home stadium of Malaga FC, the city’s soccer team. It’s also right beside Parque San Miguel, one of the biggest and most popular parks in the city.
Sagalerva can be a great place to live if you’re moving with kids. It’s located away from the busy bustle of the very center of the city, and it’s home to Malaga’s branch of Academia De Ingles Avenida International, one of the best international schools in the city.
If you want to raise a family or have a quiet life, Sagalerva is one of the best places to live in Malaga. And although it’s a relatively quiet neighborhood, it’s not too remote—you’re only 1.5km (1 mile) from the very center of the city.
8. La Malagueta
Best for: Soaking up the sun, enjoying Malaga’s most famous beach, and indulging in all the beautiful seaside clichés
The most popular and well-known beachside district in Malaga, La Malagueta is all the southern Spanish seaside clichés rolled into one wonderful space. But more importantly, it’s a great place to call home.
Just east of the city center, it’s only a short stroll to the Centro Historico. But the real highlight is the sprawling beach, which measures in at an impressive 1,200 meters (that’s nearly an entire mile). Here, you can swim, enjoy watersports, lounge about on the sands, slurp on some ice cream, and cycle and walk along the lengthy promenade.
If you move here, don’t be surprised if you never want to leave.
The neighborhood is also home to everything you could ever need. There’s a massive (and varied) shopping center, lots of seafood restaurants, and great proximity to the excellent Parque de Málaga. And as a nice bonus, the neighborhood is also home to two great cultural venues: Center Pompidou, and Plaza de Toros.
If you want a compromise between excellent beaches and a brilliant location, La Malagueta is one of the best neighborhoods in Malaga. But be warned: because it’s a sought-after area, it’s a pretty pricey place to live.
9. El Palo
Best for: Making local friends, enjoying some of the nation’s best beaches, living in a laid-back neighborhood, and residing far outside of the city
The most leftfield choice on our list, El Palo is around 4 miles (6km) east of Centro Historico. If you want to live right in the heart of central Malaga, El Palo isn’t the place for you.
But if you want a quiet life among locals, it doesn’t get any better than this. Here, you don’t feel like you’re part of a big city—the whole neighborhood is brimming with great beaches, local fisherman, traditional boats, no-frills seafood, and lots of opportunities for lazy bathing.
It’s also a popular spot for kayakers, paddleboarders, runners and cyclists, and there are lots of great ways to keep fit.
But it’s not as quiet as most people expect. On the weekends, you always find big groups of families munching on seafood platters, while the neighborhood is also home to a surprising number of cafes, bars, and other busy hangouts.
For embracing real local life (and a great quality of life), El Palo is absolutely one of the best places to live in Malaga. It’s a great compromise between modern and traditional, and it’s outrageously charming.