Categories: MalagaTravel Guides

Best Day Trips from Malaga by Train

Looking for the day trips from Malaga by train? You arrived at the right place.

After over 2 years of exploring Southern Spain without a car, I became a bit of an expert on train travel and visited lots of places that are a short train journey away from Malaga.

Even though I live in Fuengirola, Malaga is definitely my main train connection as all of the bigger routes start and end there.

Malaga is very well connected with an established modern train network and allows you to explore most of what Southern Spain has to offer without the need to rent a car or drag yourself on a long bus journey.

Below are some of my tips for the best day trips from Malaga by train, which I have done myself with my family, along with some practical tips on how to get the most out of each destination.

Feel free to skip to your selected day trip destinations or read some of my general tips for train travel from Malaga.

View of Malaga harbour from the Alcazaba

Tips for Travelling by Train from Malaga

Malaga Train Stations

Malaga has two main train stations – Malaga Maria Zambrano and Malaga Centro.

The first one is the main station which has the most travel connection and it’s the biggest one in the city. It has lots of shops and restaurants, a customer service center, a connection to the bus station (which is just across the street) and is the main point for travel connections to the bigger cities, like Madrid.

Malaga Maria Zambrano is the station I use the most.

The other station is more of a final stop in Malaga, there are zero facilities apart from ticket machines and the only practical benefit of the station is the proximity to the old town in Malaga. So for example, if I travel from Fuengirola and want to walk to Malaga old town, instead of taking a taxi, I would get off at Malaga Centro and walk from there.

Malaga Maria Zambrano has a big taxi rank outside and you can get to the train station easily with a taxi – it is not within walking distance from most hotels or even the old town.

The station has a number of platforms and to access the long-distance trains you will have to do through a standard airport type of scanner where they check your luggage.

Other than that, the process of boarding the train is completely hassle-free.

Old town of Malaga in winter

Buying Train Tickets

I always recommend buying your tickets online, especially if you’re commuting to the bigger cities like Cordoba, Seville or Granada.

For shorter local trips, for example, the destinations on the route Malaga – Fuengirola (Benalmadena, Torremolinos and the rest), it’s perfectly fine to get a ticket from the ticket booth at the station.

The difference in prices is most substantial for the long-distance trains I mentioned above.

The other benefit of booking online is that you can often select your seat and you will see different prices for trains at different times, so you can make a more informed choice.

Checking the prices also allows you to see the timetable, which helps a lot especially if you’re planning to do only a day trip and have limited time.

The tickets purchased online can be simply downloaded to your phone and at the entrance to Malaga Maria Zambrano, they will simply scan the QR code on your phone.

The Alcazaba of Malaga

Train Travel in Spain

I would say the trains are very modern – but of course, it depends on what you comparing them to.

The long-distance trains (Granada, Seville, and other bigger cities) tend to have more features like electric sockets, headphones offered to watch a movie, toilets, and a restaurant coach. The seats are very comfortable and the coaches are super spacious.

There is always plenty of space for storage of luggage and overhead space for smaller luggage.

The local trains that run on shorter distances (Malaga – Fuengirola) are much smaller and not as well equipped, with different seat distribution – more like a metro type of train. They do have toilets too and also a security guard on each journey.

Train station in Fuengirola (Los Boliches)

How to Pick the Best Day Trips from Malaga by Train

When choosing where to go, I think the biggest factor in play is the travel time.

For a day trip, I would not recommend spending more than 2 hours on a train journey – one way. Otherwise, you’re ending up spending half of the day traveling and have only very limited time to explore the destination you wanted to visit.

The train frequency also plays a role – some destinations have only a few connections per day which largely limits the time you can spend there (almost all of the ones included below do not fall into this category).

Train Network from Malaga

The train network is very well connected but it comes with limitations.

If you want to explore further south, the train connections stop in Fuengirola, so you won’t be able to get to Marbella, Estepona, or Gibraltar by train.

Further up the coastline from Malaga, there are beautiful coastal destinations like Nerja or Frigiliana, which again are not accessible by train, but by bus.

The long-distance trains from Malaga run beyond the bigger cities and you can get all the way to Madrid in just two hours’ time. These longer trips are great to do, but you will need to stay at least one night to make it worthwhile.

Train network in direction of Malaga from Fuengirola

Best Day Trips from Malaga by Train

That finally brings us to the selection of best day trips from Malaga by train – here are the best destinations you can explore easily by train from Malaga:

1. Benalmadena

Journey time: 28 minutes (check the timetable here) – the train line is C1 Malaga Maria Zambrano to Fuengirola. The trains run approximately every 20 minutes, from very early in the morning till midnight.

Ticket prices: around 3 euros one way, tickets can be purchased directly at the station from the ticket machine. No need to book in advance. No seating reservation is possible as it’s a small commuter train.

What to see: the coastal promenade (Paseo Maritimo), Castillo Colomares (near the old town), Benalmadena old town, Murillo Park with gorgeous views, Buddhist Temple, and the Butterfly Park next to it – check photos and more information from these places in the articles linked below.

Get inspired to explore Benalmadena:

Paloma Park in Benaldmadena

Castillo Colomares Monument in Benalmadena

Mariposario – the Butterly Park in Benalmadena

10 Exciting Things to do in Benalmadena

Benalmadena Restaurant Guide

Benalmadena Old town
Castillo Bil Bil in Benalmadena
Butterly nursery in Mariposario Benalmadena
Cactus garden in Paloma Park, Benalmadena

2. Granada

Journey time: 1hr 45 minutes, connecting train via Antequera Santa Ana. The journey time depends on how long you wait for your train change at Antequera. Check the timetable and book your train tickets at Renfe website.

Ticket prices: from 12.40 euros one way. Three to five train connections are available daily, prices will vary depending on the train travel time, the season, and the day of the week. The earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets usually are.

What to see: The Alhambra, which you cannot miss, along with some other local gems – I love their Science Museum, the Miradores in the old town (lookout points), Albaicin district, Roman Baths, Generalife Gardens (part of Alhambra complex) and various Carmens, like Carmen de Los Martires (gardens). Check the articles below for more inspiration.

Get inspired to explore Granada:

Visiting the Alhambra in Granada

Generalife Gardens of Alhambra

The Alcazaba of Granada

Foodie’s Guide to Granada

The Charming Albaicin District of Granada

Carmen de los Martires Garden in Granada

Views from Alcazaba of Granada
Albaicin District
View of Alhambra
Generalife Gardens of Alhambra
Alhambra in Granada

3. Cordoba

Journey time: direct train which takes about an hour journey.

Ticket prices: from 23.50 euros one way, prices depend on the time of travel, day of the week, and season, and can go up to 96 euros one way for premium tickets. Check the timetable and book your train tickets at Renfe website.

What to see: the Mezequita of Cordoba, Alcazar de Los Reyes Christianos and Palacio de Vianna. Check the articles below to get inspired.

Get inspired to explore Cordoba:

The Mezequita of Cordoba

Palacio de Viana in Cordoba

Alacazar de los Reyes Christianos in Cordoba

Gates of Mezequita
Inside the Mezequita cathedral
Palacio de Vianna
Alcazar de los Reyes Christianos

4. Seville

Journey time: direct or connecting train through Cordoba, average journey time is just under 2 hours.

Ticket prices: tickets to Sevilla Santa Justa start from 19.95 euro one way, and prices will vary depending on the day/time you travel and also the season. Check the prices and timetable here.

What to see: there’s plenty to see in Seville, but if you only have a day to spend, don’t miss out on the main highlights – the Royal Alcazar of Seville and Seville Cathedral. For more inspiration check the articles below.

Get inspired to explore Seville:

Visiting the Real Alcazar of Seville

Best Restaurants in Seville

How to Spend a Day in Seville

Palacio de las Duenas

Seville Cathedral & Giralda Tower

Casa de Pilatos

Plaza de la Espana – The Venice of Seville

Las Setas de Sevilla

Royal Alcazar
Gardens of Royal Alcazar
Triana neighbourhood in Seville
Palacio de las Dueñas
Seville Cathedral
Plaza de la Espana

8. Fuengirola

Journey time: 35 – 40 minutes from Malaga Maria Zambrano. The trains run approximately every 20 minutes, from very early in the morning till just after midnight. It’s a small commuter train, so no seat reservation is necessary.

Ticket prices: around 4 euros one way. Tickets can be purchased from the ticket machine at the station, no booking in advance is necessary.

What to see: Bioparc of Fuengirola, Sohail Castle, stroll along the Paseo Maritimo promenade, and enjoy 7km of sandy beaches.

Get inspired to explore Fuengirola:

Best Things to do with Kids in Fuengirola

How to Spend a Day in Fuengirola

Best Restaurants in Fuengirola

Get Lost in Bioparc Fuengirola

Visiting Sohail Castle in Fuengirola

The Peseta Monument on Paseo Maritimo
Bioparc Fuengirola
Bioparc Fuengirola
Sohail Castle in Fuengirola
Fuengirola Marina

7. Antequera

Journey time: 25 minutes for direct trains, the trains run frequently almost every hour. You can get tickets at Renfe and check the timetable there too.

Ticket prices: from 6.10 euros one way.

What to see: El Torcal de Antequera – a natural reservation with unique limestone formations & the Archeological Dolmens of Antequera (both still on my list of places to visit!).

8. Ronda

Journey time: Just under two hours, there aren’t many train connections available per day. Check timetable and prices at Renfe website.

Ticket prices: from 11.90 euros one way.

What to see: the bullring (one of the oldest in Spain), Puente Nuevo bridge, the old town, Casa Don Bosco and admire the views of the stunning gorge from anywhere in Ronda.

Get inspired to explore Ronda:

Casa don Bosco

Exploring Ronda

Casa don Bosco in Ronda
Public gardesn in Ronda
Views in Ronda
Puente Nuevo in Ronda
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