Best Day Trips from Malaga by Bus: Travel Tips from a Local Expat

Do you want to explore more around Malaga without renting a car?

In that case, a bus is a perfect option!

I have spent 2.5 years living in Spain without a car, and trains and buses were my choices of transport for trips in and out of Malaga.

That doesn’t mean I’m an expert on the topic, but I have done my fair share of bus trips (way more than you can fit into a regular 5-day holiday) to be able to give you some practical tips and options to plan the perfect day trip.

Hotel Parador de Málaga Gibralfaro
View from the Hotel Parador de Gibralfaro in Malaga

I have hand-picked some of my favorite day trips from Malaga, with a few that are still on my wishlist (and will be updated throughout the year).

I focused on the destinations with reasonable travel time for a single day trip – up to a maximum of 2 hours one way. Anything beyond that has not been included even though a lot of places like Cadiz or Tarifa are certainly worth seeing.

The guide also doesn’t include any destination where a change of buses may be required, or too complicated travel connections are only available. The last thing you want to do on your holiday is sit around at a bus station waiting for your connecting bus to come.

Bus Tickets & Malaga Bus Stations

Bus tickets for longer routes can be bought online in just a few clicks (I have linked each option for bus tickets below in the day trip details.

The reservation system is very easy to use and it shows you both the route options and prices for different buses, allowing you to choose the fastest or the cheapest connection.

Short bus journeys, normally up to an hour, can be bought directly from the bus driver, or from the booth at the bus station (for example Malaga – Fuengirola, Malaga – Benalmadena etc).

If you book your bus ticket online, it usually comes with a seat reservation, especially for longer journeys. Luggage storage is included in the ticket, but if you carry something bigger or extras (baby prams) you may have to pay extra to the bus driver.

The main Malaga bus station is right next to the Maria Zambrano Train station, and it doesn’t have too many facilities.

If you need to get snacks before your trip, or would like to have lunch or shop for souvenirs, simply cross the road to the train station and do all your shopping there. The train station has restaurants, kiosks, souvenir shops, clothing shops and a big Mercadona supermarket. There are also fast-food restaurants and coffee shops.

The bus station operates like any other station, with departures displayed on a board by the entrance and buses being parked at the numbered bay in the station.

malaga cathedral spain andalusia 2
Malaga Cathedral

Best Day Trips from Malaga by Bus

Here is a quick overview of my hand-picked day trips by bus:

  1. Benalmadena
  2. Fuengirola
  3. Mijas Pueblo
  4. Nerja
  5. Antequera
  6. Granada
  7. Marbella
  8. Almunecar
  9. Estepona
  10. Torremolinos

1. Benalmadena

Starting with the closest town and the one offering the most diverse experiences – Benalmadena has everything you need to see in a picturesque Andalusian village, plus gorgeous beaches, a small charming harbour, and everything else in between.

Oh, did I mention the castle?

Get a short bus ride to Benalmadena Costa where you can admire the local harbour, visit the Sea World with your kids and walk around the coastal promenade.

When you had enough of the sea, grab a short taxi drive up to the hills where you will find Benalmadena Pueblo, the old part of the town offering stunning views of the coastline and a few hidden treasures – one of them is the Castillo de Colomares, a stunning monument dedicated to the travels of Christopher Columbus.

Malaga to Benalmadena

Distance: 20km

By bus: Hop on the line M-110 Benalmadena – Malaga, the journey takes approximately 35 minutes and tickets can be bought directly from the bus driver. The buses leave approximately every 30 minutes.

Explore More in Benalmadena

Visiting Paloma Park in Benalmadena

Castillo de Colomares

Exploring Benalmadena Pueblo

Benalmadena Bil Bil Castle
Castillo Bil Bil Benaldmadena
what to do in benalmadena spain
Budhist Temple in Benalmadena
Benalmadena Bil Bil Castle
Benalmadena Costa

2. Fuengirola

Fuengirola is the second home for lots of expats from Nordic countries who fled here during the winter months.

In the summer, it’s a full-on tourist destination but thanks to the 8km of sandy beaches, it doesn’t get too crowded.

High up on the list is a visit to the Bioparc in Fuengirola, which for me feels like a mix of an urban jungle with a zoo. Unlike traditional ZOO, the animals in here are really well taken care of, their enclosures are huge and lush, with lots of greenery. It truly feels like a jungle oasis in the middle of the city and it’s well worth going just to see the stunning surroundings they created here.

If you fancy a walk in the sun, the coastal promenade stretches for kilometers and has plenty of spots to stop for nibbles and drinks. At the end of the city, you will find Sohail Castle, an old defense monument offering beautiful views of the coastline and it’s a great little hike to get up there.

Malaga to Fuengirola

Distance: 30 – 35 km

By bus: The bus connection M-113 connects Malaga with Fuengirola, and the journey takes between 45 minutes to 1 hour. The bus leaves from the main bus station in Malaga and last stop is the Fuengirola bus station. More details about the route here.

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Sohail Castle (Castillo de Sohail), Fuengirola

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May in Fuengirola
Feria grounds in Fuengirola
things to do in Fuengirola
Paseo Maritimo Fuengirola
Fuengirola bioparc, Fuengirola Spain
Bioparc Fuengirola

3. Mijas Pueblo

If you’re coming to Fuengirola, it’s well worth leaving some time to visit Mijas Pueblo which stretches in the hills just above the city. There is a bus line connecting the town with Fuengirola, leaving from the main bus station. The journey takes about 20 minutes and costs just a few euros.

Mijas Pueblo still has a lot of the traditional Andalusian village charm, but it is very much catering to a large tourist crowd.

There is an old bullring, and large public gardens stretching along the edge of the town offering panoramic views of the whole coastline. You will find lots of local shops to browse through and enjoy a walk through the old cobbled white-washed streets.

Malaga to Mijas Pueblo

Distance: around 35 km

By bus: I didn’t find a direct bus connection, but you can take a bus to Fuengirola as described above, and take a local bus from the same bus station in Fuengirola to Mijas Pueblo. Bus number M-122 leaves from the lower side of the station, details of the route here.

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mijas pueblo, spain
Old town Mijas Pueblo
Things to do in Mijas Pueblo
Mijas Pueblog
things to do in mijas pueblo
Views from the park in Mijas Pueblo

4. Nerja

One of the gems of the Costa del Sol, Nerja is known for the Balcony of Europe (gorgeous viewpoint) and also some record-breaking caves just outside of the town.

Nerja is a really good base if you want to do some nature walks as the walking paths around the coastline start here, or see some of the gorgeous Andalusian white towns, like Frigiliana (see next point).

If you’re coming to Nerja, you can’t leave without visiting the village of Frigiliana, which is stretching on the hills above Nerja. There is a frequent local bus that takes you there (details below) or you can get a short taxi drive (about 10 mins).

Malaga to Nerja

Distance: 57.6 km

By bus: There is a direct bus route from Malaga’s main bus station and the journey takes about 1 hour. You can buy the tickets online here. The tickets start from 5 euros one way per person.

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Frigiliana: The Most Beautiful Village in Andalucia

Frigilliana in Andalusia, Spain
Frigilliana
Nerja, Andalusia
Sunrise at Balcony of Europe
Nerja, Andalusia
Balcony of Europe

5. Antequera

A recent discovery of mine, Antequera is known for its ancient burial mounds (similar to those I’ve seen in Cyprus) and the striking natural reserve of Torcal de Antequera with dramatic limestone rock formations.

If you’re on a quest to see the most spectacular natural sights outside of Malaga, combining your trip to Antequera with the visit to Caminito del Rey is a good idea.

Antequera is high up on my wishlist of place to see this year and will add some photos in due course.

Malaga to Antequera

Distance: 56 km

By bus: A bus route with ALMA that takes about 1 hour to get to the village from Malaga. The tickets cost around 6 euros one way per person and can be bought online or in-person at the bus station.

6. Granada

If you’ve seen a picture of Granada, it probably included some spectacular mountains in the background – Granada is located just at the edge of Sierra Nevada and is a popular base for those venturing to the mountains for hike in summer or skiing in the winter months.

Alhambra is one of the main attractions to add on your list for the trip – this ancient palace count as one of the most beautiful Islamic buildings in modern Europe. Book your tickets ahead as there is no guarantee they will be available spots to enter once you arrive in the city.

For another unique way to experience the heritage of Granada is to enjoy tea in one of the many teterias (tea houses) scattered mostly around Calle Caldereria Nueva.

Malaga to Granada

Distance: 127 km

By bus: There is a direct bus connection between Malaga and Granada, and the journey will take you there between 1.30 – 2 hours. Tickets start from 11 euros per person one way, and can be bought online here.

Explore More in Granada

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Table with a view in Granada
Generalife Gardens, Granada Spain
Generalife in Alhambra
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Alhambra

7. Marbella

Probably my favorite spot around the Costa del Sol coastline, Marbella is a city of many faces.

It has a charming old town lined with gorgeous Andalusian houses and restaurants, a beautiful coastline with high-end beach clubs, a stretch of the most expensive real estate on Costa del Sol known as the Golden Mile, and a flashy luxurious district of Puerto Banus.

Whatever your preference is, it will feel like one day is not enough to explore it all, but it will certainly give you a real taste of Marbella and keep you longing to see more.

Malaga to Marbella

Distance: 60 km

By bus: There is a frequent direct bus connection between Malaga and Marbella from the main bus station, the journey takes between 45 mins up to 1.5hrs, depending on which bus connection you take.

The prices start at around 6 euros per person, one way. Check the timetable and book online here.

Explore More in Marbella

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Weekend in Marbella, Spain

marbella costa del sol spain 7
Marbella old town
manuka restaurant marbella spain
Paseo Maritimo in Marbella
Puerto Banus, Marbella - Spain
Puerto Banus, Marbella

8. Almuñécar

Almuñécar is a coastal town in the Granada district, on the bus route from Malaga towards Almeria.

Often overlooked for the more popular Nerja nearby, this former fishing village town on Costa Tropical offers you a chance to explore its pretty old town, the Aquatropic Park, and enjoy a day at the less crowded beaches.

For a small coastal town, it has a fair few interest points like the castle of San Miguel, Botanical Gardens, or the Peñón del Santo viewpoint, but not that many to make you feel overwhelmed.

Malaga to Almuñécar

Distance: 77 km

By bus: Take the bus connection towards Almeria, the journey takes either 1hr 15mins or 1hr 45mins depending on the connection, and tickets are around 8 euros one way, per person. Tickets are available online at Alsa website.

9. Estepona

The town of Estepona is known as the ‘Garden of Costal del Sol’ thanks to the immaculately presented old town overflowing with blooming flower pots and plants, and the Orchid House which is home to the biggest collection of orchids in central Europe.

This resort town on Costa del Sol still has a feel of an old village and makes for a wonderful day trip from Malaga.

Malaga to Estepona

Distance: 90 km

By bus: The bus journey takes between 1hr 15mins and 2hrs, depending on whether you take the faster or slower bus connection. Tickets can be bought online at the Avanza website and start from 9 euros per person, one way.

Explore More in Estepona

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Estepona Orchid House
Orchid House in Estepona
Old town Estepona
Old town Estepona
estepona old town spain 2
Old town Estepona

10. Torremolinos

Probably not the most picturesque on the list, Torremolinos is a little more shabby compared to its neighbours but makes for a fun day trip from Malaga.

In the summer, it’s one of the busiest destinations on Costa del Sol, attracting tourists with reasonably priced hotels and sandy beaches. There’s quite a bit to see too – my favourite spots are probably the Botanical Gardens and the old town.

Malaga to Torremolinos

Distance: under 18 km

By bus: A very short 15 – 20 minutes journey which costs from 1.50 euros one way, per person.

Explore More in Torremolinos

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Molino de Inca Botanical Garden in Torremolinos
Molino de Inca just outside of Torremolinos
Molino de Inca Botanical Garden in Torremolinos
Molino de Inca Botanical Garden in Torremolinos

So have you picked your favorites?

Let me know if you discovered other day trips that would be worth a mention in the comments below!

I will keep updating this selection as I continue exploring further.

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