The beautiful city of Malaga in Spain has been enticing travellers from all over the globe for many years now and it’s no mystery why. With its stunning coastline surrounded by sweeping forests and a plethora of attractions like the renowned Picasso Museum, the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park and of course the thriving and well-known harbour in Benalmádena, there truly is something for everyone.

But to really explore this expansive and fantastic corner of the world, a car can really give you the edge. Just beyond beautiful Malaga is a whole host of other Spanish jewels to visit, all easily accessed on short and scenic car drives. Better yet, you can get some great value hire cars straight from Malaga Airport. 

Here are five great day trips near Malaga that you can’t afford to miss out on.

Hire Car Day Trip 1: Marbella

Hire car day trip location 1 Marbella orange trees

Less than an hour’s drive from Malaga (and a pretty one at that) no holiday to Spain is complete without visiting the astoundingly gorgeous Marbella. Being the largest area in the Costa Del Sol, there’s a cornucopia of things to do and see, including the infamous Plaza de los Naranjos situated in Marabella’s old town.

Dressed in stunning Renaissance architecture with a vast array of restaurants and cafés to sit and bask in, it’s a real slice of authentic Spain. With the scent of orange blossom in the air and a pleasant hustle and bustle to it, there are few places so utterly charming.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Marabella is also home to some of the best beaches in Spain, including the Playa Real de Zaragoza and Playa Fontanilla. And of course that’s not all, beyond basking in beachy heaven, there’s also museums, churches, and wonderful marinas as well as fascinating nods to history like the Alcazaba Moorish Castle.

Buckle up and head to Marabella, you won’t be disappointed.

Hire Car Day Trip 2: Granada

Hire car day trip location 2 sunset in Granada

Granada is easily one of the most well-loved areas of Spain and is just a short hour and a half drive from Malaga that’s filled with stunning scenery en route.  

Nestled below the majestic Sierra Nevada, Granada is a breath-taking city whose history and heritage feels wonderfully close to the surface, with the incredible Alhambra palace being just one of the iconic sights you’ll find. This Moorish structure is stunning purely from an architectural perspective, but its history and importance to Spanish culture is just as fascinating and worth a visit.

Elsewhere in Granada, there’s the colourful Gypsy Quarter of Sacromonte. The homes in this area are beautifully decorated with all manner or ceramics and greenery and as you climb further to the top you’re treated to some beautiful panoramic views of the Valparaiso Valley and the Darro River.

Explore yet further and you’ll find vibrant markets, plenty of opportunities to view flamenco dancing and of course restaurants and eateries galore.

Grab your keys and get going.

Hire Car Day Trip 3: Frigiliana

Hire car day trip location 3 Frigiliana skyline

This beautiful village is truly one of Spain’s most charming finds and is only an hour’s drive from Malaga. With traditional and pretty white houses lining cobbled lanes and quaint little shops and eateries, it will easily feel like you’ve stepped into the ‘real’ Spanish experience.

You’ll also discover historic curiosities like the Casa Solariega de los Condes which was built in the 16th century originally for the Manrique de Lara family, as well as the small remains of the Moorish castle at the top of the village. There’re some lovely places to eat and some astounding natural beauty to appreciate too. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

So go on, pack the travel sweets and head off for a slice of traditional Spain.

Hire Car Day Trip 4: Ronda

Hire car day trip location 4 Ronda architecture

Ah Ronda, a real pearl of a place and brimming with some of Spain’s most beautiful sights. Its dramatic cliffs coupled with the iconic El Tajo gorge are just a handful of the astonishing sights you’ll be treated too but it’s by no means the only thing that Ronda has going for it.

Continue further in and you’ll discover all manner of cultural and historical attractions, including the fascinating municipal museum located in The Mondragon Palace. Inside you’ll discover artifacts that are intrinsic to Ronda’s past including tombs of Moorish and Roman descent.

Ronda also plays host to the famous Plaza de Toros, the oldest bullring in Spain, which is able to seat 5,000 spectators and which you can now enjoy guided tours of.

But we’ve barely scratched the surface, Ronda overflows with other great attractions including the wonderful Arab Baths, the incredible Puente Nuevo bridge and of course the Plaza Duquesa de Parcent.

Also, and as with everywhere in Spain, there’s good food and drink establishments at every turn and all this is only a two-hour drive from Malaga. If you only end up doing one day trip then we’d be tempted to tell you Ronda is the one to go for.

Go for a spin and discover Ronda.

Hire Car Day Trip 5: Nerja

Hire car day trip location 5 Nerja caves

Nerja is a fantastic day trip for a more laid-back trip. A car journey takes just under an hour and is well worth the picturesque journey you take.

A quiet seaside town, Nerja is one of the favourites for travellers who like to be close to nature and especially if you enjoy taking some great landscape photography.

Easily its biggest pull though would be the well-known Nerja caves, home to the world's largest column, formed from an amalgamation of stalagmite and a stalactite, this accidental discovery has been hailed as one of the most important of its era.

For the historically curious, you’ll also find the utterly astonishing cave paintings that have been dated as the oldest of their kind and ranging somewhere between 42,300 and 43,500 years old.

You can (and certainly should) visit these astonishing caves, we guarantee you’ll come away bowled over by the experience.

If that wasn’t enough though, there’s also plenty of beaches framing Nerja for you to relax and explore, as well as the El Cielo mountain which is considered a favourite (albeit challenging) trek among hikers, with breath-taking views to be had at the top.

Time to take out the driving gloves and head to little Nerja, no?

And there we have it, some astoundingly great day trips from Malaga, all easy to get to when you hire a car.