One of the best things about Malaga, in the South of Spain, is that you have the mountains on one side of the city and the beach – on the other. So, no matter where you live in Malaga, you can go to the beach for a morning run, the sunrise, and a croissant with freshly-squeezed orange juice. On the same day, you can see the sunset over the city, from one of the nearby mounts. Or spend the day hiking and relax on the beach in the afternoon, with a chilled mojito by your side. Here, I’m going to tell you about 4 simple routes that combine the beach and hiking, within a day.
For each route, especially once you’re on a trail, I recommend using the app Maps.me. I always find it super useful for hiking. Whenever I go by myself, from Ecuador to Malaga, it compensates for my non-existent sense of orientation.
Are the mountains in Malaga actually mountains?
Before I begin, a disclaimer is due – they are more like lovely hills than actual mountains. Don’t go picturing the Alps or Sierra Nevada. The ones near Malaga are their small, yet beautiful cousins. All of them are easy to reach, the views are mesmerizing, and in the spring they are covered in a colorful quilt of flowers.
An actual mountain in the area (as the name suggests) is the National park Montes de Malaga, which I also talk about here.
Monte de la Tortuga (The Tortoise Mountain)
This was the first hike I did in Malaga and, as a newcomer, I loved it because the route is pretty straightforward.
All you have to do is take Calle Marmoles – the main shopping street that leads up to the mountains from the river (it’s actually not a river but rather a drainage channel that’s nearly always empty). You walk only straight until you reach the Teatinos neighborhood. At its end, you’ll see several massive buildings on the righthand side, which were still under construction as I was writing this article. They have their own little street at the end of which you’ll see paths leading between olive trees and up to Monte de la Tortuga.
From the historic center to the foot of the mountain it takes about 1 hour. Then, you can walk around all day, or take in the views from the top.
I thought it was kind of funny that the first mountain I went to during the Covid-19 pandemic was Monte Coronado. Spain was one of the countries with the most severe restrictions and once they started loosening up it was in phases. In the first de-escalation phase, we were finally allowed to go jogging outside for a few hours per day. I tried to make the most out of it, by running up to the rocky hilltop of Malaga’s Monde Coronado. The entrance is through the Bailen-Miraflores neighborhood and to reach the path you go through a beautifully painted underpass.
From the top, especially if you climb up the rocks, there is a stunning 360-degree view of Malaga, the sea, and the National park Montes de Malaga. Unfortunately, there is also trash left behind.
From my apartment, located near El Corte Ingles, to Monte Coronado it was about 30 minutes on foot (15 minutes jogging), and it’s about 45 minutes to an hour from the historic center of Malaga.
One of my friends in Malaga kept telling me that I have to go see the sunset from Monte Victoria and for whatever reason I kept on not believing him. Then, a few days before I left Malaga I thought I should give it a try to make sure I’ve experienced all the natural sites near the city. And I am so thankful that I did!
Monte Victoria is easy to reach from Malaga’s historic center. You have to walk past the fortress hill of Gibralfaro and follow the map towards the hill with the TV tower – that’s Monte Victoria. It’s a nice way to get to know the city a bit better and the neighborhood in the foot of the mountain is picturesque with its villas and flower gardens. Maps.me took us to a path that goes through two buildings and right behind them, with no transition whatsoever from city to nature, the forest begins.
More by faith than according to plan, we ended up on the hill right around sunset. The forest was gilded by the last rays and the views to the city and Montes de Malaga – absolutely stunning. Since Monte Victoria is close to the center and popular, you probably won’t have the top to yourself but it’s still definitely worth it. From the historic center of Malaga, it’s approximately a 30-minute walk.
Malaga’s dam and Montes de Malaga
Unlike the hills around Malaga, easily reachable for an afternoon or even before your morning coffee, this is a full-day route. The roundtrip was 20km.
This was the most illegal hike of my life. I hope to never again feel like I’m in a dystopian film when I just want to go into nature. When I did the hike, the Covid-19 restrictions in Malaga were still tight. But since it was my last week in Spain, I just couldn’t leave without seeing the real mountains.
I left at sunrise so that I would reach the mountain within the time slot when we were allowed to exercise outside. Like the other three routes in Malaga, this one is easy to follow. All you have to do is walk up the street by the “river” until you reach the mountains. Once you pass the botanical gardens, you’ll see a large gate on the lefthand side, which is the entrance to the natural park around the dam. It was chained but I thought I’d walk a bit further and what do you know – there was a path leading past the gate some 10 meters up.
There are several paths leading to the dam and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the map because they also cross other routes. Happily, it’s fairly simple to find your way down to the water, which is cold and clean, with large slow fish swimming close to the surface and red dragonflies fluttering about.
The place was perfect for a picnic, so my dog Mega and I had our breakfast there. But since there was no space for me to hang my hammock, after resting we continued on to Montes de Malaga.
Montes de Malaga
This is the National park Northeast of Malaga and one of the few places around with an actual forest. When I came to Andalucia, I thought it was strange how most forests are coniferous (pine-like). I guess it’s because it helps the trees retain water in the heat of summer. In the part of Montes de Malaga which you can reach on foot from the city, that’s the landscape as well. But it’s a pleasant area with plenty of paths and routes to choose from.
To get to the entrance of the park, you’ll walk past an area with several houses and their huge yards with vegetable gardens. Then, at the park’s gate, begins a wide path. However, I turned right, towards the river (that one is an actual river). My goal was the Salto de Picapedrero waterfall. As it turned out – there is no waterfall. Just a bit of water deep in a precipice. But I wasn’t disappointed because I found a really cool little area under the trees, with a great view of the mountains, where I could hang my hammock, eat lunch, read, and relax for the rest of the day, waiting for the evening “walking time slot”. I felt completely at ease and one with nature here, so even just that makes me recommend a trip to Montes de Malaga.
If you want to do Montes de Malaga or Monte Victoria on the same day as a hike, then the central beach Malaguetta is your best bet.
For the other two hills, better choose the Huelin beach, Southwest of the historic center, as it is closer. Even though Huelin is in a more industrial part of Malaga – you see the port on one side and inactive industrial chimneys on the other – it’s more authentic. Tourists rarely reach this part of the city and so it’s a good place to mingle exclusively with locals.
Pedregalejo and El Palo are two gorgeous little districts on the East of Malaga. They can also be your access points to Montes de Malaga but since they were far from where I lived, I never thoroughly explored that possibility. If you have that kind of experience – please do tell me about it in the comments below, I’d love to hear 🙂
I am thrilled that in spite of the sci-fi Covid-19 situation I could still enjoy the nature around Malaga and I hope that this article will help you do the same in more normal times. If you have any comments, questions, suggestions, or anything else you’d like to share – you’ll make me very happy by leaving a comment below 🙂
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