Malaga and Marbella are excellent places for a lazy beach day. But if you’re interested in something a bit more adventurous, then there are plenty of options available in terms of outdoor activities. From hiking the picturesque Montes de Malaga to cruising across the Marbella coastline by jet ski, this guide will unveil the most exciting ways to soak up the sun and adventure in these vibrant Spanish destinations.
My 6 Favorite Outdoor Activities in Malaga
1. Rafting the Genil River
If you’re a thrill-seeker like I am, then a rafting trip on the Genil River is an absolute must during your trip to Malaga. Not only is it a fun activity, but it’s a great way to see the beautiful forests, canyons, and rugged landscapes of Andalusia.
The Cuevas Bajas Canal has class I and II rapids, so it’s suitable for beginners or families. But adventurous travelers can do the Canal de Benamejí to Palenciana instead, which has the adrenaline-pumping class II and III rapids.
2. Hiking the Montes de Malaga
The Montes de Malaga is one of the most easily accessible mountainous areas from town, which makes it an excellent destination for a day hike. There are lots of different trails to choose from, depending on your skill level.
- Mirador del Cochino: 4-mile low-difficulty hike with beautiful city views and a cool pig statue at its main viewpoint.
- Lagar de Torrijos: Circular 5-mile route which passes by several wineries.
- Molino del Viento (Windmill Route): Short, 1.8-mile trek with beautiful trees and ample birdwatching opportunities.
3. Cycling the Malaga Promenade
If you’re into cycling, then you’ll be delighted to know that Malaga is an excellent biker-friendly city. However, I don’t necessarily recommend cycling through the heart of the old center, as the streets can be quite narrow and overwhelmingly crowded with tourists. Instead, head to the waterfront and bike along the beautiful ocean-facing promenade.
You can also start your trip near the Plaza de la Marina and head inland along the Guadalmedina River, which can also offer a more authentic experience since you’ll be navigating the different neighborhoods of Malaga.
4. Quad Biking in Churriania
Hit the bumpy dirt roads around Churriania (a district near the Malaga Airport) on exhilarating quad biking excursions. Because the quads can go as fast as 50 kilometers per hour (that’s over 30 miles per hour), drivers will be required to have a valid driver’s license. Most tours will stop along the Guadalhorce River for a short break, so bring your swimsuit if you want to cool off in the water!
5. Walk the Camino Mozárabe
Covering more than 140 miles, the historic Camino Mozárabe trail is not for the faint of heart. It starts in Malaga and travels upwards before connecting with the Camino de Santiago that travels to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. While this pilgrimage makes a great bucket list adventure, those interested in a half or full-day hike still enjoy the beautiful sites and views around Malaga.
6. Catamaran Sailing
You don’t have to exert a lot of energy to enjoy a day outdoors in Malaga. Down by the harbor, you’ll find tons of catamarans and sailboats that you can rent for a leisurely cruise along the coastline. I’ve done a sunset sailing tour (with an onboard bar) and can highly recommend it for the jaw-dropping views. However, you can also charter a sailboat (or take sailing lessons) if you’re looking for something a bit more exclusive.
My 6 Favorite Outdoor Activities in Marbella
7. Jet Skiing
I absolutely love jet skiing, which is why it’s one of my favorite activities in Marbella. The thrill of gliding across the ocean is indescribable, especially when it’s somewhere as breathtakingly beautiful as the Mediterranean.
There are quite a few rental shops in Puerto Banus where you can rent a jet ski. While most rentals are free-for-all (you can go anywhere you please), there are some companies that offer jet ski guided tours if you want something more structured.
8. Hiking the La Concha Mountain
La Concha isn’t just one of the most famous mountains in Marbella; it also happens to be one of the best hiking spots in the entire province of Malaga! Most hikers choose to summit the peak, which stands approximately 4,000 feet above sea level. If this is something you want to conquer, I recommend giving yourself at least five hours to do so.
Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views over Marbella and the ocean. It can be challenging (especially if it’s a hot summer day), but worth the journey for any avid hikers.
9. Surfing at Cabopino
This beach is located a 15-minute drive east of Marbella’s old town. Although the waves aren’t particularly high (you can generally expect 3-foot swells), it’s still one of the better options near the city. But beware – Cabopino is also a busy nudist beach, although the best waves are on the opposite side of where most of the sunbathers go.
If you don’t mind a longer drive, you can also find some good surf spots in Tarifa and Playa de Santa Amalia. These places are a bit further out of town, although the waves are a bit larger and more consistent compared to Cabopino.
10. Deep Sea Fishing
Marbella is a great place to go deep sea fishing. There are numerous companies around Puerto Banus where you can charter a boat to take you bottom fishing, big game fishing, or trolling fishing. While it’s not the most affordable outdoor activity (I believe most tours are private and, therefore, require you to charter the entire boat), it’s still an awesome experience if you want to get out on the water.
11. Canyoning the Guadalamina River
Canyoning is popular all over the Costa del Sol, but the Guadalamina River in the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park is the closest place you can do this in Marbella. The canyon has routes (some with jumps, some without) for people of all skill levels, so don’t worry if you’ve never been rappelling before! I find that most tour operators teach you the basic techniques so you’ll be fully prepared for your canyoning adventure.
12. Kitesurfing at Playa los Monteros
The gentle winds of Playa los Monteros are the perfect conditions for a day of kite surfing. In fact, you can go windsurfing on the Costa del Sol throughout the whole year! Playa los Monteros is also great because there are three different schools right there on the beach where you can book private, semi-private, or group lessons.
This is also a great place to try wind foil surfing (or windfoiling), which is done on a hydrofoil board.
The Costa del Sol is synonymous with adventure, and there are plenty of fun outdoor activities in both Marbella and Malaga. However, don’t feel like you have to load up your schedule with back-to-back activities. With golden sand beaches, charming cafes, and beautiful architecture, I suggest you leave some time just to explore the area at your leisure. Trust me – after a few days here, you’ll see why Marbella and Malaga are two of the prettiest places in Spain!