In the latter part of the nineteenth century the city of Málaga sought to develop a significant tourism function and, in northern Europe especially, became known as a potential winter resort for invalids. The city's suitability for this function was highly contested up to the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, mainly due to its reputation as insanitary and unhygienic. This reputation, based mainly on external perceptions and representations, arguably obscured the subsequent success of the city in developing as a tourist resort with a substantial domestic market. The paper traces the growth of the main tourist infrastructure from the late nineteenth century through to the 1930s and explores the role of key groups of actors in this process. The ways in which changes in the city's urban structure, including architectural qualities, were used to promote this functional change, are also demonstrated.