I have spent quite a few winters on Costa del Sol already, so I decided to write this article about what to do here during the “cold” season. I know that Costa del Sol is a very popular destination in summer, but is it worth visiting in winter as well? Let’s see!
One of the things that I really enjoy on Costa del Sol in winter is the lack of crowds. And the winter sun, I can’t complain about the beautiful sunny days and the warm weather either. Whilst it may not be warm enough to sunbathe or swim in the sea, there are plenty of other exciting things to do on Costa del Sol in winter. Below, I will tell you all about my favourite activities and reasons to come on Spain’s sunniest coast outside of the summer months.
How Is the Weather on Costa del Sol in Winter?
If you’re considering a winter visit to Costa del Sol, you might be wondering about the weather during this season. The region experiences a mild and pleasant climate during the winter months, making it an appealing destination for those seeking a break from colder temperatures.
In December, January, and February, the average maximum temperature on Costa del Sol ranges from 16 to 19 degrees Celsius (61 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit). The minimum temperature during these months typically hovers between 8 to 11 degrees Celsius (46 to 52 degrees Fahrenheit).
While the winter season does bring some cooler days and occasional rainfall, the overall climate remains mild and enjoyable. You can expect many sunny days, allowing you to explore the beautiful coastal landscapes and soak in the breathtaking views.
The moderate winter temperatures on Costa del Sol make it a great place to escape the harsh cold of other regions in Europe. This is one of the main reasons why so many people choose to visit Costa del Sol in winter, for a sunny and warm break.
What If It’s Raining?
While Costa del Sol typically enjoys a mild winter climate, occasional rainfall is not uncommon during this season. If you happen to encounter a rainy day during your visit, fear not, as there are still plenty of activities to enjoy and places to explore.
One of the benefits of visiting Costa del Sol in winter is that the rain is usually brief and followed by sunny intervals. You can use these moments to take a leisurely stroll along the coast or explore the picturesque streets of Andalucia’s charming whitewashed towns.
If you prefer indoor activities, there are many museums, art galleries, and historical sites to discover. From the great Picasso Museum in Malaga to the contemporary art at the Pompidou Centre, you can immerse yourself in the region’s culture and heritage. For more information, click here to read more about the museums in Malaga.
For a relaxing retreat from the rain, consider enjoying a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate at one of the cosy cafes. The inviting ambiance and friendly locals make it an excellent opportunity to connect with the community and experience the laid-back Spanish lifestyle.
If you like shopping, a rainy day can be the perfect excuse to explore the boutiques and shops that dot the region. From unique souvenirs to the latest Spanish fashion at Corte Ingles, there are plenty of places to shop on Costa del Sol.
10 Great Reasons to Visit Costa del Sol in Winter:
Get ready to explore Costa del Sol in winter, when the weather is mild, the festivities are lively, and there’s something special for everyone to enjoy.
The Weather is Mild
As mentioned in the introduction, a great reason for visiting Costa del Sol in winter is the mild climate. With temperatures remaining comfortable, you’ll have the opportunity to indulge in a variety of activities across the charming towns that line the coast.
In Malaga, the region’s vibrant capital, you can take a leisurely stroll along the historic streets and visit iconic landmarks such as the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle. Enjoy the warm winter sun as you explore the picturesque gardens and terraces while taking in panoramic views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea.
Marbella, known for its upscale ambiance, offers a range of great experiences. You can wander through the charming old town of Marbella, admiring the beautifully decorated streets and cozy squares. Don’t forget to visit Plaza de los Naranjos, where you can relax with a cup of coffee and enjoy the alluring smell of the orange blossoms, starting from the end of January.
For nature enthusiasts, a trip to Estepona is a must. With its stunning beaches and picturesque mountain backdrop, Estepona offers some great outdoor activities. Take a hike in the Sierra Bermeja Mountains or stroll along the delightful promenade and enjoy the refreshing sea breeze.
If you’re a golf enthusiast, winter is an ideal time to play a round or two on the renowned golf courses scattered throughout Costa del Sol. With over 70 courses to choose from, you can tee off amidst lush greens and breathtaking coastal views. Winter is in fact the best time to play golf on Costa del Sol, due to the pleasant temperatures.
In Nerja, you can explore the fascinating Caves of Nerja, a natural wonder with stunning stalactites and stalagmites. Afterward, take a leisurely walk along the Balcony of Europe (El Balcón de Europa), a scenic viewpoint offering breathtaking vistas of the Mediterranean Sea.
These are just a few of the many activities you can enjoy during a winter visit to Costa del Sol.
The Winter Holidays Celebrations are Epic
If you are looking for a vibrant winter atmosphere, Costa del Sol will not disappoint. The region’s winter holiday celebrations are nothing short of epic, creating a festive wonderland that captivates locals and visitors alike.
As Christmas approaches, the towns along Costa del Sol transform into magical havens decorated with twinkling lights, decorative ornaments, and festive displays. Malaga’s historic city centre illuminates with a dazzling light show, captivating spectators of all ages. The Calle Larios, the city’s main shopping street, becomes an enchanting spectacle of colours inside the famous light’s tunnel. Click here to read more about what to do in winter in Malaga.
Marbella’s enchanting old town comes alive with traditional Christmas markets offering artisanal crafts, festive decorations, and mouth watering treats. Stroll through the festive stalls, savouring the scents of roasted chestnuts and warm churros with hot chocolate, and perhaps find the perfect gift for your loved ones.
Fuengirola‘s Plazas and squares transform into joyful gathering spots, hosting lively Christmas concerts, and nativity scenes that reenact the story of the birth of Jesus. The festive atmosphere fosters a sense of togetherness, making it a heartwarming experience for families and friends.
Estepona embraces the holiday spirit with an annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, marking the beginning of the festive season. The town’s picturesque streets are decorated with lights and decorations, creating a magical setting for leisurely winter strolls.
Nerja’s Plaza de España is the heart of Christmas celebrations, hosting festive concerts and events that fill the air with joyous tunes. The town’s charming ambiance and friendly locals create a welcoming atmosphere for visitors to join in the festivities.
Throughout Costa del Sol, churches and cathedrals host Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services, where you can learn more about the traditions of Andalusian Christmas celebrations.
The celebration of Christmas is not complete without enjoying the typical delicacies that grace the holiday table. Feast on traditional Spanish treats such as turrón, polvorones, and marzipan, and enjoy a delightful culinary journey during the festive season.
You Can See the Famous Three Kings Parade
In Spain, the holiday season reaches its peak with the Three Kings Parade, also known as the “Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos.” This vibrant and colourful celebration takes place on the evening of January 5th, just one day before the Feast of the Epiphany.
The Three Kings Parade commemorates the biblical journey of the three wise men, also known as the Magi or Kings, who travelled from distant lands to Bethlehem, guided by a shining star, to honour the birth of Jesus and present him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The parade holds great significance in Spanish culture, symbolising the end of the Christmas season and the arrival of the Magi bearing gifts. It is a beloved tradition, especially for children who eagerly await the arrival of the Three Kings and the distribution of presents.
Throughout the towns along Costa del Sol, the Three Kings Parade is a grand and exuberant affair, drawing crowds of locals. Days before the event, the streets are abuzz with excitement as the towns prepare for the procession.
As the evening approaches, the streets come alive with music, dancing, and joyful anticipation. Elaborate floats decorated with lights carry the Three Kings, who are dressed in regal attire, waving to the cheering crowds as they pass by.
Local children eagerly await the parade, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Three Kings and their entourage. They come with open hearts, eager to receive the gifts that the Magi bestow upon them. Many children write letters to the Three Kings, sharing their wishes and dreams for the year ahead. It’s a bit like we used to write letters to Santa Claus.
After the parade, families and friends gather to share a special meal and indulge in a traditional cake known as “Roscon de Reyes,” a ring-shaped dessert decorated with candied fruits that hide a surprise inside. Finding the hidden figurine or bean in the cake brings good luck and the honour of wearing a paper crown.
There Are No Crowds
One of the most appealing things about visiting Costa del Sol in winter is the chance to experience its beauty without the usual crowds. While the summer months attract a plethora of tourists, the winter season offers a tranquil and serene atmosphere that allows you to experience the region in peace, without the crowds.
Popular tourist spots such as Marbella’s beaches and Malaga’s historic landmarks become peaceful, providing ample space to enjoy them without being overwhelmed by tourists. The iconic Alhambra in Granada, while not directly located on Costa del Sol, is a must-visit attraction for many tourists. During winter, you have a better chance of securing tickets to explore this breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage site and visit its Moorish architecture and beautiful gardens.
In the quaint town of Mijas, take a leisurely walk through the picturesque streets and indulge in the stunning panoramic views of the coast and surrounding countryside, undisturbed by bustling crowds. Located just 10 minutes drive from my home, Mijas Pueblo has always been my favourite place to stroll around and enjoy some good food at a local restaurant, especially during the winter months, when the local ladies make bunuelos (donuts) and sell them in front of their houses.
The mild winter weather also offers the perfect opportunity for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and birdwatching. In summer months it is simply too hot for any outdoor sports.
Enjoy the True Hospitality of the Whitewashed Villages
One of the most delightful experiences of visiting Costa del Sol in winter is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the authentic hospitality of the region’s charming whitewashed villages. These picturesque villages, perched atop hills and nestled in the countryside, are very popular with tourists during the summer months. In winter however, they are crowds-free!
Exploring these villages in winter offers a unique chance to interact with the locals on a more personal level. As tourism is less pronounced during this season, the villagers have more time to engage in friendly conversations, share stories, and offer you a glimpse into their way of life. Mentioning Mijas Pueblo before, I found out so many things about it just by chatting with the locals, mostly over a drink at tiny family run tapas bars.
One of the main advantages of visiting the whitewashed villages in winter is the ease of finding parking. In the peak summer months, parking can be challenging, and spots fill up quickly due to the high number of visitors. However, during the quieter winter season, you can conveniently park near the village centres and leisurely explore the quaint streets at your own pace.
You Can Party on the Streets During the Carnival
In winter, Costa del Sol comes alive with vibrant and colourful festivities, and one of the most special celebrations during this season is the Carnival. The Carnival marks the last party before the Lent, and fills the streets with joy, music, and dancing.
The Carnival celebrations take place in various towns across Costa del Sol, each adding its unique touch to the festivities. From the grand parades to the elaborate costumes, the Carnival is a time of merriment and revelry that brings the entire community together.
In Malaga, the city’s Carnival is a highlight of the winter season. The streets are transformed into a bustling party with music, dancing, and flamboyant costumes. The main parade, known as the “Gran Boqueroná,” features giant sardine floats, the symbol of Malaga. The carnival-goers take to the streets, wearing masks and fancy dress, celebrating with music and laughter. It is a week-long affair.
Marbella’s Carnival embraces a glamorous and sophisticated atmosphere. The town’s main squares host lively celebrations with live music, dance performances, and costume contests. The streets become a spectacle of colour and excitement, where everyone is encouraged to join in.
Fuengirola’s Carnival is famous for its grand parade, featuring elaborately decorated floats and participants dressed in vibrant and creative costumes. The carnival route is lined with enthusiastic spectators cheering up, creating a vibrant atmosphere.
Estepona’s Carnival is a family-oriented celebration, with activities and events suitable for all ages. Children and adults alike participate in costume competitions, street performances, and musical concerts that bring a joyful energy to the town.
Nerja’s Carnival is a lively and festive affair, with residents crowding the streets to witness the parade of floats and marchers. The carnival includes live music, dance performances, and entertainment for everyone to enjoy.
You Can Go Hiking
Costa del Sol is blessed with wonderful mountains which have plenty of hiking trails. The cooler temperatures during winter make it the ideal time to go on a hiking trail that might be too challenging in the scorching summer heat.
One of the popular hiking destinations in Costa del Sol is Pico de Mijas, the highest peak in the Sierra de Mijas mountain range. During winter, the trails leading up to Pico de Mijas are a hiker’s dream, offering clear views and comfortable hiking conditions. The stunning vistas from the summit, stretching from the coastline to the rugged Andalusian terrain, make the trek well worth the effort.
In the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, nature enthusiasts can explore a variety of trails, such as those leading to the Cerro Lastonar and the Tajo de la Caina. These trails offer a chance to immerse yourself in the beauty of the natural park, discovering unique flora and fauna along the way.
The Sierra Blanca mountain range, which runs parallel to the coastline, boasts hiking trails that lead to the iconic La Concha peak. The reward for reaching the summit is a beautiful panorama of the Costa del Sol, stretching all the way to Gibraltar.
You can Enjoy a Spa Break at the Hammam
When the rainy days arrive on Costa del Sol in winter, there’s no need to get sad. Take the opportunity to treat yourself to a rejuvenating spa break at Hammam Al Andalus, in the heart of charming Malaga.
Hammam Al Andalus offers a unique and authentic experience inspired by the traditional Arabian baths. At Hammam Al Andalus, you can enjoy a range of spa treatments designed to soothe both the body and the mind. Start with a warm bath in the tepidarium, where the heated water gently relaxes your muscles, easing away any tension and worries.
Continue your journey with a visit to the caldarium, where the steam bath will cleanse your skin and detoxify your body. Next, treat yourself to a refreshing plunge in the cold water pool, a revitalising experience that invigorates the body and boosts circulation. To complete the experience, indulge in a deeply relaxing massage or a traditional Kessa scrub, a gentle exfoliating treatment that leaves your skin feeling silky smooth and rejuvenated.
Taste the Mosto
During the winter months on Costa del Sol, there’s a special treat waiting for you – the delightful taste of Mosto. Mosto is a traditional Spanish beverage made from freshly crushed grape juice that has gone through a very fast fermentation. It is produced from the first press of the harvested grapes, and it is usually sold with a minimum filtration. Usually the tapas bars will advertise having it by placing a paper with “Hay Mosto” written on it in the windows. It is usually stored on the counter, in a jug, and you can usually find it after the 30th of November.
Hop on a Ferry to Morocco for a Day Trip
If the weather is not great, why not hop on the ferry and go to Morocco for the day? From the coastal towns of Costa del Sol, such as Malaga or Algeciras, you can easily catch a ferry that sails across the Strait of Gibraltar to various Moroccan ports, including Tangier and the Spanish town of Ceuta.
Explore the historic medinas, where labyrinthine alleyways lead to hidden gems, such as artisan workshops, spice markets, and bustling squares. Absorb the rhythmic beats of traditional music, and savour the aromas of flavourful Moroccan cuisine wafting through the air.
In conclusion, visiting Costa del Sol in winter can be a great idea if you are looking for a relaxing break in the sun. There are plenty of things to do, some which you can’t really do when it’s too hot outside, not to mention the wonderful lack of crowds. Happy travels!
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