Things to Do in Malaga in Winter Recommended by a Local

Visiting Malaga in winter is a great idea, especially if you are looking for warm weather and sunny skies. Living here for the past few years I can tell you that Malaga is definitely worth visiting in winter.

Malaga makes a fantastic winter sun holiday destination because of the mild temperatures, no crowds, and the amazing events that happen here from December to February. The city has a fantastic Christmas lights display which is usually turned on by Malaga’s most famous resident, Antonio Banderas. January sees the arrival of the Three Kings, which is celebrated on the main streets of the city, whilst in February the carnival takes over Malaga, with music, fancy dress, parades, and plenty of fun.

Why Should you Visit Malaga in Winter?

A small square in Malaga, between a church and a red building. The photo has been taken from the first floor of the building, in front of which there is a basket with pink flowers.

There are plenty of reasons why you should visit Malaga in winter. Firstly, the prices of accommodations are so much lower than in high season. During the winter months, you can easily book a room at the most beautiful hotels in Malaga for as little as 50 euros a night.

The weather in Malaga during the winter months is usually mild and without much rain. Whilst you can’t sunbathe because it is too cold for that, you can still enjoy nice walks along the promenade, or even on the beach.

Winter doesn’t see many tourists in Malaga, which means that you can explore the sights without any of the summer crowds.

Flights are also much cheaper in winter than in summer. I often paid as little as £10 for a return ticket from Malaga to London. Having my business in the UK, I had to often attend events and meetings, so Ryanair has become my best friend. £10 and 2 hours later, and I was in London, or back in Malaga.

Temperatures in Malaga in Winter  

A panoramic view of Malaga, taken from the hill of the Alcazaba

Malaga has a privileged position on Costa del Sol. Because of the high mountains in the proximity of the sea, Malaga is in a perfect microclimate, protected from the bad weather. The average temperature for the winter months in Malaga is 15 degrees Celsius.

The average temperatures in Malaga in winter, for each month, are:

December: High 17.5C – Low 8.9C

January: High 16.8C – Low 7.4C  

February: High 17.7C – Low 8.2C

Things to do in Malaga in winter:

Check Out the Fabulous Christmas Lights

A photo of the tunnel of lights on Calle Larios. The strings on light reach from one side to the other, over the street. There are many people walking underneath.

Malaga is adorned with colourful lights and illuminated Christmas trees over the festive period. The city’s lights attract visitors from all over the world each year.

Malaga’s lights are switched on during an evening long celebration on the last Friday in November and remain lit until January 6th. The lights are free to view and the best Christmas light displays can be found on Alameda Principal and Calle Larios.  The tunnel of lights on Calle Larios changes each year, so there is always something new to see. I love walking through it as it really brings up the cheer of the winter holidays. For more information about Christmas in Malaga, check out my dedicated article by clicking here.

Visit the Christmas Market

A Christmas market on the seafront. There is a large metal Christmas tree on the right, and a few stalls inside white tents, on the left.

There are several Christmas markets in the Malaga province including the city centre, Torremolinos and Fuengirola

Malaga’s Christmas markets run throughout the month of December and sell locally made crafts, drinks and food. The markets are an ideal location to find a unique Christmas gift and for getting into the festive spirit. 

Join the Locals for the Los Reyes Parade

The Procesión De Los Reyes (Procession of the Kings) is celebrated throughout Spain on January 5th and 6th to mark the Epiphany. In the Catholic Church, the Epiphany marks the date that the Three Kings (or the Three Wise Men) visited the baby Jesus in the stable. 

In Malaga, visitors can join huge crowds to watch the parade of costumed people (including children who traditionally dress as shepherds) and decorated floats. Sweets are given out to the watching crowd so don’t forget to bring a goody bag!

Dance on the Streets for the Carnival

A red frame decorated with white flowers acting as a gate for entering the festival

The annual Malaga Carnival takes place in the week before the start of Lent. This usually falls mid to late February but dates vary year to year. 

Malaga’s Carnival is a riot of colourful costumes, live music and lively parades. The city hosts free outdoor concerts, communal dancing and street performers. Plus there are several events for children including a fancy dress competition and a children’s parade. 

The party festival comes to an end with the traditional Entierro Del Boquerón parade when a sardine or anchovy is solemnly buried to mark the start of Lent. 

Visit One of Malaga’s Many Intriguing Museums

A sketch done by Picasso, at the Picasso museum in Malaga

If you wake up to a rare, rainy day in Malaga in winter, escape the weather by visiting one of the city’s 37 museums. 

Don’t miss the excellent Picasso Museum, which houses over 200 pieces by the locally born artist. The museum is open every day over winter. Alternatively, learn about the history and art of Malaga at the Malaga Museum which is open every day except Monday in the winter months. 

For something a little different, check out the Museum of Flamenco Art (also known as Museo Flamenco Peña Juan Breva). The museum houses music, art and costumes charting the history of flamenco in the region and holds free flamenco recitals every Friday evening.  

Go Hiking

I am standing on the peak of Mijas, looking at the white clouds raising from underneath.

Andalucia’s hiking trails are world class routes but, as many of the paths offer little shade, hiking can be challenging during peak summer months. I know because I have done the mistake to hike the Los Cahorros trail in the peak of July. The lack of shade made it so difficult, and at some point, I thought the best thing would be to turn back. I did persevere though but it was definitely a mistake I won’t repeat again.

Sunny winter days with cooler temperatures offer more enjoyable hiking opportunities with the added bonus of less busy trails. 

El Caminito del Rey in Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes Natural Park is an unmissable hike offering stomach churning, vertiginous walkways, suspension bridges and spectacular views. Also worth visiting is the lesser known but equally stunning five mile long Pico de Mijas trail

Spend the Day at the Beach

A photo of the Malagueta sign, on Malagueta beach

You may not get a suntan in Malaga in winter but you can still enjoy the award winning beaches through walks and strolls along pretty promenades. Stop for drinks or mouth watering fish dishes at quiet beachside restaurants.

Malaga’s mild winter weather means it is still possible to enjoy a dolphin watching boat trip. The trips usually last around 2 hours and you can expect to see Striped Dolphins as well as Common Dolphins. 

Enjoy the Sights Without the Crowds

A photo of the wall of the Alcazaba on the right hand side, and the view of the city from above, on the left.

Enjoy Malaga’s top attractions in winter without the crowds or the stifling heat. Exploring the 11th century Alcazaba, the Roman theatre or the popular Gibralfaro Castle is much more pleasant without the shuffling crowds you would encounter in summer. 

You can do a lot of things on a weekend in Malaga, so if you are looking for warm weather and sunshine, why not book a city break here?

Play Golf

A photo of a golf course, with Mijas mountain range in the back

Peak summer months are too hot to enjoy the 70 golf courses on offer in the Costa del Sol. Instead, head to the greens in winter. The local Finca Cortesin course is rated amongst the best in Spain. 

Winter is actually the peak golf season on Costa del Sol. Most professional golfers come to play on the award winning courses during this time.

Eat Roasted Chestnuts

Chestnuts grow in the valleys of Malaga and in winter, you can enjoy fresh roasted chestnuts from pop up vendors all over the city. The smell is irresistible. 

Chestnuts also play a central role in the Fiesta del Toston which takes place on November 1st each year. During the festival, families and groups of friends head to the countryside for the day or for overnight camping (and partying!) and roast chestnuts on open fires. 

Relax at the Hammam Al Andalus

A very dark photo of the interior of the hammam

There is no better way to spend a day in Malaga in winter than a trip to a relaxing, rejuvenating hammam. 

The Hammam Al Andalus offers traditional massages and Arab baths as well as stretching and mobility treatments. They also offer a specially themed winter treatment package. 

Go Skiing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Winter in Malaga enables you to spend the morning on a beach in the Costa del Sol but go skiing on real snow in the afternoon! 

The Sierra Nevada mountains are a two hour drive from the Costa del Sol. The Sierra Nevada ski resort is Europe’s highest and sunniest ski resort. It offers visitors fantastic ski opportunities with over 120 runs of varying difficulty. The resort has three ski schools, equipment rental and, if you chose to stay overnight, there is a variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets. You can check the live status of the snow and the weather conditions by clicking here.

Go on a Road Trip Around Andalucia

A photo of one of the squares in Mijas Pueblo. The railings are decorated with flower pots.

Winter is a perfect time to enjoy an Andalucia road trip. Roads will be quieter off season and attractions less busy. You can also choose the city as your base, hire a car and do many amazing day trips from Malaga.

Visit historic Córdoba and the stunning La Mezquita (mosque-cathedral) which is a UNESCO World Heritage site or cross the Puente Nuevo in Ronda

Tour one of the most visited sites in Spain, La Alhambra Palace in Granada or get away from it in a quiet Andalucian white village such as Mijas Pueblo.

Malaga in Winter, Month by Month

December

A photo of the tunnel of lights in Malaga, in the dark.

If you are looking for the magic of Christmas in a warm location, then come to Malaga! The entire city dresses up in lights, with the most spectacular display being installed on Calle Larios. Here you can walk through a massive tunnel of lights that takes the width of the entire street.

Malaga also has a Christmas market, and Christmas trees set up in different parts of the city.

In December you can also taste some of the delicious holiday food in Malaga, such as the hearty Plato de Los Montes, the potato stews, and the delicious Roscón de Reyes (the King’s Cake).

January

January starts with the Three Kings parade, which takes place in the evening of the 5th of January. In Spain the children receive gifts from the Three Kings and not from Santa Claus, even though this western tradition has become more and more popular in the country.

The tradition says that the Three Kings arrive on their camels on the evening of the 5th of January and leave gifts for children in their shoes. In return, children leave turron for the Kings and sugar lumps for the camels.

The parade in Malaga is one of the most spectacular in Andalucia. It involves around 14 decorated floats that are carried around town, with performers accompanying them. Each of the three Kings has his own float.

February

A photo of colourful decorations hanged above the street

February is the fun month when the city dresses up again for the Carnival, with another spectacular light display on Calle Larios.

The Carnival usually takes place at the end of February and lasts for 6 days. There are vibrant celebrations, parades, people in fancy dress and concerts. A unique feature of the carnivals in Andalucia are the satirical carnival music players, who prepare the entire year for this event.    

FAQ:

Is Malaga worth visiting in winter?

A photo of the Roscon de Reyes, the traditional Spanish cake that is eaten during the winter holidays

Yes, Malaga is worth visiting in winter. Each month has something different to offer. Read this article to see what is there to do in Malaga for each month in winter.

Is Malaga cold in winter?

No, Malaga is not cold in winter. The average temperature is 15 degrees Celsius during the day, and 8 degrees Celsius during the night. There are plenty of sunny days in Malaga in winter as well.

Is it worth going to Malaga in December?

Yes, it is worth going to Malaga in December. The city gets very festive, with fantastic lights displays, an impressive tunnel of lights, a Christmas market, and plenty of events going on. The typical holiday food in Malaga is also worth trying, especially the roasted chestnuts or the Roscón de Reyes.

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