Malaga is a popular summer destination because of its beautiful beaches, festivals and events as well as its water activities.
So you may wonder why you should visit Malaga in winter and what things you can do in the city and its surroundings if it’s known for being a summer holiday spot.
Some of the reasons you’ll love visiting Malaga in winter are its mild temperatures and sunny weather, its quieter atmosphere due to fewer crowds, its fantastic winter events, and the opportunity to do plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking.
Keep reading to discover all the reasons why winter in Malaga is amazing and the different and unique activities you can do during this time of the year. You’ll love visiting my hometown in winter!
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Reasons Why You Will Love Visiting Malaga in Winter
1) It has sunny and mild weather in winter
If you’re looking to escape the cold and rain, temperatures in Malaga reach a maximum of 20 degrees and a minimum of 8 degrees. Although you can have rainy days in Malaga, they aren’t very common and usually don’t last very long.
The sunny weather allows you to do plenty of outdoor activities – from exploring the city centre by bike to going on a hike.
For me, there is nothing better than walking along the promenade on a sunny day, stopping by a beach restaurant, known as chiringuito, and having a family meal.
If you’re brave, you can always go to the beach and go for a dip on a sunny day, but you must know that the water is unlikely to be warm!
Overall, Malaga is a great European winter sun destination.
2) There are fewer crowds
During the months of July and August, Malaga and Costa del Sol are full of tourists.
It can be overwhelming if you don’t like crowds, and almost everywhere you go, it’s busy, especially on the beach on a Sunday (most locals don’t work on Sundays and spend a day on the beach with their family).
However, winter is less busy and perfect to explore the city’s attractions and monuments. You’ll enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and won’t have to worry about crowds.
If you’re a photographer or blogger, you’ll surely appreciate the quiet atmosphere to take photos.
The busiest periods in winter are December and Christmas, but apart from the festive season, January and February are the quietest months.
📌 Read about these incredible free activities to do in Malaga
3) It gets dark late
Many European destinations, especially countries in the north of Europe, don’t have much daylight, so it gets dark as early as 3 pm. This makes you want to spend more time indoors and you need to rush to do certain activities.
Malaga has more sunny days and daylight than other countries. In the winter months, it gets dark around 6:30 pm, so you can enjoy doing outdoor activities for longer, and it does make you feel like you have a good amount of time to do more things.
4) Flights to Malaga are cheaper
Considering that you need to book a flight to get to Malaga, you’ll save money by visiting Malaga during the winter months.
Low-cost airlines have great fares in winter, and if you want the best deal, you just need to be flexible. But keep in mind that you’ll find the cheapest flights in the middle and end of January.
Christmas can be a bit more expensive but not as expensive as Christmas destinations in Europe such as Iceland and Finland.
5) You can enjoy Malaga’s delicious comfort food
Malaga food is good all year round, but there are some traditional dishes you may not want to have in the summer months – stews, warm soups, etc. However, as the temperatures drop in winter, you’ll fancy trying some of Malaga’s delicacies.
The most popular winter dish is Plato de Los Montes. This dish consists of lomo (pork loin that has been marinated in lard), chorizo, morcilla (similar to black pudding), fried egg, fried green peppers, fries and, sometimes migas (delicious fried breadcrumbs). It is a very hearty meal, so I wouldn’t recommend having a starter.
Other winter dishes include stews such as gazpachuelo (fish stew), puchero malagueño (meat and chickpea stew) and guisaillo de papas (meat and potato stew).
If you’re visiting Malaga at Christmas, you can’t miss the opportunity to try Roscón de Reyes, Spanish King’s Cake which consists of a sweet bread filled with cream and topped with candied fruits. Although you can also find a few variations – chocolate, praline and truffles.
This cake has a surprise inside, so please be mindful when biting your piece of cake.
📌 Do you want to eat authentic traditional food in Malaga? Read this guide on what to eat in Malaga and Costa del Sol
6) The Christmas season is magical
Christmas in Malaga and any other cities in Spain are completely different from other European Christmas’. There isn’t a white Christmas, winter temperatures are mild, and Spanish Christmas traditions are unique.
If you’re looking for a different Christmas, different from the stereotypical European Christmas, you’ll love spending Christmas in Malaga.
One of the things that makes Malaga special at Christmas is the Christmas Lights that you can find on Larios Street. They change every year and have been attracting more and more national and international tourists.
Not only do the lights change, but the display and music too, so these are good reasons to come back to see the lights in other years.
In addition to the lights, you don’t want to miss the Three Kings Parade that happens on the 5th of January. In this parade, you’ll see the Three Kings and their helpers who throw sweets and toys at kids. It’s a great event to experience with kids, family or even friends!
7) It’s the best time to have a relaxing experience at the spas and thermal baths
Spas and thermal baths aren’t as promoted as other activities in Malaga, however, they are quite good. You don’t need to go far to find one, you’ll find Hammam Al Andalus Malaga in the city centre.
This spa is a must-visit if you want a relaxing afternoon. Soak up the Moorish architecture and atmosphere, relax and enjoy a delicious mint tea.
They have incredible thermal baths, jacuzzis, a steam room and a wide range of massages and treatments to choose from.
I’ve visited these Arab baths a few times, and I loved them. They’re very well-preserved and the atmosphere is very relaxing.
If you prefer natural thermal baths, there are a few thermal baths in the province of Malaga.
Natural thermal baths in Malaga
- Baños de la hedionda in Casares
- Baños de Vilos in Periana
- Las Majadas in Alcaucín
8) It’s the perfect time to go on a hike
Hiking in summer can be very challenging because of the high temperatures (mountain areas can reach up to 40 degrees if not more). If you find a route with rivers, then you’ll find it busy with locals; and you need to avoid certain times.
Winter is the perfect time to hike in Malaga – sunny, dry and cooler days make hiking much easier.
If you’re looking for places to hike in Malaga, the closest and most popular in the city is Los Montes de Malaga Natural Park. This park has incredible hills, and mountains and you can find hiking trails for all levels.
And I can’t forget to mention one of the most famous hikes in Spain, El Caminito del Rey.
This hiking trail was considered one of the most dangerous in the world, but now it has been restored and is safe to visit. Exploring Caminito del Rey is a fantastic experience for nature lovers.
📌Tip: Book your trip to El Caminito del Rey in advance to avoid disappointments. It’s a very popular hike and it can get fully booked easily.
9) You can experience Malaga Carnival
Andalusia’s most famous carnival happens in the city of Cadiz, however, Malaga Carnival has become more and more popular over the last couple of years.
The carnival is celebrated in February and it usually lasts six days. During the carnival period, you can enjoy street performances and parades in the city centre, competitions, and theatre performances.
It’s a lively event that you don’t want to miss!
10) Shops have good sales
If you love shopping, then you’ll love visiting Malaga in winter.
The sales usually start at the beginning of January and end at the end of February. You’ll find great deals and offers on clothes, electronics and much more during this time.
There are plenty of shopping options in the city centre. You’ll find three big shopping centres (Vialia inside María Zambrano train station, Larios and El Corte Inglés) as well as high street shops in Larios street and the port.
In addition to this, you’ll also find outlets and other shopping centres across Costa del Sol. Some of the most popular shopping centres and outlets are Plaza Mayor near Torremolinos and La Cañada in Marbella.
11) It’s easier to explore the beautiful white villages
You can explore the white villages all year round, but the summer months can make it a less enjoyable experience because of two main reasons: high temperatures and crowds.
During winter, the weather is usually pretty good to go on a day trip and spend the day wandering the streets of the white villages, having a meal out and enjoying the sunshine.
Another advantage that you’ll benefit from if you drive is less traffic on the roads and more parking spaces.
Some white villages you don’t want to miss in Costa Del Sol are Mijas Pueblo, Nerja and Frigiliana. They are picturesque and unique in many different ways.
📌 Read more about the most beautiful white towns in Andalusia
12) It’s not far from one of the best ski resorts in Spain
Have you ever heard of Sierra Nevada? The Sierra Nevada is located in the province of Granada, but it isn’t very far from Malaga – about 3 hour drive.
You can go to Sierra Nevada for a day trip or spend a couple of days there to enjoy skiing and other winter snow activities.
If you’re spending a couple of days in Sierra Nevada, and you want a unique experience, then you’ll love staying at El Lodge. They have cosy rooms and suites, four restaurants that serve authentic local cuisine, and an open-air heated pool with outstanding views of the mountains.
13) It’s the perfect time to go on an Andalucia road trip
Before going on a road trip around Andalucia, I highly recommend exploring some of the beautiful towns around Malaga, but Malaga is the perfect base to start a road trip.
Winter is a good time to go on a road trip because there are no crowds, so you don’t need to worry about queueing to get to places, rushing to arrive somewhere very early, or paying for expensive flights and accommodation.
By travelling in winter, you’ll also have a more authentic experience and a better understanding of what’s like to live in some of these Andalusian cities and towns.
You can’t miss cities like Granada, Seville and Cordoba on your Andalucia road trip. They’re packed with incredible historic buildings and delicious food. However, you might also want to visit small pretty towns such as Frigiliana, Setenil de las Bodegas and Carmona.
14) You can enjoy its museums on a rainy day
Rain isn’t very common in Malaga, and when it rains it isn’t for long. However, if the weather isn’t the best, you can always explore one of the many incredible museums in Malaga. Whether you love art, music or cars, there’s a museum for you.
If you don’t have much time in Malaga and would love to visit some museums, you can’t miss Picasso Museum Malaga and Carmen Thyssen Museum. These two museums are free on Sunday afternoons.
Things to do in Malaga in winter by month
If you’re wondering what things you could do in Malaga in specific months during winter, I’ve compiled the best events going on from December to March.
Things to do in Malaga in December
December is one of the most magical months in Malaga. This is the perfect time to visit the city if you love all Christmas-related.
The main highlight is Malaga Christmas lights that are set up in Calle Larios, Malaga’s main street, and they aren’t just normal Christmas lights. There are a few lights shows with Christmas songs in the evening.
Apart from the Christmas lights, you can also wander around the Christmas market in Paseo del Parque and see one of the traditional nativity scenes, called belén, in the cathedral or town hall.
Things to do in Malaga in January
The festive celebrations still take place at the beginning of January. The most important event is Cabalgata de Los Reyes Magos, the Three Kings Parade, which happens on the 5th of January.
With the end of Christmas on the 7th of January, everything slows down and this is the ideal time to visit Malaga for you if you are on a budget.
Hotels and flight prices decrease significantly, so you’ll find the best deals. The only downside of visiting Malaga in January is that this is the coldest month.
Things to do in Malaga in February
Apart from Valentine’s Day, February shows you a bit of the party side of Malaga with its carnival.
The best carnival in Andalucia and in Spain is in Cadiz, but Malaga is also a great place to spend it. You’ll see locals wearing funny fancy dresses on Calle Larios in the evening.
Last but not least, the 28th of February is Día de Andalucía (Andalusia Day) so don’t be surprised if you see shops closed.
Things to do in Malaga in March
March is the perfect time to visit Malaga for anyone who loves hiking. The temperatures are slightly warmer than in January and February.
At the end of this month, you can also experience another important celebration in Malaga, Easter Week, known as Semana Santa.
The streets of Malaga are busy with people watching procesiones, huge religious floats that represent different scenes before Jesus’s death. These take place in Malaga city centre and you can watch them every day during the Easter week.
Even if you aren’t religious, it’s an event you want to experience, especially if you love Spanish culture and traditions.
📌 Tip: If you’re a foodie, head to the bakery and order some torrijas! These Spanish-style french toasts are very typical during Easter and are delicious.
So, is Malaga worth visiting in winter?
Absolutely! You’ll enjoy the sunshine, fewer crowds and tourists and a peaceful atmosphere. If you happen to visit Malaga for Christmas, you’ll experience unique Spanish Christmas traditions and food.
The downside of visiting Malaga in winter is that you won’t be able to enjoy certain attractions, waterparks and beach clubs as many of these only open during the high season (June to September), but if you aren’t interested in these activities, it’s definitely worth visiting Malaga in winter.
If you have any questions about Malaga or Costa del Sol, email me or send me a DM on Instagram. I’d be very happy to help you plan your Malaga itinerary and tell you more about my hometown.
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Top things to do before visiting Malaga
- Check out and book cheap flights to Malaga here.
- Book accommodation in Malaga. This hotel guide will tell you the city’s best hotels for all budgets.
- Have a look at this Malaga food guide to indulge yourself in eating the best typical food and sipping cocktails on the best rooftops.
- Are you planning to visit other nearby Andalusian destinations? Check out my blog about the best day trips from Malaga.
- Rent a car to travel with ease around Malaga and Costa del Sol.
- Book travel insurance, this is a must for any trip! SafetyWing offers affordable and flexible health and travel insurance.
Frequently asked questions about visiting Malaga in winter
Is Malaga warm in winter?
Malaga has one of the warmest winters in Europe, the average temperature is 17 degrees during the day and 9 degrees during the evening. In addition to this, the city has the most sunshine hours in all of Spain.
What is the coldest month in Malaga?
The coldest month in Malaga is January with an average maximum temperature of 16 degrees and a minimum of 8 degrees.
Can you swim in Malaga in December?
I wouldn’t recommend swimming in Malaga in December. Although the temperature is mild, the water is not warm. However, I’ve seen some brave tourists swimming in the winter. Instead of swimming in the sea, you can enjoy the sunshine while walking on the beach promenade or having a meal in a beach restaurant.