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.
Keep reading to discover all the reasons why you should visit Malaga in winter and all the different and unique activities you can do during this time of the year.
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Top things to do before visiting Malaga
- 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!
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!
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 the beach on a Sunday (most locals don’t work on Sundays and spend a day on the beach with the 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 period in winter is December, Christmas, but apart from the festive season, January and February are the quietest months.
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.
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.
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, a dish that 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, puchero malagueño and guisaillo de papas.
If you’re visiting Malaga at Christmas, you can’t miss the opportunity to try Roscón de Reyes, Spanish King’s Cake that 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.
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, 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 its Christmas Lights that you can find in 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 to kids. It’s a great event to experience with kids, family or even friends!
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.
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
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, 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.
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!
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. During this time, you’ll find great deals and offers on clothes, electronics and much more.
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.
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.
It’s not far from one of the best ski resorts in Spain
Have you ever heard of Sierra Nevada? Sierra Nevada is located in the province of Granada, but it isn’t very far from Malaga – about 3 hours 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.
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.
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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 in the beach promenade or having a meal in a beach restaurant.