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Things to do in Malaga in Winter

Most people planning to a trip Malaga will think about a summer vacation to Spain.  However, if you visit Malaga in winter you have a unique opportunity to explore this beautiful Spanish city without the crowds, so why not plan to come to Malaga in December or January?  There are plenty of things to do in Malaga during the winter, so read on for our Malaga winter vacation tips!

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This is a guest post by Linn from Andalucia Hiking 

Is Malaga Worth Visiting in Winter?

Absolutely!  Winter is the best time of the year to visit Malaga if you want to avoid the crowds. Okay, there are always many people in Malaga, but summer gets exhausting. And the heat is too much to enjoy exploring the main attractions in the city. So what better than doing this without any stress and a comfortable temperature?

The winter in Malaga is also the off-season (if there is off-season in this beautiful city.) Except for the Christmas holidays between December and mid-January, there are considerably fewer tourists flocking the streets than you will experience the rest of the year. 

Malaga in Winter - View of Malaga at Sunset
Malaga in Winter – View of Malaga at Sunset

Is Malaga Cold in Winter?

Malaga is right on the south coast of Spain and is protected from harsh winter winds from the north by the Sierra Nevada mountain range which makes Malaga delightfully warm in the winter.  Temperatures average around 17 degrees Celsius during the day in December and January, although it does get much cooler at night – around 7-8 degrees on average.

Malaga sees over 320 days of sun in a year, so even in winter, you are allotted many comfortably sunny days with temperatures that can even reach the high 20s in the daytime. So bring your swimming suit just in case you fancy a swim in the sea! 

READ MORE: The Best Places to Visit in Spain in Winter

Things to do in Malaga in Winter

The lack of crowds and the lovely weather are just two of the reasons you should visit Malaga during the winter. Let us have a look at some of the things to do in Malaga during the winter that you can enjoy more than at any other time of the year.

Hiking in Malaga

Did you know that quite a lot of the best hikes in Malaga are best explored in winter? This is also one of the most underrated activities in Malaga among travellers.

You might be familiar with the dramatic Caminito del Rey which used to be one of the world’s most dangerous hikes. This is definitely better to explore in cooler weather.

The many mountains lining the Malaga coast also hide intriguing hiking routes with astounding views – from easy routes that are great for beginner hikers to demanding trails for seasoned hikers.  Since there is quite a bit of elevation on many of the treks, it is recommended to bring hiking poles. Check out this Hiker Hunger trekking pole review for a good-quality budget-friendly pair.

El Caminito del Rey Hiking Trail near Malaga - Hiking path on the side of a cliff face with a view of a train bridge
El Caminito del Rey Hiking Trail near Malaga

Go Skiing in the Sierra Nevada

Just a short day trip from Malaga you find Europe’s southern-most ski resort and there is no reason why you should not take the trip. Imagine skiing down the slopes of the second highest peak in the Sierra Nevada, Pico Veleta (3398 masl).

There is both ski and snowboard hire so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own when you travel to Malaga. If you are new to skiing, you can enjoy shorter and less steep slopes and there are ski instructors for hire too.

The Sierra Nevada also has one of the longest ski seasons going from the snow comes in November and can last as long as April. So whenever you go in the winter months you are mostly guaranteed snow on the slopes.

It is a pretty cool experience travelling from the beach and up to the ski resort in one day! 

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Relax at the Beach Without the Crowds

Not every winter day is the perfect beach day in Malaga, but quite a lot of them are. With sunny days hitting up to 25 degrees in winter, you can have great days for soaking up that winter sun and if you don’t mind cold water why not go for a dip!

The chiringuitos (beach bars) that are open are also perfect for a cold drink and food on the beach. The most popular beach in Malaga is the Malagueta beach, but if you head out of the city you can enjoy the many beaches to Nerja and past Marbella to Estepona the other way.

White fishing boat on Pedregalejo Beach in Malaga - The Best Things to do in Malaga in Winter
Pedregalejo Beach in Malaga – The Best Things to do in Malaga in Winter

Visit Museums on Rainy Days

Did you know that Malaga was the birthplace of Picasso? No surprise, there is a pretty cool Picasso museum in the city and if you go on Sundays, you can get in for free. Picasso’s birthplace is also open to the public and gives a glimpse of 19th-century life as well as temporary exhibitions showcasing Picasso’s work and life.

But there are so many other museums in Malaga to enjoy and what better time to do so on a winter day, especially if you catch one of the few rainy days.

Check out Carmen Thyssen Museum for a large 19th-century Spanish art collection or the Museum of Malaga for more Spanish art and archaeological discoveries. Also worth exploring is the Museo del Arte Flamenco Juan Breva if you want to learn more about the history of Flamenco.

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Explore Malaga’s Moorish Heritage

Malaga, like so many other Andalusian cities, has a strong Moorish heritage, and the winter is the best time of the year to explore it as it’s not too hot.

First of all, make sure you visit the Alcazaba fortification overlooking the city. Dating back to the 11th Century, it is the best-preserved Alcazaba in the country. Next to it, you can also see the Roman Theater.

Another famous Moorish remains is the Gibralfaro Castle sitting on top of a hill with astounding views of Malaga and the Mediterranean. But the main task of the Gibralfaro was to protect the Alcazaba.

View from the Alcazaba de Malaga - Visiting Malaga in Winter
View from the Alcazaba de Malaga – Visiting Malaga in Winter

Go on a Road Trip

The winter is the perfect time of the year to go on a road trip through the province of Malaga to explore all the Pueblos Blancos (white villages.) Start with Serrania de Ronda where you can explore the dramatic town of Ronda balancing on the edge of a deep ravine only connected by the astounding bridge Puente Nuevo (New Bridge.)

There is an old bridge too behind the new one, but it is not as famous or picturesque as the new, big bridge which has become the most prominent landmark of Ronda. But the town has more than two bridges. It boasts several Roman and Moorish remains worth visiting and the oldest bullring in Spain. Unfortunately, the bullring is still in use, so to avoid supporting this unethical activity you should avoid visiting it so you don’t support more bullfights with your ticket money.

Other villages and places worth seeing in the area are Setenil de Las Bodegas, a unique village built into the rock walls, Zahara de la Sierra, a white village boasting the best views of turquoise lakes. Also, Gaucín has some pretty epic views overlooking the coastline from the Castillo del Aguila remains. On a clear day, you can gaze all the way across to Africa.

Finally, the most popular white villages in Malaga are Mijas Pueblo and Frigiliana. Both worthy a trip even though they’re quite touristy.

The Pretty White Streets of Mijas near Malaga Spain
The Pretty White Streets of Mijas near Malaga Spain

Special Things to do in Malaga in December

Christmas Lights

If you travel to Malaga in December, you’re up for the most incredible Christmas lighting in Andalucia! Every night the popular light show in Calle Larios (the main shopping street) attracts thousands of people. Accompanied by Christmas Music, it’s a really cool experience, that isn’t only enjoyed by tourists, but locals from all over the province take the trip into the capital city to enjoy it.

Experience Reyes

While most of Europe celebrates Christmas and present exchanges on the 24th or the 25th of December, the main Christmas celebration in Spain takes place on the 6th of December. The day when the three wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus.

This is celebrated massively in Malaga with parades throughout the city starting the 5th and continuing to the 6th which is the day families meet for a big Christmas lunch and exchange their Christmas presents.

The parades are mainly aimed at children with the three wise men throwing candy to the kids watching. 

Brightly coloured Purple and gold Christmas Decorations to enjoy in Malaga in December
Christmas Decorations to enjoy in Malaga in December

Where to stay in Malaga

Malaga is jam-packed with great hotels for any budget. For a comfortable and central stay, check out Casual del Mar Málaga. It is an easy walk to Calle Larios (the main shopping street,) Alcazaba, and other tourist attractions.

A cute alternative is the boutique hotel, Dulces Dreams Boutique Hotel. Still centrally located, it’s light and beautifully decorated with a café on the ground floor. Walk to the cathedral or the Picasso Museum in only a few minutes.

Final thoughts on Visiting Malaga in the Winter

There are a million reasons to visit Malaga in winter and the above are only the most obvious. If you have more time in the city you will have the time to discover all the best tapas bars, try local drinks, and soak in the nightlife.

Anyone looking for winter sun will love Malaga for its location, temperature, and sunny days blended with nature, culture, history, all perfectly sprinkled with an international feel.

About the Author

Linn Haglund is an avid traveller and outdoor enthusiast that has called Malaga home for the past 7 years. Her love for hiking made her realize the lack of a good hiking resource for southern Spain and as a result, Andalucia Hiking was born, a blog where she shares thorough hiking guides, hiking gear, and hiking tips. You can follow her on Instagram or join her Andalucia Hiking Facebook group.

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