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Malaga in Winter: 16 Must-Do Activities

A guide to help you spend the best in Malaga in Winter and have the most wondeful holiday

Are you thinking of visiting Malaga in Winter? While most people tend to think of southern Spain as a Summer destination there are plenty of things to do in Southern Spain in Winter.

You’ll find that the towns, beaches, and attractions are much quieter than they are during the peak season. That makes visiting Spain in December a great idea if you’re seeking a more relaxing, pleasant experience.

So, is Malaga worth visiting in Winter? And what are the best things to do in Malaga in December? Read on to find out more about why Malaga in the Winter is the perfect holiday destination.

a pin with a christmas market in Malaga in Winter.

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Top things to do in Malaga in Winter

Malaga in Winter

1. Relax at the Hammam in Malaga

Hammam Al Andalus Arab Baths, Malaga

One of the best things to do in Malaga in Winter is pay a visit to the city’s authentic Hammam. 

Offering a truly unique experience, this attraction embraces and reflects the ancient Arabic customs brought to Andalucia by the Moorish invaders centuries ago.

The Arabic spa is located in the heart of the city and a visit here conjures up thoughts of Marrakech and Muslim traditions. 

The baths offer an amazing ambiance and atmosphere with a peaceful and laid-back feel thanks to the restricted entrance numbers.

Indulge in the thermal baths, steam room, and ice bath, then sit and sip a mint tea while you admire the beautiful architecture. 

Even if the Winter weather in Malaga isn’t quite warm enough to sunbathe, you’ll still feel warm and comfortable in this unusual and stunning setting.

Booking ahead is crucial since only a limited number of visitors are permitted to enter each day. – Check out tickets here.

When visiting the baths, arrive a quarter of an hour before your booked slot and make sure to tie your long hair back before getting into the water. 

Bear in mind that silence is encouraged, so be respectful and enjoy the peace.

Opening times: 10am – Midnight

2. Bask in the sun at a less crowded beach

view of a empty beach in Malaga

Just because you’re visiting Malaga in Winter doesn’t mean that you can’t go to the beach. 

Even if you’re in Malaga in December you’ll still find days when the weather is warm enough to relax on the beach. 

It can reach almost 18 degrees Celsius here at this time of year, so wearing a T-shirt on the sands is still possible.

Playa Malagueta is close to the city center and is quiet during the winter months.

You can enjoy a picnic on the sand, take a coastal stroll, or even take a swim if you don’t mind the chilly water.

The sand at Malagueta Beach is imported, so many locals prefer the natural nearby beaches like El Palo. 

One of the best things to do in Malaga is hire a bike and then take a ride to one of the further afield beaches. – Check out guided tours here.

Opening times: Malaga’s beaches are available 24 hours a day.

3. Visit the Museums in Malaga

woman visiting Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga

Visiting some of the city’s museums ranks as one of the most popular things to do in Malaga for couples and families alike. 

This activity is something you can do even during rainy weather, and you’ll be spoiled for choice since there are 37 different museums in Malaga to experience!

One of the most popular is the Picasso Museum, home to more than 200 pieces created by Pablo Picasso who was born locally. – Get a guided tour here.

Open every day, even during the off-peak season, it’s a must-see for fans of art, as is the Malaga Museum which hosts displays dedicated to both art and history.

The Peña Juan Breva Flamenco Art Museum offers a completely different but no less enjoyable visit. 

Housing art, costumes, and music to chart this dance form’s history in the Andalucian region, its Friday evening recitals are one of the best things to do in Malaga at night.

4. Go golfing in Malaga

Finca Cortesín Golf Club, one of the best resorts near Malaga

Many people visit Malaga in Winter specifically to go golfing. Keen golfers head to this part of Spain in droves to enjoy a game under sunny, warm skies.

The Costa Del Sol coastline is home to many high-quality golf clubs where Germans, Australians, Americans, and Brits come to play, and Winter is the peak golfing season here. 

While the hot summer temperatures make a round here uncomfortable, the cooler season attracts professionals from all over the world to the area’s award-winning courses.

You’ll find no less than 70 different courses in this region, but the Finca Cortesin Hotel Golf & Spa is one of the country’s finest. Offering outstanding facilities, it’s close to the city too.

Opening times: Tee times between 10am and 2pm 

5. Explore the historic Alcazaba 

Alcazaba castle in Malaga seen from the outside surrounded by gardens

Sitting on a hilltop looking over the city of Malaga, the Alcazaba boasts amazing panoramic views across the Mediterranean. 

With a long history dating back to the 1000s, it was once a castle and palace and even today, it is an impressively large complex with subtropical plants and palace rooms to explore.

If you’re visiting in Malaga in Winter, there’s no better time to discover this monument, since the many steps can be hard work in the heat of summer. 

Although you can explore under your own steam, taking one of the guided tours is the best thing to do so you can make the most of the experience and learn as much as possible from the guide. – Get a guided tour here.

If you’re on a tight budget, though, you can visit for free if you head here after 2 p.m. on a Sunday.

Opening times: During the Winter months, the Alcazaba is open for visits between 8 am and 6 pm.

5. Walk around the Roman theatre

Roman Theatre and Alcazaba in Malaga

The Roman Theatre in Malaga, also known as the Teatro Romano, is a fascinating historical site that dates back to the 1st century BC.

Located at the foot of the Alcazaba fortress, this well-preserved ancient amphitheater offers visitors a glimpse into Malaga’s rich Roman heritage, showcasing its grandeur and architectural prowess from over two thousand years ago.

Malaga is an incredibly historical city, and if you’re fascinated by the past, you’re sure to be impressed by the Roman, Moorish, and Phoenician architecture. – Check out the guided tour here.

The Roman theater may now be ruined, but it’s still an interesting site to discover. Take a stroll around and immerse yourself in the heritage and history.

Opening times: 10 am-6 pm Mondays to Saturdays and 10 am-4 pm on Sundays.

7. Food and Wine Guided Tour

various spanish tapas plates on a wooden table that you can enjoy on a tapas tour  when visiting Malaga in WInter

Food tourism has never been more popular. There’s no better way to experience the culture and authentic lifestyle of a destination than by sampling its food and drink. 

When you’re visiting Malaga in Winter, and you’re not sure what to eat in Malaga, one of the must-do activities is a good and wine-guided tour. 

Several companies are offering a variety of guided tours taking in local restaurants and bars. – Check out guided tours here.

You can take a tour during the day or the evening, discovering some of the best eateries in the area and trying out some of the finest Andalusian tapas and wine dishes that are synonymous with this part of the country. 

Tapas that must be tried are the classic gazpacho, the famous Spanish Ham Croquettes, patatas bravas and of course gambas al pil pil

As part of your tour, you’ll not only enjoy some delicious cuisine, but you’ll also learn more about the city. Your guide will tell you about the history and heritage of Malaga in-between visits.

Christmas Magic in Malaga in Winter

8. Watch the Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights in Malaga

Seeing the Christmas lights in Malaga will give you a festive feeling.

The city is decorated with colorful Christmas trees and lights at this time of year, attracting visitors from across the globe every year.

The Malaga Christmas light switch-on takes place on the final Friday in November during a celebration that lasts an entire evening, and the lights stay on until the 6th of January. 

You can view the lights free of charge, with the best displays being on Calle Larios and Alameda Principal, with Calle Larios’s light tunnel being especially worth a visit.

9. Buy souvenirs at the Christmas Market

girl buying souvenirs at a Christmas Market In Malaga

The Christmas market in Malaga in Winter is a must-do if you’re visiting Malaga at Christmas time. 

As well as the one in the center of the city itself, there are markets close by in nearby towns like Fuengirola and Torremolinos. 

Running throughout December, these markets sell a variety of locally made food, crafts and drinks, and are an excellent place to snap up an unusual Christmas gift for loved ones while getting yourself into the spirit of the season.

Opening times: 12 Noon – 8pm weekdays and 12 Noon – 7pm Sundays

10. Los Reyes Parade

Day of the Wizard Kings or the Three Wise Men

The Procession of the Kings or Procesion de los Reyes is a celebration held across Spain on 5th and 6th of January to commemorate the Epiphany or the date on which the Three Wise Men or Kings came to the stable to bring their gifts to baby Jesus.

Visitors to Malaga can join the crowds to see the costumed people parading through the streets of the city, including children traditionally dressed as shepherds, and admire the decorated floats.

Bring along a bag since sweets will be given to the crowd so it’s no wonder why this is one of the best things to do in Mlaaga with kids.

Opening Times: The parade starts around 5pm.

11. Attend the Malaga Carnival

girls dressed up for the Malaga carnival

If you’re in the city later in the season, the Malaga Carnival is a must-do. 

Taking place during the week before Lent begins, typically in February, this event is a spectacle of colorful costumes, lively parades, and live music.

You can enjoy communal dancing, street performers, and outdoor concerts completely free of charge. 

If you’re traveling with children, they’re sure to have fun too since there’s a dedicated children’s parade as well as a competition for the best fancy dress costume.

Opening times: The carnival begins at 5:30pm.

12. Do not miss the Nativity Scenes at Town Hall

Christmas Nativity Scenes in Malaga in Winter

Nativity scenes are a tradition in this part of Spain, and there is a comprehensive trail that takes in no less than 61 locations. 

If you don’t have time to visit them all, you should certainly take the opportunity to go Malaga Town hall where you’ll find one of the most impressive scenes.

Opening times: 10am – 2pm and 5pm-9pm

13. Eat roasted chestnuts 

chestnuts and wine on a wooden table that can be eaten during Malaga in Winter

In Malaga, the fall and winter months bring the delightful tradition of roasted chestnuts. Locals and tourists alike gather around street vendors roasting chestnuts on open fires, filling the air with a tempting aroma.

These warm, nutty treats are a cherished seasonal snack, enjoyed by people of all ages as they explore the city’s festive atmosphere during the cooler months. 

You’ll find street vendors throughout the city selling this affordable and delicious seasonal snack. You should take the chance to sample this tasty treat while you’re visiting the region.

Go on day trips in Malaga in Winter

14. Go skiing in Sierra Nevada

Ski at the Sierra Nevada Ski Resort

Just a 2-hour drive away from Malaga, the Sierra Nevada mountains are home to the sunniest and highest ski resort in Europe.

Visitors here can enjoy more than 120 different runs, with every difficulty level represented and you can alos check this Sierra Nevada ski guide

If you’re a novice, you can attend one of the three resort ski schools, and with equipment hire available, you can just turn up without having to pack all of your gear. 

There’s plenty of hotels in Sierra Nevada for overnight stays, so you can make the most of the experience. – Check out the Malaga day trip to Sierra Nevada here.

15. Gibraltar  

View to the rock of Gibraltar and La Linea de la Concepción

One of the most fascinating places for day trips from Malaga, Gibraltar is part of the UK, even though it projects from the Spanish coastline. 

Visiting Gibraltar from Malaga during winter offers a unique opportunity to explore the iconic Rock of Gibraltar without the crowds of the peak tourist season. – Get tickets in advance from Malaga to Gibraltar here.

The mild winter weather makes it comfortable to wander through the charming streets, visit the famous Barbary macaques, and enjoy stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea, creating a memorable off-season experience for travelers.

It’s home to many interesting attractions including the Gibraltar Rock, Botanic Gardens, and St Michael’s Cave, as well as iconic sights like red British telephone boxes and fish and chip suppers.

It’s worth visiting this unusual location while you’re in Malaga. – Check out the guided tour to Gibraltar Rock here.

16. Marbella 

view of the port in Marbella, a day trip from Malaga in Winter

A tourist hotspot on the Costa Del Sol, Marbella boasts beaches, bars, and more.

However, during the winter, the pace of life here is slowly down considerably but there are still plenty of things to do in Marbella in February.

Although many of the beach clubs shut down over the colder months, you’ll find some resorts that remain open year-round. – Check out a sunset and sailing tour in Marbella

You’ll also enjoy strolling along the Playa de la Fontanilla and Playa de Venus beaches, and if you’re in luck, you may even find that it’s warm enough to relax on their golden sands.

Check out how easy it is to get from Malaga to Marbella and make sure you don’t miss this part of Malaga.

Practical Tips for Winter in Malaga

riders on e bikes riding through montes de malaga

If you’re planning to take a trip to Malaga in Winter, it’s important to remember that the area will be quieter than during the peak season. 

Some restaurants, clubs and bars will be closed for the season, and some attractions have shorter opening hours. 

With that in mind, you’ll need to plan ahead and do some research so that you don’t experience any disappointments during your visit. 

The weather in Malaga in Winter is typically mild, and you may see temperatures as high as 17.9 degrees Celsius.

However, bear in mind that you may experience some rain, and even some days as cold as 7 degrees. 

That means you should pack layers and certainly a jacket so that you can be comfortable whatever the weather. Public transport remains in full operation year-round in Malaga. – Get tickets in advance here.

You can take the metro any time between 6:45 am and 11 pm, or hop on one of the buses that will take you around the city and beyond at the bus station, just a 15-minute stroll from the center. 

If you’d prefer to take a more active mode of transport, you could hire a bike and travel a little further afield.

Best Hotels in Malaga, Southern Spain

If you’re arranging a holiday in Malaga in Winter, you’ll need to know where to stay in Malaga. Here are three of our top picks to suit every budget.

1. Hotel Vincci Selección Posada del Patio ***** – Luxury

view from the Vincci Selección Posada del Patio's rooftop with the pool.

Modern and stylish, the Hotel Vincci Seleccion Posada del Patio offers contemporary elegance in a luxurious setting right in the heart of the historical city of Malaga. 

Featuring a restaurant (the perfect place to enjoy your Christmas dinner in Malaga), a bar, and a mini rooftop pool, this hotel is a smart and conveniently located property from which to start your exploration. 

A unique feature of this Vincci Seleccion is the Arab and Roman ruins below the building, which you can discover on a guided visit.

Meanwhile, convenient services like babysitting, laundry, and massages make this one of the best boutique hotels in Malaga.

2. Hotel Málaga Palacio**** – Mid-Range

photo with the exterior of the AC Hotel by Marriott Malaga Palacio

Part of the Mariott hotel chain, the Hotel Malaga Palacio offers spectacular views over the port from its enviable location near the cathedral. 

With an onsite restaurant serving up tasty cuisine, a terrace bar on the 15th floor, and a rooftop swimming pool, this Hotel Malaga Palacio offers a warm welcome for all the family. 

There’s even a fitness room where you can work out before breakfast or after a day of sightseeing. 

Its comfortable rooms are well-appointed too, having been designed with the needs of travelers firmly in mind.

3. First Flatotel International*** – Budget

If you’re visiting the city on a budget, the First Flatotel International is a great choice. 

Located just 20km from the heart of Malaga, this property is comfortable, offering all the key amenities that you need for a pleasant stay. 

With self-catering facilities in each apartment, you can save money by preparing your food, but there is also a restaurant onsite if you want to indulge. 

Relax in the year-round solarium and pool, work out in the gym, or chill out in the games room in between sightseeing trips. The First Flatotel International it’s a fun-filled place to stay.

Final thoughts on Winter in Malaga

aerial view of Malaga in Winter during Christmas

Malaga in Winter is an amazing place to take a trip. Thanks to the quiet and laidback vibe, you’ll enjoy a pleasant and peaceful visit while also being able to explore the many attractions without dealing with bustling crowds. 

The weather will be mild and pleasant too, so you can enjoy the best of both worlds. 

Whether you love food and drink, history, or art and culture, Malaga is the ideal destination. 

There is something for everyone when visiting Andalucia in Winter, especially during the festive period when you can experience the unique ambiance and atmosphere that Malaga has to offer.

Short FAQ about Winter in Malaga

Where to stay in Malaga in winter?

You’ll find many places open to stay during the Winter in Malaga.

Whatever your budget, we’ve suggested some hotels above that could be ideal for your break.

What is Malaga like in the winter?

Malaga has a quiet and laidback vibe during the winter months, which makes it a pleasant time to explore the city.

While most of the attractions remain open, even if there are reduced hours, you’ll be able to see everything without dealing with crowds.

Is Malaga warm at Christmas?

Malaga’s weather is traditionally mild during the festive period, sometimes experiencing temperatures up to 17.9 degrees Celsius.

It’s best to be prepared for colder days though, just in case, and to take a jacket in case it rains.