Malaga in January: 8 top reasons to visit (2023 guide)

I celebrated New Year’s in Malaga last winter, and as we stood in Plaza de la Consitution and heard cheers as a new year began, I looked forward to experiencing the best of Malaga in January. 

There’s so much to enjoy in Malaga throughout the winter, but I did find that it had a completely different vibe in January than in December. 

In January, I loved the feeling of the year renewing and revitalising. I enjoyed walks along the sunny coastline, relaxing in thermal waters and starting my year with a dose of history! 

So, here are all my favourite reasons to visit Malaga in January – and get your New Year’s trip booked in!

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Reasons to visit Malaga in January

From taking advantage of cut-price accommodations and hotels to enjoying some sunshine while the rest of the continent chills, there’s an abundance of reasons to visit Malaga in January.

While I loved the anticipation of December, January has a sense of renewal and revitalisation, plus some extra festive celebrations on Three Kings Day!

1. Recharge after the holidays

Streets of Malaga with tall palm trees

Feeling knackered after a hectic Christmas? Recharging in Malaga could be the answer! 

Start the New Year on the right foot with a January trip to Malaga. 

You’ll rejuvenate in the unique Hammam Al Andalus; a traditional Arabic bathhouse and vestige of Malaga’s Moorish past. 

Or, for you, does relaxation look like eating as much tapas as possible? 

Head to 100 Montaditos, home to a massive menu of miniature sandwiches and tapas places without breaking the bank. Of course, you can buy beer and wine here too!

For a more refined dining experience, book a table at El Pimpi.

Set within a traditional Spanish building, this restaurant’s named after a Malagan character who helped boats that came into the port.

For history fans, Malaga’s one of the oldest cities in the world. 

Wander around its ancient streets, delve into its rich history, and immerse yourself in a new culture – it could be just the mental recharge you need. 

2. Fewer tourist crowds

Alcazaba in Malaga in winter

In January, Malaga offers a respite from the crowds that usually descend into Spain. 

In fact, most of Spain in winter is much quieter than the summer, but January’s particularly quiet.

With the holiday season behind and the summer months yet to come, the city quietens down. 

Walk the majestic halls of Alcazaba without a horde of people or spend less time waiting in line at the Picasso Museum

You’ll have all the time you need to admire each artwork and soak in Picasso’s genius, all without feeling rushed.

Feeling peckish? Sidle up to the counter at a busy tapas bar like Casa Lola

Normally, you’d be elbowing your way through to get your order in, but not in January! 

Sip your drink, chat with the locals – or let the server recommend their favourite dish. 

The stunning Malagueta Beach, often swarmed with sunseekers, takes a breath in January; you’ll get an unspoiled view of the shimmering Mediterranean without the usual crowd.

3. Escape the January blues with winter sunshine

Aperol spritz on a hotel rooftop in Malaga

Fed up with perpetual grey and drizzle in Northern Europe and North America? 

Swap them for Malaga’s bountiful winter sunshine

It’s one of Europe’s warmest January destinations!

While much of the world is huddled under layers, Malaga enjoys average temperatures around a balmy 17°C (63°F) even in January

Ditch the snow boots, and instead pack sunglasses and a light jacket.

But while the crowds disperse, the atmosphere is still there. 

Cafés continue their lively buzz with patrons soaking up the sun. 

Squares bathed in sunlight make for perfect spots for lazy strolls or an afternoon spent people-watching. 

Malagueños continue to enjoy ‘terraceo’, a local tradition of outdoor dining and socialising, unhindered by the season.

Down by the sea, the promenade remains a hive of activity. 

The sounds of chattering joggers, cyclists, and casual walkers fill the air. 

Sunsets are earlier in January, so head to Malagueta and sip a cool beverage as the sun dips into the sea, throwing a warm golden glow across the water.

The Alcazaba and the Castillo de Gibralfaro, grand reminders of Malaga’s rich history, are also all the more spectacular when bathed in winter sunlight.

4. Great deals on accommodation and flights

The room at the Barcelo Malaga hotel

As January is Malaga’s off-peak season, fantastic accommodation and flight deals can be found. 

It’s a perfect opportunity to snag a deal on that luxury suite at the Parador de Malaga Gibralfaro, famed for its panoramic views of the city.

Malaga boasts a range of budget-friendly hostels too. The Urban Jungle Hostel in the city centre comes highly recommended, offering a comfortable stay while fostering a sense of community.

Flights are usually cheaper as well. 

You can wangle an EasyJet deal from plenty of places in Northern Europe – flights to Malaga are cheap throughout the year, but in January they’re especially budget-friendly. 

5. Celebrate Three Kings Day

Bright blue skies in the background with the Alcazaba and the king in the foreground.

When you visit Spain in January, your Christmas celebrations can continue! 

On January 5th, the city bursts into life, as Malaga anticipates the arrival of the Three Kings.

The ‘Cabalgata de Reyes’ or the Three Kings Parade takes centre stage, as giant floats adorned with twinkling lights trundle through the city streets. 

Atop, the Three Kings wave to the crowds, flinging sweets into the eagerly awaiting hands of children.

The streets are a symphony of colour, light, and joyous noise, as marching bands accompany the floats. 

As night falls on the 5th, children leave out their shoes, hoping to find them filled with gifts by the Three Kings the next morning – they’re the Spanish version of Santa!

So, if you want your Christmas celebrations to continue, head to Malaga! 

6. Spend time outdoors

Man looking out on the harbour at Malaga in January.

Feeling sluggish after a festive season crammed with indoor feasts? 

The city’s gentle winter sun and mild climate invite visitors to spend time outdoors. 

The Alcazaba is mainly outdoors – I couldn’t imagine walking up its many stairs in the summer months! 

If you want a real hike, you could even head up to the hilltop Castillo de Gibralfaro. 

Or get outdoors by walking around the lush Parque de Malaga in the centre of the city, walking along the coastline or even heading out to some of the best hikes in the region, like Caminito del Rey. 

7. Start the year with travel

Wing of Jet2 plane on the way to Malaga in winter with mountains in the background

Is your New Year’s resolution to see more of the world?

Hit the ground running with a trip to Malaga in January. 

After the sparkle of New Year’s Eve settles, a trip to this Mediterranean city could be just the ticket.

Walking the streets of the city, you’re bound to find something that piques your interest at every corner. 

Whether it’s marvelling at the grandeur of Malaga Cathedral, soaking in the vibrant colours at the Atarazanas Market, or indulging in the enchanting blend of traditional and contemporary art at the Picasso Museum, Malaga does not disappoint!

Expand your palate in Malaga with a traditional Andalusian breakfast at Casa Aranda, then spend the day sampling tapas at various local eateries like El Pimpi or El Tapeo de Cervantes.

Perhaps your resolution involves adopting a healthier lifestyle. Malaga’s perfect for that too! 

Start the day with a brisk walk or jog along the sun-drenched beaches, take a dip in the Mediterranean (for the brave-hearted), or hike the Montes de Malaga Natural Park

Malaga kicks off a year of memories!

8. Shop in January sales

Calle de Larios in Malaga

Hit the ground running in Malaga with January sales, which are as possible in Spain as in elsewhere the world. 

With Christmas wrapped up, the city’s boutiques and markets dive straight into the sale season. 

Your first destination could be Calle Marqués de Larios, Malaga’s premier shopping street. 

This avenue is studded with high-street fashion outlets and unique boutiques all offering enticing discounts. 

Larios Centro and Málaga Plaza also jump onto the sale bandwagon. 

With their vast selection of retailers, these malls become a bargain paradise for locals and tourists. 

Navigate through the corridors packed with shoppers, and fill your bags with cut-price souvenirs – or delayed Christmas gifts!

Best things to do in Malaga in January

Sign indicating to the Roman Theatre in Malaga. There are trees in the background and the sky is a bright blue.
  1. Get a glimpse of the past at the Alcazaba, an 11th-century palatial fortress with stunning views over the city and lush gardens.
    The Malaga Cathedral, known as ‘La Manquita’ or ‘the one-armed woman’, offers a peek into Spanish Renaissance architecture.
    Discover the artistic genius at the Picasso Museum, home to an extensive collection of Picasso’s works who was born in Malaga.
    The historic centre invites you to wander around its narrow, winding streets, filled with quaint shops and cafes in the Streets of the Old Town.
  2. The Hammam Al Ándalus, an Arab bath, provides a unique spa experience and is the perfect place to unwind.
  3. Get a feel for 19th-century Spanish painting, especially Andalusian art, at the Carmen Thyssen Museum.
  4. Tuck into tasty tapas at El Pimpi, an iconic bodega bar in Malaga known for its traditional Spanish cuisine.
  5. The vibrant Atarazanas Market is a feast for the senses, offering everything from fresh produce to local specialties.
  6. If you’re there early in the month, the Three Kings Day Parade is a traditional Spanish celebration that’s not to be missed.
    Hiking up to the hilltop Gibralfaro Castle rewards you with breathtaking panoramic views of Malaga.
  7. The Malaga’s January Sales are a perfect opportunity to pick up souvenirs or gifts, as many shops offer great discounts after Christmas.
  8. The Centre Pompidou Malaga, a pop-up of the famous Parisian art museum, features an array of contemporary art.
    Malaga Park provides a beautiful setting for a leisurely walk or picnic, boasting lush gardens and intriguing sculptures.
  9. The unique Automobile and Fashion Museum showcases an interesting collection of vintage cars and fashion items.
  10. Immerse yourself in Spanish culture by experiencing the passionate traditional dance at a local Flamenco Show.

Take a look at my full Malaga in winter guide for information about all these attractions.

Weather in Malaga in January

January in Malaga’s much warmer than the rest of Europe.

The city enjoys a Mediterranean climate with gentle winters.

The sun shines brightly for several hours each day, so being outdoors is quite pleasant!

Average High16°C (61°F)
Average Low7°C (45°F)
Sea Temperature15°C (59°F)
Rainy Days5

What to pack for Malaga in January

Claire and Richard infront of Malaga Alcazaba

Winter in Malaga is fairly mild, but it’s still important to come prepared. The first essential is a lightweight jacket or a sweater. It won’t be freezing, but evenings can get a bit chilly. You’ll want to have some layers for comfort.

For daytime exploring, comfortable walking shoes are a must. Malaga’s charming old town is best explored on foot, and you’ll be thankful for supportive footwear after a day of sightseeing.

Even in winter, the Spanish sun can be strong. Don’t forget your sunglasses and sunscreen to protect your skin and eyes. A hat can also provide additional protection and warmth if needed.

When it comes to clothing, versatility is key. Pack casual clothes for daytime adventures, but don’t forget a smart-casual outfit for dining out or attending a flamenco show. Malaga has a vibrant nightlife scene, and you’ll want to look your best.

If you plan on visiting the Hammam Al Ándalus or going for a dip in the hotel pool, remember to pack a swimsuit.

Lastly, consider bringing a daypack or a small backpack. It’s handy for carrying essentials like your camera, water bottle, map, and any souvenirs you pick up along the way. And speaking of cameras, don’t forget your camera or smartphone to capture the memories!

Are you ready to visit Malaga in January?

Celebrate the end of Christmas or ring in the new year; Malaga in January bathes in the winter sunshine and enjoys thousands of years of history. Start your new year the right way by booking a trip!

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