Joanna Styles

Imagine a Christmas holiday that combines a touch of the traditional with a good dose of something totally different. And in the sunshine. The city of Malaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol, does just that. If you’re looking for a different holiday destination for Christmas without the jingle bells and snowmen read on.

Fuente general torrijos

How Malaga makes a different holiday destination for Christmas

They say there’s nothing like ringing the changes and Malaga offers the chance to celebrate Christmas in a very different way than the one you’re probably used to. How about enjoying your festivities with…

Lots of sunshine – Malaga basks in over 320 days of warm rays a year and December is no exception. Expect average daily temperatures of around 18 degrees – perfect for Christmas lunch al fresco. And at night you’ll be fine with a couple of extra layers but no need for gloves, hat and scarf!

alcazaba from park

Lunch on the beach – Malaga is a great destination for city beaches and the two largest in the city both boast long stretches of sand and blue-flag status. It’s easily warm enough at Christmas to eat lunch at the beach – stock up on gourmet picnic food at the Atarazanas market or wine and dine at one of the beachfront restaurants. We like the following that combine delicious food with beachfront views:

  • La Farola on La Malagueta beach (near the lighthouse) – great for fried fish and grilled sardines.
  • Gutiérrez Playa on La Misericordia beach – good for paella and fried fish dishes.
  • El Tres on La Malagueta seafront – gourmet dining at surprisingly wallet-friendly prices.

cathedral and boats

A reviving dip – Locals might find the Mediterranean a little too chilly for a dip at this time of year, but compared to the Atlantic and the North Sea it’s positively tropical. Welcome Christmas or 2017 in Malaga with a refreshing swim in the sea.
If you like your water warmer, treat yourself to a session at Malaga Hammam Spa. Go back in time to the Arabian Nights at these restored Moorish baths that include the ice-cold plunge pool, but that one’s optional.

playa la caleta

Foodie feasts – Forget turkey, mince pies and boxes of chocolates. Christmas in Malaga means fish and seafood, almond sweetmeats and plenty of festive pastries. Not to mention lots of chocolate and churros, the ultimate comfort food. Try them at:

  • La Paradita – the fresh fish stand at the Mercado de la Merced gourmet market. Try lots of other local delicacies – croquettes, Spanish omelette, Iberian ham… at the other stalls while you’re there.
  • Casa Mira – a classic on Calle Larios and Calle Andrés Pérez. They’ve been making turron since 1842 so have had plenty of time to perfect the recipe. While you’re there, try their turron flavoured ice cream.
  • Confitería Aparicio – another Malaga icon for pastries and cakes with lots of Christmas specials including marzipan and mantecados. Find them on Calle Calderería.
  • Casa Aranda – perhaps the most popular venue in Malaga for chocolate and churros on Calle Herrería del Rey near Atarazanas Market.

la mallorquina window

Amazing art – give your Christmas holiday in Malaga a cultural flavour with some world-class art:

  • Enjoy an overview of Spain’s most famous artist (born in Malaga) at the Picasso Museum.
  • View the best in 19th and 20th century Spanish art at the Carmen Thyssen Museum.
  • Take in some cutting-edge art and installations at CAC Malaga and the Pompidou Centre.
  • Discover four seasons of Russian art at the Russian Museum, also showing a Chagall exhibition during Christmas.

city hall

But Malaga is also a traditional holiday destination for Christmas

As well as something very different, Christmas in Malaga can also be very traditional. The city doesn’t do snow or Santa Claus, but the following festive activities in Malaga will be very familiar:

  • Christmas lights in Malaga – the city’s Christmas lights are famed as some of the best in Spain and a tourist attraction in their own right. The biggest display lines the full stretch of Calle Larios and the design – different every year – never fails to amaze locals and visitors.
  • The rest of the city centre also gets its share of Christmas lights – those along the Paseo del Parque are always lovely as are the giant ficus trees on the Alameda, dressed in hundreds of fairy lights.


Christmas concerts in Malaga – get in the Christmas spirit with a great choice of festive music including:

Christmas shopping in Malaga – the Spanish traditionally give their presents on 6 January so Christmas shopping in Malaga lasts two weeks longer. Bear in mind that small shops close for lunch (2 to 5pm) and that most stores stay open until 9pm in the evening.

xmas flowers

Here are the best places for Christmas shopping in Malaga:

  • High street stores – Calle Larios and Calle Nueva are your best bets for chain store shopping. Here you’ll find Zara, Massimo Dutti, & Other Stories, Camper, Bimba & Lola...
  • Unusual gifts – head for the back streets in the old quarter and browse in the small shops and boutiques. Those on Calle Andrés Pérez and Calle Compañia are great for unusual present ideas.
  • Handicrafts – try the Christmas market along the Paseo del Parque and the crafts market on Muelle Uno in the Port.

Many of the above suggestions of things to do and see in Malaga are included in The 5 Best of Everything in Malaga, a handy guide to the city with over 240 listings, all mapped and up-to-date. The guide takes you on and off the trodden tourist trail and is written by Joanna Styles.



Joanna Styles is a freelance journalist and writer based in Malaga, a city she is more than happy to call home. She is also the author of The 5 Best of Everything in Malaga, a handy guide to the city. Find out more about Guide to Malaga here.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.