December heralds a definite change in the seasons. It’s now decidedly cooler first and last thing, and unless you’re in the sunshine, it’s chilly elsewhere. That said, the days are sunny and perfect for enjoying something to eat or drink al fresco. With Christmas on the horizon, the city moves into busy mode, especially at weekends when crowds flock to see the festive attractions. In the last monthly round-up of the year, we suggest 10 things to do in Malaga in December. Christmas, of course, takes centre stage, but we still get off the beaten tourist trail, try some great food and experience Malaga at its best.
Fabulous events in December – Malaga at Christmas
In December, Christmas takes up practically all of the event stage in Malaga with some of the best lights in Europe; a long list of Christmas markets; festive concerts and entertainment; and Christmas fare in the shops. Celebrations continue into the New Year – welcome in 2020 on the Plaza de la Constitución – and Epiphany when Malaga Three Kings Parade takes place.
There might not be any snow for Santa’s sleigh or sparkling frost on the rooftops, but Christmas in Malaga is not be missed.
Great experiences in December – go birding
As fans of Guide to Malaga know, we like to experience different sides to the city. As a suggestion for one of the most unusual things to do in Malaga in December, how about getting in a spot of birdwatching? Perhaps surprisingly, Malaga turns out to be a hotspot for birding in Europe and plenty of unusual birds are common visitors. Did you know that you can see booted eagles circling the Alcazaba? Check out cheeky parakeets in the park? Our guide to birdwatching in Malaga has all the information plus where to spot the feathers.
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Foodie feasts in December – Christmas sweetmeats
When it comes to feasts, one of the best things to do in Malaga in December is try some typical Christmas sweets and cakes. Make sure you taste turrón (nougat), in a range of flavours as well as the classic soft and hard versions; mantecados (pastries) from Antequera, also in several flavours; roscos de vino (wine and aniseed pastries); mazapán (marzipan), shaped into figurines… The best places to buy them are at Lepanto and Casa Mira, both on Calle Larios, La Canasta on Plaza de la Constitución and Calle Granada, and Aparicio in Calle Granada.
Wonderful walks in December – round the nativity scenes
December might be one of the coolest months of the year, but it’s still easily walk enough to be out and about exploring the city. Our Malaga walking tour suggestion for December also has a Christmas theme. This month, visit the city’s nativity scenes (known as belenes in Spanish), stunning works of handicraft and skill. They depict the Christmas Story through miniature figures and models (often working) with intricate detail.
The tourist office publishes a ruta de los belenes (nativity scene route) that pinpoints them on a map. You’re spoilt for choice in style and scope with the smallest taking up little more than a large table and the largest filling an entire hall. See our recommendations for the best nativity scenes in Malaga.
Wintery things in December – amazing dawns
The winter light in Malaga is particularly clear and at this time of year, the sun rises over the Mediterranean. These two factors combined make for some stunning sunrises (the picture below is one of them and with no filter). You don’t have to be up too early to enjoy them – by mid-December, the sun pops up over the sea at around 8.15am. Well worth getting out of bed for and an inspirational start to the day!
Marvellous museums in December – va, va, vroom
Our museum suggestion for things to do in Malaga in December goes on four wheels. The Car Museum houses one of Europe’s largest collection of vintage cars with models from the very first automobiles to state-of-the-art racing cars. The Museum also has a permanent collection of fashions, styled according the make of the car and holds monthly start-the-engines events when the cars are revved up. If cars aren’t your thing, visit the Russian Museum next door instead.
Super shopping in December – buy for Christmas
Make the most of the Malaga Christmas markets for some serious present shopping. You’ll find the largest along the Paseo del Parque and in Muelle Uno, just outside the Pompidou Centre. There’s also an arts and crafts market on Muelle Uno every Sunday from 11am to 7pm and on Plaza de la Merced on the last Sunday in the month. For a list of weekly markets in Malaga, sign up to our free fortnightly newsletter.
Outside Malaga in December – take a trip to La Cala del Moral
Just along the coast going east lies the little fishing enclave of La Cala del Moral. One of the reasons to go here comes in the journey itself. The 13km trip is perfect for cycling and makes a great day out. You go through the old railway tunnels, see some spectacular cliffs and end up on the sunny bay at La Cala. Well worth a visit too is the Cueva del Tesoro cave at the north end of the village (up quite a steep slope so you’ll probably be getting off your bike!). Treat yourself to an al fresco lunch on the beach at one of the chiringuito restaurants before you return to Malaga.
Don’t fancy cycling? It’s a good walk with lovely sea views and excellent exercise – the perfect excuse for indulging in some Christmas sweets and cakes afterwards! There’s a good and frequent bus service back to Malaga.
Unusual spots in December – Gerald Brenan’s House
Our last but one suggestion for things to do in Malaga in December takes you to Gerald Brenan’s House in Churriana. The famed Hispanist and historian lived in this part of Malaga for 34 years before moving to Alhaurín El Grande. The townhouse with lovely garden/patio has been restored to its original state when Brenan and his wife Gamel Woolsey lived there. You can even see the views over to Malaga city where the Brenans watched the city being bombed during the Civil War. Find out more about Gerald Brenan’s House in Malaga.
Shining bright in December – Malaga Christmas lights
This month wouldn’t be complete without yet another mention of Christmas and we’ve saved the best for last. If sparkles and twinkles are your thing, Malaga is your destination for the festive season. The city is bedecked in hundreds of thousands of lights from 29 November to 5 January.
Calle Larios is the star turn with the entire street covered in a giant canopy of Christmas lights. This year’s theme is a festive forest with angels, flowers and autumn leaves providing colour and extra sparkle. The annual light and show, when the Christmas lights ‘dance’ in tune to the music, takes place three times every evening at 6.30pm, 8pm and 9.30pm.
For more news about what’s on in December in Malaga, keep an eye on our what’s on in Malaga page.