Costa del Sol weather in January

What you can expect and why it’s a great time of year to visit

Today’s post is a two-pronged response to the often-asked question about what it’s like to live in Spain in winter: specifically the warmest part of the mainland, Andalucía. A lot is written about its tourist resorts, sandy beaches, seaside bars and restaurants, appeal to sun-worshippers etc., but what is Costa del Sol weather in January like, for example?

And does the whole region shut down as soon as summer finishes and hibernate until the following spring? This entry aims to answer those questions as thoroughly and as frankly as possible, based on my personal experience of living here.

Mild winter temperatures

First of all, let’s look at the weather aspect in January. Features of Costa del Sol weather in January are moderate daytime temperatures – usually fluctuating between 15°C (59°F) and 20°C (68°F) –, low precipitation and sunlight until at least 6/6:30pm.

While evenings may feel chilly in comparison to summer temperatures of 25°C even in the middle of the night, the mercury rarely dips below 7°C or 8°C in January on the Costa del Sol.

This means no snow, no deathly freeze if you have to take the dog out for an early-morning walk, and you won’t wake up to find your garden furniture frosted up (which would almost certainly happen in your native country in the bleak mid-winter).

Indeed, one of the great things about the Costa del Sol climate is you can leave your outdoor dining set on your terrace all year round if you want to. Well, I do anyway.

January 2020

True to form, this month’s highs in the province of Málaga are around the 20°C mark, according to The Weather Channel1, while the same source only forecasts two days of rain towards the end of the month.

Perfect golfing conditions

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Costa del Sol weather in January lends itself perfectly to golf. Hence why it is the peak of the “Costa del Golf” high season and is one of the most active months for amateur tournament play for thousands of enthusiasts at more than 70 quality courses.

The pick of these in January are the Women’s and Men’s Copa de Andalucía2 events, which actually started yesterday and run until this coming Sunday 12th January at Atalaya Golf & Country Club3 and Real Club de Golf Guadalmina4 respectively.

The Copa de Andalucía will be disputed by Spanish Golf Federation licence holders (ie. serious amateur golfers who have an official national ranking), so we’re talking low single-figure handicaps and a very high level on show. The stature of the event is such that both are World Amateur Golf Ranking tournaments, so there really is a lot to play for.

If you’ve been lucky enough to visit, or even play a round on, the prestigious Guadalmina course, you’ll know that it’s located in the heart of one of Marbella’s most exclusive residential communities and extends all the way to the beachfront at Guadalmina Baja.

Discover the Costa del Sol… on foot

With regards to walking, January is a great time to get your hiking boots on and discover the beauty of the Andalusian countryside. Whether it’s braving the Caminito del Rey near Álora, taking the cable car up to the peak of Mount Calamorro in Benalmádena, visiting the spooky depths of the Nerja Caves, trekking around the picturesque Sierra Bermeja just north of Estepona or simply taking a stroll along the beachfront esplanade, the Costa del Sol in January provides perfect weather conditions for discovering this spectacular part of the world.

I would certainly recommend doing all of the above if you haven’t already… inevitably coupling each activity with a pat on the back and a cool pint of lager. Lovely jubbly.

Do things close down in winter?

OK, so let’s talk about the second part of the question. The short answer is no and the justification for this, I believe, is as follows…

Supply and demand

Firstly, this part of the world’s much-famed “micro-climate” (by reading this far you’ll know I’ve already touched upon this) and guaranteed 320 days of sun every year mean there is no need to shut up shop and disappear for half a year like the ice cream man on Brighton beach.

This may be applicable to other areas in Spain – my first thought turns to Barcelona and the Costa Brava, where the summer period is far shorter and the seasons much more defined – but not here. No way, José.

Local businesses including bars, restaurants and shops would be foolish to turn down business by ignoring (traditionally) low-season trade, since many expats live here precisely because of the weather at this time of year and they contribute to the local economy.

Furthermore, the Costa del Sol is a top “winter sun” destination for tourists from elsewhere in Europe and large parties of golfers descend on the Coast during this season, too, thereby swelling visitor numbers.

All this leads to most businesses staying open year-round – with the exception of some chiringuitos and restaurants (they tend to be the larger and, often, more prosperous locales that can afford to give their staff a three-month break) and water sports centres that only open seasonally.

The moral of the story

By moving to and living on the Costa del Sol, your biggest uphill battle won’t be Costa del Sol weather in January. Instead (and staying with the hill metaphor)…

…I’d be willing to bet that the phenomenon known in Spain as “la cuesta de enero” – which literally translates as “the uphill slope in January”, referring to the financial burden of Christmas making the end of the month seem like a struggle to get to – will probably be the toughest item on your January agenda if you live on Spain’s Sunshine Coast. At least for me, anyway.

But I can take solace from the fact that I’ve got a seat at my favourite beach bar this weekend, where I’ll be in the sun with a glass of vino watching the world go by, zoning out to the sound of waves gently lapping against the Mediterranean shoreline.

Happy January everyone.

Do you have similar experiences of this Costa del Sol weather in January? How much better is it than back in your country? And would you agree that almost everything stays open year-round? As always, let me know in the comments below!