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Spain's best-kept secret? Andalucia in winter – The Telegraph

The summer crowds may be long gone, but the Spanish region is hoping to attract a new wave of visitors this winter
High season is so last season. The summer crowds may be long gone, but Andalucia is hoping to attract a new wave of visitors this winter. The rise in remote working combined with the horror of huge energy bills is making a stint in southern Spain a rather tempting idea in the grey months ahead – at least for a fortnight if a couple of months isn’t feasible.
While it is usually warm enough along the coast to have lunch on terraces by the beach, it gets a bit chilly inland and there are a few rainy days a month too. You shouldn’t let that put you off an uplifting break in Seville or Cordoba though, as you won’t have to grapple with tour groups and will feel like you are in a glorious Andalucian city rather than a theme park.
Don’t be surprised to see snow on the mountains, particularly in the Sierra Nevada in Granada province, where the ski sea-son stretches from late November until late April.
While enough of the Costa del Sol functions all year round to keep visitors amused – golfers love this quieter time of year – a lot of the large hotels on the Costa de la Luz on the Atlantic close over the winter and quite a few bars and restaurants in resorts shut up shop for a few months, too. 
There is still plenty of self-catering accommodation available, though, and you are never going to have to look too hard for somewhere to have a coffee or a meal in Andalucia. Package holidays aside, this is a great time of year on the Costa de la Luz with the best conditions for kite and windsurfing around Tarifa.
A road trip around the region while the white villages aren’t teeming with tourists isn’t a bad idea either. You could plot a route staying in half a dozen paradors (paradores.es) – there are 16 to choose from in Andalucia, in hilltop castles, city-centre palaces and modern buildings by the beach. Book 15 days in advance to get a 15 per cent discount.
In Spain, the Christmas period lasts until Epiphany on January 6, which is a public holiday. As this falls on a Friday in 2023, Monday 9 is the big back-to-work day. If you want to find a bargain holiday in Andalucia, whether in a city, by the beach or in the mountains, the rest of January is the quietest and cheapest time of year, with low prices lasting until Easter. 
February 28 is Andalucia Day and another bank holiday, when entry to a lot of museums is free. December 6 and 8 are public holidays and people often take a couple of extra days off for a Christmas shopping trip, so expect higher rates and less availability in city hotels on those dates.
Double rooms at the glamorous, five-star Gran Hotel Miramar, right by the sea in Malaga, are available for £258 B&B in January, whereas in July rates start from £374. Tui (tui.co.uk) is offering two weeks half-board at the Hotel Balcón de Europa (hotelbalconeuropa.com) on the beach in Nerja, where you can gaze at the Med from your balcony, for £818 per person (based on two sharing), leaving on January 16 from Gatwick – half the cost of the same package in August.
For a quick blast of Mediterranean joy, book a cheap flight to Malaga (from as little as £30 return from the UK in January) to stroll by the sea, eat tapas and mooch around the shops.
You may have tried and failed to get tickets to visit the magnificent Alhambra in Granada (alhambra.org) during the summer but there is usually no problem in winter (although advance booking is still advisable). Wandering through the sensual halls, courtyards and gardens can be particularly powerful on a bright yet bitterly cold day, when you might well have the space almost to yourself.
The Picasso as seen by Otero exhibition, with photographs of the everyday life of the artist, runs until August at the Picasso Museum in Malaga (museopicassomalaga.org).
After the festivities, a lot of Spaniards unsurprisingly live a bit more frugally in January and February. People who live on the coast in Andalucia sensibly take advantage of the lack of crowds, making the most of warm days with big family picnics on one of their local beaches – with no parking hassles either if they need to drive. 
Or they might fancy heading into the hills for a hike or bike ride (or just a long lunch in a traditional restaurant on a village square, which is usually good value at this time of the year), maybe in the Sierra de las Nieves national park above Marbella, the Sierra de Aracena in Huelva or the Sierra de Cazorla in Jaén.
Explore hotels that have been tried, tested and rated by our experts
Explore hotels that have been tried, tested and rated by our experts
Explore hotels that have been tried, tested and rated by our experts
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