When to visit Spain
As such a large and diverse country, Spain offers a wide range of activities and attractions, with the national parks and beaches in Ibiza, San Sebastian, and Alicante especially popular among nature lovers and sun-worshippers in the summertime. The magnificent Renaissance and Gothic buildings in Madrid and Barcelona draw art enthusiasts and history buffs in the fall, while the snow-covered mountains in the Sierran Nevada attract those who like to ski and board. The warm, dry Mediterranean climate makes many areas ideal for sightseeing and outdoor adventure in the spring, including Seville which will be blistering hot in the summer.
The best time to visit Spain really depends on what you hope to do and where you plan to go while you’re here. The climate is generally mild, staying dry much of the year, but summers can be very hot, especially in the south. The lower temperatures in the north make it ideal for those who can’t tolerate the heat. Winter temperatures rarely drop below 50°F (10°C) and while it can get chilly and wet in the north the south remains pleasant. Spring and fall are a good bet, with frequent good weather, cheaper accommodation, and fewer crowds.
Spain is a year-round destination, with something to offer whatever time of year you choose to visit. We’ve put together an overview of climate season-by-season and region-by-region below.
April and May
Springtime in Spain means the temperatures are rising, the sun is shining, and the streets will be buzzing with activity, although it won’t be nearly as crowded as it will in the summer. While the weather is warm, it’s unlikely to get too hot. In the southern region of Andalusia, it’s a time for summer attire and even sunbathing, but the water may feel a bit too chilly for swimming. May in particular is one of the best times to visit this country, with lots of festivities to enjoy along with plentiful sunshine and colorful flowers. You can expect afternoons to be quite pleasant with highs in Madrid around 75°F (24°C). This is a great time for hiking in the north which experiences a mix of warm and cooler days, so pack some sweaters or sweatshirts along with summer attire.
Good to Know: Semana Santa, Holy Week (from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday), can bring out the crowds, including those who come to watch the parades in the streets.
June to August
The summer months tend to be crowded and very warm, with many areas reaching well over 90°F. Like many other Europeans, Spain’s citizens will be flocking to the beaches to enjoy swimming and relaxing. It will be particularly pricy in the coastal areas too with so many others coming to enjoy their vacations now. The interior regions can be dusty and uncomfortably hot, but there are also many fun festivals, lots focused on the country’s tasty food and wine, that can make for the highlight of a trip.
August is the hottest month of the year and even hotter in places like Madrid due to the intense humidity which makes booking an air-conditioned room a must. It will be a few degrees cooler in Barcelona, and in the northern Asturias region, the dense canopy of trees provides some protection from the searing sun, preventing it from getting too hot.
Good to Know: Arrive early if you plan to witness the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, which takes place over eight days in July.
September and October
It can still be quite warm in September, but much more bearable in August. With the arrival of autumn and the progression of the season, things will start to cool down, eventually becoming less reliable with chillier nights and the possibility of rain. Earlier in the season, the beaches will still be warm enough for swimming, yet the locals will have gone back to work and many of the tourists are gone. October is a favorite month for visiting Spain, with the first half, in particular, seeing lots of sunny warm days and temperatures around the low 70s/22°C in Madrid. That means mid-September through mid-October is a sweet spot when it comes to the best time to travel to Spain, with idyllic weather and few crowds, which is great for couples on Honeymoon. It’s also possible to see spectacular color in many areas like Mount Gorbea in northern Spain’s Basque Country, with the forest a beautiful carpet of burnt orange leaves.
Good to Know: Throughout much of October the Barcelona Jazz Festival brings jazz concerts through the city and Catalonia region.
November to March
A significant change occurs in November with cold, rainy weather the norm although sunnier days may be enjoyed in San Sebastian. This is the off-season, which means you can expect businesses to be open for fewer hours, more breaks taken at lunchtime, and fewer activities in the smaller towns. Around the holidays, many smaller cities and towns mostly shut down, and on Christmas Day, even most restaurants and bars are closed. The inland cities tend to be the coldest reaching only the low 50s°F/10-11°C. In most areas, frosty mornings are common, but it doesn’t get much colder than that with the exception of the mountainous areas and ski resorts. Snow is most likely to occur in January and February.
A wintertime visit, outside of the holidays and carnival season (during the weeks that lead up to Lent), often means discounted accommodation rates, cheaper airfare, and more tranquil settings. It’s a great time for those on budget and anyone who want to avoid crowds, but it’s obviously not the time to come for the beach.
Good to Know: Christmas Markets are held throughout Spain in December. Barcelona hosts one of the best in the country through December 23, with all sorts of holiday decorations, works of art, and handicrafts.
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