When is the best time to visit Spain?
Late spring and early fall are the ideal time to visit Spain, with May and September inching ahead of April and October in popularity. The weather is moderate countrywide, particularly in May, and not overbearingly hot as it can be in the summer months in southern Spain, nor is it too cold and damp in Spain's north and the Basque country. Meanwhile, the tourist crowds are light though this is more evident in the fall, and deals can be snagged on accommodation and flights (though less likely in the Basque region).
What's more, the country is open to you with cultural events like Easter ferias, flamenco, and sherry tastings, as well as outdoor pursuits like hiking excursions and beach-related activities. No corner of the country is off-limits.
Seasonal Planning for Spain Travel
Although Spain is typically warm and mild, as a large country with a varied landscape, the weather can differ by region. The Pyrenees and Castile and Leon are some of its coldest areas, with average temperatures in the winter ranging from 30°F (-1°C) to 40°F (4°C). Andalusia is one of Spain's hottest regions in the summer, with temperatures frequently exceeding 100°F (38°C) and drawing beachgoers to the Costa Brava, Costa del Sol, and the Balearic Islands. Regardless of where you're going, it's a good idea to pack sweaters, a light jacket, and an umbrella for the fall and winter, and shorts, T-shirts, and a hat in summer.
In summer, the southern and eastern beaches, resorts, and big cities like Barcelona will be crowded. However, smaller cities and towns can be surprisingly quiet year-round beyond the main tourist spots. Winter can be a good time to escape the crowds and booked up accommodation along the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca, although some attractions have reduced opening hours. The chilly weather brings a cozy feeling, and you can enjoy winter sports such as skiing in the Pyrenees and Sierras or partake in Christmas festivities.
|Pros||Cons||Best for||Where to Visit|
|Spring (Mar-May)||Cool weather; blooming flowers; Easter festivities||Easter can mean higher prices and crowding||Watching Holy Week parades, attending bullfights, hiking, flamenco||Andalusia and Madrid for the weather, Seville for Holy Week and Feria festivities|
|Summer (Jun-Aug)||Good weather for beach time; long daylight hours; extended opening hours at tourist attractions||Peak season crowds and prices; weather in central and southern Spain can be sweltering||Beaches, visiting northern Spain, attending festivals||Buñol and Pamplona for summer festivals, Ibiza and Barcelona for nightlife, Basque Country and Galicia for their best weather|
|Fall (Sep-Nov)||Cooler weather; fewer crowds; cheaper prices (except for the Basque region) than summer||Northern Spain is wet, and parts can be cold in late fall; Elsewhere, autumn rains begin (Barcelona)||Exploring cities, outdoor sightseeing, sampling tapas||Andalusia for good weather, whale watching, and sherry-tasting|
|Winter (Dec- Feb)||Offseason deals and discounts; Christmas festivities; cold-weather outdoor activities||Cold in northern Spain; damp and rainy in southern Spain; limited opening hours for some attractions||Skiing and snowboarding, New Year's Eve celebrations, Christmas markets||Madrid for New Year's Eve, Pyrenees' resorts for skiing|
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Spring in Spain (March to May)
After the wet and chilly winter, spring is marked by blossoming flowers and abundant natural beauty, bringing life back to the southern provinces and making it the perfect time to enjoy hiking, biking, and other outdoor sports. And while spring is part of the shoulder season, with moderate weather, May is the ideal time to visit as the sun is more prominent but not yet scorching. Barcelona, Madrid, and Andalusia see average maximum temperatures in the high 60s (Barcelona) and low 70s (Madrid and Andalusia), whereas Seville, Andalusia's capital, averages a high of 83°F (28°C).
Now is a great time to explore Spain's big cities, Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville, on a walking, cycling, and/or food tour. In Madrid, wander 19th-century El Retiro Park and tour food markets and tapas bars. In Barcelona, on the coast, enjoy the beach with fewer crowds and less humidity, as well as the sights, most notably Gaudí's whimsical architecture: La Sagrada Família, Park Güell, and Casa Milà. Seville is particularly attractive and sweet-smelling now that its trees are covered in white buds of orange blossoms. Early in the season, too, the city kicks off its famous Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions.
And if here two weeks after Semana Santa, the Feria de Abril is a weeklong party of food, fun, and flamenco worth experiencing. Other Andalusian cities, like Cádiz, Málaga, Cordoba, and Granada, are best to visit this season before the oppressive heat of summer. Renting a car and touring the coast before tucking inland is a great way to cover a lot of land on your own time. And if traveling to Spain during Semana Santa or Seville's Feria de Abril, be sure to book tickets in advance.
Events in Spring
Las Fallas, Valencia. In March, this festival is marked with processions and fireworks. It culminates in bonfires, where ninots (papier-machê sculptures) are burned.
Semana Santa and Feria de Abril, Seville. Two large festivals take place in Seville in April. The dates vary each year slightly, so check before booking.
Feria de Cordoba. If you're traveling to Spain in late May and want to see a Feria celebration, head for Cordoba: their version of the popular flamenco festival happens a few weeks after the one in Seville.
Summer in Spain (June to August)
Summer is the high season in Spain. Vacation time and warm weather draw crowds of travelers to cities like Barcelona, Valencia, and Málaga. Nightlife in the resort towns of the Balearic Islands is at its peak (see here for a great summer itinerary for Mallorca). If you plan to visit at this time, it's a good idea to make arrangements well in advance, especially in Spain's most popular areas. August is particularly popular for European vacationers; things will be quieter in June and July.
The sizzling summer weather is good for visiting beaches, and locals, as well as tourists, head to the coasts to cool off. Spain's beaches are bustling at this time; when visiting a popular beach in July or August, you'll want to arrive early to beat the crowds. If you can, bring your sunscreen from home: this summer essential can be surprisingly expensive in Spain, especially in beach cities and towns.
Those looking for a more low-key vacation can head away from the coasts and toward some of Spain's inland areas. In northern Spain, you'll find the coolest temperatures (usually around 75°F/24°C). This is a great time to explore Basque Country—try a food tour of San Sebastián, famous for its pintxos (small slices of bread piled with meats, vegetables, and cheeses, all held together with a toothpick). You could also check out the fascinating museums in Bilbao. For the ultimate road trip through northern Spain, see this itinerary.
Events in Summer
Haro Wine Festival, Haro. Try some of the Rioja region's famous red wines at this unique festival in June, where participants throw wine on each other and watch "bullfights" fought by heifers.
Festival of San Fermin/Running of the Bulls, Pamplona. In July, bulls are let loose during this festival to run through the city streets, with residents running among them.
La Tomatina, Buñol. In the small town of Buñol, near Valencia, festival participants pelt each other with tomatoes each August during this summer celebration. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Fall in Spain (September to November)
Fall can be an excellent time to visit Spain if you don't care for crowds. The weather in September is still fairly hot, though it's cooler in the evenings and mornings. This is shoulder season, and prices will be lower than in the preceding few months. In southern Spain, the weather is still warm enough for the beach, and you'll have an easier time finding a spot to drop your towel. The province of Alicante sees an average range of 66°F-83°F (19°C-29°C) in September, whereas in November, temperatures drop to 51°F-69°F (11°C-21°C), which is similar to Seville, Barcelona, and Madrid, though they have more sunny days.
The moderate weather makes fall a good time for urban sightseeing, too. This can be an excellent opportunity to explore the highlights of Barcelona, Madrid, or the cities of Andalusia (Cordoba, Granada, Jerez de la Frontera, and Seville, among others—this itinerary includes Andalusia's top places). Many attractions still run on their summer schedules in September or October, meaning you'll enjoy them for the whole day without the August crowds. Meanwhile, if in the north of Spain, have your umbrella on hand as cloudy, rainy days are not uncommon, with November being the most damp.
Festivals are a year-round affair in Spain, and plenty of interesting ones are happening in the fall. Now is also the perfect opportunity to enjoy whale watching in Tarifa on Spain's southern coast, as sperm whales will be migrating at this time.
Events in Fall
La Mercè, Barcelona. This bustling September festival is dedicated to the patron saint of Barcelona. It features parades with papier-machê "giants," dancing, fireworks, and a wine fair.
Fiesta Nacional de España, nationwide. Celebrated throughout the country in October, this national holiday marks Christopher Columbus' journey to the Americas.
International Sherry Week, Jerez de la Frontera. The city of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia is the birthplace of sherry. This weeklong November celebration includes sherry tastings and special pairing menus.
Winter in Spain (December to February)
Winter is the offseason in Spain. By this point, the weather is no longer beach-friendly, and parts of the country are rainy and cold. However, there's still plenty to do in these months, from winter sports to Christmas and New Year's celebrations. If you're dying for a beach vacation in Spain in the winter, there is one place you might be able to find it—the Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco. While the weather is cool in these islands in the winter, places like Lanzarote have some of the warmest weather in the country, with highs around 70°F (21°C) in December. Here, you can find an eight-day itinerary to explore Lanzarote.
Otherwise, if you'd rather embrace the cold weather with winter sports, you can head up to the country's snow-capped mountains for skiing and snowboarding. In southern Spain, the Sierra Nevada Mountains offer a fine ski resort near Granada. Farther north, there's plenty of snow in the Pyrenees (see this San Sebastián & Snowshoeing trip plan). If you base yourself in Barcelona or Zaragoza, you'll find ski resorts just an hour or two drive away.
Don't forget about Christmas and New Year's—while shops and attractions may be closed on those days, Spain's major cities are home to parties and Christmas markets where you can join in the celebrations.
Events in Winter
Christmas, nationwide. You'll likely find restaurants in major Spanish cities open on December 25. The more significant celebration happens on Three Kings Day, which is on January 6.
New Year's Day, nationwide. Celebrate the night before, then use January 1 to relax; most shops and attractions are closed.
Andalusia Day. If you visit this southern Spanish province in late February, you'll see the green-and-white Andalusian flag flying. The holiday is celebrated with festivities and live music in Cordoba, Málaga, and Seville.