What to Consider Before Packing
You'll want to consider your itinerary before packing your suitcase for Spain. When and where you plan to travel and the activities you want to do will all impact your packing list. There are a few factors to consider:
- Which regions in Spain do you plan to explore? Will you go to Madrid or Barcelona, or perhaps Andalusia?
- How many days will you spend in Spain?
- At what time of year/season(s) will you travel?
- What do you plan to do while in the country?
These essential questions will guide you as you create your packing list. For example, the weather is quite different in Northern Spain compared to Southern Spain, even during the same season. And a trip to the Canary Islands will require different essentials than a city escape to Barcelona or a road trip through Andalusia. Additionally, some activities might require special gear, such as hiking supplies for outdoor excursions, swimsuits for surfing or snorkeling, or sturdy shoes for walking tours.
Once you have a better idea of your itinerary and particular needs, you can start assembling your packing list. For Spain, you'll want to focus on clothing, shoes, important documents, and essential gear, such as sunscreen, comfy shoes, and your camera.
Clothing is an essential aspect of any packing list in any country. In Spain, a lot will depend on when and where you plan to travel. Keep in mind that the northern regions are a bit cooler and rainier than the south, but some year-round staples are necessary regardless of the area and season:
- Good walking shoes
- A light, waterproof jacket
- A light sweater
- T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts
- Small daypack or cross-body bag (secured)
- Underwear and socks
- Swimsuit (for beach or hotel)
These everyday essentials will help you enjoy a versatile holiday, especially if you want to go on a walking tour of Madrid and hike in the Sierra Nevadas on the same trip. Be sure to bring a small daypack or bag that's easy to carry and secure, as bag-snatching and pickpocketing are Spain's two most common crimes. Sunscreen is essential all year long but particularly important when spending time outside, such as on a catamaran cruise in Mallorca or while SUPing in Valencia.
In the summer months, the temperatures vary depending on the region. The average summer temperature in the northern region varies from coast to coast—Bilbao averages about 66°F (18°C) and Barcelona 75°F (24°C). In the central plains like Madrid, it's about 73°F (23°C), and in Andalusia, temperatures average around 103°F (39°C) in the shade. That's a pretty extensive range, so your clothing choices depend on where you're traveling.
Summer Packing List
For traveling specifically in the summer months, consider the following clothing items:
- Sandals and/or water shoes
- Shorts, skirts, sundresses
- Sun protection
- Extra swimsuit
Summer in Spain is dreamy with so much to do outside! Remember to pack lots of airy, lightweight clothing if visiting the south and protect your skin with hats and sunscreen. For the northern regions, summer offers the best weather and sunshine, so it's perfect for hiking in the Picos de Europa National Park, taking a walking tour of the architecture in Bilbao, and exploring the coastal villages of Costa Brava.
Winter temperatures are milder, averaging around 50°F (10°C) on both northern coasts, 46°F (8°C) on the central plains, and 55°F (13°C) in Andalusia. Since nearly 40% of the country is covered in mountainous terrain, you can enjoy skiing in the winter months. Though many picture beaches and sunshine for Spain, you'll find over 30 ski resorts scattered throughout the country, favorites being in Aragon, Catalonia, and Andalusia. Winter is also the rainy season for the central plains and the northern Atlantic coast.
Winter Packing List
Spain is chilly and sometimes snowy in the winter, so there are some specific clothing items you'll need during this season:
- Winter jacket
- Rain jacket
- Sun protection
- Hat, gloves, scarf
- Long pants
- Long shirts
- Warm socks
- Warm boots
Winter is the best season to visit if you're interested in skiing in Spain, but there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in the winter months. The holiday season is filled with Christmas markets and celebrations, specifically in Málaga, Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid, and Seville, and you can visit iconic sites without the crowds. Touring La Sagrada Família in Barcelona or enjoying a Flamenco show in Seville is more pleasant when famous sites and venues aren't as crowded. Bring warm layers if you plan outdoor activities, as even a simple walking tour of Ronda or another city can get chilly.
For many European countries, the fall and spring are off-seasons. But for Spain, these shoulder seasons are the most popular for Andalusia, as the temperatures are not as hot as in the summer. Still, locals head to the coasts in the summer, and you can join them! Average temperatures stay relatively mild during these two seasons, 66°F (19°C) in Andalusia, 58°F (14°C) in Madrid and Bilbao, and 62°F (17°C) in Barcelona. The fall is the rainy season in Barcelona and Andalusia, though the northern Atlantic coast is the rainiest region in Spain, so there are plenty of drizzly days in the fall and spring, too.
Fall/Spring Packing List
The fall and spring seasons don't require too much beyond the year-round essentials, but there are a few items not to miss:
- Rain gear (umbrella, rain jacket, hat, etc.)
- Sun protection
- Light jacket and sweaters
- Closed-toed shoes
- Lightweight scarf
- A mix of long pants and shorts or skirts/dresses
If you've been dreaming of visiting Andalusia, consider traveling in the fall and spring. The weather is perfect, though it's best to bring a light jacket and sweater in case the nights are chilly or days are cloudy. These are popular seasons for Southern Spain and excellent times for activities like touring the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens, visiting an olive mill, and winetasting in Seville.
Besides clothing, you won't want to forget those essential items for your trip to Spain. Any vacation requires a few personal things that are easy to forget unless you keep a running list. Below you'll find a good foundation to start with, and you can purchase many items on this list in Spain if you forget, but feel free to add anything specific to you and your personal needs:
- Curling iron or straightener
- Medicine, basic first-aid kit
- Reading glasses, glasses, and/or contacts
- Cellphone and charger
- Laptop or tablet and charger
- Camera, battery, and charger
- Extra batteries
- Memory cards
- Travel adapters
- Books, e-reader, or e-reader app
- Luggage tags
- Reusable bag or tote
- Credit cards, debit cards, and some cash (don't forget to notify your bank that you'll be traveling)
- Language books or guide books
As you start to pack for your trip, don't forget these essential documents that you might need physically or electronically:
- Valid passport with at least six months before the expiration date
- Copies of your passport (either paper copies or photos on your phone)
- Visa (not all nationalities require a visa, so check with your local embassy or consulate if you need one to travel to Spain)
- Drivers license (if you're renting a car)
- Travel insurance card (if you've purchased insurance)
- Airline tickets (downloaded to your phone at the very least)
- Other confirmations (for accommodations, museum tickets, or tour confirmations, downloaded to your phone or paper copies)
- Medical information (especially if you have a chronic illness or recent surgery)
- Emergency contact information (in case you're in an accident or hospitalized)
Some specific experiences in Spain require additional gear, such as hanging out on the beach or hiking in the country's numerous mountain ranges.
Beach gear. Spain has more than 3,000 beaches, so you won't be the only one planning a vacation focused on the coast. What we love about Spain is that you could hop from region to region and enjoy a totally different beach scene! From the Costa Brava to the Costa de la Luz, there's a beach for everyone, and many offer rentals, including umbrellas, sun loungers, kayaks, paddleboards, etc. If you hope to spend the majority of your time on the sand or in the sea, don't forget beach gear:
- Sun protection (reef-safe sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, etc.)
- Quick-dry towels
- Beach and/or water shoes
Hiking gear. If you thought Spain had a lot of beaches, the number of hiking trails in the country might shock you: 19,433 and counting. The Spanish enjoy spending time outdoors, and you'll find incredible routes throughout the country, especially in places like the Sierra Nevadas, Canary Islands, and Mallorca. One of the world's most famous pilgrimages, Camino de Santiago, ends in Northern Spain, and travelers from all over the globe visit to complete the 23-day route from San Sebastián to Santiago de Compostela. Spain is perfect for a hiking holiday, but don't forget the essential gear:
- Hiking boots
- Long, breathable pants
- Long-sleeved breathable top
- Lightweight, waterproof jacket
- Hiking backpack and cover
- Hiking poles
- Water bottle
- Area maps
Popular Trip Itineraries for Spain
If you need help planning your trip, we have several itineraries—a perfect source of inspiration! Whether you plan to spend five days or two weeks in Spain, you're traveling with your partner or entire family, or you want an active adventure or city trip, there's a trip plan for you.
Past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries in Spain: