Madrid or Barcelona? These cities have different character and attractions, and we generally recommend spending time in both places on a moderately-paced trip. But for travelers with less time to spend, Spain's two top cities provide a tough choice. Here are some important things to consider if you have to choose between Madrid or Barcelona.
Spain Travel Advice
Away from the entrance queues of the Sagrada Familia and the Alhambra, you'll find that Spain has retained its authenticity and warmth. Here are some quick tips to give you a jump-start on planning the perfect trip:
- When is the best time to visit? Generally, April-June and September-October offer the most pleasant weather with fewer crowds. July and August are the hottest months of the year.
- Where should you go? If you're heading to Spain for the highlights, you'll want to start with Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, and Seville. Not your first trip? Consider San Sebastián, Bilbao, Valencia, and Malaga.
- How many days do you need? While it's possible to see one city over a long weekend, we recommend at least 5 days if you really want to experience Spain.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
A trip to Spain in January means you’ll have many of this nation’s hotspots mostly to yourself. You can travel the length and breadth of the country, from the Mediterranean coast up to the northern Basque region, without having to contend with oppressive crowds. Best of all, you can enjoy steep discounts on flights and hotels.
By February, Spain is still deep in winter and the tourist crowds are sparse. Despite the often gloomy weather, there are regions like the Mediterranean coast that get little rain and avoid the chillier temps. Yes, there is sun to be had in Spain, even in February, and the lower ticket prices make it easy to book a quick winter getaway.
March in Spain is great for those who want the fun without the high prices. During this time the cold weather is easing back a little, making visits to Spain's famous beaches a nice proposition. Above all else, you'll want to come for the great parties like the incomparable Fallas Festival in the historic city of Valencia.
April in Spain signifies the arrival of Spring when the sun is out and the beaches are opening for business. As if that isn't enough, some of the biggest parties and holidays in the world occur during this month. The icing on this sweet Spanish tarta is that April falls in the shoulder season, so you can enjoy cheap prices on flights and hotels.
In Spain, May represents the last month of the spring low season before the tourist hordes descend on the country for the summer. This is the time to enjoy the beaches before they get too crowded and tour the streets of Madrid before it gets too hot. There are also some unique events and festivals during this month that range from controversial to pure party fun.
By June, school's out and vacationers are following the siren's song to Spain. From the northern Atlantic shores to the golden Mediterranean coast, this month delivers on its promise of ideal weather. Grab your bikini or board shorts, because summer in Spain has arrived.
It's the middle of summer, which in Spain means both the party crowds and sunshine are out in full force. The only question is how exactly to spend your July holiday in this gorgeous country. Do you opt for sunbathing on the Mediterranean coast, island hopping, touring historic cities, or a bit of all three?
August represents the apex of Spain's tourist season, and it's also the nation's hottest month. Even if sun and sand are your goals, there are off-the-beaten-path beaches and historic towns that won't be as crowded as hotspots like Barcelona and Ibiza. And if you're coming specifically for big parties, not to worry: one of the wildest and messiest fiestas in Spain occurs at the end of August.
By September the crowds that Spain depends on so heavily for tourist revenue are beginning to thin out. And with the high summer temps beginning to abate, this is the perfect time to come for a great shoulder-season holiday. During this month you can enjoy any activity you choose, be it sunbathing, road-tripping, museum-hopping, or simply eating and drinking your way through this gastronomic marvel of a nation.
As the calendar edges into autumn, Spain offers one last defiant burst of sunshine through October. This is the final month for travelers to do some sunbathing before the rains take over, yet the lighter weather means it's also great for walking tours of Spain's famous cities. Come, then, to Madrid, the Mediterranean coast, and the northern Basque country, and drink deeply of Spain's bottomless cup.
The weather may be taking a turn for the cloudy, but even November is a great month to visit Spain. What you'll miss in a beach holiday you'll make up for with visits to some of Spain's historic towns and cities. Andalusia, Madrid, the Basque Country, and the Mediterranean islands are awaiting your arrival.
In December, Spain's famous beaches are all but abandoned. Those in the know, however, can still plan a diverse adventure in this remarkable country. Whether you want to plan a ski holiday, walking tour of a historic city, or simply eat great food and browse Christmas markets, December in Spain has you covered.