With over 83 million visitors every year, Spain is the second most visited country in the world. The country has plenty of attractions and activities thanks to its diverse landscape.
The Renaissance and Gothic architecture in Madrid and Barcelona attract history buffs in fall, the national parks and pristine beaches in San Sebastian, Alicante, and Ibiza are popular among nature lovers and beachgoers in the summer months, and the magical Camino de Santiago attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year.
Even though Spain is mostly famous because of its Mediterranean coastal areas, it’s important to note that it is the second most mountainous country in Europe. So, the weather in Spain can vary greatly from region to region.
The best time to visit Spain depends on what you want to do and what city you want to visit. The following guide will help you figure out when you should go on your Iberian holiday.
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When to Go to Spain if You Want…
In Spain, January to March and September to late November are called the “shoulder seasons.” In most regions, these are less popular times for holidaymakers to visit.
But many people in Spain solely rely on tourism to make a living. So, most restaurants and hotels will significantly slash their prices during the slow season in order to keep busy.
It’s also much easier to find super affordable flights to Spain during the shoulder seasons. Airfares are particularly cheap in November. If you are on a tight budget, it’s best to visit Spain outside the normal winter and summer holiday periods.
Again, not all of Spain is warm and sunny throughout the whole year. Even though Spanish summers are beautiful, they can be uncomfortably hot.
Consider traveling to Costa Brava if you are planning to go to Spain in the summertime. In June, the average high temperature is a pleasant 76°F. In July and August, it is 80°F. Moreover, the beaches of Costa Brava are easily accessible from Barcelona.
If you want to sunbathe along the beaches of the Mediterranean coast, the best time to visit is in early fall or late spring. The Mediterranean coast is home to cities such as Malaga, Valencia, and Barcelona. The expansive beaches of these cities are great for outdoor activities such as surfing, swimming, sailing, and kitesurfing.
It’s best to avoid visiting Southern Spain in July and August because the temperatures can get extremely hot (upwards of 100°F). At the height of summer, dry hot wind blows over the Mediterranean, locally known as El Terral.
Peace and Quiet
Winter (January and February in particular) is the best time to visit Spain if crowds are not your thing. Considering that it’s off-season, you won’t see hordes of tourists on the streets of popular Spanish cities like Barcelona, Seville, and Granada.
You will be able to have a more authentically Spanish experience if you visit this time of year. Moreover, you won’t have to queue up at all no matter where you go.
But, unless you are planning a trip to the Canary Islands, you won’t be able to do any sunbathing if you visit in the winter. In southern Spain, the weather is warm and manageable during this season.
Mingle With People
Despite being the hottest time of the year, the summer season in Spain is also the busiest. July and August are the best time to visit Spain if you want to meet new people.
But, keep in mind, the weather isn’t that pleasant and the hotels and flights are priciest this time of year. If you want to travel to Spain in July and August, be sure to book on the earlier side.
Events and Festivals
Spain is famous for the lively and friendly spirit that emanates from everywhere and everyone in the country. You should plan your holiday to coincide with one of the numerous events and festivals that take place in the country if you truly want to immerse yourself in Spanish culture.
During every season, there are unique celebrations taking place across the whole peninsula. But if you want to experience something really unusual, consider attending La Tomatina.
Every last Wednesday of August, thousands of people throw tomatoes at each other on the streets of Buñol, Valencia. On La Tomatina, the whole town turns into one big pile of the red pulp. Why? No one actually knows, but it’s a whole lot of fun.
If you’d rather not get turned into ketchup, but still want to have fun, consider attending the Feria de Abril, also called Seville Fair. The celebration begins two weeks after Easter Holy Week, also known as Semana Santa, and runs for seven days.
This colorful festival features a lot of drinking, dancing, and eating. During the festival, the streets of Seville are covered with chalky, yellow sand and lit with thousands of bulbs. Every year, the celebration ends with a huge fireworks display.
A Month-by-Month Guide
January is a fine month to visit Spain If you dislike queues, don’t want to spend too much money, and don’t mind colder weather. No matter where you go in Spain, rest assured you’ll get more bang for your buck. After the Christmas holiday, restaurant prices and hotel room rates start to go down again.
There are many festivals and celebrations across the whole country in January. On the 6th of January, Spaniards celebrate Epiphany, which is also called Three Kings Day (dia de Los Reyes). Instead of Christmas Day, this is when most Spanish families prefer to exchange holiday fights.
Madrid, Barcelona, and other bigger cities host lively Three Kings Day celebrations. On the evening of the 5th, people start parading through the streets. The music and the dancing go well into the next day.
The local councilors also parade through the city, throwing candy around for kids and adults to catch. Even though it is relatively tourist-free, and lacks warm weather, January is a merry time to visit Spain.
If you visit Spain in February, you can expect chilly weather across most of the country. Even in southern regions such as Andalucia, the temperature rarely rises above 60°F. The only exception is the Canary Islands, but they are far from mainland Spain. The Canary Islands have great weather year-round.
Nevertheless, February is still a good time to visit the country. Carnivals are likely the biggest advantage of visiting Spain during this time of year.
To celebrate the beginning of Lent, the Canary Islands, Cadiz, Madrid, and some other Spanish cities host boisterous carnival parties. If you are into dancing, there’s a two-week-long flamenco music festival in the city of Jerez, called Festival de Jerez.
This is the month when things start to warm up in the country, even though the evenings are still cool. The waters of the Mediterranean are still not so inviting in March, but this is a great time to have a pleasant and serene walk along the beach.
Around this time of year, there are many cultural events and festivals in the country. But the one-of-a-kind Las Fallas festival is particularly noteworthy.
This riotous celebration takes place in Valencia. Running from the 1st to the 19th of March, Las Fallas is one of the longest-lasting festivals in Spain.
During the festival, the city is set ablaze with gunpowder, bonfires, and fireworks. At the peak of the festival, hundreds of paper-mache dolls (ninots) are set alight in a mass fire. Undoubtedly, Las Fallas is one of the best reasons to visit Spain in March.
The nice spring weather, the lack of crowds, and the start of the music festival season make April one of the best months to visit Spain. In April, Malaga, Alicante, Marbella, Costa del Sol, and other popular coastal cities and towns on the mainland are warm enough to do some sunbathing.
Mallorca, Ibiza, and the rest of the Balearic Islands are pretty dry and sunny as well. If you want to travel to Andalucia, it’s important to note that the Semana Santa (Holy Week) will end in April 2021. Meaning, the aforementioned Feria de Abril in Seville will also take place this month.
If you are a foodie, especially if you are into cheese, you may want to go to the Extremadura region for the Feria del Queso. This is a big festival that celebrates all things cheese. You will have a unique opportunity to sample a myriad of cheese varieties.
May, and late spring in general, is one of the best months to visit the country in terms of weather. The average temperature rises, and there is more sunshine.
In Barcelona, warm air and clear, sunny skies are the norms in May. The average temperature reaches about 68°F. Considering that it is still spring, the beaches are not crowded.
May is also the month when the bullfighting season kicks off in Spain. However, while it’s an age-long Spanish tradition, it’s important to note that this festival is really not for everyone—especially for those who are concerned about the ethical treatment of animals.
May is a great time to visit Spain if you are into partying and music festivals. You can go to WOMAD in Caceres, San Isidro in Madrid, and Primavera Sound in Barcelona.
June is the month when prices start to go up in Spain. However, it’s still not the peak of the summer season, so the weather is quite pleasant in most parts of the country, and there is plenty to do during this time of year. Even though you will pay more to travel to Spain in June, you won’t be disappointed.
The capital of the country is pretty hot this time of the year, so make air conditioning a priority if you want to stay in Madrid. If you are into kite-surfing, June is undoubtedly the best time to visit Spain, Tarifa in particular.
Tarifa is located at the southernmost end of the peninsula. If you visit Tarifa in June, you will enjoy pleasantly cool evenings, balmy days, and the laid-back culture of the Tarifeños. And the best part? You will get to do this before rivers of late-summer visitors arrive.
When it comes to the most popular tourist destinations in Spain. This is the busiest month of the year. But if you want to enjoy a lively, fun-filled atmosphere no matter where you go in the country, this may be the best time for you to visit. Moreover, you will hear lots of English everywhere.
In July, all hotels, bars, and restaurants are open and fully functioning, but you will need to book flight tickets and accommodation well in advance.
For the average traveler, Spain’s most popular destinations will be too hot to visit at the height of summer. If you plan on visiting Spain in August, it may be best to head to Basque Country, Asturias, or Galicia. The summer months are more pleasant in the northernmost regions of the country.
This is the most popular time to walk the Camino Frances, which stretches across most of the northern regions of the country. If you are looking for a unique social experience, this is one of the best things you can do in Spain in the summer.
If not, a road trip around northern Spain is also a good idea. Along the way, you will have many opportunities to sample delicious tapas, pintxos, and other Spanish dishes.
If you are into extraordinary cultural events, time your trip to coincide with the Aste Nagusia, also known as Semana Grande. The festival features a wealth of sports events, giant puppet dances, parades, concerts, and even fireworks competitions.
It is one of the biggest celebrations of Basque culture. Both Bilbao and San Sebastian celebrate Semana Grande. In both cities, the festival takes place around Virgin’s Day, in the middle of August. However, it’s a 9-day event in Bilbao while it’s a 7-day event in San Sebastian.
In September, the temperatures in fiery summer destinations such as Cordoba and Madrid begin to cool down. If hot temperatures are too much for you to handle, but you like summer vibes, this may be the best time to go to Madrid.
If you love wine, consider going on a road trip around the La Rioja region. In the third week of September, the San Mateo festival, (Fiestas de San Mateo) takes place in Logroño, the capital of La Rioja.
It is the biggest wine harvest festival in the area, featuring lots of dancing, music, and, of course, drinking. Interestingly, San Mateo is not the patron saint of Logroño or winemakers, but he has become the symbol of the city.
If you are not able to make it in time for the San Mateo festival, don’t worry. There is plenty of good wine in every corner of La Rioja.
If you want to go surfing in Spain, the best time is October. This is when the surfing season officially begins in the northernmost parts of the country. Make sure to bring a wetsuit!
October is also a great time to travel to Andalucia. The beaches are relatively sunny, the weather is mild, and the streets are less crowded. In Mallorca, the average high temperature is around 74°F, so you can still do some sunbathing.
If you want to enjoy the fall beauty of the country, head to the Irati Forest. Spread along the border with France, the forest boasts stunning fall foliage and vibrant hues.
As for events and festivals in October, you may want to check out Spain’s biggest flamenco festival, Bienal de Flamenco, and the annual “human castle building” competition in Tarragona.
As the country gets ready for Christmas, there are not that many big festivals and events across Spain. In fact, the first day of November is the country’s most somber holiday—All Saints’ Day.
But, there still are still some big festivals in November in Spain that are worth checking out. This month, there are a number of Jazz festivals in Barcelona, Granada, and Madrid. JAZZMADRID is particularly noteworthy.
If you are a big movie fan, you will definitely want to travel to Spain in November. Most of the country’s famous film festivals take place this summer, including the Gijón International Film Festival, the Independent Film Festival of Barcelona, and the Bilbao International Festival of Documentary and Short Films.
November is an excellent time to visit the Spanish countryside. If you have kids that are big fans of Ferdinand, you may want to travel to Ronda, the town where the movie is set. Ernest Hemingway described Ronda as “the most romantic town in Spain,” so you can rest assured that the whole family will enjoy it.
If you like skiing, head to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Even though it is very close to the Mediterranean coast, the area that is known for warm weather, this southerly European ski resort won’t leave you wanting for a powder day.
After all, Sierra Nevada literally means “mountain ranges covered in snow.” The average low temperature is 25°F. The ski season in the Sierra Nevada ends in the middle of spring.
December in Spain is almost as lively as July because everyone is excited about Christmas, and festive spirits are high.
You can have any type of Christmas holiday in Spain, thanks to the country’s diverse climate. The weather in Motril, a popular seaside resort in Spain, can be sunny and relatively warm in December. And it’s just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the Sierra Nevada.
So, when is the best time to travel to Spain? If you want to enjoy pleasant weather, but want to avoid the crowds, it is probably a good idea to plan your trip for spring or fall.
If you want to meet plenty of new people and enjoy a lively atmosphere wherever you go, it’s best to travel to the country in the summer.
Spain is generally a great year-round travel destination for those who like cultural festival events. So, you can plan your trip for any month if you want to attend unique Spanish celebrations.
I love hiking. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.