December in Madrid: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

People buying gifts at the Plaza Mayor Christmas Market, Madrid

anouchka/Getty Images

Spain may be warm and sunny in the summer, but winter weather can be a whole different ball game. For those planning to spend the December holidays in Madrid, the Spanish capital, there are a few things you should prepare for. Compared to other parts of Europe, Madrid doesn't get much precipitation (rain or snow) during December as the climate is pretty dry. This mild weather paired with peak holiday season tends to draw many crowds, especially around Christmas. So if you plan on visiting over the holidays, make sure to book your hotel and travel far in advance.

Otherwise, early December (before the holidays) is a good time to find a deal on a hotel since many slash their rates this time of year.

Madrid Weather in December

The weather in December is typically mild, hovering between 50 F (the average high) and 38 F (the average low). Some days can hit the high 50s and low 60s, but the nights tend to be colder, though they rarely dip below freezing. Madrid is a very dry city, and even in December you are unlikely to get much rain, so you can probably leave your umbrella at home. Madrid usually only sees an average of six days with precipitation totaling 2.2 inches. You're also not likely to get a white Christmas in Madrid as the temperatures don't get low enough for snow to accumulate.

What to Pack

If you're planning a trip to Madrid in December, you should pack layers like long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and long pants as well as additional warm items such as jackets, gloves, and hats. The wind can pick up at night as well, so a windbreaker or heavy winter coat with a scarf are great for bundling up. Warm, comfortable walking shoes are also a must for exploring the city on foot. You likely won't need an umbrella or waterproof boots since it doesn't rain or snow that much in December, but make sure to check the forecast in advance just in case you get an odd day with storms.

December Events in Madrid

December is a beautiful time to check out Madrid's Christmas markets and festivities. Shop for holiday gifts at Plaza Mayor Christmas Market, the biggest seasonal market in Madrid, take in the sparkling lights along Gran Via, or go ice skating on the rink at Centro Cultural Conde Duque in the hip Malasaña neighborhood. If you want to have any special dinners (especially on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day), make sure to book restaurant reservations well in advance. On the last Friday of the November, the Mayor of Madrid turns on the city's Christmas lighting displays to mark the start of the holiday season, which runs through New Year's.

December Travel Tips

  • December deals depend on when you're visiting. Early December has sales on airfare and hotel rates. However, visiting over Christmas and the holidays will be extra expensive.
  • If you visit in early December, there will be barely any crowds so you'll have the sites to yourself.
  • The weather is much more moderate in Madrid compared to other European cities. You won't have to pack a heavy bag full of snow clothes.