While Northern Europe's quaint Christmas markets or the Caribbean's sandy beaches top most traveler's winter bucket lists, strolling through sunny, Mediterranean Spain during the winter months can also be quite a thrill.
Long gone are summer's throngs of tourists, leaving in their wake cooler temperatures and sleepy towns. You can even ski, shop, and enjoy all that Spain has to offer in January. Plus, in some places, it's still warm enough for a day at the beach!
Read on more for more information about visiting Spain in January, including the weather, what to pack, and can't-miss events.
Spain Weather in January
It's cold in January in most of Spain, but what did you expect? It's winter! Time to enjoy what winter in Spain can offer you (did you know you can ski in Spain?).
Now is not really the time to come to Spain if you are looking to top up your tan (though it might be possible on the south coast). Expect rain and overcast days wherever you are in the country, but not all the time.
Remember that we're talking averages here. Weather throughout the world is unpredictable, so don't take what you read on this page as gospel.
Weather in Madrid in January
Madrid's winter weather can be extremely unpredictable, ranging from bitterly cold to surprisingly mild. On the whole, though, you can expect it to be cold in Madrid in January (it's the coldest month of the year in the city).
It should be generally dry but pack an umbrella just in case. The average maximum temperature in Madrid in January is 52 F (11 C) and the average minimum temperature is 32 F (0 C).
Weather in Barcelona in January
Barcelona has a beach, but don't expect anyone to be on it in January. It'll be pretty cold for the whole month, though it should stay fairly dry.
The average maximum temperature in Barcelona in January is 55 F (13 C) and the average minimum temperature is 39 F (4 C).
Weather in Andalusia in January
Spain's coldest month chills even its warmest region. Rogue warm days are certainly possible but don't expect to return home with a tan. The average maximum temperature in Malaga in January is 61 F (16 C) and the average minimum temperature is 45 F (7 C).
Weather in Northern Spain in January
The north of Spain tends to be cold and wet in winter and January is just about the coldest and most wet. You should expect some rain every other day or so and will definitely need a jacket, especially at night. The average maximum temperature in Bilbao in January is 55 F (13 C) and the average minimum temperature is 43 F (6 C). Note that it will get a lot colder the further inland you go.
Weather in Northwest Spain in January
By being incredibly wet, Galicia escapes some of the cold experienced in the rest of Spain in January. But with rain expected on two-out-of-three days, you might welcome a cold, dry day occasionally! The average maximum temperature in Santiago de Compostela in January is 55 F (13 C) and the average minimum temperature is 46 F (8 C).
What to Pack
While you won't be fighting heavy crowds in January in Spain, you will need to bundle up—just a bit—to combat the decreased temperatures. You won't need heavy winter gear in Spain, but some cold-weather basics will come in handy, especially in the country's older, poorly-insulated buildings where nights can be extremely cold. To start, a good packing list should include:
- Short-sleeve shirts for layering
- Long-sleeve tops or blouses
- A sweatshirt or cardigan
- A light jacket
- A lightweight scarf or pashmina
- A dress or slightly more formal outfit for evenings out
January Events in Spain
After the rush and excitement of the holiday season, January is a lighter month for events in Spain. While there are a few regular events held each year, every city is sure to have its own rotating calendar of art exhibitions, theater performances, and concerts too.
- Dia de los Reyes Magos, also known as Epiphany, is celebrated each year on January 6. This marks the end of the Christmas holiday season. Many shops, restaurants, and attractions will be closed and many small towns have parades
- Each year in mid-January, the city of Valladolid hosts the International Winter Motorcycle Rally, which brings together thousands of people of different nationalities and their bikes.
- Travelers and those working in the travel industry won't want to miss the International Tourism Fair held in Madrid at the end of January. The giant expo draws more than 10,000 exhibitors.
January Travel Tips
- Spain has more mountains than any other country in Europe, which means great skiing! If you're looking for high-end ski resorts in Spain, the Pyrenees, along the border of Spain and France, is home some of the world's best. Even the south of Spain, in Sierra Nevada, is home to plenty of great powder.
- Spanish summers are hot, which means many shopkeepers and restaurants owners flee to cooler climates. Luckily, this isn't the case during the winter: Visiting in January means you'll find most towns in full-swing, with plenty of action, especially since Christmas holidays are over.
- Spain isn't a cheap country to visit, but traveling during the winter drops costs considerable. It's not unusual to find a decent hotel room for 40 Euro per night—or less!