May in Spain: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Floral patio in Cordoba, Spain during May Festival

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With spring in full bloom across the country, May is without a doubt one of the best times of the year to visit Spain. It brings gorgeous weather, beautiful views, and less tourist crowds than the summer months, making it the perfect time of year to relax and enjoy what Spain is all about: living the good life and spending time with the people who matter most. After all, springtime is prime terrace season—who would say no to sitting outside enjoying drinks in a sunny plaza with good company?

Not only is springtime ideal in and of itself for obvious reasons like the weather, but once you look at the cultural agenda, you'll see that it's also one of the liveliest times of the year to visit Spain. Throughout the country, local festivals and events fill up nearly every day of the calendar, so no matter where in Spain you find yourself, there will always be something going on.

Spain Weather in May

Temperatures in May are rising across Spain and it's considered one of the most comfortable times to visit the country regardless of what part you go to. There are fluctuations depending on which city you visit, but in general, you'll find the highest temperatures in the southern region of Andalusia in cities such as Seville, Málaga, and Córdoba.

Madrid has consistently pleasant temperatures in May and you're unlikely to encounter the sweltering heat that begins to appear in summer. Nights are warm and the days are famously long, so you can sit out on a terrace in short sleeves at 9 p.m. before the sun has set. Rainstorms are a possibility, but they are typically shorts bursts of rain instead of long wet spells.

Being near the coast, the weather in Barcelona is more temperate compared to Madrid. The days aren't normally quite as hot but the nights aren't quite as cold, either. It may not be warm enough in May to jump into the sea and go for a swim, but you shouldn't have any problems laying out on the beach and dipping your feet in.

Other parts of the north, such as San Sebastian in Basque Country or Galicia, are cooler and wetter. Rainfall is common, but the perpetual dampness combined with the May sunshine means that the north is blossoming with springtime beauty.

  Avg. High Temperature Avg. Low Temperature Avg. Rainfall
Madrid 73 F (23 C) 50 F (10 C) 1.3 inches
Barcelona 70 F (21 C) 56 F (13 C) 1.6 inches
Seville 80 F (27 C) 57 F (14 C) 0.9 inches
San Sebastian 67 F (19 C) 54 F (12 C) 2.2 inches
Tenerife 74 F (23 C) 64 F (18 C) 0.1 inches

What to Pack

May feels practically summer-like throughout much of Spain, so as far as clothes are concerned, think light, flowy fabrics that allow your skin to breathe. As for footwear, while flip-flops are fine for the beach, locals don't usually wear them around town. Instead, bring stylish sandals with a solid sole (you'll need support for all the walking you're going to do). If you're headed up north, consider layering your clothes as the weather can be quite unpredictable, and throw in an umbrella lest you get caught off-guard by an unexpected shower.

May Events in Spain

Cultural festivals and other fascinating events abound throughout Spain in May.

  • Mother's Day in Spain takes place on the first Sunday of May every year (as opposed to the second Sunday as in the U.S.).
  • Andalusia's town fairs are in full swing throughout May, referred to locally as ferias. Each town hosts its own festival, but the most famous one is in Seville which takes place at the beginning of the month. Elsewhere in the region, Córdoba and Jerez also celebrate their ferias this month.
  • Speaking of Córdoba, the city's iconic floral patios festival and contest also takes place around the middle of May. Come marvel at the gorgeous floral displays that burst against the whitewashed walls of the city's typical courtyards.
  • Up north, the Girona Flower Festival outside of Barcelona keeps the floral fun going as colorful gardens spring up throughout the town center.
  • The San Isidro Festival in Madrid celebrates the city's patron saint with a packed calendar full of parades, street parties, live performances, and more. It's a multi-day celebration with the culminating fireworks show taking place on May 15 every year.

May Travel Tips

  • Although "high season" doesn't officially start until June for most of Spain, the nice weather and packed cultural agenda draw their fair share of visitors to the country throughout May. Book accommodation as soon as possible to guarantee your spot and avoid last-minute price hikes.
  • To avoid long lines at attractions such as the Alhambra, Sagrada Familia, and Alcázar de Sevilla, consider reserving your tickets online in advance ahead of time.
  • If you are looking for warm beach weather, consider heading to one of Spain's many islands. The Canary Islands and Mallorca are popular vacation spots for locals and visitors, and in May you'll get great weather before the summer tourists arrive.