Spain's Best Destinations in August

Cities and small towns celebrate summer with festivals galore

Rising mercury should not deter your plans to visit Spain in the summer when you'll find plenty of sunshine and locals in the mood to party. Some of the country's biggest festivals take place during August, and the entire country takes off work to celebrate Assumption Day on August 15, an important Catholic holiday.

Europeans tend to vacation en masse in August, which could be a pro or a con, depending on your travel style and desired destination. Spain's beaches can become uncomfortably crowded, but the inland cities and smaller towns empty out, especially on weekends, leaving you with plenty of room to explore and a better choice of accommodations.

  • 01 of 06
    Valencia Spain august

    Nan Palmero / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Tomatina, Spain's famous food fight festival, takes place on the last Wednesday of August in Buñol. The town, located on the western outskirts of Valencia, sits just 19 miles from the Mediterranean, making a cool dip easily accessible when you feel ready to rinse off the tomato pulp. In 2013 officials started requiring tickets, limiting the number of attendees to 20,000, so plan ahead if you want to put this on your travel itinerary.

    Near the end of the month, revelers gather for the Fiesta de Vendimia in Requena, also near Valencia, to celebrate the region's wine grapes. People parade through the streets asking the townspeople for water to help the next year's harvest; residents oblige by soaking everyone who passes.

    And to the north in the neighboring province of Castellon, Benicassim hosts the week-long Rototom SunSplash Reggae Festival, Europe's largest gathering of reggae music performers and fans, which kicks off on August 16, 2018. Book a guest room or reserved camping spot early as they sell out well in advance of the festival; all tickets holders can look for a place to pitch a tent in the free access zones, though.

    Stay in Valencia proper, Spain's third largest city, and day-trip to multiple festival locations, or venture into the mountainous countryside in the western part of the province. Check out affordable hotels in Valencia with TripAdvisor. Book early, though, as many Europeans take their vacations in August, making it one of the busier travel months on the continent.

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      Feria de Malaga

      Jean-Michel Brunet / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

      Malaga presents one giant reason to visit in August: the Feria de Malaga, one of Andalusia's biggest parties (the other contender being the Feria de Sevilla). This exuberant street fair celebrates the end of the siege of 1487, when the Spanish monarchs recaptured the city from the Muslim empire of Granada. The week-long festival features flamenco, fireworks, and sherry, and takes place August 11-18, 2018.

      The architecture in this southern city still reflects the Moorish influence of its past, though the culture thrums with an unmistakable modern Spanish vibe. Located at the northern end of Spain's storied Costa del Sol, Malaga makes a convenient base for exploring the coastal region during the high season; you can find cheap hotels in Malaga with Trip Advisor.

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      Giants march in Bilbao's Semana Grande Festival
      Gonzalo Azumendi / Getty Images

      Semana Grande, called Aste Nagusia in the local Basque language and translating to "Big Week" in English, takes place in the Basque Country's two principal cities, Bilbao and San Sebastian. Visiting either location during the festivities, which follow the August 15 celebration of Assumption Day, makes a trip to Spain in August a worthwhile endeavor. Expect to see such diverse sights as a nightly fireworks competition, a strongman contest, bullfighting, demonstrations of traditional Basque sports, and giant puppet dances.

      Residents of nearby Vitoria-Gasteiz celebrate the Fiesta de la Virgen Blanca in the early part of the month, beginning on August 4, with fireworks, cooking contests, sports competitions, and free concerts. With its well-preserved medieval city center and fortified wall, Vitoria presents an appealing destination not quite yet discovered by the hordes.

        Find affordable hotels in San Sebastian or, if you're staying in Bilbao, check out this list of hotels via TripAdvisor.

      • 04 of 06
        A child admires the elaborate Gracia Festival decorations in Barcelona
        Fernando Vazquez Miras / Getty Images

        Barcelona and the wider region of Catalonia put on a collection of festivals in August. Two of the city's neighborhoods, or barrios, hold their annual fiestas: La Festa Gracia takes place from August 15-22, 2018, in the northwest part of the city while the Festa Major de Sants takes place in this southern district from August 18-26.

        Elsewhere in the region, the Festival Internacional de Musica de Cadaques takes place on the Costa Brava August 4-15, 2018, while at the end of the month comes the Festa Major de Vilafranca del Penedés and the Festa Major de Sitges.

        Cheap Hotels in Barcelona with TripAdvisor

        Continue to 5 of 6 below.
      • 05 of 06
        Madrid bullfight
        Life-Of-Pix / Pixabay

        Madrid swelters in August and a lot of the city's residents head to the beach with their families, leaving the country's capital uncharacteristically quiet. Though plenty of places remain open for business, some of the smaller hotels and restaurants do close for the month.

        Despite the exodus, three of the city's districts hold consecutive festivals beginning with San Cayetano in the Rastro/Embajadores neighborhood from August 2-8, 2018, followed by San Lorenzo in Lavapies from August 9-11, and then perhaps the best known of the three, La Paloma in La Latina from August 12-15. Residents and tourists spill into the streets, where music, dancing, and drinks contribute to the lively atmosphere.

        Find affordable hotels in Madrid.

      • 06 of 06

        Galicia

        Vuelta a España
        KT/Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images

        The Vuelta a España, or La Vuelta, is Spain's answer to the Tour de France and one of the biggest events on the international cycling calendar, running from the end of August until the middle of September. Most of the August stages take place in Galicia before the event moves to Andalusia and then on to the northeast and Madrid.

        Make a detour to join thousands of other people at the Catoira Viking Festival on August 5. Every year since 1960, residents of this small village have dressed up as Vikings and reenacted the invasion that occurred 1,000 years ago. After the battle ends, they all sit down to enjoy a communal picnic of local delicacies.

        Not everyone relishes the idea of eating octopus, but you can join the ranks of Spaniards who lust for the stuff. To celebrate Galicia's excellent octopus, check out the Octopus Festival O Carballiño on August 12.

        Cheap Hotels in Galicia with TripAdvisor