Spain may be Europe's best-kept winter secret. This Mediterranean country enjoys a much more temperate climate compared to the rest of Europe, much of which is blanketed in snow throughout February. Spain is also the only European country that you can visit during this season where you can hit the ski slopes and lay out on the beach, so it truly has it all.
Many people think of Spain and imagine a warm sandy beach on a hot summer day, perhaps with a refreshing pitcher of sangria nearby. But winter is also a great time for visiting, as temperatures are cooler and crowds are less overwhelming than during the summer months. It's also the off-season for traveling to Spain, meaning you could potentially save money on cheaper-than-normal flights and hotels.
Spain Weather in February
Spain has an area larger than California, so the weather varies significantly across the country. In general, February is chilly, but most major cities don't reach the sub-zero temperatures that other parts of Europe are concurrently experiencing.
|City||Average High||Average Low|
|Madrid||54 F (12 C)||34 F (1 C)|
|Barcelona||57 F (14 C)||41 F (5 C)|
|Seville||64 F (18 C)||44 F (7 C)|
|Malaga||63 F (17 C)||46 F (8 C)|
|Bilbao||54 F (12 C)||42 F (6 C)|
|Santa Cruz de Tenerife||70 F (21 C)||59 F (15 C)|
As the highest capital city in Europe and located deep in Spain's interior, Madrid's climate often feels more continental rather than Mediterranean. It's relatively dry and snow is rare, but nights and mornings can be bitterly cold. Barcelona is further north but on the coast, so the sea keeps the city from getting as cold as Madrid.
The southern region of Andalusia, which is unbearably hot in the summer, stays relatively comfortable during the winter. Average temperatures in major cities like Seville and Malaga are significantly higher than the rest of Spain, although still not warm enough to sunbathe on the famed Costa del Sol. If you're truly craving some time on the beach, then you'll have to catch a flight to the Canary Islands. Located off the coast of Africa but part of Spain, these islands are the only place in Europe where you can truly lay out in the sun this time of year.
In Northern Spain, not only do temperatures drop but it rains constantly. Occasionally, it does get cold enough for it to snow as well, especially if you're visiting higher elevations. Once or twice a year, the coastal city of San Sebastian gets snowfall on the beach, making for an unforgettable sight.
What to Pack
Unless you're planning to visit the mountains on a ski trip, you won't need heavy snow gear on a winter vacation to Spain, but you'll still want to bring at least one warm jacket that you can wear with other layers depending on the weather. Also, be aware that many of the country's older buildings have poor insulation and winter nights can be chilly. To start, a good packing list should include:
- Short-sleeve shirts for layering
- Long-sleeve tops or blouses
- A sweatshirt or cardigan
- A winter jacket, such as wool or down
- A lightweight scarf or pashmina
- A dress or slightly more formal outfit for evenings out
February Events in Spain
Without a doubt, Spain's biggest event that (usually) falls in February is Carnival. It's celebrated across the country, and each city typically holds its own special celebration, although a few cities really stand out with their annual festival. Round out your trip with other major events that highlight food, art, and history.
- Carnival: You'll need a costume and lots of stamina to keep up with this week-long festival, which begins in 2020 around February 21. You're likely to find some type of celebration regardless of where you are, but if you're seeking out the best Carnivals that Spain has to offer head to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Cadiz in Andalusia, or Sitges near Barcelona.
- Festival de Jerez: Flamenco is a long-held tradition with roots in Andalusia, and this annual flamenco festival celebrates that heritage in the town of Jerez (also famous for its sherry production). From February 21 to March 7, 2020, witness some of the world's greatest flamenco artists right in their own backyard.
- ARCOmadrid International Contemporary Art Fair: Art buffs flock to Madrid for its many museums, but only in February can you visit this renowned fair of contemporary art, featuring over 1,300 artists from around the world. You can see it at the massive Feria de Madrid event center, from February 26 to March 1, 2020.
- Madrid GastroFestival: Madrid celebrates culinary culture each year as cocktail bars, restaurants, and cafés all over the city come together and highlight the many dishes of Spain. Hundreds of eateries take part in this festival, February 7–23, 2020, allowing visitors to try everything from the most traditional tapas to original creations that you won't find anywhere else.
- Los Moros Y Cristianos: Many cities across Spain celebrate a historic festival called Los Moros y Cristianos, which literally translates to "Moors and Christians." One of the most famous is always on the first weekend of February in the small town of Bocairent, located in the province of Valencia. Citizens dress up in old garb and reenact epic battles from the Reconquista period, in this interactive event that brings out the entire local community.
February Travel Tips
- Skip the Alps and hit the slopes in either one of Spain's acclaimed ski regions, the Pyrenees in the north or the Sierra Nevada mountains in the south. Both offer world-class runs and frequent powder snow for skiers and snowboarders.
- The Canary Islands seem far, but since February is the low season you can often find very affordable flights from Spain's mainland. The two biggest islands and best for visiting in the low season are Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
- Trains are a comfortable way to travel around Spain, but airlines often have off-season deals throughout February. Keep an eye out for domestic flights at insanely low prices.