The Best Time to Visit Spain

The Best Time to Visit Spain

Ashley Nicole DeLeon / © TripSavvy 2018

The best time to visit Spain is typically in the spring (March to May) or during the fall (September to November). At these times, you'll likely find fewer crowds, cheaper accommodations, and the best weather (even for hitting the beach!). 

Whenever you decide to go, use this guide to help plan your trip to this country known for its rich culture, pristine beaches, delicious food, and endless things to do.

Popular Events and Festivals

Spain has events throughout the year that attract visitors from all around the world, especially during spring and summer. If you plan on traveling to attend one of these, get an early start on booking accommodations, which fill up quickly. If you're not trying to attend these events, go elsewhere in the country when they're happening or wait to travel at a different time to avoid dealing with the crowds and high prices in these areas. See a more complete list of events by month below.

Spain also has national public holidays and regional ones. Take particular note of holidays that fall on a Thursday or Tuesday, as the Spanish tend to take the Monday or Friday between this holiday and the weekend off work (this is called a 'puente' or 'bridge'). You may find a lot of things closed during these extended weekends. 

The Weather in Spain

Temperatures in Spain typically don't dip too low, even in winter when the lows typically stay in the 40- to 50-degrees F range country-wide.

But summers, on the other hand, can get really hot, with highs creeping into the low to mid-90s in some places. 

For this reason, it can actually be best to visit the beaches during the shoulder seasons in late spring/early summer (May or early June) or late summer (August to September, even October) to avoid the extreme heat.

While temperatures are a little more unpredictable during these times (be prepared for the occasional rain shower), average temps still go up to the high 70s or low 80s, making them an ideal time for beach days and also days to sightsee and explore the cities as well.

If the hot summer months of July and August are the only time you can travel, consider visiting the north of Spain where temps don't soar quite as high (highs reaching upper 70s in the summer), such as Bilbao and Santiago de Compostela

Peak Season in Spain

For tourism, peak season is typically during the summer months, particularly July and August, and that's evident from the higher prices for hotels, possibly flights, and other accommodations in the cities. So if you're looking to travel at this time, book on the earlier side to avoid paying whatever higher prices are left as it gets closer. 

And just because it's peak season for tourists, that doesn't necessarily mean it's overwhelmingly crowded. A lot of locals, especially people from the inland cities, actually leave the country or head to the coast to escape the heat. However, this also means that many local businesses in the same towns might be shut down temporarily to give their employees vacation.

January

This is still off-season for Spain, so crowds should be relatively minimal and hotels and other accommodations are usually cheaper.

Events to check out:

  • January begins with Three Kings Day celebrations on the 6th, followed by a number of interesting celebrations in the Balearic Islands.
  • The San Sebastian festival in the city of the same name, with its Tamborrada drumming, is the biggest event of the month.

February

Weather around the country is still pretty chilly, especially in Madrid and the northern parts of Spain, such as Galicia and Bilbao where temperatures stay in the 40s to 50s. It's also rainy season for this area, with rain every day or every other. Barcelona is less wet, but has comparable temperatures to northern cities. Andalusia is the warmest with days reaching highs in the mid-60s.

  

Events to check out:

  • February is carnival month, a celebration to mark the start of Lent, with the biggest events appearing in Cadiz and the Canary Islands.
  • The Festival de Jerez, one of the most prominent flamenco festivals in the country, happens in the city of Jerez.

March

You might get some warm weather in Andalusia, you might not, but it's worth packing sunblock and something to keep the chill out, just in case. 

Events to check out:

  • In March, Valencia is home to Las Fallas, a weeklong event mostly known for its giant, crafted figurines are paraded through town and then set on fire. 
  • Semana Santa, a.k.a Holy Week, is a religious celebration with processions in the streets put on by local brotherhoods. It takes place throughout several cities in Spain during Easter, lasting about a week or longer depending on the location. 

April

The whole country is slowly warming up, but the weather could be quite unpredictable wherever you are. April should see some warm weather in Andalusia, and sunbathing might be possible, but nothing is guaranteed at this time of year. Because the weather is decent (but still might not be suitable for the beach yet), schools are still in session, and it's not yet peak season for tourists, this is a good time to check out local attractions in whatever city you're visiting, such as museums, cultural centers, cathedrals, etc. that might be more crowded in later months.

Events to check out:

  • The Feria de Abril, the spring fair that celebrates the people and traditions of Seville, typically happens in April, as it is held two weeks after Easter.
  • Madrid hosts the Festimad music festival, featuring nightly concerts of a variety of music.

May 

Hot in the south and warm in much of the rest of the country, though Madrid can remain changeable throughout May and the north and north-west can still expect some cool days. 

Events to check out:

  • There are a number of local festivals in Spain in May, usually celebrating each area's local traditions and customs, including the Festival de San Isidro in Madrid and the Feria de Patios and Feria de las Cruces in Cordoba.
  • Madrid hosts the Madrid Open, the country's largest tennis tournament.
  • Lleida is home to the Aplec del Caragol, where 12 tons of snails are eaten in this culinary festival.

June

June is much more reliable weather-wise, with glorious sunshine and warm weather in most of the country. As the weather starts to warm up, though, some local businesses might start to shut down to take their own vacation in the summer. However, major tourist attractions and museums are typically open year-round, with the exception of major holidays in some cases. 

Events to check out:

  • Granada hosts the Water and Ham festival, which is basically just a gigantic water fight.
  • Madrid hosts PHoto España, the city's largest photo exhibition.

July

The weather is hot, hot, hot! Central locations like Seville and Madrid are ghost towns, as the locals migrate to the coast to cool off in the sea. 

Events to check out:

  • San Fermin, more commonly known by one of its events, the running of the bulls, happens every year in Pamplona from July 6th to July 14th. 
  • Horse racing on the beach at Sanlucar de Barrameda is also a popular event this month.

August

It's still very hot this month, especially in the inland cities, so some local restaurants and businesses might still be closed in those places.

Events to check out:

  • Another well known event, Tomatina, is a festival where thousands of people throw tomatoes at each other. This happens on the last Wednesday of August in the town of Buñol.
  • Feria de Malaga, perhaps Andalusia's biggest summer festival, includes concerts, dancing, great food, and more.
  • The Basque region also holds a large festival, Semana Grande, in Bilbao and San Sebastian, that's packed with events like fireworks, bullfighting, and more.

September

It can still be quite warm in September (and far more bearable than in August) but the later you get the more unreliable the weather is likely to be. 

Events to check out:

  • Festa de la Mercé happens in Barcelona, one of the city's biggest festivals of the year that celebrates the city's patron saint with wine fairs, fireworks, and other events.
  • San Sebastian also hosts one of the world's largest film festivals at this time.
  • The region of La Rioja, Spain's famous wine region, holds its grape harvest celebration.

October

The weather gets steadily cooler during the end of September and into October, but weather-wise, this is one of the best time to visit central cities such as Madrid and Salamanca that are usually unbearably hot in summer and also some of the coldest in the winter.

Events to check out:

  • Catch the Bienal de Flamenco, Spain's biggest flamenco festival, held every two years.
  • The Week of Architecture celebration has exhibits, children's workshops, and events held in Madrid's most famous buildings. 
  • Tarragona hosts an annual "human castle building" competition, where large teams of people transform themselves into castles by stacking high on top of each other.

November

Matters wind down in November as the country gets ready for Christmas, but there are still events this month worth noting. This time of the year is when fall turns to winter and the weather will change accordingly. Sunny and chilly in the south; just chilly (mid-40s to 60s) in the rest of the country. 

Events to check out:

  • Jazz fans will enjoy the festivals in MadridGranada, and Barcelona this month.
  • There are several beverage tastings held across the country, such as International Sherry Week in Jerez, Feast of the Orujo in Potes, and the San Andres Festival on the island of Tenerife.
  • Several film festivals are held around the country—see a full list here.

December

Smaller cities and towns might be more low-key or mostly shut down during the holidays. And Christmas Day itself, you're unlikely to find many restaurants or bars open at all, as this is a family holiday. Weather is still getting colder with the inland cities (typically the coldest) only reaching the low 50s during the day. You might see some snow in December, but that's more likely in January or February.

Events to check out:

  • December is dominated by Christmas and the many events associated with it, several local events per week, especially in Madrid and Barcelona.