When it comes to the weather in Spain, where you are in the country can play a big part in the forecast—it doesn't just depend on the time of year. Generally speaking, the north is home to milder summers and wet, chilly winters, while down south it's the opposite: scorching summers are the norm, but winters are generally quite pleasant. That being said, Spain is one of Europe's warmest and sunniest destinations throughout the year, with its alluring climate shaped by the country's location between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
Urgent Seasonal Information: Inland Andalusia's Brutal Summers
The inland areas of Andalusia, Spain's southernmost region, are considered some of continental Europe's hottest (literally) destinations in the summer. Visitors to popular tourist cities such as Seville and Cordoba are often unprepared for and overwhelmed by the extreme heat, which can reach between 110 and 120 degrees during daylight hours. Our advice: do your sightseeing in the morning before the sun gets too intense, take advantage of Spain's famous siesta period in the afternoon during the worst of it—and if all else fails, hop on the train and make a quick trip down to the nearby beaches of Malaga, Cadiz and Huelva.
Atlantic Coast & Northern Spain
Spain's northernmost coastal regions (Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja, Basque Country) see quite a bit of rain in the fall and winter to go along with the low (for Spain) temperatures. That being said, the average winter temperatures—in the 50s during the day—make it relatively mild compared to most of the rest of Europe at this time of year. Summers are warm but not overwhelmingly so, which makes it the perfect time of year to come and explore this often overlooked gem of a region.
Thanks to a natural shelter from the weather fronts that are so common along the Atlantic coast, the regions of Spain that border the Mediterranean (coastal Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia, coastal Andalusia, Balearic Islands) enjoy less rain and more sunshine than their northern counterparts. Summers are generally lovely in these areas but can be quite crowded, so consider visiting earlier or later in the season if you're looking for a more relaxed experience. Winters enjoy low temperatures—think high 50s and low 60—but the humidity and chill from the sea can make it feel colder than it actually is.
Meseta & Central Spain
Spain's central interior (Castilla y León, Madrid, southern Aragon, Castilla-La Mancha) is largely occupied by the meseta, a large raised plateau that has a major effect on the region's weather due to its altitude. What does this mean? Chilly winters (including snow in some of the northern areas) and scorching summers—there's no beach for hundreds of miles. Consider visiting in the spring or fall, when temperatures average out into the 60s. On another positive note, rain is not especially abundant in this area throughout most of the year.
The southern inland regions of Spain (Extremadura, inland Andalusia) are the country's warmest throughout the year. As mentioned previously, summers are intense and not for the faint of heart, with temperatures regularly surpassing 100 degrees. Spring, fall, and winter, on the other hand, are all very nice in these regions—and as a bonus, it's low season in most areas, so you'll be able to beat the crowds and score lower accommodation prices. Sun is plentiful even in winter, and snow is all but unheard of except for in the most mountainous areas, such as the Sierra Nevada range outside of Granada.
The inland mountainous regions of northern Spain (northern Aragon & Catalonia, Navarra) are among the country's chilliest, but also the most beautiful. Snow is common all winter long, so if you're looking to experience a white Christmas in Spain—or even just go skiing—this region is your best bet. Spring and summer are sunny and mild, while fall is pleasantly chilly with a good chance of rain.
Thanks to their location just off the Atlantic coast of Africa, the Canary Islands enjoy a pleasant climate all year long. Trade winds can make things quite breezy at times, but with temperatures possibly reaching the low 70s even in January, the wind will hardly be a hinderance. Rainfall is generally low and sunshine is rampant, particularly in the summer months.
Spring in Spain
While still a bit chilly for swimming in most coastal regions, springtime in Spain is ideal for sitting outside enjoying drinks in a sunny plaza (and maybe even practicing your Spanish with local friends while you do so). March and April still see some precipitation, particularly in the north, but by May most of the country is enjoying that plentiful Spanish sunshine. Head down south, where temperatures are in the 70s and low 80s, to enjoy a wealth of cultural festivals such as Seville's April Fair and the Patios Festival in Cordoba.
What to pack: Spring weather in Spain leans towards the pleasant, but can be unpredictable at times, particularly in March and early April. Dress in layers, and bring a small umbrella so you don't get caught off guard in the chance of rain.
Summer in Spain
Heat and sunshine are both plentiful throughout the summer in Spain, and the south can be especially brutal at this time of year. Inland cities and towns tend to empty out in July and August as their inhabitants flee for the respite offered by the coast, so join them and take advantage of Spain's splendid beaches. If you're not sure where, exactly, to go, the north and the islands are particularly nice at this time of year.
What to pack: Dress comfortably for the heat, but keep in mind that locals don't generally wear beach clothes, such as t-shirts and flip-flops, beyond...well, the beach. Instead, think light, breezy fabrics—and don't forget the sunscreen and a pair of stylish shades.
Fall in Spain
In September and even the earlier part of October, the weather can still feel slightly akin to what would be considered "summer" in most of the rest of the world (read: sunny and warm, but not too intense). By late October and November in Spain, though, the weather becomes pleasantly cool, and overcast days become as common as sunny ones. Precipitation also becomes fairly common throughout much of Spain in the fall.
What to pack: Like in spring, the weather throughout Spain in autumn can change dramatically throughout the day—mornings and evenings can be chilly, but daylight hours are generally nice. Layers, such as a light jacket and a colorful scarf, work well at this time of year.
Winter in Spain
If chilly weather isn't your cup of tea but you still want to experience all the magic of a European winter, Spain is calling your name. Winter in Spain is nice and mild compared to most of the rest of the continent, and the southern areas still even get quite a bit of sun at this time of year. Mountainous regions are prone to snow, but precipitation on the northern coast tends to come in the form of rain.
What to pack: Spanish people tend to dress according to the season, even if the weather isn't what you'd consider "cold" by your standards. Do as the locals do and bundle up in a winter coat, and pack an umbrella as well, particularly if you're heading up north.