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

December Weather in Spain

 Hugo Lin / © TripSavvy 2018

Want to experience all the charms of a European winter without the chilly temperatures? Spain is calling your name.

The best part about visiting Spain in December is the unique mixture of traditional holiday charm with everything you may already know and love about Spanish culture. And while some travelers take advantage of their holiday breaks to visit, December is generally considered low season in Spain.

Ready to explore? Here's everything you need to know before heading to Spain in December.

Spain Weather in December

Broadly speaking, most of Spain is much warmer in December than the rest of Europe. However, things can vary quite a bit depending on where you are.

Andalusia is your best bet if you'd prefer a mild winter. Temperatures in Spain's southernmost region tend to range from the high 40s to the low 60s Fahrenheit. Barcelona is similar, with temperatures just a bit lower than those in the south. Madrid can get quite chilly with temperatures ranging from 36 to 52 degrees, and northwestern Spain is by far the coldest area of the country, with December temperatures often dropping to just 9 degrees.

The north of Spain also tends to see more precipitation in the winter months. The further south you move, generally speaking, the rarer it'll be to find snow. However, mountainous areas of Andalusia do get their fair share of snow (consider the Sierra Nevada, for one—the clue is in the name!). Snow is also uncommon but not unheard of in Barcelona and Madrid.

What to Pack

Even if you're headed south, don't think that a relatively mild winter means you can rock out in short sleeves and sandals (even if you might be doing so in similar temperatures back home). Here in Spain, we tend to dress according to the season, rather than the weather. That means big, warm coats and scarves no matter where you are in the country, even on sunny and warmer days.

In the south, many older buildings are poorly insulated—they're meant to keep heat out during the sweltering summer months. As a result, it often feels colder inside than outside in many buildings. Pack extra-warm pajamas and thick socks to keep you warm while hanging out at your hotel or apartment rental.

December Events in Spain

They say it's the most wonderful time of the year, and there's no shortage of festive cheer here in Spain. With so many seasonal events and activities taking place throughout the country in December, you're guaranteed to have a memorable time.

  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception: A national holiday throughout Spain, this religious event takes on special significance in Seville. Here, it's honored with a special dance performed at the cathedral. December 8, 2019
  • Torrox Migas Festival: On the Sunday before Christmas, the town of Torrox (near Malaga) celebrates migas, the regional delicacy. Migas are similar to stuffing, or essentially fried breadcrumbs. The event comes complete with local music and dancing. December 22, 2019
  • New Year's Eve: All major cities and even most smaller towns in Spain will have a large public gathering to ring in the new year. The largest takes place in Madrid's Puerta del Sol. Just don't forget to eat your 12 lucky uvas, or grapes, as the clock chimes midnight. From there, it's off to the discotecas to dance until dawn.

December Travel Tips

  • December 6 and 8 are national holidays in Spain (Constitution Day and Feast of the Immaculate Conception, respectively). Expect some businesses to be closed or open during modified hours. In 2019, December 8 falls on a Sunday, so the holiday will be observed on Monday, December 9 instead.
  • Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day also see many businesses, including bars and restaurants, closing up shop for the day. Some restaurants do stay open and serve a special holiday menu, but reservations must be made in advance.
  • They're not as famous as their central European counterparts, but Spain does have Christmas markets! All cities and many small towns will have at least one traditional market selling holiday decorations, handcrafted artisanal products and local gourmet goods.
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