Spain has a winning combination of vibrant cities, delicious cuisines, and lots of opportunities to fiesta. The country attracts low-budget backpackers and flashier travelers alike with a wide range of activities the country has to offer.
As we all know, flights can be expensive, travel costs can add up, and it’s not always easy to get those off days from work. In making sure you’re getting the most for your money and time, the time of year you decide to visit can make a big difference. Whether you’re stopping over for three days or taking a three month life hiatus to soak up Spanish culture, our guide will tell you the best time to visit Spain based on your desired activities and interests.
Tips for Traveling to Spain
If you’re a first-time traveler to Spain, make sure you do some homework before taking off on your trip to reduce potential stress. One tip for all travelers to Spain, or any new place, is to buy a travel book. Read it and decide which cities you’d like to see and what route you’d like to take in exploring the country. If you decide against a travel book, there are a lot of resources online from previous travelers marking their itineraries and must-see spots.
Be aware Spain is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe. If you’re not ready to spend your vacation trekking through high altitudes, plan your itinerary accordingly. Once you’ve decided the sites and cities you’d like to see during your visit; you can then decide what time of year is best for you to go. Maybe you’d like to relax, sipping wine on the many beaches Spain has to offer, or you’d like to have a weekend retreat in the mountains of Granada.
The Weather in Spain
Wherever you chose to go, make sure you look up the average weather forecast in that area before you continue planning your trip. Many areas of Spain get quite hot in the depth of summertime, with temperatures around 90 degrees F, and wouldn’t make for a relaxing vacation at low altitudes.
If you’re a student or only have the summer months to travel, there are plenty of areas in Spain like Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela, and Granada where summer temperatures only reach about 70-degrees F. On the other hand, many places in Spain get lots of snow and ice in the winter months. If that’s not your thing, you are going to want to stick to the coastal areas where you can still get sun all year long. Even in the winters, temperatures only dip to about 50-degrees F across the country.
Spain’s Peak Travelers Season
In Spain, like many other popular tourist destinations, tourists are abundant in the summer months like July and August. This is evident from higher hotel prices, more expensive flights, and more demand for accommodation across cities.
If you can only come in the summer, make sure you book everything in advance before prices get too high and make your trip unaffordable. Summer tourists who don’t book ahead and just wait until they arrive to find a hotel or hostel are often out of luck and end up paying way more than they originally intended.
Just because you’re traveling during peak season doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be met with a ton of crowds. Many locals leave during the summer months to escape the heat. Unfortunately, this does also mean small businesses and restaurants may be closed during your stay.
When to Go to Spain
As we mentioned before, the best time to visit Spain really depends on what you’d like to do, your budget, and your targeted cities. Below we have laid out various activities and the best time to visit Spain based on each one.
1. Enjoy the Beaches of Southern Spain
Summer in Spain is incredibly hot. Average temperatures are in the 90-degree F range by days can sometimes reach up to 105-degrees F. If you’re going in the summer, you’ll probably want to spend a lot of the day inside avoiding the sun.
For milder temperatures and beach days that won’t leave you fried, the end of spring and early fall are the best times to soak up just the right weather. Costa del Sol has the best beaches in Spain and will be most enjoyed without the crowds and scorching heat associated with the peak summer season.
2. Go Sightseeing in Madrid and Barcelona
These two cities are the largest in Spain and have a ton to offer with regards to culture and both day and night activities. If you’re traveling to experience galleries, Spanish architecture, museums or even nightlife, there two cities are for you.
Best experiences in the spring and fall, these cities can get a bit crowded during school holiday breaks. The off season might leave you dodging a bit of rainfall, but it will be worth it when the Gothic Quarter and the Golden Triangle are free for you to explore without crowds.
3. Enjoy Spanish Celebrations and Fiesta
Spain is filled to the brim with celebrations including food, wine and lots of dancing. There are a ton of festivals that occur throughout the year bringing people in from all over the world. One sure time to visit is during Easter where you’ll see many Spanish customs and traditions come alive. The week is called Semana Santa, or holy week, and is full of public celebrations, and large social gatherings.
September and October have a good share of celebrations as well. However, festivals and celebration occur all year round in Spain. Don’t miss out on La Tomatina, the tomato fight festival, in August, the Festival of Fire in March or the Bull Run in July.
4. Dive into Spanish Cuisine
Truly good food is found year-round in Spain. However, if you’re a ‘foodie’ who wants to experience the absolute best food Spain has to offer, make sure to visit in spring and fall. Spring and fall months are harvest season in Spain, and you’ll be sure you’re enjoying the best and freshest produce in your food. You can even go mushroom foraging in the fall and pick your own mushrooms to go in your food.
If you’re not keen on the idea of lots of salads and grilled fish for every meal as seen in the summer months, come during harvest season to experience culinary creations that truly stand out.
Taking your family to enjoy a Spanish Christmas is also a great time to enjoy Spain during a school holiday. Spain is full of Christmas celebrations with street lights, decorations, and festivals. Spain will definitely get you and your family in the Christmas spirit.
5. For Travelling on a Budget
If you’re not trying to let this trip break the bank, or maybe it’s only one destination out of many more you want to use your money on, it’s possible to travel cheaply in Spain. However, it really depends on the time of year you come for how much money you’ll end up spending.
If you’re looking for cheap accommodation, avoid traveling to Spain in July and August and during the holiday season. The city is pretty empty of tourists in January and February which really drives down the prices of a hostel or hotel, making Spain a lot more budget-friendly.
Things to do in Spain Based on the Season
If you must travel during a certain time frame, you can make any season into the best time to visit Spain by planning your trip to the season. Listed below are some of the best things you can do in Spain based on the time of year.
Beach spots come alive during the summer months as tourists seek relief from the blazing hot sun. Cities are quite hot as well and you’ll be doing a lot of walking if you plan to go sightseeing every day. If you plan to visit Spain in the summer, take it slow as to not exhaust yourself and take a break from the sights to visit nearby museums and festivals. Summer events to check out:
Fall is one of the best times you can visit Spain. The summer weather has cooled off, a lot of the crowds have left, and sightseeing is much more pleasurable. September is also the time for wine harvest in Spain. In fact, all throughout fall, fresh produce is being harvested making your food taste even better.
If you’re visiting in the Fall, make sure you add some of these things to your itinerary:
If you’re looking for a more low-key getaway, Spain in the winter could be just what you’re looking for. Temperatures typically only get into the 50’s so you’re not very likely to see snow unless you go into the mountains.
For crowds, if you come during the holidays, expect it to be busy. However, if you come after the New Year, you’ll be met with lower prices and fewer people. Some winter events to check out in Spain:
Like fall, spring is also one of the best times to visit Spain with nice weather, and many festivals. You’ll be met with a particular buzz in the air as beach bars start to open their doors again after the cold weather has passed. It’s also an added bonus that travel and accommodation in the spring attract fewer people, so you’ll be met with lower prices for a better atmosphere. Here are some of the best things to do during spring in Spain: