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Best Time to Visit Spain: A Complete Guide

Best Time to Visit Spain: A Complete Guide

When is the best time to visit Spain? The answer isn’t as clear-cut as you might think.

Firstly, you’ll need to take into consideration how the weather and climate differ from region to region.

Spain is a huge country – it’s around about the same size as the state of Texas. It’s bounded by two coastlines: the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Each of these brings entirely different weather patterns.

A hinterland of mountains and low-altitude plateaus far from the sea also impacts the climate of Spain’s interior cities and regions.

Spain has two island archipelagos that are popular tourist destinations: the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. The Canaries in particular have a climate that varies from the mainland.

On top of the weather and climate conditions, you will want to consider how the peak vacation season might impact your experience. For many, July and August is the worst time to visit Spain due to the crowds and higher prices.

Furthermore – many travelers find southern Spain to be simply too hot (northern Spain is a whole other kettle of fish).

This guide will look at the best time to visit Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Ibiza, and other popular Spanish destinations.

When is the best time to visit Spain for Weather?

Most regions of Spain experience hot, dry summers and dry winters. These vary from mild to moderate conditions based on where in the country you are.

Spring and fall are generally considered the best time of year to visit Spain for weather.

  • Spring in Spain (March to May): The weather is pretty mild with temperatures rising the closer you get to summer. This is a great time for city sightseeing minus the intense heat and crowds of summer. Later in spring is delightful for cycling and hiking.
  • Summer in Spain (June to August): All regions in Spain reach their maximum temperatures and the warm sea temperatures are lovely for beach vacations. However, the crowds and higher prices can be problematic in busy areas. Consider a non-typical beach destination or head into the mountains.
  • Fall/autumn in Spain (September to November): Fall is another terrific time for agreeable weather and fewer crowds. Visit early in the fall for still-swimmable seas and hiking or plan a city break for a little later in the season.
  • Winter in Spain (December to February): The southern coast experiences mild temperatures, while the interior and northern areas are chilly and cloudy. Winter is the best time to visit Spain for skiing.

Southern Spain receives the hottest summers and the mildest winters.

Northern Spain receives the most precipitation. All in all, the Atlantic coastline is also prone to cooler temperatures and mistier conditions.

There is a noticeable difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures in Spain at all times of year.

As part of your trip planning, consult our comprehensive month-by-month guides to the weather in Spain. These will help you nail down the best time to visit Spain for weather.

busy beach with umbrellas of all different colors photographed from above.

If you want to enjoy hot beach weather, the best time to visit Spain is in July and August.

When is the best time to visit Spain for the first time?

Leaving Spain with happy memories and a positive experience means you’ll be itching to plan your return journey. You’ll need to manage expectations before your first trip to Spain.

If you visit anywhere in Spain during summer, prepare yourself for crowds, lines, and higher prices. You’ll need to pre-book tickets and tours to avoid disappointment.

If you visit Spain during winter, you’ll enjoy calmer streets and cheaper hotel rates. However, you might encounter

Mid/late spring and fall tend to bring the loveliest weather conditions overall. However, these months are also when most parts of rain see the most rainfall. Also – be mindful that shoulder season is no longer a guarantee for avoiding the throngs.

Spain’s most popular cities and beach resorts are still pretty busy in late spring and early fall in particular.

At a glance, here is the best time to visit Spain for the first time:

  • Best time to visit Spain’s beaches: June/early July/September
  • Hottest time to visit Spain: July/August
  • Quietest time to visit Spain: November/January
  • Best time of year to visit Spain for hiking: May/September/October
  • Best time to visit Spain’s cities: Consider winter for southern Spain when lines for museums are shorter. The northern cities are quieter in summer than the southern ones.
  • Best time to visit Spain for weather: this depends on the type of weather you’d like.
bright blue skies over the top of a palatial building that is all white and has fountains at the front.

Madrid is best during the shoulder season when it’s not too hot and not too crowded.

Best time to visit Barcelona

Barcelona is somewhere that you can visit in any month and have a great time. The Catalan city experiences mild winters, hot summers, and pleasant shoulder seasons.

July and August see the city become inundated. You’ll need to pre-book museum tickets, tours, and hotels. Early starts are advisable to spare the hot midday temperatures. However, the city is large enough to find a peaceful and shady spot to unwind.

Note that Barcelona receives most of its annual rainfall in the fall. October is the wettest month.

For the best weather and slightly quieter streets, the best time to visit Barcelona is May, June, or September.

Best time to visit Madrid

Madrid is located right in the center of Spain. Yet again, July and August are the hottest time to visit Spain’s capital city. Without a refreshing ocean breeze, it can get uncomfortably hot and dry at the height of summer.

As such, the best time to visit Madrid for warm weather is May, June, or September. You can dine al fresco at all of the best tapas bars in Madrid, explore the city parks, and enjoy the museums in the evenings after the sun goes down.

On the other hand, winter isn’t a bad shout at all. Prices are lower and it’s far more comfortable for seeing the staples of a Madrid itinerary.

guggenheim museum in bilbao with metal building along the riverfront.

Bilbao is wonderful in the spring and summer. It doesn’t get unbearably hot in northern Spain in summer, so it’s a pleasant time to explore the cities and enjoy the beaches.

Best time to visit Spain’s northern coast

Northern Spain refers to the region northwest of Madrid. This includes the Basque Country, Costa Verde, Cantabria, and Galicia. Cities include Bilbao, San Sebastian, Santander, Santiago de Compostela, and Oviedo.

July and August are the hottest time to visit Spain’s northern regions. Daytime temperatures bob around the early/mid 20s°C (70s°F) and the sea is warm enough for a dip.

As the northern coast isn’t as busy as elsewhere, you could certainly consider this region for a family beach vacation or as a hiking/cycling destination.

Winters do tend to be overcast, rainy, and chilly. If that’s not your cup of tea, stick to late spring or early summer. Otherwise, bundle up in your parka and explore the delights of Bilbao and the hugely overlooked Santander.

Best time to visit Spain’s Andalucia region

The autonomous region of Andalucia is one of Spain’s most popular regions in summer. Most cities and coastal resorts are flooded come July and August. The height of summer is the best time to visit Spain’s southern beaches for swimming although it’s still possible to go for a dip in the surrounding months.

The best time to visit Seville is any time but July and August.

Heatwaves can push the temperature to highs of 36-40°C (high 90s°F) and there’s no sea breeze to take the edge off. It’s also totally packed and you’ll end up in long lines to see all the top Seville attractions.

Winter is the best time of year to visit Seville. You’ll enjoy average temperatures of 16°C (61°F) and benefit from fewer crowds.

Córdoba and Granada are two other inland cities to consider in Andalucia outside of the peak summer months.

The seaside cities of Málaga and Marbella are also at their busiest in summer. These cities do benefit from an ocean environment but you’ll find that hotel prices spike. A lot of travelers are drawn to the lively atmosphere.

However, if you’re more preoccupied with ticking off the cultural things to do in Málaga than lounging in the beach clubs of Marbella, you’ll love visiting this area in mid-spring, fall, or even winter.

Cádiz is an Andalucian port city with an Atlantic Ocean coastline. This city has an incredible history and is slightly quieter than the Costa del Sol in summer. However, it’s preferable to visit Cádiz in May, June, or September for a more pleasant experience overall.

boardwalk with palm trees lining it and tiled floor with the sun setting behind it in alicante, the best time to visit spain is in summer in this region.

Alicante is a beautiful part of Spain and is often touted as one of the best places in winter. I enjoyed visiting during the spring when it was warm enough to spend most of the day outside.

Best time to visit Valencia and Alicante

Valencia sits just up the coast from Andalucia and bridges the gap between the southern region and Catalonia.

The cities of Valencia and Alicante are very popular in summer although they are a calmer alternative to the Costa del Sol. You’ll find a good mix of culture and beaches in Valencia while Alicante is ideal for a small-city vibe near beaches.

The best time of year to go to Spain’s Valencia region is June, directly before the summer rush, or September at the tail-end of high season.

Again, consider winter for a quieter experience that’s a little warmer than Barcelona and the Costa Brava.

Best time to visit Almería

Almería is unique as it has a desert climate. The city gets extremely hot during July, August, and September and this makes it too hot to visit the Tabernas Desert.

May is the best month to visit Spain’s desert region before it gets too hot. It’s also the prime time for visiting the incredible Cabo de Gata Níjar Natural Park. As Almería stays mild all winter, you should also consider this hidden gem for a winter sun getaway.

The city is hushed from late fall through to early spring so you’ll enjoy having the Alcazaba practically to yourself and peaceful walks along the local beaches.

beach with a few palm trees on the left side, a wide expanse of golden sand and the blue mediterreanean on the right side at the best time of year to visit spain.

Beaches in Spain are wonderful all year long. You can head south to the Costa del Sol or Almeria as early as May and still enjoy sunbathing.

Best time to visit Ibiza

The best time of year to go to Spain’s party island for clubbing is summer. The super clubs gradually reopen from the start of June and close for winter in October.

A couple will have soft launches in May – this is a nice month to visit for warm weather and minimal crowds. There are still bars where you can let your hair down and enjoy a cocktail although you’ll certainly get your beauty sleep.

Ibiza experiences mild winters with lows of 48ºF (9ºC) and highs of 62.5ºF (17ºC). Wind can make it feel chillier, especially on overcast days. The island is very quiet during these months and prices are significantly lower on this expensive tourist island.

You’ll find slightly fewer things to do in Ibiza in winter but it’s a nice option for a yoga retreat or bit of me time.

Best time to visit the Canary Islands

As the Canary Islands are located closer to the African continent than the Spanish mainland, they experience a different climate to southern Spain and the Balearic Islands.

The islands are hot and dry during summer but mild all winter. In fact, the Canary Islands are one of the warmest places in Spain in winter.

As such, it’s one of the most popular destinations for British and Northern European holidaymakers seeking winter sun and there does tend to be a peak in numbers during December around Christmas.

Still, July and August remain the busiest months overall. June and September are ideal times to visit the main islands of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote for hot weather and a quieter environment.

Surfing is a year-round activity but winter is better for competent surfers and summer has gentler conditions.

alicante harbor photographed from above with bright blue mediterranean waters and the city sprawling out in front.

Explore the coast in Spain in spring and autumn to get the best weather and avoid the huge summer crowds.

Final thoughts on the best month to go to Spain

In conclusion, the best month to visit Spain is dependent on the destination you have in mind and the type of experience you are seeking.

July and August are the hottest time to visit Spain across the board. Many people prefer to visit outside these months as the crowds can dampen the experience. However – others thrive off the lively environment and mingling with other travelers.

In general, the best time to visit Spain for the first time is May, early June, or September. This way, you escape the boiling temperatures and crowds but can still enjoy the sunshine and warm weather.

These months are also ideal for hiking, exploring open-air historical sites, cycling, and swimming in the sea.

Winter is not a bad time to consider a trip to Spain. The southern regions remain warm and sunny while the northern coast will still feel warmer than parts of Northern Europe and the United States.

Do also consider the various festivals in Spain. Some of these are fun to attend as a tourist, others see the local area closed down temporarily or may cause issues with booking transport and hotels.