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When is the Worst Time to Visit Spain?

When is the Worst Time to Visit Spain?

When is the worst time to visit Spain? Does such a time even exist – isn’t Spain blessed with year-round warm weather and sunny skies?

Spain is a huge country that claims most of the Iberian Peninsula. Covering 195,363 square miles (505,988 square kilometers), it’s almost as gigantic as Texas. That means that the climate and weather vary from region to region and the best time to visit Spain really depends on the specific destination.

The southern and eastern coastlines sit on the Mediterranean Sea while the north and southwest coasts receive the Atlantic Ocean. Mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada further shape the climate and atmosphere of Spain.

Spain’s two archipelagos bob in the Mediterranean Sea and off the coast of Morocco. These each have their own climate and weather pattern, with the Canary Islands being the warmest place in Spain all year round.

On top of the weather and climate conditions, the best and worst time to visit Spain is subjective. Your budget, personal interests, and tolerance for crowds all need to be taken into account.

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

What’s the weather like in Spain?

Most of Spain receives hot, dry summers and cold, dry winters. Spring and fall/autumn sit between the two. Temperatures gradually creep from warm to hot as spring progresses before petering off in November.

Spain is rainiest along the northern coast and it can strike at any time of year. But – it’s that powerful precipitation that paints the region a verdant tapestry of greens and raging wild flowers (and supports the wine production).

It’s also worth noting that there is a large contrast between daytime and nighttime temperatures in most Spanish areas. Mountain and coastal systems bring breezy conditions after dusk. When deciding what to pack for Spain, an evening layer is always wise.

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 worst time to visit Spain.

colorful buildings along a river with a slight reflection of the buildings in the water.

Girona is a wonderful place to explore and is best done during the early summer months before it gets too hot.

When is the worst time to visit Spain?

Broadly speaking, summer is the worst time of year to visit Spain. This is when all parts of the country are at their busiest.

The weather can be scorching in Spain during summer, especially in July and August. Conditions are more comfortable along the coast where there is humidity and sea breeze but inland towns are prone to blistering temperatures, dryness, and harsh UV.

Of course, it’s not always possible to avoid traveling during the summer – especially if you have children and need to plan trips around term time.

In that case, it’s really important to stay hydrated, protect your skin and scalp, and avoid being in the sun when it’s at its highest. We’d say go easy on the vino and cerveza but that’s easier said than done.

plaza with buildings behind it and blue skies above.

If you are visiting Valencia during August, it will be busy and hot which is not always the best, but if you visit in the winter months, you can enjoy quiet plazas and still plenty of sunshine!

Best time to visit Spain

Shoulder season is the best time to visit Spain. This refers to late spring/early summer and fall. These months yield pleasant weather across the board although it will be noticeably hotter in Almeria than in Bilbao.

In some cases, winter is the best time to visit Spain. This is when to avoid Spain’s notorious crowds. Even spring and fall do bring a heavy footfall of travelers. Brits seeking winter sunshine do descend on southern Spain and the islands over winter but overall it’s far quieter.

Winter is also when you’ll find the cheapest deals on flights and accommodation. It’s always important to consider that some tourist spots will not be available over winter. Many smaller attractions and family-owned restaurants may close temporarily over the summer.

Winter is also the worst time of year to visit Spain’s party island for nightlife. The clubs of Ibiza close for the low season.

As a religious country with a traditional mindset in many ways, there are lots of festivals in Spain.

Some of these are pretty famous and on a larger scale while others are more localized and low-key. It’s wise to check out what’s on when traveling further off the beaten track as festivals and celebrations might impact accommodation and activities.

On the other side of that note, visiting Spain purposely to attend a festival is a wonderful way to plan a cultural trip.

Worst time to visit Spain’s most popular tourist spots

Let’s jump in and look at the worst months to visit Spain’s classic cities and regions.

Worst time to visit Barcelona

Of all the vacation destinations in Spain, Barcelona is a tough one to call on the best time to visit.

Due to Barcelona’s position on the northeast coast, the Catalan city doesn’t remain quite as warm as southern Spain and Andalucia. Therefore, if you want hot weather and swimmable seas, you do need to consider July and August.

But, Barcelona is one of Spain’s most popular cities to travel to (more so than Madrid) and the city is swamped during the summer. All the points of interest on a typical Barcelona itinerary will face long lines and that’s not pleasant when the sun is at its hottest.

Ultimately the best and worst time to visit Barcelona will heavily depend on your personal preferences. However, it’s definitely wise to avoid July and August and perhaps consider another town or city for a height-of-summer beach vacation.

top of the sagrada familia in barcelona

There is no bad time in Barcelona because Barcelona is ALWAYS busy. But it is the busiest during the summer months.

Worst time to visit Madrid

The capital of Spain sits slap-bang in the heart of the country. It’s often overshined by seaside cities and southerly resorts. However, Madrid is a cultural hotbed with an awesome food and nightlife scene. Plus, it’s easily one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.

Due to the lack of humidity and severe heat, summer is the worst time to visit Madrid. Although less crowded than Barcelona on the whole, summers in the capital do see the city overwhelmed. Head to the coast if you must travel in July or August and save Madrid for shoulder season or winter.

Although winters in March are crisp and chilly, you can usually anticipate bluebird skies while strolling around the parks and plazas. Churros and hot chocolate are sure to take the edge off, too.

Worst time to visit southern Spain

Southern Spain refers to the autonomous region of Andalucia and its eastern neighbor of Murcia.

Andalucia in particular is one of the most popular parts of Spanish for vacationers. This region is rich in Moorish history and has a gloriously sunkissed coastal region. Málaga, Marbella, Seville, Granada, Almería, Cádiz, and the Costa del Sol are just some of the gems.

Popularity leads to crowds: July and August are the worst time to visit southern Spain’s key tourist towns. On the plus side, you can jump into the bathtub-warm sea to swim away from all the people when at a seaside resort.

But really, unless you’re happy to stand in long lines to see the likes of the Royal Alcázar in Seville and the Alhambra of Granada, avoid summer in the Andalucian hotspots.

Granada, much like Madrid, is particularly uncomfortable in the height of summer due to the dry atmosphere although it’s charming in the shoulder season.

Since these cities and beach resorts constitute some of the warmest places in Spain in winter, consider heading there for winter sunshine. Swimming in the sea will be off-limits but you can still enjoy coastal walks and perhaps a paddle.

The chance to see the Sierra Nevada National Park in its winter snow coat is also a wonderful experience.

front of Guggenheim museum in Bilbao with a dog statue made of flowers.

Summer is a nice time to visit Northern Spain including cities like Bilbao.

Worst time to visit northern Spain

Northern Spain is relatively overlooked as a place to vacation in Spain. This area refers to Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja, and the Basque Country.

Turning this guide on its head, winter is perhaps the worst time to visit Spain’s northern regions. Winters can be wet and days lack the consistent sunshine of southern Spain. That being said, a lot of travelers enjoy the misty ocean vibe.

It’s still warm enough to head out for a walk or bike ride and enjoy indoor tourism. The Guggenheim Museum is just one of the cultural things to do in Bilbao.

On the downside, swimming will be a definite no-no during winter. Note that the Atlantic coast of Spain is nippy, even in summer. Boat tours in the Bay of Biscay are less common and some (but not all) of the wineries do close in winter.

Northern Spain receives its highest rainfall in winter and early spring although rain does fall throughout summer. It’s unpredictable and you should always include a waterproof jacket and umbrella in your packing list for northern Spain.

On the plus side, northern Spain is a fine choice in summer if you’re thinking about when to avoid Spain‘s crowded southern resorts.

beach with bright blue skies above and sand below with a line of umbrellas in the middle near the water.

Beaches are best enjoyed during the summer in Spain. If you want to go swimming while you’re in Spain, the winter is definitely the worst time of year to visit.

Worst time to visit Valencia

Valencia is another autonomous community in Spain. The capital city of Valencia is wedged between Catalonia and Murcia and enjoys a perch on the Balearic Sea. As such, it’s warmer than Barcelona and the Costa Brava but cooler than the Andalucian coast.

The Costa Blanca is a popular seaside zone in Valencia that fills up in summer. It’s not quite as busy as the Costa del Sol and tends to be cheaper on the whole.

There isn’t a worse time to visit Spain’s port city of Valencia. This city remains somewhat off the radar in favor of Barcelona, Málaga, and Seville. It – arguably – has nicer beaches than Barcelona and a slightly longer summer due to its southerly setting.

In addition, there are lots of activities beyond the beach to fill an itinerary in Valencia. The city has a blend of old and new that isn’t to be found anywhere else in Spain.

quiet streets in Spain

You can find plenty of quiet places in the summer months in Spain if you head out for a walk during siesta time (also the hottest part of the day!).

Worst time to visit Alicante

Alicante is another port city in the Valencian Community, close to the Murcia border. Although smaller than Valencia, Alicante and the Costa Blanca are extremely popular and are swarmed in summer.

And, as the city (and the main beaches in Alicante) is smaller than Valencia it can feel claustrophobic quite fast. Alicante is also the getaway to Benidorm which is packed during July and August.

If you’re eyeing Alicante for a summer vacation by the sea, consider hiring a car and holing up in one of the other Costa Blanca beach towns.

Worst time to visit Ibiza

Ibiza is a beautiful Balearic Island with gorgeous natural scenery, sandy beaches, and legendary nightclubs.

If dancing until dawn (and beyond) is on your mind, the best time to visit Spain’s party island is during summer. The superclubs shut for winter and gradually start reopening at the end of May/early June.

While many consider experiencing these legacy clubs as one of the essential Spain experiences, there’s more to Ibiza than partying.

However, the off-season is the best time to visit Ibiza on a budget. It’s possible to find insanely cheap package deals from the UK in spring and winter.

If you want to swim and sunbathe, the worst time to visit Ibiza is winter. Although the temperatures are far warmer than in the UK and the US, it’s too cold to swim. Furthermore, the island is prone to bracing winds.

man and woman posing in front of a city.

If you want to do some hiking in Spain, like along the Camino de Santiago, the summer months and shoulder season in May and September are the best times of year to do that.

Final thoughts on the worst months to visit Spain

In conclusion, July and August are generally the worst time to visit Spain. The temperatures skyrocket to uncomfortable levels, accommodation rates go through the roof, and beaches and tourist attractions are swamped. If you’re hankering for hot temperatures, aim for June or early July.

The best time to visit Spain is during the shoulder season: mid-late spring/early summer or fall. This brings lovely conditions for hiking, exploring historical sites, and walking or cycling near the sea.

Winter is not a bad time to consider a trip to Spain.

The southern regions remain relatively warm and the sun keeps the winter blues at bay. Even areas such as Madrid and the northern Atlantic coast have their charms despite being colder. This is also a great time for traveling in Spain on a budget.