The best time of year to visit Spain is in the spring and early summer (April-June) and autumn (September-October) for abundant activities, good weather and fewer tourists. Due to its size, Spain has a varied climate, but for the most part, you can expect Mediterranean temperatures, with hot, sunny summers (and peak tourism!) and colder, rainy winters. The best time to travel really depends on what kind of trip you're planning, but whatever month you choose, Spain's sassy spirit is alive all year round.

When's the best time to visit for beaches?

July and August in Spain are hot, hot, hot! With summer temperatures lingering around 34°C/93°F, locals start heading to the coast for cool breezes, and with over 5,000 miles of coastline, Spain has become one of Europe's best beach destinations. Whether you're hitting the southern shores of Valencia or Málaga, the glitzy playas of Barcelona or taking a trip out to the Canary Islands, Palma or Ibiza, you should expect big crowds, expensive accommodation and long waits for dinner. Don't let this deter your beach holiday, though! If sipping sangria on the beach is on your summer bucket list, we suggest rolling with the chaos, enjoying the vibrant culture, and booking everything well in advance.

When's the best time to visit to avoid crowds?

Summertime in Spain can get very, very busy, especially in the south and in coastal cities like Barcelona. If you'd prefer a quieter holiday, visiting during the low season (November to February) is an excellent time for fewer crowds at the major hot spots. The temperature can get chilly, beach resorts will be closed and you'll have to confirm in advance that popular sites and activities will be open, but there's nothing like sharing the streets with mostly locals to fully immerse yourself in Spanish culture.

When's the best time to visit Barcelona?

The rooftops of Barcelona lighting up at dusk

Barcelona is one of Europe's most iconic cities, boasting famous landmarks like La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell and Las Ramblas, as well as glamourous beaches like La Barceloneta and an incredible food scene. That being said, the city can get extremely crowded in peak season, from late June to August. The best time to visit Barcelona to combine sightseeing and beaches while scoring great weather and avoiding crowds is during the shoulder season: April-June and September-October. Temperatures range from 15-27°C/60-80°F, ideal for sightseeing without scorching heat.

Barcelona has arguably one of the best soccer teams in the world, so if you're a sports fan, a trip to the city is incomplete without catching an FC Barcelona match. Matches take place at the Camp Nou stadium from early August to mid-May, with the majority happening on the weekends. If you'd like to combine sightseeing with a soccer match, September and May are great months to do so.

When's the best time to visit Madrid?

Spain's capital city is sizzling in many ways (and the summer heat is just one of them). Known for beautiful boulevards, expansive parks and enormous open squares, not to mention copious outdoor cafes and rooftop bars, Madrid is best enjoyed outdoors. Shoulder season months (May and September) are ideal; you'll have long days for strolling and sightseeing, tourist numbers aren't at their peak and temperatures will be pleasant.

Summertime in Madrid can be uncomfortable, with temperatures reaching a stiflingly humid 37°C/98°F. In August, locals escape the heat by heading to the coast, so many businesses may be shut down. The upside of visiting Madrid in the summer is that it's quieter. Just make sure your accommodation has air conditioning! Winters can be cold with temperatures ranging from 4-12°C/39-54ºF, so rug up if you plan on spending time outside.

Spring 

March

Best for: spring awakenings, quiet cities and museums to yourself

March is a wonderful time to visit Spain and visitors will catch the sweet spot between the slow wake-up from winter and the frenzied arrival of the busy season. The days are mild and sunny, making for pleasant sightseeing opportunities; temps in Barcelona average around 16°C/60°F, while Seville trends a little higher at 19°C/67°F and Madrid a little lower at 14°C/57°F. The clocks spring forward in March, leaving more time to wander through historical cities, see sprawling parks filled with cherry blossoms, and eat tapas al fresco with just a light jacket.

March is also a great month to enjoy museums and attractions more intimately, as crowds are typically lower. Traditionally busy sites like Granada's Alhambra will be delightfully slow, so treat yourself to a few hours of snapping photos distraction-free.

April

Best for: festivals, fiestas and ferias

Vibrant culture is on full display in April as the country comes alive with several of Spain's most dynamic festivals of the year. Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a particularly epic festival that takes place in the week leading up to Easter Sunday. Each region observes Semana Santa differently, with events taking place in all major cities. Semana Santa is technically a Christian festival, with displays of religious icons and main events organised by religious fraternities called Cofradías, but you don't have to be religious to appreciate the impressive floats and parades that often feature flamenco dancing and drummers.

Two weeks after Semana Santa, The Seville Fair (Feria de Abril) begins, bringing upward of 5 million visitors to the Andalusian city. This weeklong extravaganza features dancing, drinking and socialising, with society parades, bullfights and parties that last 'til the wee hours. Women can be seen in brightly coloured traditional flamenco dresses, which can be particularly exciting for kids (big kids included).

May

Best for: walking, trekking and pilgrimaging on the Camino de Santiago

Spring is a beautiful time to be in Spain. With mellow temperatures and blooming flowers, it's a perfect time to do a walking or trekking trip. Spain has many excellent regions for walking, but one of the most famous walking routes in the world exists here: the Camino de Santiago. Due to the Camino's growing popularity, it can get quite crowded in the summer and autumn with thousands making the pilgrimage yearly. May is a great time to visit for a quieter walking experience and fewer crowds mean it's easier to book accommodation. Temperatures are ideal for both rigorous walking and casual strolling, averaging around 14-16°C/57-60°F.

Summer

June

Best for: amazing weather, seeing the whole country and spending time outdoors

June is arguably the best month to visit Spain for guaranteed good weather and long days to take advantage of the best the country has to offer. Temperatures average between 21°C/70°F and 25°C/77°F which is ideal for enjoying leisurely strolls, tapas on terraces and, of course, cold sangria. June's a great month for an all-encompassing trip, as you're likely to have fantastic weather in every region, from the coast to the interior to the northeast. If relaxing at the beach is on the agenda, head south to Andalusia before the hordes of summer tourists roll in, but make sure to book accommodation in advance.

July

Best for: magazine-worthy beach towns, lively nightlife and embracing the chaos

Peak season is here and the beach scene is sizzling. Coastal towns come alive and are ready to cater to throngs of locals and tourists escaping the hot, stuffy cities where the heat can be unbearable. The beaches in the south will be packed to the brim, but if you don't mind crowds, a summer holiday in southern Spain can be truly magical. The Andalusia region is well-known for whitewashed buildings, Blue Flag beaches, all-day sunshine and lively nightlife.

If you're looking for glitz, glamour and people-watching, head to a beach like La Barceloneta in Barcelona or to the island of Ibiza, the party capital of the world. Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, is both a dreamy honeymoon spot and a great family destination, while Cádiz offers an old-school fishing village vibe with traditional Andalusian charm. You might want to book everything early as hotels and restaurants tend to fill up quickly. If your heart is set on a mid-summer beach trip, we suggest you pack some patience and flexibility; there may be chaos, but watching it unfold with an icy cold granizado in hand sounds pretty good to us.

August

Best for: cooling off up north, food tours, slowing down

August in southern Spain is too hot to handle, with intense summer sun and temperatures regularly hitting 38°C/100°F. Many locals take their annual leave in August (either by staying inside with their air-con or heading to the sea), and it's not uncommon to see businesses either closed for the month or operating on reduced hours. Coastal accommodation is the most expensive of the year and requires very advanced booking.

Instead of heading to the beach like the rest of the country, consider a trip to one of Spain's northern regions like Basque Country, Asturias or Galicia. This part of the country is known for rolling green hills, historic cities and picturesque villages, and some consider the town of San Sebastian to be the food capital of Spain. Daily temperatures linger at a pleasant 24°C/76°F, perfect weather for a food-focused adventure. Wander through markets, enjoy a pintxos and tapas crawl through town and taste fresh seafood by the beach. Although most of the action will be on the coast, all of Spain slows down in August, so lean into leisure. Long afternoon siestas are not only common, but heavily encouraged.

Autumn

September

Best for: end-of-summer beach days, multi-country trips

Summer officially ends in September, but days remain sunny and temperatures stay high, making it a great time to visit southern Spain as the locals return to work. Businesses reopen after the break and you'll have fewer crowds to compete with at beaches and restaurants. It's also a great time to add neighbouring Portugal onto your Spanish adventure to enjoy warm weather in Lisbon and the Algarve. Or take a trip from Spain to Italy to enjoy a mellower Mediterranean coast after the busy season.

October

Best for: sightseeing in Madrid, National Day of Spain festivities

October is the perfect time to visit Spain's capital city of Madrid when the heat and crowds are gone. Weather in October is pleasant, ideal for sightseeing and exploring the city's plazas and parks, with temperatures hovering around 15°C/60°F—mild by autumn standards. You'll be able to enjoy the architecture of the Gran Via and Plaza Mayor without competing with crowds, and lines for museums will be short and manageable.

Spain's National Day, Dia de la Hispanidad, is on 12 October. This annual holiday commemorates Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas for Spain in 1492. Although the holiday is observed throughout the country, the largest event is in Madrid. If you're visiting at this time, it's a great opportunity to join in festivities with the locals as they celebrate their country's history and achievements. You can expect numerous parades, demonstrations and parties. It's also an "open doors day" in many museums and attractions where admission is free or significantly discounted.

November

Best for: quiet holidays and trips to the south

November is a quiet month all around, with cool weather keeping crowds at bay and few festivals to get locals fired up. If you plan on sightseeing, temps average about 14°C/57°F, dropping steadily as the month goes on, so layer up to stay comfortable outdoors. Since November isn't typically a popular month for travellers, you'll get a chance to discover the real Spain outside of the traditional tourist landmarks.

If your idea of a Spanish holiday doesn't involve the cold, consider tacking on a trip to Morocco where the temperature will be a little warmer (usually averaging around 20°F) as you head toward the equator. Travelling from Madrid to Morocco will have you enjoying Spanish tapas in Salamanca, relaxing on idyllic beaches in Portugal's Algarve and marvelling at medinas and mosques in Marrakech. The summer months are unbearably hot, so November is a great month to visit Morocco to explore the highlights in mild weather with less foot traffic.

Winter

December

Best for: celebrating the festive season Spanish style

The weather is cold but spirits are high with the arrival of Navidad (the festive season) in December. Throughout the month, Christmas markets pop up across the country, spreading joy as vendors sell trinkets, gifts, dulces (sweets) and warm drinks. The most famous include Barcelona's Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Família, a large market set up in the gardens of Gaudi's masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, and Madrid's Mercado de Navidad de Plaza Mayor that has been popping up since 1860. The town of Málaga boasts an epic lights display all month long and many cities receive a special visit from Papá Noel, making December a fun time to visit with little ones.

Plan on ringing in the New Year in Spain? Tradition will have you eating 12 grapes, one for each month of the year, at midnight to encourage good luck. A large celebration happens in Puerta del Sol in Madrid and Ibiza is known for its end-of-the-year parties. If you end up celebrating on the islands, the Spanish love to ring in the New Year with a dip in the ocean for a fresh start.

January

Best for: winter sun seekers, snow lovers and quiet city streets

Thanks to Spain's varied climate, visitors in January have their pick of the litter when it comes to activities. Snow lovers can head to The Sierra Nevada mountain range for skiing and snowboarding at over 20 resorts. The mountains are just 30 minutes outside of the historic city of Granada, and while the weather can get quite cold (lows of -1ºC and highs topping out at 10ºC), with proper attire, you'll be able to explore the iconic Moorish architecture in nearly empty streets. If temperatures drop too low, a trip to the Turkish Baths at Hammam Al Ándalus or some fireside tapas will warm you right up.

If you're more of a winter sun seeker, the Canary Islands are close enough to the equator to remain warm all winter. While daily temperatures in the summer can reach upwards of 28°C/83°F, January sits at a pleasant 18°C/65°F, perfect for recharging your batteries after the festive season. Think sun and relaxation without the crowds and sweating.

February

Best for: low season rates, crowd-free coastlines and Carnival cheer

February is considered the low season in Spain, as cold, wet weather descends on many of the northern regions, like Galicia and Basque Country. Along the southern coast, temperatures are mild and you may be able to score great deals on accommodation as opposed to the high rates that are common in the summer. The popular Costa del Sol region will be quiet and crowd-free, but with the sunshine and pleasant temps, it'll feel nothing like 'winter'.

Things pick up mid to late February with the arrival of Carnival, a festival celebrating the last day of indulgence before Lent begins. There are dozens of events across Spain, with parties in major cities like Madrid and Barcelona. For the most authentic Carnival experience, consider visiting Cádiz, Tenerife or Sitges for the country's most spectacular celebrations. Sitges is one of Spain's most LGBTQIA+ friendly cities, and their Carnival celebration doubles as a Pride event, featuring drag shows and a Rua de la Disbauxa, or debauchery parade.

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