Planning a trip to Spain and wondering what time of year to visit? The truth is that it depends on what you want to do when you’re here: you won’t want the same weather for lazing at the beach as you would for exploring cities or hiking in the countryside. Here are the best times of year to visit, whatever your area of interest.
The months of July and August are prime tourist season across Spain, and this is easy to see in the cost of hotel rooms and holiday apartments. The cheapest prices can usually be found around January and February, although early spring and late fall are usually cheaper than summer in any case. Beware the week known as Semana Santa or ‘Holy Week’ at Easter time, as prices will hike.
The summer can be incredibly hot in Spain with temperatures reaching upwards of 40ºC (104ºF) in certain parts, meaning you’ll mostly want to avoid the sun during the day. For milder temperatures, late spring and early fall are ideal times to hit the beaches around the Costa del Sol.
If you’re hoping to catch some of Spain’s famous music festivals during your visit, then spring time and early summer is without a doubt the best time to come. Sónar, Primavera Sound, Bilbao BBK Live and MadCool Festival all take place between the months of June and July before the weather gets too hot.
As the two largest cities in Spain, Madrid and Barcelona offer some of the best cultural activities and nightlife in the country. If you’re keen to visit museums and art galleries, explore the street of the Gothic Quarter or amble through the Golden Triangle, winter is a perfect time to visit and avoid the crowds. Spring and fall are also recommendable outside of the school holidays, but expect some rain showers.
The Spanish cultural calendar is rich and diverse: every region and even village has its own unique celebrations. One sure fire time of the year to admire some of the most traditional Spanish cultural customs is around Easter time. The week known as Semana Santa sees public processions, large scale celebrations and social gatherings. Alternatively, September and October usually have their fair share of celebrations as well, such as La Mercè in Barcelona.
The truth is that good food is readily available all year round in Spain, but there are certain times of year which stand out. Spring time and fall are usually when most local produce is ripe (the summer can see a dip because of the heat). Fall is also a great time for mushroom foraging and the return of heartier dishes after the switch to lighter meals of salads, cold soups and grilled fish over the summer months.
If you’re limited by school holidays, then the spring holidays are probably the best time if you want nice weather (but not too hot) and plenty of activities. Many businesses tend to shut down in August and locals take annual leave so you’ll need to check that sites are open before planning your trip that month. Alternatively you could consider spending Christmas in Spain for traditional celebrations with a warm, family-friendly atmosphere and lots of public gatherings and cultural activities.