When booking a holiday in Spain, many people automatically think of the country’s southern region—the Andalusian cities of Seville, Granada or the beaches of the Costa del Solo—or larger cities like Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Though the northern Spanish regions of the Basque Country, Navarra, Aragón, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia may not be obvious holiday options, we’ve got a guide for the the best time to visit them.
Weather can dramatically affect your holiday and the activities you do. If you’re looking for a city break in northern Spain, then you can pretty much visit any time of year. The larger cities, such as Zaragoza, Bilbao or San Sebastian, have plenty of museums, indoor cultural venues and restaurants. If you prefer outdoor activities however, then spring, summer or autumn are probably the best time to head there, though you may run the risk of encountering the rainy season, especially in the spring.
Timing your vacation with one of Northern Spain’s epic festivals is a great way to decide when to visit. Perhaps you’re a wine lover and want to time your visit to La Rioja when the Batalla del Vino (Wine Battle) is on in August in the town of Haro. Or maybe you want to experience true Basque culture and stay in Bilbao for the Aste Nagusia or “Big Week” celebrations, which also happen in August. In San Sebastian, the Tamborrada Festival is on in January and Galicia holds the quirky Os Peliqueiros Carnival around February and March.
Timing your holiday will also depend on which region you want to visit. If you want to visit Galicia or Asturias, for example, you’ll find the weather quite similar to that of the UK, meaning unpredictable cold and rainy days throughout the year, even in summer. As you move further east, however, you’ll find that the seasons become a bit more predictable. Catalonia in particular typically has four classic seasons with short and sometimes rainy springs, very hot summers and cold, but often bright and sunny winters.
Will you be wanting to go to the beaches, spend your time hiking and visiting natural parks? Perhaps you’ll want to try out some of Spain’s best ski resorts? If you’re looking to hike during your holiday, you’ll probably want to visit Spain during the spring or autumn when it’s not too hot or too cold. For a beach-centric vacation, summer is, of course, the best time to go, and for skiing in the Aragonese Pyrenees or Catalonia, plan to take your trip from January to March. Surfers can also opt to visit the Basque Country in the winter when the swell is at its best.