Spain is a wonderful destination that is worth visiting anytime, but it really shines during the winter months! If you’re looking for a winter destination with a pleasant climate, delicious tapas, beautiful beaches, and fewer tourists than in the summer months, then winter is the perfect time of year for you to visit Spain.
Keep reading to learn all about the best things to see and do while exploring Spain during the winter months.
How Long Do I Need to Visit Spain in the Winter?
Of course, you could spend forever in glorious Spain, but most of us can’t just drop everything and move to Spain!
Consider picking two must-see regions of Spain and staying in each from 5 days to a week, for a 10-day to 2-week trip to Spain. This timeframe will allow you plenty of time to see and do all of your top Spain bucket list items!
What is Weather Like in Spain in the Winter?
Spain in winter is a great idea for travelers who are looking for a vacation with mild temperatures and no tourist crowds, while still hoping to escape from the snow and enjoy the sun.
The Mediterranean region of Spain offers milder and warmer winters than the country’s interior. This makes it a popular destination for those seeking some winter sun!
Spain’s popularity as a winter sun destination is also due to the country’s abundant sunshine, which may last up to six hours each day in November, December, and January.
Although the winters are generally moderate with an average temperature of 10–13 degrees Celsius in January, it can turn chilly in the areas around Barcelona and Valencia which have average winter temperatures of 9 degrees Celsius.
The winter months can be bitterly cold in Central Spain, with lows of -15 °C not being unheard of in January, the coldest month of the year in central Spain. So if you’re heading to this region in Spain during the winter, make sure to pack warm clothing and expect cold weather.
North and Northwest Spain
The northern region of Spain is nicknamed Green Spain, or España Verde in Spanish, and has an oceanic climate that is wet and mild, in sharp contrast to the rest of the nation.
Winters in this area are strongly influenced by weather traveling across the Atlantic providing a similar climate to the UK, although this destination is warm year-round. It is also the rainiest and cloudiest part of Spain. The average minimum temperature is a chilly 5°C, with high temperatures of 14°C in the winter.
What are the Best Airports to Arrive to in Spain?
There are over 60 airports in Spain, which means there are so many airports travelers can fly into from Canada and the USA. These flights usually include a layover somewhere else in Europe.
Spains arrival airports include:
- Barcelona (BCN)
- Madrid (MAD)
- Málaga (AGP)
- Gran Canaria Airport (LPA)
- Ibiza Airport (IBZ)
- Bilbao Airport (BIO)
- And more!
What are the Best Ways to Get Around in Spain?
Travel by train! The AVE (Alta Velocidad Espaola) uses Madrid as its main hub and runs to many of the country’s major cities. It is the best and fastest means to travel long distances in Spain. The AVE trains are smooth, effective, and very quick!
Many of Spain’s most famous towns and islands, such as Barcelona, Cádiz, Valencia, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, and the Canary Islands, serve as significant cruise ports. If time is not an issue, crossing from the Peninsula across the Mediterranean or Atlantic oceans by boat or ferry is a long and relaxing experience.
There are frequent domestic flights between the almost 60 airports in Spain. Spain’s national airline, Iberia Airlines, frequently offers affordable tickets for advance purchase.
The Balearic Islands or the Canary Islands in the Atlantic are two of Spain’s popular tourist destinations, and flying is the fastest way to get to them.
What Are the Best Things To Do In Spain During the Winter?
Explore the Canary Islands
It’s no surprise that the Canary Islands are a popular vacation destination given that they have some amazing beaches, a unique volcanic environment, a vibrant nightlife, and a wide range of activities. You may travel to this Atlantic archipelago at any time of the year, even in the winter, because of its abundance of sunny days.
The Canary Islands have a perpetual promise of nice weather throughout the year. Wintertime temperatures are typically around 20 degrees Celsius, and it doesn’t rain very often. It’s the ideal time of year to go sightseeing and see the stunning volcanic scenery. There are so many amazing things to experience in the Canary Islands during the winter season!
Explore Quaint Cities and Towns
The Canaries have no shortage of charming villages and cities to wander all year long. For instance, Puerto de Mogan in Gran Canaria, sometimes known as Little Venice, has a charming harbor studded with restaurants on the water and tiny canals that wind through the community. As an alternative, visit Santa Cruz, Tenerife’s pulsating capital, where you’ll find outstanding restaurants, amazing architecture, and excellent shopping.
Enjoy Empty and Peaceful Beaches
While the majority of the coastline is crowded with tourists and kids throughout the summer, if you come here off-peak, the beach is all yours! Choose from a variety of stunning golden coastlines or eerie black sand beaches that are worthy of numerous Instagram posts.
Partake in Many Different Kinds of Watersports
There is no reason why aspiring divers and snorkelers can’t enjoy watersports in Spain even in the winter, since watersports are available all year long on several of the islands. The best locations for surfers, kite surfers, and windsurfers can be found in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, where the volcanic seabeds produce fantastic waves and strong, consistent winds that will propel you at exhilarating speeds.
The Canaries truly throw a party to celebrate Carnival from the end of January until the beginning of March. A display of vivid colour and a symphony of sound is created when drummers, dancers, and musicians parade through the streets while wearing feathers and gemstones.
La Gomera is a natural gem in the Canary Islands archipelago and is home to the La Garanjonay National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. La Gomera, the second-smallest and one of the Canary Islands’ most unspoiled islands, is a paradise for travelers who love to explore on their feet. Along with animals that are otherwise extinct in most places, dense forests, steep ravines, and more.
Gaze up at the Stars
The Canary Islands are without a doubt one of the best locations in the Northern Hemisphere to view the stars. There are even lighting regulations in place to ensure ideal circumstances for stargazing. The skies here are among the purest and brightest in all of Europe. Numerous astronomical activities are offered, such as specialized night hikes or excursions to enormous international observatories in Tenerife or La Palma.
Explore Hiking Trails
You cannot avoid noticing the volcanic origins of the twenty million-year-old landscape if you hike around the Canaries. Amid the four national parks, craters arise in untamed forests, lava and ash fields meet the sea, and numerous unusual plant species can be found. In other words, it’s a hiker’s paradise, therefore it comes as no surprise that hundreds of people travel to the islands every year to enjoy a good old climb when the weather is a little more bearable.
Experience the Sand Dunes of Maspalomas
Lovers of soft, welcome sand will like Maspalomas’ 17 kilometers of sand dunes, which are located in one of Gran Canaria’s nature reserves. You can channel your inner Lawrence of Arabia by taking a camel safari across the sands, or you can trek across the well-known dunes and feel like you’re in the Sahara. Additionally, the sea is never too far away for a dip in some calming, invigorating waters.
Enjoy Wine Tasting and Vineyard Tours
The Canaries have established a reputation as a leading wine producer thanks to its year-round sunny and warm climate, which is ideal for grape production. The islands have over ten distinct appellations, and Tenerife alone has five significant grape-growing regions. To sample some zesty, citrus-infused dry white wines from the Gual and Marmajuelo kinds, head inland from the beaches to the well-known vineyards.
Costa Del Sol
In comparison to the dark skies and freezing temperatures in Europe’s more wintery regions, Costa del Sol in southern Spain feels like a world away. With fantastic golfing conditions, amazing hiking opportunities, and lovely Mediterranean weather combined with fascinating culture and a long history, Costa Del Sol is an incredible destination to visit in Winter.
Despite the nearby Sierra Nevada’s abundance of snow, the Costa del Sol, which is tucked between the sea and the mountains, enjoys a microclimate that offers gorgeous blue skies, more than 325 days of sunshine annually, and average winter temperatures of 20°C, making it one of the best winter sun destinations in Europe!
Visiting Spain’s sunniest coast during the winter provides visitors with a very different experience from visiting during the summer when the Costa del Sol is frequently associated with large crowds and expensive prices. Low season offers significant hotel price reductions, significantly shorter lines at popular sites, and a more laid-back pace of life!
Things To Do
Winter is the ideal season to spend time by the pool, stroll along the beach, eat on a seaside terrace, or go shopping due to the pleasant weather. Golf, hiking, horseback riding, excursions to quaint tiny neighboring villages, cross fit sessions, and other outdoor pursuits are all available.
The Balearic Islands are a Mediterranean paradise that you can visit at any time of year. They offer a pleasant climate, plenty of hours of sunshine, nature reserves, and coves with crystal-clear water. Its four largest islands are Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera.
Try Local Wines
If you wish to sample some of the superb local wines, there are more than 70 wineries in Mallorca, so you have lots of options. Following The Wine Route is a terrific way to sample the local wine. The Wine Route will lead you through walks, wineries, vineyards, cities, and villages, a distinctive scenery that changes with the seasons and will let you learn more about Majorca’s hidden regions. A perfect activity for wine lovers at any time of year.
See the Beautiful Almond Blossoms
In the Balearic Islands, millions of almond trees start to bloom in late December. From then until March, the groves will be blanketed in stunning white blossoms creating amazing landscapes! If you wish to take in the beauty, Mallorca’s island has a lot of Almond Trees around the island.
Experience Regional Specialties with Culinary Tours
Some of the classic Balearic Islands goods that are used in many regional cuisines include Mallorca olive oil, Mahón cheese, and sobrasada sausage. In the Serra de Tramuntana mountains of Mallorca, you can find wonderful scenery covered in ancient olive trees. Visit Alaior and Es Mercadal on the Menorcan island to tour Mahón cheese producers or participate in cooking classes or tastings. The southeast of Mallorca, in locations like Porreres, Monturi, Felanitx, Campos, and Santany, is where sobrassada sausages are most common. You can also go to some of the locations that make this regional specialty.
Actively Explore the Landscapes
If you’re itching for an active holiday, cycling is one of the best ways to get around the islands, especially in Formentera. Hiking and Nordic walking are other excellent ways to explore. The first Nordic walking park may be found at Alcúdia, Mallorca. The Cam de Cavalls in Menorca, follows the island’s coast, passing by many of its most well-known beaches. Nordic walking is highly popular in Ibiza’s Sant Antoni de Portmany neighborhood, and the Town Council organizes guided walks there every winter. Additionally, Formentera and La Cabrera have lovely hiking trails in the surrounding countryside. There are many great ways to experience these islands.
Wander the Ibiza Old Town’s Streets
A trip to the Old Town is a must among all the winter activities in Ibiza. The UNESCO-listed location is unique. The region is filled with upscale stores, wonderful restaurants, bars, and wineries. Don’t forget to check out the Puget Museum, Saint Dominique Church, and Orthodox Church.
The beaches and water sports in the Basque Country, particularly surfing, are highly regarded. We frequently select this natural vacation in the summer, but this warm, real nation has plenty of charm to spare even in the cold. You can engage in a variety of sports there all year long, whether on the coast or in the hinterland. Since it has been inhabited since the beginning of time, you can enjoy its rich architectural legacy in its picturesque villages and immerse yourself in its culture in its museums.
A lot of sports are played all year round, including surfing, cycling, climbing, and trekking! There are many pathways and roads for cycling and trekking all across Basque Country. You can even go surfing in Winter here. The Basque country is known for surfing. During winter you can find waves basically 100% of the time, but the water temperature can dip to 11 degrees. The beaches and their waves, on the other hand, are largely deserted. So it’s a perfect time to enroll in surf lessons, as long as you don’t mind the cooler water.
Warm Up With Regional Specialties
Since the Basques are accustomed to the cold, they know exactly what to do on a chilly, rainy evening: go to a cozy tavern to eat pintxos (tapas made in the Basque country) and drink traditional cider.
Learn About Culture at a Museum
Visit Bilbao, where you may escape the chilly weather by visiting one of the city’s several art museums and galleries, which include the well-known Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Visit Spain’s Snowy Mountains and Ski Resorts
Ski resorts are usually associated with European countries like Switzerland, France, and Austria rather than with sunny Spain. Here are some ski resorts that shouldn’t be looked over when planning a ski trip to Europe!
This is one of the few Spanish ski areas that are not in the Pyrenees and is really the southernmost ski area in Europe. The Sierra Nevada mountains are positioned between the Andalusian city of Granada and the Mediterranean Sea in the South of Spain. It is an easy day trip from the city and can be reached by bus in less than an hour from Granada.
The Val d’Aran region of the Pyrenees is home to Spain’s largest and most popular ski resort, which is located around 200 kilometers north of Barcelona. There are more than 80 kilometers of runs available for skiers of all skill levels. Winter sports enthusiasts can engage in a bunch of different outdoor activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, heli-skiing, paraskiing, and traditional downhill skiing at Baqueria-Beret in addition to the former.
Formigal is a calm, unhurried resort that is popular among local families and beginners. It is situated in the Aragon Pyrenees mountain range near the French border at Pau in northern Spain and is about 170 kilometers from the city of Zaragoza in Spain. The resort offers more than 140 kilometers of slopes, in addition to snow gardens and kid-friendly amenities. The small resort of Aramón Panticosa is right next door. It has 35 kilometers of downhill runs with different difficulty levels and a ski school that is appropriate for beginners.
Explore The Capital City Of Spain, Madrid
If you’re traveling to Madrid in the winter, there will be many possibilities to take advantage of the lower pricing and fewer tourists that Madrid experiences during the summer. Enjoy the wonderful cuisine, famous Spanish sites, the historical district, and a variety of seasonal traditions when Traveling to Madrid in Winter.
Madrid Weather in Winter
Madrid has a generally dry environment all year round. Although it can get as cold as 6°C, the typical wintertime temperature in Madrid is around the low double digits. Combine this with the abundance of sunshine brought on by bright, blue skies, and you can easily get some winter sun.
Explore the Royal Palace
Unquestionably, visiting the Royal Palace is among the top things to do in Madrid. The Spanish Royal Family’s official residence is the Royal Palace of Madrid, a famous structure that stands in the center of the city. Expect a big line to enter the palace because it is one of the most popular attractions to see in Madrid. In order to avoid lines, it’s a good idea to purchase your skip-the-line Royal Palace ticket in advance in addition to arriving early in the day.
Watch Amazing Dance Performances
At one of the several clubs dotted across the city, make sure to catch a flamenco show. These are typically tiny, private settings where a furious, quick-footed dancer performs intricate rhythms played by a flamenco guitar. A Flamenco performance is a must-see when visiting the Spanish capital!
Visit a Few of the Renowned Museums
There is no shortage of excellent museums to choose from in Spain, many of which are on par with those in Paris, London, and New York. The well-known Prado and Reina Sofia Museums are two that you should put on your Spain bucket list.
These museums are all housed in beautiful buildings. Check out the Centro/Centro (Palacio de Cibeles) and Telefonica’s Art Deco structures. All of these museums provide both temporary and specialized exhibitions in addition to permanent galleries.
Go Ice Skating
Having a skating rink open in the winter is something of a tradition in many cities all around the world. Wintertime sees the emergence of outdoor ice skating rinks all across Madrid, which are popular with both locals and visitors.
There are many ice skating rinks in Madrid to choose from, with Javier Fernández Ice Skating Rink, in the Azca neighborhood being the most popular. There are also great rinks at Villa de Vallecas and the largest ice rink is in Alcalá de Henares, just outside of Madrid.
Costa Brava is a Spanish paradise located near the French border and in the northeast of Catalonia. This destination is well-known for being a great place to spend a summer vacation and also this area is a terrific destination to visit during the winter. The activities are obviously different from those in the summer, but the allure of the Costa Brava will quickly make you forget about the beach by providing alternatives that are equally engaging and relaxing.
Explore the National Parks
Winter is the perfect time to explore the National Parks in Costa Brava since you won’t be overwhelmed by the summer heat, making it easily more enjoyable! Some of the must-see national parks are Cap de Creus, Els Aiguamolls, Alt Pirineu, Serra de Montsant, and Delta del Ebre.
Enjoy Underwater Exploration by Scuba Diving
Although it may sound cold, diving on the Costa Brava during the winter season is really pleasant. But admittedly you will need a good, warm wetsuit! Nevertheless, the water is not so chilly, and you will have plenty of time to explore the sea floor and the creatures who call the sea their home like John Dory’s and Monkfish who can only be seen in this water during winter. You can also see scratches, octopuses, nudibranchs, some moray eels, and occasionally stingrays.
Visit Catalan Museums
By visiting the area’s numerous museums, such as the Cork Museum, the must-see Dalí Museum, the magnificent Theatre-Museum in Figueres, the Castle-Museum in Púbol, the Palau Solterra Photographic Museum in Torroella Montgri, the Museo de la Garrotxa in Olot, the Art Museum in Girona, and the Art Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona, among others, you can learn more about the region’s rich cultural diversity and art.
Visit the Iconic City of Barcelona
Barcelona is home to tapas bars, vibrant scenery, tiny alleyways, and beautiful cathedrals. Barcelona has a lot to offer visitors—even in the dead of winter. Barcelona makes a great winter vacation location now that the crowds and storms of the summer and fall have left. Barcelona’s winter, which lasts from December to March, is somewhat pleasant compared to other regions of Spain. The sky is generally cloudless during the day, and the temperature varies between lows of just 5°C and highs of 12°C. Low foot traffic means you can enjoy everything Barcelona has to offer without being surrounded by tourists.
Take in the Wonder of the Sagrada Familia
One of the best things to do in Barcelona during the winter is to visit this must-see site. You will be in awe of its grandeur and originality as it rises magnificently over the town. The unfinished Sagrada Familia, an iconic example of Catalan Modernism in architecture, is an incomplete project by Antoni Gaudi. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984.
Wander Through Old Town
Old Town, which is close to Catalunya Square and extends all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, is the oldest street in the city. Despite being small, it is crammed with beautiful buildings and fascinating history. Additionally, the atmosphere is dynamic and real. You’ll find friends from all over the world living and working together in the Old Town. Additionally, the vibrant nightlife of the city is found here, a fantastic hub for having fun.
Explore Park Güell
Several of Gaudi’s works, including Park Güell, have been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. It’s less of a park and more of an art collection of structures and landscapes. People are amazed by this place because it skillfully blends architecture and nature. The entire cityscape as well as the Mediterranean may be seen from the city’s parks and green spaces.
Climb up Montjuic Hill
Take the Montjuic Cable Car to reach Montjuic Castle and enjoy the greatest views of Barcelona and visit the Olympic Park, which contains the primary venues of the 1992 Olympic Games!
Start your adventure at Montjuic castle which is at the summit. At 173 meters above sea level, this location is the highest point in the entire city of Barcelona. Views of Barcelona’s harbour and city are stunning. Take a 360º tour and take in some of the ongoing exhibits about the history of the Castle. You can also visit museums, gardens, and more in the area.
Tee Off at Beautiful Golf Courses
When it comes to choosing a winter golf getaway in Spain, you have many options. There is something for everyone among the excellent array of golf courses. Whether you are a novice or an expert golfer, playing golf in Spain during the winter will provide you with the ideal challenge to meet your skill level.
Not only are the golf courses stunning, offering amazing views of the surrounding rocky terrain, but the hotels and spas are also outstanding, making them ideal for a golfing getaway during the cooler months. Tenerife and Gran Canaria have some of the best options for golfing in the Canary Islands.
Costa del Sol
The Costa del Sol and the province of Málaga are Europe’s top winter golfing destinations thanks to the perfect year-round climate, stunning terrain, breathtaking views, and top-notch amenities. Spain’s sunniest coastline, known as the “Costa del Golf,” contains over 70 golf courses for all skill levels and tastes, from lesser-known, inexpensive pay-and-plays to fairways that hold international championships.
The Spanish island of Mallorca is stunning, with golden sand, clear blue waters, a lush green hinterland, old-world villages, and some of Europe’s most magnificent golf courses.
In the winter, temperatures can reach 18 degrees, which is ideal for playing golf. The decision of which golf course to include on your itinerary is the only challenge when planning a winter golf getaway to Mallorca.
Wander Through Stunning Christmas Markets
With Christmas markets in Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, and other cities offering Christmas lights, wooden nativity scenes, and culinary specialties to warm the chilly nights, Spain is a surprisingly festive country when it comes to Christmas time celebrations.
Every year as Christmas approaches, Madrid’s central square, Plaza Mayor, is transformed into a massive market with 104 booths, decorated with Christmas trees and lights from November 25 to December 31.
Little cottages made of wood transform Plaza Mayor into a joyous Christmas market with a wide variety of goodies to buy for yourself or as Christmas gifts. Plus, in anticipation of Spain’s equivalent of April Fool’s Day on December 28, the market also sells gag gifts.
Santiago De Compostela
Find the nativity cribs, have a hot chocolate and a stroll, peruse the markets, or simply unwind with a glass of wine—Christmas in Santiago de Compostela has something for everyone.
The first Christmas market in Santiago is located at Praza da Quintana and has over 50 stalls with handcrafted goods and holiday-themed items and gifts. Along with workshops, a carousel, and a variety of music and entertainment events, there is also tons of delicious seasonal food.
Barcelona hosts a multitude of Christmas fairs and markets throughout the year, but Fira de Santa Llúcia is the oldest and most well-known. The market still takes place along Avinguda de la Catedral in the Gothic neighborhood today, bringing customers to 300 kiosks selling mistletoe, tree decorations, and handcrafted toys and accessories for children. The market normally begins in late November and runs until just before Christmas.
The BEST Spain Travel Guides for You
Insight Guides Spain (Travel Guide eBook)
The Insight Guide to Spain is a pictorial, magazine-style travel guide that answers important questions before or during your trip, such as when to visit Madrid, what to see, when to visit Barcelona and Cadiz, and how to make a travel itinerary that includes important locations like El Retiro Park and the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona. This is the perfect travel book for those looking for ideas, detailed cultural and historical knowledge about Spain, as well as a wide variety of sites to see while traveling there.
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The Rough Guide to Spain (Travel Guide eBook) (17th ed.)
Practical travel guide to Spain with point-of-interest organized lists of all attractions and off-the-beaten-path gems, detailed colour-coded maps, practical information on what to do and see in Spain, directions, pre-departure tips, and time-saving advice like a visual list of must-sees, author recommendations, and itineraries to assist you in planning your trip.
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