Spain consistently ranks as one of the most-visited destinations in the world for good reason. This vibrant and multifaceted European country has attractions that resonate with every kind of traveler.
Whether you’re a culture enthusiast seeking to immerse yourself in art and architecture, a sun worshipper looking for spectacular beaches and islands, a passionate gourmand embarking on a culinary tour or even a spiritual adventurer wishing to retrace the footsteps of pilgrims, Spain is one of those rare destinations that offers a rich and diverse range of experiences, season after season.
Consider what you’re looking for in a visit to Spain and plan ahead. Are you traveling on a shoestring budget? Looking for the best time to soak up the sun on a sandy coastline, or eager to feast in a harvest festival?
Here are some of the best times to visit this fascinating Iberian destination.
April to May and September to October are the best times for perfect weather
In central Spain and on the Mediterranean coast, the spring and autumn seasons are marked by sunlit days and pleasant weather perfect for strolling and outdoor dining in terrazas, with temperatures cooling down by nightfall.
Conversely, the summer months of July to August are scorching, with temperatures in central and southern Spain reaching the mid-to-high 40s°C. Madrid empties out in August, as locals go on summer holidays and many establishments close to avoid the oppressive heat. These summer months are ideal for visiting the northern regions, such as Asturias, País Vasco (Basque Country), Galicia and Cantabria, which have milder temperatures.
May to September is the best time to hit the beach
Spain is blessed with nearly 5000km (3107 miles) of coastline, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. Archipelagos in the Balearic Sea and off the northwestern African coast cap off the country’s maritime allure.
When the weather starts warming up in the wake of spring, Spanish beach destinations come to life, hitting their peak in August. Ibiza reaches its peak party atmosphere in July and August, when top DJs fly in to play in its world-famous clubs. If you wish to avoid crowded shorelines, opt for going in May and June.
April to May and September to October are the best times to walk the Camino de Santiago
The popular period for walking this thousand-year-old pilgrimage route towards Santiago de Compostela is between May and September, for favorable weather and longer daylight hours. To avoid those busy months, opt for the spring and autumn shoulder seasons when trails are less crowded, offering a more tranquil and introspective experience.
September to October is the best time for enjoying wine-harvest festivals
Oenophiles will particularly enjoy visiting Spain’s most famous wine-making regions, such as La Rioja and Ribera del Duero, during the traditional harvest season that starts in September. Logroño, the capital of La Rioja, kicks off its San Mateo festival, where you can take part in grape-crushing activities, parades and, of course, exquisite wine tasting for astoundingly low prices per copa.
For an off-the-tourist-radar experience, visit Valdepeñas in the Castilla-La Mancha region on the first week of September, when the entire town takes its love of vino to a whole new level with the annual harvest festival, featuring a wine tunnel and wine-tasting events in subterranean bodegas (wineries). There’s even a wine bus to take you home after a whole day of Dionysus worship.
November to February is the best time for budget travelers
Spain’s winter season attracts fewer tourists, so prices are generally lower on accommodations and flights. Winter can actually be a great time to bundle up and visit Madrid and Barcelona, which come alive with Christmas lights, outdoor markets and holiday festivities.
November to January is the best time to indulge in olive-oil festivals
The annual olive harvest season is celebrated with olive-oil festivals all over the country, especially in the regions of Andalucía and Catalonia. Check out the gastronomic agenda for the Martos Olive Festival in the city of Jaen, which takes place annually on December 8, while the Siurana Olive Oil Fair happens every November.
January to February and July to August are the best times for sales shopping
Usually held after Christmas and the during summer holidays, when people have time to shop, the traditional rebajas (sales) periods in Spain is regulated by the Spanish government to protect consumers and local businesses. During these winter and summer sales seasons, bargain hunters can stretch their shopping budget, as stores use this time to clear their inventory and offer significant discounts reaching up to 70% off.
January to April is best time to try calçots
La Calçotada is a yearly gastronomic festival in the Catalonian region, where large groups gather to eat grilled calçots – a type of green onion harvested in the winter – dipped in delectable sauces.
January to March are the best times for skiing
Ski resorts usually open in December and close right after Easter in April. Peak snow conditions run from January to March in the Pyrenees and January to February in Central Spain. In southern Spain near Granada, the Sierra Nevada has a surprisingly longer ski season that can sometimes last until May.