Winter in Spain

In this article

Spain is very popular among globetrotters for its numerous attractions, food scene, friendly people, and more. It is a safe country too. However, when people hear "vacation in Spain", they quickly think of summertime, lounging on a beach, sipping sangria, or diving. But, there is more to Spain than summertime. You can think of winter in Spain as an unexplored tourist island.
Spain is very popular among globetrotters for its numerous attractions, food scene, friendly people, and more. Winter creates a unique tourism experience for travellers. In Spain, winter starts in December and ends in mid-late March. Surprisingly, the weather conditions during these months do not take out the fun. To have the most of your experience in winter, we will walk you through where to go in Spain during winter, the perfect Spain winter itinerary, entry requirements to visit Spain, and many more.

Where to Go in Spain in Winter? Our Top Picks

You want to make sure you get the most out of visiting Spain during winter. Here is a list of the top Spanish cities to spend your winter holidays in.

1. Madrid

Winter in Madrid comes with beautiful Christmas decorations, an intimate atmosphere and fun winter activities. Christmas is an exhilarating season in Madrid. During this time, you can literally feel the love, thrill and excitement in the air. Madrid is generally known to have many splendid markets. The markets are even more fun to explore during Christmas. Enough festivities are going around to drag you into the mood of the season. During winter, the city is dressed in snow and Christmas lights, sitting pretty and ready for you to explore.
Remember that winter brings fewer crowds which means lower prices and exclusive enjoyment. This is definitely a winter bonus for Spain's capital city and the most crowded city in Spain. The winter temperature in Madrid drops close to 0 degrees; however, this does not obstruct you from meeting dun. Let's see some exciting things to do in Madrid during Winter.

What to Do in Madrid in Winter?

  • 1. Ice skating: There is no better time for Ice skating than Winter. Madrid has many Ice skating rinks. The fun thing is that you do not even have to know how to skate before you visit a skating rink.
  • 2. Visit ski resorts such as the Valdesqui ski resort where you can engage yourself in winter sports.
  • 3. Take a Christmas tour. You can walk through the neighborhood to admire Christmas decorations or hop onto the Navibus, a Christmas bus that will give you a tour of the city's iconic buildings.
  • 4. Try out Madrid's lovely dishes like cocido madrileno, chocolate and churros, and many more.
  • 5. Visit museums, exhibitions, and historically iconic locations.
  • 6. Attend Madrid's winter festivals like the Puerta del Sol.

2. Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are popular and exciting winter spots in Spain. The Canary Islands have delightful winter weather. This is one of the places in Spain where you can experience the winter sun. You can be sure you'll get ample sunshine in winter. Because the Canary Islands offer warm winter, you can travel light.

What to Do in the Canary Islands in Winter?

Here are some of the most interesting things to do at this destination during winter.
  • 1. You should go hiking. The Canary Islands in winter have the perfect temperature for hiking. The winter is not too cold and there is enough but not too much sunshine for your hike.
  • 2. You can go whale watching. During winter, whales are easily sighted off the coasts of Tenerife and La Gomera.
  • 3. You can enjoy your favorite Canary Islands in winter. The cold has got nothing on you. From cycling to skiing and windsurfing, you can enjoy them all in winter.
  • 4. You can go sightseeing. The canary Islands have very attractive and beautiful landscapes. There are fewer tourist crowds during winter, therefore, you can be guaranteed a more serene and peaceful tour of the Island.
  • 5. In winter, you can own the beaches. During this time, you'll find very few people on the beach. This gives you the chance to engage in thrilling water sports.

Pro Tips

Tenerife has the best winter temperature during winter.

3. Barcelona

Interestingly, winter in Barcelona is milder than you might expect. The temperature, on average, is a high 12 degrees. The city is also less crowded during this time. This is the best time to see some iconic places without having to push and shove your way through the crowd. This will be one of your best reasons for visiting Barcelona in winter. It is a good time for relaxing, taking walks, and, on warm days, absorbing sunlight.

What to Do in Barcelona in Winter?

Here are some top things to fill your bucket list for winter in Barcelona:
  • 1. Visit famous ski resorts like La Molina, La Masella, Baqueira, Grand Valira, and Port del Comte amongst others.
  • 2. Visit the Boqueria Market. Here, you will find varieties of fresh produce.
  • 3. Pay a visit to Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter or the Sagrada Família. During Winter, you'll be able to better appreciate the ancient historical landmark without being obstructed by the hundreds of tourists also trying to get a glimpse.
  • 4. Enjoy special delicacies like Calcot, hot chocolates, and churros.

Get a feel of the traditional Christmas atmosphere from the Fira de Sana Llucia.

4. Malaga

Malaga is one of the cities located in southern Spain. It is a perfect winter destination. This city also has mild winters. Winter in Malaga will convince you that the Costa del sol is not only good for summer. During this period, you can do away with the summer crowds and simply bask in the city's beauty.

What to Do in Malaga in Winter?

  • 1. You can experience the city’s Christmas lights at Calle Larios.
  • 2. Attend Malaga's carnival. The festival takes place in February, every year. It is a time to appreciate Spanish culture and history. With many exhibitions, entertainment, costume parties, and many more, Malaga's carnival is an interesting event to attend during winter. You can also attend Reyes, a celebration that holds on the 6th of February when the Spanish celebrate the arrival of the three wise men to visit baby Jesus. Reyes is treated as the Spanish Christmas.
  • 3. Take a scenic walk on El Caminito del Rey. El Caminito del Rey has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site because of the natural and very beautiful views of nature it offers.
  • 4. Travel from Malaga to Gibraltar. This is a British territory and the only place on mainland Europe where you can see wild monkeys, and pay a visit to St. Michael’s Cave and the Moorish Castle amongst other things.
  • 5. Take a day trip to El Torcal de Antequera. This is another UNESCO World heritage site. It is a beautiful landscape crowed by natural dramatic rock formations.

Malaga has beautiful beaches and the cold weather should not stop you from enjoying the beach. The weather is warm enough for you to lounge on the beach. If you want to be explorative and daring, you can hop into the water. Surprisingly, you will find a lot of people taking a swim!

5. Valencia

Winter in Valencia is rainy and windy but with mild winter cold. However, it does not snow often in Valencia. Winter months in Valencia are usually interesting and filled with festivities. The Valencias do not joke with Christmas. Christmas in Valencia is lovely, with Christmas decorations of all sorts. During this time, the city seems to be more lively.

What to Do in Valencia in Winter?

  • 1. Walk through Ayuntamiento Square, where you can get awesome views of the Christmas decorations. You can visit the ice rink, enjoy delicious meals and take a Christmas train ride.
  • 2. Pay a visit to the city of Arts and Sciences. Although open all year round, it bears a special Christmas aura in December.
  • 3. Take a tour of Old Town.
  • 4. Visit Valencia's Christmas markets anytime from mid-November to mid-January.
  • 5. Valencia has very nice beaches. You can enjoy the beach without the summer crowds during winter.
  • 6. Climb up the Torres de Serranos to get the best view of Valencia.

The Gardens of Jardin de Monforte is a very good place for nature lovers. In the whole of Valencia, there is no other place perfect for a winter walk.

6. Seville

Seville is always alive throughout the year, regardless of the season and the weather. Seville is a beautiful city, and the mild weather in Winter makes it even more serene and welcoming. Seville is the largest city and capital of Andalusia. This city alone contains 3 UNESCO world heritage sites.

What to Do in Seville in Winter?

Here are some of the most interesting things to do at this destination in winter.
  • 1. Visit Seville's historical sites. You can visit Seville cathedral the third-largest church and one of Seville's historical sites, majestic and awesome in its glory. There is also La Giralda, a historic bell tower. You should also visit the semi-circular Plaza de Espana.
  • 2. Tour Torre De Oro (Tower of Gold), a watch tower that dates back to the 13th century.
  • 3. Shop at el Corte Ingles. You can shop for many things here and get a souvenir for your loved ones at home.
  • 4. Visit Real Alcazar, a royal palace built in the 14th century. This complex is also a UNESCO world heritage site. In December, the complex hosts a lot of events and festivities.

7. Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela is located in Northern Spain. Thousands of pilgrims flood to this destination every year. This city is popularly known for embodying a historical and cultural legacy. It is rich in ancient architectural structures and monuments. During winter, the city is calmer and less crowded but not less fun!

What to Do in Santiago de Compostela in Winter?

  • 1. Visit the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. At the Cathedral, you should visit the Catedralicio Museum which is inside the cathedral.
  • 2. Visit Alameda Park for serene and scenic views of artworks and statues.
  • 3. Visit San Martin Pinario Monastery, a 10th-century monastery.
  • 4. Take a walk around the picturesque Belvis Park.

8. Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada is Spain’s largest national park. It is home to some of Europe's biggest mountains. During winter, these mountains are covered in white snow, giving a beautiful view. This is a top destination for skiers. With many ski resorts, there are skiing tracks for all levels of skiers.

What to Do in the Sierra Nevada in Winter?

  • 1. Visit the Sierra Nevada Ski Station where you can ski the third-highest peak in the whole of Spain.
  • 2. Bike around the streets of Sierra Nevada and enjoy the beautiful views of Veleta’s summit.
  • 3. Go to Superparque Sulayr. Here, you can enjoy snowboarding at its peak.
  • 4. Take an enchanting walk to Pico de Veleta.

Events and Activities to Check Out if You’re Traveling to Spain This Winter

Winter in Spain is a period of festivities. Here are some events and activities you participate in.
  • Christmas Celebrations. Your winter vacation is incomplete without experiencing Spanish Christmas celebrations. Christmas in Spain starts on the 24th of December and ends on the 6th of January. Christmas Eve is celebrated on the 24th of December. On the 25th of December, Christmas Day is celebrated. However, it does not end here. The 28th of December is el Día de los Santos Inocentes. This is similar to the English April fool's day. Nochevieja is New year's eve and is celebrated on the 31st of December. The 5th of January is another day of celebration. It is organized in every city, and the Tres Reyes Magos (the Three Kings) move around the streets while children watch and wave.
  • Christmas Markets. Christmas markets are a big deal during Christmas. They are entertaining and lively. For some cities like Barcelona and Valencia, Christmas markets open from late December until January, while others open in early January. At the Christmas market, you can get everything that has to do with Christmas.
  • Winter Sports. There are numerous interesting winter sports for your stay in Spain like snowshoe hiking, skiing, and snowboarding.
  • Enjoy Delicious Spanish Cuisine. The Spanish are very explorative with food. They have mouth-watering dishes that will give you a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Crispy churros and a cop of hot chocolate are all you need to stir your winter spirit. You should also try out Tortilla De Patatas, a steaming hot cup of Caldo, Caldo Gallego, Fabada Asturiana, Cocido Madrileño, Catalan Canelons, and many more. These special winter delicacies will leave you with a heave of appetite satisfaction.
  • Gastronomic Festival in Barcelona. Barcelona is a Spanish city with several thousand restaurants. The city highly appreciates food and has special food festivals. Food festivals in Barcelona are part of the highlights of the season. The celebrations take place from time to time, depending on the food markets. One such food festival that takes place during winter is Barcelona's Wine week. This takes place in early February. There are, however, more food festivals in May.
  • Carnival in Cadiz. The carnival of Cadiz is one big carnival that brings everyone in Cadiz together. It is one of the biggest carnivals in the whole of Spain. You will find people on the streets in humourous costumes and many interestingly entertaining displays. Colors are at play here as Cadiz is dressed in several colors. It has its origin in culture and history. Once it is February, Cadiz becomes a big party stage. Various carnival groups come out at this time to organize displays for the streets and the theatres; you can hear carnival music from every corner of Cadiz. While in Spain, you should take advantage of every opportunity to attend Cardiz's carnival.

Visiting Spain in Winter: Key Tips for a Successful Trip

Winter Weather in Spain

Spain has mild winter weather. It starts in late November and usually runs into March. The intensity of the winter lies in December and January. As expected, the northern part of Spain is usually colder than the southern part in winter. Spain, in winter, generally has pleasant weather.
If you are spending winter on the country's northern coast, you should expect more rainfall. Although this region is wetter and colder than other parts of Spain, it also has ample winter sun.
Generally, the average winter temperature is seven °C (46°F) on low and 22°C (72°F) on high. This can vary largely based on what part of the country you stay in. You should also expect a different temperature when skiing. Mountains tend to get below zero.

What to Wear for Winter in Spain?

Apart from ensuring you find a facility with accommodation with a central heating system, you should dress for winter. This will require you to wear layers of clothes until you find warmth. Before stepping out, make sure you have your winter coat. Here is a pack list for you.
  • 1. Winter jacket
  • 2. Cardigans or pullovers
  • 3. Comfortable shoes or boots
  • 4. A warm scarf
  • 5. An umbrella

Entry Requirements for Spain

A visa or ETIAS is required to enter Spain. It is a member of the Schengen zone, which is a collection of 26 ETIAS countries with free borders for the easier passage of people, goods, and services. Some non-European countries are allowed entry into Spain based on a visa liberalization agreement with the Schengen zone.
The Electronic Travel Information and Authorisation System is an online application that saves eligible applicants the stress of obtaining a traditional visa. They can apply online and will not have to go through a rigorous process as required in getting a traditional visa. ETIAS visa waiver allows eligible applicants to visit the Schengen zone for a maximum of 90 days every six months for business and tourism. It is valid for three years or before if your passport expires before then.
As of January 2023, remote workers can apply for the Spanish digital nomad visa and enjoy all of the country’s perks for the entire winter!
People whose countries are not part of the Schengen Visa Waiver Programme will be required to get a traditional visa. There are different types of Schengen Visa, based on the purpose of the visit. Also, deportees and applicants whose visa has been rejected from the Schengen zone in times past and who come from countries with a visa liberalization agreement have to apply for the Schengen Visa.
Written by: Fikayomi Abisola
Abisola is an ETIAS Travel and Immigration writer with several years of writing experience in the industry. Abisola has a unique enthusiasm for travels, tours, and tourism and loves to educate travellers about the criteria involved in international travelling.


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