Thinking of visiting Spain in winter? From beautiful islands to foodie cities, these are the best destinations to choose from.
One of the things I love most about visiting Spain in winter is that you can be knee deep in the snow in beautiful mountains one minute, then half an hour later be enjoying warm sunshine on the beach. In fact, this is exactly what I did a few years ago when I went on a road trip through Spain in winter. Over a few weeks I ventured to Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Sierra Nevada and Nerja, enjoying different experiences in each place.
If you struggle with cold weather, a trip to Spain in winter might be just what you need. Not only do the temperatures tend to be warmer (especially in the south) but the country also offers a variety of experiences that you might not have thought about before. Holidays in Spain don’t have to involve beaches and resorts, you could go on a winter adventure to the mountains, enjoy a food-filled trip in one of Spain’s vibrant cities or relax in some fo the country’s charming coastal villages.
Plus, Spanish people love celebrating Christmas, so December is a great time to visit to soak up the festive atmosphere and pick up a few gifts!
Whether you’re planning a winter road trip through Spain, or you want some ideas for sunny places to visit, I hope this guide helps you pick where to go.
Winter In Spain – The Weather
The weather in Spain in winter varies a lot from one region to another. The Atlantic Coast gets quite rainy at times, but temperatures rarely go below 5 degrees Celsius. The southern part of the country is sunnier throughout the winter, with temperatures up to 18 degrees even in the winter months.
If you visit the mountain areas such as the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada, you can expect snowy days and minus temperatures. Finally, the Canary Islands and Balearic islands are some of the best options for winter sun, with temperatures up to 22 degrees.
11 Best Places To Visit In Spain In Winter
The city of Bilbao isn’t the sunniest place to visit in Spain in winter, but it is definitely one of the most interesting! Bilbao offers a mix of tradition and modernity, all in one fantastic city.
Art and architecture fans will love visiting the famous Guggenheim Museum. It’s an incredible building, designed by Frank Gehry, housing artworks by legends of the modern art scene. Plus, if the weather is chilly, it’s nice to have a few museum or gallery options to keep warm!
Bilbao is also the heart of the Basque region and with that comes an impressive food scene. I’d recommend hopping from tapas bar to tapas bar, sampling ‘pintxos’ (the Basque version of tapas, usually served on a stick) as you go.
You could also watch a game of ‘basque pelota’ or explore some other amazing places nearby including San Sebastian and Pamplona. If you’re interested in wine, this is also a great location for you, as you’ll be nice and close to the Rioja region. Imagine visiting Spain in winter and enjoying a day of wine tasting? Sounds perfect to me!
If you’re looking for a warm holiday destination, but don’t fancy leaving Europe, the Canary Islands are a great option. Located off the northwest coast of Africa, this collection of volcanic islands includes Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria. The islands boast warm temperatures all year round, with highs in the mid-twenties in the winter months.
Hikers will love exploring the volcanic landscapes, adventure lovers can enjoy a range of water sports, while beach lovers can relax on the volcanic black sand beaches. Each island has its own unique charm, so it’s worth researching which is right for the style of holiday you fancy.
One of the most popular places to visit in Spain in winter, Barcelona has something for everyone. From Gaudi’s masterpiece, the iconic Sagrada Familia, to museums, beaches and historic areas, Barcelona is one of my favourite city break destinations.
It’s also a great place to visit in December as Barcelona has several Christmas markets, ideal for picking up some last minute Christmas gifts! There are also plenty of great restaurants dotted across the city. I’ve recommended some of my favourites in this post on Barcelona’s food scene.
If you enjoy skiing, then this is an awesome place to visit in the winter months. The Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia is very popular from November – March.
With some peaks over 3,000 m, you’ll find decent snow in winter, ideal for skiing, snowboarding and other fun snow activities. The ski station has over 130 slopes for all levels and there’s plenty of accommodation in the main town to suit all budgets.
As this is in the south of Spain, you could combine a ski trip in Sierra Nevada with a city break in Granada or Malaga.
Located on the southern coast of Spain, Cadiz might not be as popular as other cities in Spain but it is definitely worth a visit! In fact, it’s one of my favourite spots – I’m desperate to go back!
It’s absolutely packed full of historic sites, including a huge cathedral and impressive roman theatre. If you fancy a relaxed break, you can amble along the main promenade, laze on the beach, get lost in the charming skinny streets or take photos of all the picturesque buildings and fishing boats.
As Cadiz is on the south coast, it’s a great place to visit in Spain in winter for warm weather and sunshine. Winter temperatures are usually between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius with a lot of sunny days.
While the Christmas period is lovely in Cadiz, I’d recommend timing your trip for February. That’s when the city’s annual carnival takes place, providing lots of great entertainment!
I have written lots of guides to Cadiz, so definitely read my travel guide, restaurant guide and accommodation guides before you go!
The birthplace of the famous painter Pablo Picasso, Malaga is at the far tip of southern Spain. Thanks to its location, it is one of the warmest and sunniest places in Spain in winter.
As well as beach time and dining al fresco, you could visit the Picasso museum, the city’s incredible cathedral or food market. It’s a city famed for its Christmas lights, so definitely take a stroll through the main streets at night.
Plus, there are some great day trips from Malaga, including Montes of Malaga, a natural park with gorgeous forests that is ideal for hikes or relaxed walks.
History lovers might enjoy a trip to Antequera’s 5000-year-old dolmens or Ronda’s spectacular bridge. There’s so much to do in this region – it’s one of my favourite places to visit in Spain in the winter months.
The Spanish capital is not the warmest place in Spain in winter, but there is absolutely loads to see and do. The main square, Plaza Mayor, turns into a huge Christmas market in the run up to Christmas.
The city is also filled with Christmas lights and decorations. If you don’t feel like shopping, then the bars, restaurants, museums and nightlife will definitely keep you entertained.
Not as popular as Malaga or Seville, Granada is a bit of a hidden gem in southern Spain. The Alhambra is the most visited site in the area and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, but that’s not all there is to see. The city is full of history with its spectacular Cathedral, monasteries and historic markets.
Granada’s old town oozes charm. I’d recommend walking around and marvelling at the skinny streets and moorish architecture. From Granada it is also easy to reach the Sierra Nevada mountain range for a day trip, so you could combine the two on one adventure through Spain.
The most famous of the Balearic Islands, Ibiza has a different vibe in winter than in summer. It’s still quite warm and sunny, but you won’t find the crowds partying and drinking.
Visiting off season will give you a chance to experience some of the island’s most spectacular views in peace! You can take trips to uncrowded beaches, enjoy delicious seafood and enjoy the historic sites of Ibiza Town. It’s a popular island for wellness breaks too, with yoga and meditation retreats taking place throughout the cooler months.
Less popular than Barcelona or Madrid, the city of Seville in Andalucia benefits from warm winters and is ideal for a weekend break. With several UNESCO world heritage sites to visit such as the Real Alcazar, you’ll find yourself marvelling at the beautiful architecture while soaking up some Vitamin D.
The city is also famous for its flamenco performances and tapas culture. Even in winter you’ll be able to sit outside while waiters bring you dish after dish of tasty Spanish cuisine.
Santiago de Compostela
The capital of Spanish region Galicia, Santiago de Compostela is known for its beautiful cathedral, which marks the finish point of the Camino de Santiago, a 500 miles walking route that is laced with history.
Don’t worry you don’t have to be a hiker to enjoy this city located in the western part of Spain! It’s home to plenty of fascinating sites including a historical district. In December, the city gets extra festive with a Christmas market and an ice rink.
This is another great location in Spain for food. Galician cuisine features lots of fresh seafood, prepared in a number of ways. Don’t miss the pulpo (octopus) which is particularly delicious in this part of Spain!
Now you’ve discovered there’s so much more to visiting Spain in winter than winter sun breaks in the Canary Islands! This is a country filled with beautiful and diverse regions, meaning there are numerous styles of holiday you could book.
Whether you decide to ski in Sierra Nevada, eat your way around Bilbao or relax with a beach break in the Balearics, I hope you have an amazing time!
If you’re looking for more Spain travel inspiration, I’d recommend checking out my northern Spain road trip and my southern Spain road trip. Both itineraries are packed full of recommendations for exploring key attractions as well as getting off the beaten track!