Spain is proud to boast year-round sunshine, meaning that the weather in Spain in October is still warm enough to swim and spend time on the beach. But that doesn’t mean that Spain offers wall to wall high temperatures all year round: the winter climate in Spain can be both cloudy and wet, depending on what region of the country you are visiting or living in. Spain's climate and Spain average temperatures can be much more varied than you might think.
One of the main reasons that the weather in Spain is so varied is because the country covers such a wide area: the temperature in the north of Spain (which sits on the Atlantic Ocean) to Southern Spain, which is just 13km north of the Moroccan coast, it should come as no surprise that there is such a regional difference in Spain’s average temperatures. Winter climate in Spain can be very cold in the North, but much more temperate in the South. There are three main climatic zones in Spain, and the difference between maritime climate and continental climate can be considerable. Here are the main differences between the three main climatic zones for you to be aware of:
The Main Climatic Zones in Spain
- The Maritime Zone is located in the north of Spain. The regions of the country covered by this zone are Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. The maritime zone has the most rainy and cloudy days in Spain, no matter what the season. The good news is that the wet weather means that the environment here is incredibly lush and verdant, but you’ll also find cloud and mist. June is the driest month in the maritime zone, and it is also comfortably warm. The temperature in this part of the country in July reaches averages of 21 degrees. The winter climate in Spain’s climatic zone is very wet. Between October and December you will find rain, cloudy skies, and even occasional snow fall, but the temperatures are relatively mild, with the average temperatures in January being 9 degrees.
- The Mediterranean climate / Mediterranean climate zone is situated along the Mediterranean sea, which covers the whole southern and eastern side of Spain, including regions such as Andalusia, Malaga, Seville, and Barcelona. The Balearic Islands are also included in this zone, which is most typical of the weather you might expect when you think of typical Spanish climate. The rain in Spain doesn’t fall here: it has the lowest levels of rainfall in the country. The spring weather in Spain’s Mediterranean climate is warm, whilst the summers are incredibly hot. Inland temperatures can reach between 29 and 31 degrees, whilst the hottest region is Andalusia, where temperatures can soar to up to 40 degrees during the summer months of July and August. There is minimal rainfall here in the summer. The winter climate in Spain here can see light rain showers, though the temperatures are relatively mild; expect 10-13 degrees by the coast, and 9-10 degrees in the cities of Valencia and Barcelona.
- The Continental zone offers hot and dry summers followed by colder winters. The difference between maritime climate and continental climate is these hot summers where temperatures have been known to reach up to 43 degrees. Spring weather in Spain here is known as the rainy season, where you will get most of the annual rainfall, whilst the continental zone is humid throughout the winter, despite the low temperatures. Expect to see strong winds and frosts, as well as snowfall.
- Finally, the Canary Islands have a climatic zone all of their own because they are located away from the mainland: here you’ll find a subtropical climate, with summer temperatures of around 28 degrees, and winter temperatures remaining in the low twenties. There is very little rainfall here, making it the ideal location if you’re looking for a winter getaway.
The Four Seasons in Spain
If you enjoy experiencing the sharp contrasts between the four seasons then it is possible to do so in Spain, depending on where you are living. In the continental zone the differences in climate between the four seasons are more pronounced, but you’ll find the changes in the trees and different seasonal flowers across the country too. Here is a breakdown of the four seasons in Spain:
Spring Weather in Spain
Spring is Spain covers the months of March to June. If you’re looking to enjoy outdoor activities in the country then this is the best time, as the temperatures are comfortable and the humidity is low. By contrast, you should also pack an umbrella if you’re spending spring in Spain, because you’re likely to experience frequent showers at this time of year, particularly in the north of the country.
Summer Weather in Spain
The summer season in Spain runs from June to September, when it is both hot and drive. The holiday season in Spain is at its busiest during this period, with tourists travelling from all over the world to enjoy the hot weather. You should expect cloudless skies, high temperatures, and plenty of sun, except in the north of the country where annual temperatures are always cooler.
Autumn Months in Spain
Autumn months in Spain are cooler: from September to December, the temperature dips and you start to feel a chill in the air, especially in the early mornings and early evenings. Autumn days can still be sunny, and even warm to the south and east of the country. Across the country, autumn tends to be the dampest season, so you should be prepared for sudden rain showers and thunder storms.
Winter Climate in Spain
Winter in Spain runs from December to March, and is often known as the cold season. The answer to the question ‘How cold is Spain in winter’ will depend on where you are in the country: things tend to be rainy in the north and higher altitude locations are likely to experience snow. If you’re looking for a property in Spain then you’re advised to look for one with central heating: Spain may be known as a nation of sunshine, but that doesn’t mean that the winters can’t be cold, although sunny days are more common in the south and east than the are in the north, which has a more northern European climate: wet!
When Does the Holiday Season Start in Spain?
Tourism is big business in Spain: it is the third biggest economy across the country, and the school summer holiday period sees millions of tourists visit the country. This means that Spain can feel crowded during the summer months, which run throughout July and August, which are also the hottest months of the year. The UK, Germany and France pose the largest tourism markets in Spain, but you may also spot significant numbers of tourists from the US and China, due to excellent transport links between these two large nations and mainland Europe.
The summer holidays are the largest holiday season in Spain, but the festive season also sees large numbers of visitors to Spain. Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and the Three Kings Day are the main highlights of the festive season in Spain, and it is during this period that many Spaniards who live overseas will make the decision to return home. That doesn’t mean that Spain is empty the rest of the year: there are year-long attractions to the country for tourists, such as Easter and February’s Carnival season.
Climate Change in Spain
It would be impossible to talk about the weather in Spain without mentioning climate change in Spain: this is happening at an incredibly rapid pace in the country, with much hotter and drier temperatures being recorded in recent years. This has lead to increased numbers of forest fires and reduced rainfall too. Both of these issues are hugely problematic for the country. The greater the heatwaves in Spain the worse the wildfires, which poses significant risk to life and to the economy. The reduced rainfall will also have an economic impact, because two of Spain’s largest exports are olive and wine, and the farming and production of these valuable products both depend on there being enough rainfall.
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