Winter in Spain: top 6 highlights
Try winter in Spain. The Spanish energetically celebrate Christmas and New Year. It's a perfect time to discover fascinating cities and while the weather is sunny and warm in the south, you can also ski in the Sierra Nevada. Take a look at Spain in winter.
1. Don't miss Madrid during winter in Spain
Madrid sits at almost 700m above sea level, so winter tends to be chilly and snow isn't unusual. But even in winter the capital of Spain often does clear and sunny skies - ideal conditions for wandering around grand plaza and admiring the architecture.
The city's world-class museums are significantly quieter in the colder months of the year. And it's the perfect time to indulge in rich, thick hot chocolate with churros on the side.
Visit at Christmas when Madrid's a romance of twinkling lights, colourful markets dot the plazas and you can buy anything from charming nativities to local crafts. If you're tempted by wintery Madrid, stay at Soho Boutique Congreso in the city centre.
Plaza de Cibeles at Christmas, Madrid Photo: Shutterstock
2. Visit Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park
See Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici in winter when wildlife is abundant and the Catalan Pyrenees which dominate this national park are drenched in snow.
You'll find hundreds of mountain lakes here, as well as waterfalls, streams and dense forests of scented pine. Panoramic views demand you stop and stare on a minute by minute basis. And if you look to the skies, there's a good chance of spotting golden eagles.
November right through to March is ideal for winter adventuring and activities in the park range from walking and snowshoeing to cross-country skiing and guided hikes.
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Explore Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park this winter in Spain. Photo: Amazing Travels/Shutterstock
3. Spend a magical New Year’s Eve in Barcelona
New Year’s Eve is Nochevieja in Spain and it's a major celebration marked across the country. In Barcelona, visit Montjuïc Magic Fountain in the evening for free live music and light shows, then hang on until midnight for the spectacular firework display.
For die-hard celebrants, it's traditional to hit Barcelona’s bars and clubs in the early hours of 1 January. But if you want good luck in the coming months, observes some of the city's New Year customs before you go clubbing.
At midnight eat 12 grapes in quick succession and, if you don't choke, the next 12 months look good. It's also customary to place a gold ring in a glass of cava before toasting health and wealth at midnight. And if you're looking for love in the future, wear red underwear at New Year. Keen to celebrate? Stay at Ciutat de Barcelona in Barrio Gotico.
Light show at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Placa Espanya, Barcelona. Photo: Boule/Shutterstock
4. Join the Three Kings’ Day Parade in Andalucía
Winter's mild in Andalucía and average daytime temperatures of 20°C are normal from December to February. Plus, the sun doesn't set until around 6pm, so you can look forward to relatively long winter days too.
Come in early January for the Three Kings’ Day Parade. This annual celebration honours the arrival of the Three Wise Men with afternoon processions in cities, towns and villages across the region.
Traditionally the 'Three Kings' ride around on floats and throw sweets to kids. At the enormous Seville event there can be upwards of 30 floats, crowds of 1000s and roughly about 90 tons of sweets are thrown each year. If you want to try another Seville tradition, take a tapas tour of Triana.
5. Sunshine and sea in the Canaries
Winter is a great time for the Canaries. The islands might be in Spain, but proximity to North Africa means warm winter weather with daytime averages around 17°C - not much cooler than in spring and early summer.
Because the Canaries are year-round destinations, just about everything is open in winter. It's also a good season for outdoor activities like hiking, exploring the island interiors, climbing volcanic peaks, surfing and even swimming in not too chilly seas.
There are seven Canary Islands to choose from and Tenerife is the largest and most popular year-round. Try Lanzarote for its sensational volcanic landscape and think about staying at Casa Salinas del Mar. La Palma is the greenest Canary. And Gran Canaria is the best one for museums.
If you want a tourist-light winter in the Canaries, head to Fuerteventura for huge, wild beaches and a low-key vibe. Or visit either La Gomera or El Hierro, the smallest and most peaceful islands of all.
Winter at Las Teresitas in Tenerife. Photo: Shutterstock
6. Go skiing in Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada Ski Station is one the most southerly in Europe, so sunny weather is a given, but the skiing's also good and works for just about every level from novice to expert.
There are more than 120 ski runs here as well as excellent facilities. Plus the snow record is surprisingly good year-on-year. And when required, advanced artificial snow machines can be deployed to give nature a boost.
If southerly skiing sounds like your thing this winter, you'll find Sierra Nevada less than an hour's drive from Granada and El Lodge Ski & Spa is a perfect base for your break.
Pradollano ski resort in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain. Photo: Shutterstock
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