While we’re still in the summer mood, for now, Autumn is already around the corner and it’s time to plan winter getaways. In case, Spain in winter is on your travel bucket list – let’s discuss the best places to visit in search of the winter sun.
Spain in Winter
Weather & climate diversity is one of my favorite things about being an expat in Spain. There´s something for every taste over here. If you love rain and greenery – head to Northern Spain, feeling an urge for a winter wonderland – set your eyes on the Pyrenees (Huesca, Val d´Aran, or Andorra), and if you simply enjoy winter sun – Andalusia is your best bet. Not to mention that you can find unmatched weather conditions all year round and an island vibe in the Canary Islands.
Therefore, if you’re not living by the beach on a daily basis and dreaming of some winter sun rays – a vacation in Spain is definitely your ultimate wanderlust pill. Let me share with you my personal Winter in Spain travel picks.
Best places to search for winter sun in Spain
If we are talking about the winter sun in Spain, we should begin with Fuerteventura, considered the warmest in the Canary Islands due to its proximity to Africa.
The island will surprise you with its otherworldly beautiful landscapes like sand dunes, sleeping volcanoes, emerald-blue waters, and secret villages. Let me warn you though that Fuerteventura is not about sightseeing in Spain, but rather about channeling some chilly island vibes and enjoying the stunning landscapes. In other words, it is your place to completely disappear and disconnect from the outside world under the winter sun.
As much as I love Tarifa, Fuerteventura doesn’t stay behind when it comes to beautiful beaches in Spain. You must see with your own eyes those unimaginable sand dunes of Parque Natural de las Dunas de Corralejo in Fuerteventura.
Technically, The Canary Islands are much closer to Africa than they are to Europe. However, despite a popular belief that all this sand was blown from the Sahara desert, Fuerteventura sand dunes were actually composed of the local shells.
Fuerteventura has over 150 amazing beaches. So, you can find smth for every taste with this number: Corralejo, Caleta de Fuste, Sotavento, Cofete, Aljibe de la Cueva or La Concha. Playa de Aguila looked stunning, although with the waves it seemed a better match for surfers.
If I am to pick one place for an exotic and yet relaxing vacation – I´d go with Lanzarote. It’s not as green as Thailand, for instance, but you have a rare combination of countless lava fields and craters with all shades of the Atlantic blues. Not to mention that while visiting Timanfaya National Park one often feels like traveling on the Moon.
While Lanzarote is technically closer to Africa than it is to Spain, you have all the best European features (like hospitals, roads, infrastructure) in a completely exotic setting. In my opinion, it is the most universal island of the archipelago. Visiting Lanzarote as a couple in search of Romantic Spain? Planning to enjoy Spain with Kids? A spontaneous getaway with friends? – Lanzarote fits the bill everywhere. You have a few nice areas to go out like La Avenida de Las Playas, Centro Atlantico/ Puerto Rosario and areas like Playa Blanca and Marina Rubicon for dining and cocktails. Even though nightlife in Lanzarote is not as huge as the one in Tenerife or Gran Canaria.
In terms of beaches, you’ll also be spoilt for choices: Playa de Papagayo, Playa Chica, Playa de Famara, Playa Flaming, Playa de Las Conchas, Caleton Blanco, Playa La Francesa, Playa de los Pocillos, Playa del Jablillo, Playa Quemada. Another important thing to take into consideration – you have a possibility of a relaxing day trip to La Graciosa Island or Fuerteventura.
Alternatives: Tenerife and Gran Canaria
Note, I do mention only Lanzarote and Fuerteventura on this list of Winter in Spain places, but you can pick each one of the Canary Islands in your search for the winter sun. The average of 20C is an attribute of the whole archipelago.
As the largest one of the islands, Tenerife has lots of things to do all year round. Especially due to the fact that most of the visitors stay in the South, while all the magical forests, epic hikes, and beautiful volcanic beaches are hidden in the Northern part of the island. Plus, if your travel dates overlap – you can enjoy the famous Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Feb-March). On the other hand, with places like Anaga Natural Park, you might encounter the drawbacks of the rainy season from Oct till Feb -officially the is around 10C to 16C. But back when we visited Tenerife in July August (it was supposed to vary from 16C to 22C) – it still felt quite refreshing, comparing to the rest of the island, and made us put on some layers.
Gran Canaria is often named in between Europe’s most underrated islands. Its capital city Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the most populous city on the island. Actually, we plan to visit Gran Canaria this February/March, so I’ll update this post as soon as I get the first-hand experience of the winter months.
From my personal travel experience: Fuerteventura felt the most untouched and inspiring on a personal level: I´d go again solo, as a couple, or with a group of friends (especially if you´re into active sports, like surfing). Both Tenerife and Lanzarote had a bit of everything on them. Yet Tenerife surprised us with some mountain roads (like the one towards Masca). Additionally, we couldn´t fully experience with a baby some epic hikes+wild beaches (they were not easy to access). I´d visit Tenerife again as an adventurous couple for beautiful nature in the North or with friends for going out in the South. Lanzarote is perfect for a cozy and family-friendly vacation.
Don´t miss these Photos to Inspire You to Visit The Canary Islands to choose your perfect island.
Cadiz is the city that has surprised me on every possible level. For sure, it is one of the most underrated places in Spain. While it is true that with neighbors like romantic Seville or luxurious Marbella, fairytale places like the Bridge of Ronda, beautiful Spanish Cathedrals like Cordoba´s Mosque, most people simply don´t have time to cover all the best places in Andalusia – but believe me, Cadiz deserves your attention.
First of all, it’s one of the coolest places to spend winter in Spain, as the daytime temperatures in winter vary from 24C to 30C. Cadiz is located in the Spanish Costa de Luz (eng. Coast of Light), called this way due to its sunny winters. Nearby the city, you have my favorite Tarifa with its idyllic white-sand beaches.
Unlike many other cities in Andalusia that start turning quite international in these recent years – Cadiz still feels very “Spanish”. So, you simply owe it to yourself a visit to this hidden gem.
Cadiz Old Town will unveil in front of you some unique historical insights, including traces of different epochs and civilizations – from Phoenicians, Romans, and Moorish, to Christopher Columbus (who sailed from Cadiz on his second and fourth journeys to America) and the inaction of Spanish Liberal Constitution in 1812. Honestly, there are so many things to see in Cadiz. This town is a cornucopia of history.
Therefore, Cadiz is a great match for those who want to combine great weather, sightseeing, and a few long walks on the beach.
4. Barcelona / Catalonia / Costa Brava
Despite my last stressful trip to Cambrils, the whole region of Catalonia always leads on my list of Spanish road trips during the winter months. While the concept “off-season” in Barcelona still means you’ll encounter some tourists and lines, winter is my favorite time to discover the local touristic sites.
The temperatures in winter vary from +13/15 C during the day to +6/8 at night – it’s still great weather for most of Northern Europe. But my biggest argument in the case of Catalonia is the smaller number of tourists, which allows you to be much more quick and effective in your local sightseeing. Let me put this straight: you don´t expect to have all the Gaudi sites of Barcelona, the Dali Museum, and the picturesque town of Cadaques, just for yourself. Ever. You just don´t. But visiting in the off-season is definitely a game-changer. You´ll know what I mean here, only if you tried to experience one of these places during the summer months.
Additionally, airline companies, car rentals, and hotels offer more reasonable prices once past the peak season. Plus, the city of Barcelona is an architectural gem all year round – you´ll be spoilt for choices in terms of sites, restaurants, shows, and any other travel-related activities.
5. Alicante / Costa Blanca
Another touristic pride of Spain is Costa Blanca. Here, you´ll find the tallest in Europe residential skyscraper of Benidorm, beautiful small towns, charming colorful villages, amazing hikes, castles, and of course, stunning beaches.
The winter temperatures may vary from 7C to 17C. The last time I visited Benidorm in February, the local beach was packed with international tourists. While it was obviously cold for swimming, the sunny weather made the day perfect for the beach.
The winter weather in Costa Blanca is great, especially if you´re coming from the colder parts of Europe.
Plus, winter in Spain is the best moment to find great hotel offers in Alicante, as you’ll be aiming for the off-season trip. In other words, the biggest advantage of visiting Costa Blanca in winter is similar to the Catalan Costa Brava. However, in my opinion, Costa Blanca wins over Costa Brava in terms of beautiful beaches with smooth waters, and vice versa – Costa Brava offers more in terms of sightseeing.
Once in Alicante, don’t miss the largest Palm Groove of Europe in Elche.
The region of Valencia has been my expat-home for the past 10 years. This is where I enjoy my winters in Spain. The weather is good enough not to think of relocating somewhere else in Spain even once.
With its average of +19C in winter, the weather is quite welcoming to explore cities, small towns, and castles of the province. Usually, the temperature may fluctuate from +6C to +17C, but I did experience +20C in winter quite a few times.
Not to mention, lots of epic hikes in Valencia, like The Route of the Hanging Bridges. Blog subscribers, don´t forget to grab your Hiking Checklist for the Valencian Community (including top hikes in Valencia, Alicante, and Castellon) – winter in Spain is the best moment for the no-shady hikes.
While, in my opinion, Alicante has better hotels, the city of Valencia is more beautiful in terms of architecture and sightseeing. Winter is the perfect moment to explore the Hidden Gems of the Valencia Region and enjoy some epic day Valencia trips. While it´s better to move around by car, you also have lots of cool Valencia day trips by train.
Then you have the lesser-known internationally province of Castellon nearby, with lots of off-the-beaten-track destinations and no international tourists on the radar. This is why it’s also one of my summer favorites: when everywhere else is touristic, in Castellon you can still find lots of secret hiking trails, like Senda del Rio in Teresa, to escape both summer heat and crowds.
As one of the most vibrant and romantic places in Spain, Seville is featured in most of my Spanish travel content. It is one of the top favorites all year round and one of the best places to visit in Andalusia. The city is actually quite well-established on the tourist track, yet it is both bursting with life and quietly charming. Compared to Barcelona´s 16-32 million visitors, Seville´s 2 million feel like a catch for such an architectural beauty even in the summer months. But, of course, the winter season provides you with a more exclusive experience.
For first-time visitors, Seville offers all the famous things Spain globally ranks for: expressive flamenco, delicious tapas, unique fiesta, gorgeous architecture, and iconic landmarks. Yet, for Spain travel aficionados there will always be tones of new places to discover, from restaurants to museums&events.
For me, visiting Seville in winter is more about the city getaway. But you can also consider day trips to Huelva beaches like El Portil, Matalascañas, Islantilla, El Rompido, El Parador, Torre del Loro, Punta Umbria, Cuesta Maneli.
Alternatively, you can set your eyes on Malaga, a hometown of Pablo Picasso and Antonio Banderas. In my opinion, the city offers a similar to Seville experience, so it’s simply a matter of your personal choice. Malaga has a great location both to enjoy the winter sun in Spain and explore the whole Andalusia region. Although here, for the beaches you´ll head to Costa del Sol or Costa Tropical.
Almeria is the lesser-known region of Southern Spain, but quite sun-kissed as well. Besides the obvious gems like the Spanish Wild West and Mojacar, the prettiest of the Spanish white villages, the region of Almeria has quite a few great places to visit, including dreamy castles, and GOT filming locations.
Almeria´s desert-inspired climate is known for hot and humid summers and long dry refreshing winters. Although last time I was unpleasantly surprised by strong winds.
From November to March the average temperature is around +19C, with January being the coldest month when temperatures might occasionally drop to +8C degrees. Although the average January temperature is still around +16C.
A few words about the Spanish Balearic Islands. The local temperatures in winter vary from +7C to +16C, which is honestly colder than in Andalusia or in the Canary Islands. My favorite time to visit the Balearic Islands is late-Spring or Early Autumn. Then summer is the best if you´re into going out and nightlife.
As someone, who had previously visited Ibiza in August, April, and February, I seriously doubt you´ll be hitting local beaches in winter. Actually, it felt quite chilly in April. Not to mention the rainy February. Ibiza is a natural paradise all year round, but the Balearic Islands wouldn´t be my first choice to experience winter in Spain.
When it comes to places like Cadiz, Valencia, Alicante, or Barcelona and you get a few rainy days in a row – you just hide away from the weather with your sightseeing and dining out plans. With Ibiza, Menorca, or even my favorite Formentera, you´ll have it complicated to figure out your Plan B.
As the capital island, Mallorca has more alternatives. But yet, I feel like the winter months don´t favor experiencing the Balearic Islands at their best.
More winter sun destinations in Spain
Let’s discuss a few more places to enjoy the winter sun in Spain, that you might want to consider. The Spanish towns of Melilla and Ceuta are literally bordering with Morocco: the winter temperatures vary from +25-31C. We really can’t ignore the winter sun in both cases, but as I’ve personally haven’t visited either, it would be not fair to recommend them. There’s a border fence with Morocco in both places, which often appears in the local media in the context of the Global Refugee Crisis. Therefore, I´m not sure of the “feel” both places might have – will update this post once I get a chance to visit.
Also, you have a British overseas territory of Gibraltar, conveniently located near Tarifa and other Andalusia gems.
The last interesting tip: there’s a ferry running between Tarifa/Spain and Tangier/Morocco, which takes less than an hour. So you can still enjoy the perks of staying in Europe while taking a day trip to Morocco for some exotic feel of the African continent.