Famous for its mediterranean weather and iconic coastline, Spain is one of Europe’s most traditional summer destinations. Nevertheless, the country is home to several winter gems that are just now being unraveled by tourists from all over the world. So sit tight as we break down the top winter trips in Spain!
1. Sierra Nevada
Just outside of Granada lies Sierra Nevada, a popular hub for winter-sports enthusiasts. Having been a host for countless winter sports competitions, Sierra Nevada is especially famous for its Sky Station, the highest one in all of Spain. Even those who are no so fond of outdoor sports are sure to have a good time there, as the valley is less than 30km away from the city of Granada and its natural landscape is an Unesco biosphere reserve since 1986, making it great for exploring and hiking.
Way to go: Buses going from and to Granada work daily, even out of the skiing season.
Best time to go: The ski season in Sierra Nevada spams from late November up to early May (depending on the weather).
Bilbao makes it to the list of best winter breaks because of its unique offbeat Christmas traditions. Every year, the Basque Country comes alive with festive rites, like the Feast of Saint Thomas (21/12), when they wear traditional basque clothes (casera for the girls and txapela for the boys) and eat typical delicacies, such as talos and txistorras. They even have their own version of Santa, called Olentzero!
In addition to all the basque traditions revolving around this time of the year, Bilbao has some great available day trips, like San Sebastian or Gaztelugatxe (which comes from the basque term gaztelu gaitza, meaning “rough fort”), a 9th century hermitage site that was used as a setting for the HBO series Game of Thrones.
Way to go: Bilbao has an international airport of its own and the region is well connected by inexpensive bus lines.
Best time to go: Between December 21st and January 6th in order to truly feel the basque Christmas.
Museo Guggenheim , Bilbao
Known for its intense parties and crowded beaches, off-season Ibiza is a destination full of surprises. As the locals take the island back from the summer-time tourists, this balearic island shows its hidden gems: fishings bays and quiet villas carved all over the island come into the spotlight as the nightclubs are closed after summer.
Even if you’re eager for some winter sun, you’ll still be able to enjoy the island’s paradisiac beaches, since the temperature there can even surpass 20°C between December and February.
Way to go: The small island is served by the international airport only 6km away from Ibiza city.
Best time to go: Try to go in January or February, as the island’s numerous almond trees blossom.
Be it Córdoba, Sevilla, Cádiz or Málaga, Andalucía’s unique appeal is only topped by the warm weather it sustains even during the coldest months. For most of us, summer in southern Spain can be quite rough, as thermometers frequently surpass 40°C, but during wintertime the weather is far more pleasant, as temperatures navigate around 20°C during the day.
Above all that, this autonomous region in Spain is home to 7 Unesco World Heritage Sites (including the centuries-old Alhambra and Seville Cathedral, the biggest cathedral in the world), so it never comes short of things to do and see year round!
Way to go: Several highways and airports connect the region (Malaga and Sevilla International Airports are among the biggest nationwide).
Best time to go: Although the region is relatively warm even during the winter, try to go on February to avoid rainy days.
5. Canary Islands
As unexpected as it is, the Canary Islands are probably the ultimate winter break destination in Spain. Virtually immune to the Old Continent’s cold winter days, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura boast temperatures that rarely go below 20°C, making them the perfect place for some winter warmth. You are sure to fall in love with the islands’ natural parks, small coastal villages, seafood cuisine and volcanic landscape, as this region retains its summer glamour even during the coldest months.
Way to go: The only possible access is by plane, which is not a problem since all major islands have at least one airport connected to mainland Europe. There’s also some ferry routes leaving from Cádiz.
Best time to go: Avoid December, since it’s the islands’ most humid month.
Cañadas del Teide, La Orotava, Spain
Now that you know that you can’t go wrong by picking Spain as your winter destination, it’s only a matter of choosing which option best fits your holiday expectations! Either way, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and discover this diverse country and its many regions. Don’t forget to let us know about your go-to winter spot in Spain!
Related post: Music Festivals in Spain in the summer
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João is here to facilitate your experience abroad with any and every insider tip that might be useful to you: from renting advice to travel counselling, he tackles this topics in a light and instructive way. By day a tireless traveler, by night a compulsive eater, he's specially passionate about History and culture and will share his insights as he himself uncovers the expat life.