Spain in December: Festivities in Low Season

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Spain in December can be a great month to explore the country, even though it is a popular summer destination, especially since a lot of celebrations and fanfare take place at this time of year. Like most parts of the world, Christmas is the most important festival in this winter month in Spain! However, besides this festive extravaganza, there are plenty of other activities in Spain in December!

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Spain Weather in December

A nice shorebreak during sunset at the Zurriola beach of San Sebastian.
San Sebastian is known for its wide sandy beaches, churches, and Basque cuisines.

Get the fire going and cozy up in your warm wraps as you prepare for the cold December month. Though warmer than most European cities, parts of Spain in December can still get chilly. The coldest temperatures can be found inland, in cities such as Madrid, where the mercury can drop to 0℃ at night. Cities in the north, such as San Sebastian and Bilbao, are warmer, with lows of 5℃ and highs of 13℃.

The mercury climbs as you travel southward. If you want to escape the bitter cold of northern Europe, Spain’s Mediterranean coast is the ideal place for you. For instance, in Barcelona, the average temperature in December is 12℃. Though mostly dry, expect seven to eight days of rain throughout Spain in December.

For a seasonal overview, check out our travel guide on the best time to visit Spain.

Weather in Spain in December - Rainfall and Temperatures

Nov Dec Jan
Avg Daily (°C) 15 11 10
Avg Nightly (°C) 4 2 1
Avg Daily (°F) 59 52 50
Avg Nightly (°F) 40 36 34
Avg Rainfall (mm) 50 50 40

Why Visit Spain in December

Guggenheim Bilbao Spain
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao houses a collection of contemporary artwork from all over the world.
Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain
CaptionThe tinted glass reflection adds up to the intricate interior of the Sagrada.

Travelers from all over the world pour into Spain in July and August to soak up the sun. However, visiting Spain in winter will give you a completely different perspective of the country and help you get under the skin of its culture, all the while avoiding long queues and sky-high accommodation prices. Below we have listed a few reasons why it is worth heading to Spain in December.

  • Christmas season: Christmas is one of the most important festivals in Spain and spending a couple of days in the country during this time will not disappoint you! You can visit Vigo, in Pontevedra, to wander among millions of lights that decorate the city at night or go bargain-hunting in the Christmas market in front of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
  • Fewer tourists: December is a low season in terms of tourism in Spain. Take this opportunity to wander amid the fairy tale setting of Parc Güell and browse through the collection of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Culture vultures will get more opportunities to mingle with locals in December than at any other time of year.
  • More affordable prices: Prices of accommodation, activities, and airline tickets tend to be cheaper in December as high-season crowds are yet to settle in.
  • Winter sports: Even though it is rare to see snow in Barcelona and Madrid, there are a few mountainous areas in the country where you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding. The most popular destination is the Sierra Nevada Mountain chain, close to Granada, while the Pyrenees and Teruel are also not far behind. Alternatively, you can take equestrian tours in Spain on warmer winter days.

Where to go and what to do

Cityscape of Cuenca at sunset in Castile   La Mancha, Spain
Besides visiting the outstanding art museums, you can also wander the ancient streets and picturesque alleys in Cuenca, Spain.

Granada should be a pit stop for those interested in winter sports. This city is located close to Sierra Nevada National Park, home to the highest mountain range in the country, where one can enjoy all sorts of winter sports.

Similarly, those into arts and culture are sure to have a field day in Barcelona and Madrid. Find yourself surrounded by the works of some of the greatest artists the world has ever seen during your trip to museums, such as El Prado and Picasso. Those interested in Christmas celebrations can head for the city of Arcos de la Frontera, where the nativity scene is reenacted every year. About 20,000 people from all over Spain come to watch this remarkable show.

Food lovers will find themselves at home in Jijona, located in the Alicante region, where a Christmas fair is organized. Here, you will get the chance to try a variety of local products like turrón and marzipan.

In addition to all this, December is also a great month to visit the national parks located in the south of the country before the unbearable summer heat makes the journey uncomfortable. Discover Parque Natural del Estrecho, which is located at the southernmost tip of the Spanish mainland and is home to numerous species of birds.

Although spending your winter holidays on the Iberian Peninsula might not sound like a good idea, visiting Spain in December comes with many perks. Temperatures are mild, especially when compared with other European destinations, and the country offers plenty of activities for all kinds of travelers. You can opt for an adventurous skiing trip in the Pyrenees, go museum-hopping in Madrid, be part of festive crowds in towns and cities throughout the country, or even explore national parks and wildlife reserves.

Wondering how long does it take to cover it all? Check out our travel guide on how many days to spend in Spain for more ideas and insights. If you are in the process of planning your custom trip to Spain and need some help, feel free to reach out to our local travel experts. You can also browse through our trips to Spain in December for more ideas and inspiration.

More Information

Published by Will Cooper, updated on June 16, 2023

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