Visiting Spain in December? You're probably not coming for the beaches at this time of year. But what weather can you expect at this time of year? Will you be spending all your time eating and drinking outside or will you be scurrying from museum to museum?
Spain is one of the warmest countries in Europe, but you won't escape a European winter by heading south. Spain's winters are milder than in much of Europe, but it would be a mistake to come without a jacket. Friends of mine recently had their Christmas break in Barcelona inconvenienced by one of them thinking he wouldn't need more than a sweater.
White Christmas in Spain?
A white Christmas is largely impossible in Spain. None of the biggest cities get snow at Christmas. The coldest cities in Spain are Leon, Burgos and Cuenca and none of these have had a white Christmas in recent memory. The only place you could get to see snow on Christmas Day would be up a mountain. Check out this page on Skiing in Spain.
Weather in Madrid in December
Main article: Weather in December in Madrid
Madrid can get cold in December, especially at night where it could be below zero. In my first winter in December we had just one heater to share between three bedrooms and it was cold, believe me!
The average maximum temperature in Madrid in December is 52°F/11°C and the average minimum temperature is 36°F/2°C. But averages only tell half the story - click on the link above for the other half.
See also: 100 Things to Do in Madrid
Weather in Barcelona in December
Main article: Weather in December in Barcelona
The sea has a warming effect in winter, so Barcelona isn't as cold in December as in Madrid, but it can still get pretty cold. Rain and overcast days are common, though there should be some sunny (cold) days.
The average maximum temperature in Barcelona in December is 57°F/14°C and the average minimum temperature is 43°F/6°C.
Read more about Barcelona
Weather in Andalusia in December
If you're one of those people that seizes up in the cold, Andalusia is your only (near) guarantee of good weather in Spain in December. It can get chilly at night (less so in coastal areas). However, on average it rains on one-in-three days in Andalusia, but nothing is perfect!
The average maximum temperature in Malaga in December is 63°F/17°C and the average minimum temperature is 48°F/9°C.
Read more about Andalusia
Weather in Northern Spain in DecemberI spent New Year's Eve in San Sebastian in 2006 and I was able to go out in a t-shirt (see this picture of San Sebastian's beach that I took that day) but the locals were extremely surprised by this virtual heatwave. On average it rains on 50% of days in December in Bilbao, so dress appropriately.
The average maximum temperature in Bilbao in December is 57°F/14°C and the average minimum temperature is 45°F/7°C. Note that it can get quite a bit colder further inland.
Weather in North-West Spain in DecemberThe wettest region in Spain has its wettest month in December (it rains on 21 days out of 30 in December in Santiago). It doesn't get as cold as it does inland (especially at night, when it's as warm as the Costa del Sol) but you won't notice this as you'll be soaked to the bone.
The average maximum temperature in Santiago de Compostela in December is 55°F/13°C and the average minimum temperature is 9°C.
Read more about North-West Spain