Maybe you’re visiting Madrid for the first time. Maybe you’re looking to go back. No matter the case, you want to book a trip to the Spanish capital. But while you know where you’re going, when to go to Madrid is a different question altogether.
As it turns out, there’s no right or wrong answer to the question of the best time of year to visit Madrid. With history, culture, art, architecture and sport, Madrid is a city that doesn’t rely on weather or events to attract the crowds (although its gorgeous climate certainly helps). Whether you’re a solo traveler, on a romantic weekend away, or taking a break with the family, the best time to go to Madrid is any time.
But to help make the decision of when to visit Madrid a little easier, let’s take a look at what the city offers its visitors throughout the year. Through summer, autumn, winter and spring, here’s what you can expect from Spain’s largest city.
Madrid in the summer
A semi-arid Mediterranean climate see the summer months in Madrid characterized by hot sunny days and warm nights. It can get toasty here (during July highs average over 32C/90F and lows over 19C/66F), so both locals and visitors can tend to swap the heat of the outdoors for trips to museums, shops or the cinema. Nonetheless, the city’s green spaces will still be filled with people exercising, enjoying picnics or lying in the sun. If it’s not the best time of year to travel to Madrid, it is definitely the most popular.
The best of Madrid in the summer:
- Enjoy a city swim: With the sun beating down on the city, and with the nearest coastline being over 300 km away, the people of Madrid rely on pools to keep themselves cool. Happily they aren’t short of choice. There are a wealth of public pools (Piscina Lago at Casa de Campo is one of the best) or you can enjoy the hospitality served up by one of the rooftop pools/bars of the city (we recommend the infinity pool at Hotel Indigo).
- La Verbena de la Paloma: One of Madrid’s largest traditional festivals, the ‘Virgin of the Dove’ festival has been celebrated since the 1700s, and is based around a painting of the virgin that is thought to have protective and curative powers. Expect eating, drinking, dancing and all manner of arts and crafts around Plaza de las Vistillas.
- Veranos de la Villa: ‘Summers in the City’ is a summer-long program of events held by the Madrid City council to celebrate this most vibrant time of year. Live music, art workshops, open air cinemas, skateboard competitions and dance performances are just a sample of the entertainment you can expect.
- Rooftop bars: What better way to soak up that Madrid sun than on top of a roof with a drink in hand? Head to the rooftop bars of La Azotea or Círculo de Bellas Artes for the very best views of the city.
Madrid in the fall
The crowds leave, the leaves crowd, and the stifling heat cools to a perfectly pleasant temperature. Madrid in the fall is a stunning place, with temperatures hovering in the 20s Celsius/70s Fahrenheit, trees changing colour, and the bulk of the tourists gone. For these reasons many people say that September and October are the best time to travel to Madrid. What’s more, there’s still plenty to see and do!
The best of Madrid in the fall:
- Walk through El Retiro Park: It’s often been said that Madrid doesn’t have a fall, but one walk through El Retiro Park in November will prove them wrong. Madrid’s most famous, popular and beautiful park, the leaves change at the end of autumn, creating a spectacular kaleidoscope of colors.
- Semana de la Arquitectura: For one week in early October every year Madrid becomes ground zero for fans of architecture. The most famous and stunning buildings in the city open their doors to visitors, while experts give talks to fascinated crowds. Even the kids are catered for, with interactive displays helping them to develop a love of architecture from an early age.
- Visit Mercado de San Miguel: With everything from apples and pears to mushrooms and olives coming into season, there’s no better time to wander aisle upon aisle of produce than a Madrid fall. And there’s no better place to do it than Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid’s most famous produce market.
- Festival Madrid en Danza: For three weeks in November Madrid becomes Europe’s capital of dance, with spectacular performances that cover every discipline imaginable. Be sure to catch a traditional flamenco show if you’re in town!
Madrid in the winter
A rather temperate winter – by European standards at least – is enjoyed by Madrid, with daily highs sitting around the 10C/50F mark. While not a particularly white Christmas, the Spaniards celebrate with their own traditions, and festivities are as vibrant and exciting here as anywhere! This is, without doubt, the cheapest time to visit Madrid, and while you’ll see far fewer tourists, there’s still plenty of fun to be had.
The best of Madrid in winter:
- Take a ride on the Christmas bus: In the lead-up to Christmas a new vehicle appears on Madrid’s roads. The Naviluz open top bus takes both locals and visitors on a tour of the best Christmas lights the Spanish capital has to offer, with many of the city’s most famous landmarks spectacularly lit up.
- Shop at a Christmas market: Madrid’s largest Christmas market is held in December, when Plaza Mayor is transformed with the sights, sounds and smells of the festive season. This huge event is all about excess, with food, drink and entertainment everywhere you turn.
- Enjoy chocolate and churros: What better way to warm yourself up than with that most Spanish of winter treats, churros and hot chocolate? Established in 1894, San Gines is Madrid’s most famous chocolate café, and is the best place to get an authentic chocolate and churro experience.
- Strap on some skis: While Madrid isn’t likely to have much powder to play in, the nearby Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range, a short drive northwest of the city, most certainly will. The ski fields are close enough for a day trip, so if you’re looking for some snowy fun, why not head for the hills?
Madrid in the spring
If it’s your first time, spring is perhaps the best time to go to Madrid, Spain. As the winter chill is replaced by warmth, the waterways, parks and public spaces come alive. Spring hits earlier here than almost all other European capitals, so a visit in March or April may be far more comfortable than you imagine! If you’re looking for a time of year with good weather, beautiful scenery and fewer tourists, spring is just the ticket.
The best of Madrid in spring:
- San Isidro Festival: While it’s fair to say that bullfighting isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, the sport is still a deeply respected piece of Spanish culture. The start of the bullfighting season is marked by San Isidro Festival, a celebration of the city’s patron saint that also includes concerts, fireworks and parades.
- Walk through the cherry blossoms: A beautiful confirmation that spring has sprung is offered up every year by Madrid’s cherry blossoms, which burst to life throughout the city. One of the best places to take your springtime snaps is at Quinta de los Molinos Park, which has row upon row of blossoming almond trees.
- Watch a La Liga match: Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid? Choose your answer carefully in Spring, when La Liga, Spain’s first division football league, is coming to a close. Home to two of the world’s biggest clubs, watching a match in Spain is an intense and exciting experience.
- Easter Holy Processions: The Spaniards have always taken their religion seriously, and this commitment is put on full display in the lead up to Easter, when a wealth of parades snake their way through the city’s streets. Expect spectacular dress, graphic recreations and plenty of sound and colour!