Visit Spain in Winter and stay for a while! Do you want to escape your harsh winter weather? Or maybe you just want a change of scenery? Would you be interested in living in Spain for a month or even 3 months? Why not spend your winter in Spain?
I do realize that this is a bit of a tease to US citizens at the moment and I do apologize. Just keep this in mind if the travel rules change in the near future. This was written in parts some time ago and is addressed to all readers around the world, so please do continue to dream. At the time of publishing, US Citizens can only enter Spain if they have Spanish residency.
Spain In Winter
Spain could be the perfect winter escape for you, If you are retired, why not give it a try? If you are still working, will your employer allow you to work remotely for a month or two?
If you are thinking about buying a property in Spain or moving to Spain, why not give it a test drive and spend a winter in Spain. You will see Spain in the winter and see if you would like it as a long term home.
How long can you visit Spain or live in Spain?
Well, let’s just say you have it made!
The free movement of persons is a fundamental right guaranteed by the EU to its citizens. It enables every EU citizen to travel, work, and live in any EU country without special formalities. The Schengen area cooperation enhances this freedom by enabling citizens to cross internal borders without being subjected to border checks. The border-free Schengen Area guarantees free movement to more than 400 million EU citizens, as well as to many non-EU nationals, businessmen, tourists, or other persons legally present on the EU territory.
Read more about the details of the Schengen Area.
US citizens and some non-EU citizens
US citizens can come to Spain and stay for up to 90 days, each 6-month period, without requesting a special visa! You get the benefits of the Schengen visa, without having to request it. A Schengen visa is a short stay visa allowing its holder to circulate in the Schengen area. The Schengen area covers 26 countries (“Schengen States”) without border controls between them.
Some non-EU countries do need to request a Schengen visa, read more here.
Just to provide a brief summary, the Schengen Area has an agreement between 26 countries (23 European Union states and 3 non-EU members). A Schengen Visa allows the holder to travel freely within the Schengen countries for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in a 6 month period, thus avoiding the hassle and expense of obtaining individual visas for each country.
In reality, you can spend the winter in Spain for one month, France for another month, and Italy for the third month. Better yet, see as many countries as you can in your 90 days!
Spain Winter Weather
Spain’s weather in winter varies based on location, just as it would in any other country. It is not like going to the Caribbean or southern USA for the winter. You may have over 320 days of sunshine along with the coastal areas, but that doesn’t mean it is warm. One thing we can count on in the winter are some spectacular skies. Rather than just a clear blue sky, the clouds add a bit of color, shape, and texture. Sometimes they catch the rays of the sun or show how full of rain they are.
Mediterranean Coast (Marbella to Barcelona)
I would say for the most part the Mediterranean coast has a milder shorter winter in general. In the dead of winter with a storm, so no sun, it could be about 8ºC (46ºF). If the sun is shining, it will feel warmer and the temps will be slightly warmer. The average winter temperatures are about 16ºC (59ºF), on the coast.
Even in the winter, there are sunny skies, but that doesn’t mean it is hot out. Many snowbirds from the north of Europe love the mild winter temperatures in Spain and even swim in the sea. Including Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Murcia, Almería, Costa Tropical, Málaga, Marbella. Basically, anything that falls along the longest road in Spain, the N340.
There are also small pockets of microclimates which ever so slightly alter the weather in Costa Tropical and other parts of Spain. The Costa Tropical is on the coast of the Granada province and surrounded by mountains and the sea, so it is tucked away. The coldest month tends to be February, as there are more rain and less sun. That said it sometimes shifts to January or March, but either way, it is a short period of time.
The weather can even be a few degrees cooler in the summer and a few degrees warmer in the winter, as compared to the nearby Costa del Sol and Málaga. This is likely true for the Marina Alta area in the Alicante province, with towns of Dénia and Jávea.
The north coast is along the Bay of Biscay and a touch of the Atlantic coast. This would be areas like Galicia, Gijón, San Sebastián, Santander, and Bilbao. These areas are lusher and greener than other parts of Spain, but there is a reason for that. Winters tend to last a bit longer and provide more rain, fog, and wind. The average temperatures for these areas are 8-13ºC (44-53ºF).
As mentioned previously a touch of Galicia is on the Atlantic coast, but in this section, I am referring to the part from southern Portugal to Gibraltar. This would be areas like Huelva and Cádiz and you will find them a bit on the windy side in the winter months. Just like the other coastal regions, the temperatures are mild and you will receive the occasional storm, but it is the wind that is your winter friend.
If you are into wind water sports, this may be ideal for you! The average temperatures for these areas are similar to the Mediterranean coast with the average winter temperatures at about 16ºC (59ºF),
I will admit, I am making a huge generalization here and considering most of Spain in this category. From Seville, Córdoba, Jaén, and Granada to Mérida, Salamanca, Madrid, Burgos, Logroño, and Zaragoza plus everything in between. Of course, these areas will vary slightly but most of them have 4 proper seasons. They tend to be hot in the summer over 38ºC (100ºF) and colder and drying in the winter from 6ºC (43ºF)
Once in a while, you may have a light or random snowfall, especially in late December and January. January is the coldest month of the year, in the inland areas. That said it isn’t all doom and gloom, there are plenty of crisp sunny days as well.
There are several mountainous regions all around Spain. The largest and likely the coldest would be the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the south with an average winter temperature of 3ºC (35ºF), As well as the Pyrenees from -5 to 5ºC (23-41ºF)in the north. Both of these are winter ski areas and obviously that means snow.
You also have the Picos de Europa are a mountain range extending for about 20 km, forming part of the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain. The range is situated in the Autonomous Communities of Asturias, Cantabria and Castile and León. If you like rain and snow, then this is your winter destination. Snow can fall from the middle of September onward, remaining thick on the mountain tops until May. The weather is cooler with the average being 13ºC (54ºF), but if the sun isn’t out it will feel much colder.
The other mountainous regions of Spain are very similar to those listed above.
The Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the coast of northwestern Africa, are rugged volcanic isles known for their black and white-sand beaches. This includes the diverse islands of Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, and La Graciosa.
The weather in the Canary Islands is vastly different from mainland Spain, as these islands are off the west coast of Africa. The Canary Islands weather in December is ideal and what some might consider warm. The average winter temperatures in the Canary Islands is about 20ºC (68ºF). So, if you are truly looking for a warmer winter destination in Spain, then this may be your best bet.
These are an archipelago of islands in Spain in the western part Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast, Barcelona, and Valencia. The four largest islands are Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera.
Winters in the Balearic Islands are very similar to that of the Mediterranean coast, with average winter temperatures of 16ºC (59ºF). Keep in mind winter is the rainy season, so it may feel cooler if the sun isn’t out.
Spain winter rentals
When planning to move to Spain for the winter, you don’t really need to target the first of the month. There isn’t really a concept of moving in only on the first of the month, though it can be done. Usually, when a property is listed, it is vacant and ready for someone to move in right away, in some cases even the next day.
When you are renting in Spain for winter, you may have a few more options to choose from. Many of the coastal areas are full for the summer high season, but sit empty the rest of the year. Many places have a variety of short-term rental offerings in Spain during the winter months or off-season.
Where to search for winter rentals in Spain
Of course, you can use the standard Airbnb or VRBO holiday rental sites, but they may be a little more expensive as compared to something listed by an agent. The term Inmobiliaria is a real estate agency. Below are some of the most popular rental sites for Spain. Many realtors list on these sites in addition to their own websites.
- An example from one of our local agents in Costa Tropical
- Milanuncios https://www.milanuncios.com/
- Fotocasa https://www.fotocasa.es/en/
- Kyero https://www.kyero.com/
- Idealista https://www.idealista.com/en/
- Pisos https://www.pisos.com/
- Apartments & Villas with VRBO –
Search for the perfect property here. (With over 2800 listings in the area). This is very popular in the area and you can get some really great prices on villas with spectacular views.
- Apartments, Rooms, & Villas with Airbnb –
If you are new to Airbnb and are looking to either rent a room or the entire place,
use this code to receive a discount on your first booking.
Periods of Winter Rentals in Spain
When searching for your winter rental in Spain, you want to be on the lookout for the type of rental being offered. There are different types of rentals available, which may not be consistent between all agents.
This is usually rentals by the week, two weeks, or month for up to 8 weeks. Often furnishing, utilities, and internet are included. They may offer a discount for a month or longer, but if they are charging by the week the overall price for a month may be more.
A short-term rental is usually from 2-10 months, during the off-season (September to June). Often furnishing, utilities, and internet are included. These are quite often holiday rentals in the high season and then converted to a longer rental in the winter months. So, you have the conveniences and supplies of a move-in ready holiday rental, but usually for a better price. These tend to be reasonably priced and much cheaper than a holiday rental.
Teacher or School year Rental
A teacher or school year rental is usually a full 10 months. These are offered during the school year only from September 1 to June 30. Prices for this period are typically the best, as they can still use the property for holiday rental and high prices during the summer. It was designed to help teachers who need to relocate for the school year, but it is readily available to anyone. Often furnishings are included, but utilities and the internet are your responsibility.
Working and Living in Spain
If you are remote working and living in Spain for the winter, I am not sure what the Spanish authorities think of this. I also don’t know of a way they would know you were working remotely for a month or two either. The new trend of digital nomads, location independent is taking the world by storm and many countries don’t have clear rules set for this.
I know if you plan to stay the full year and work remotely, even for another country, you need to have a proper work visa. Some countries are creating special residencies or visas to accommodate this type of travel, but I am afraid Spain isn’t quite there yet.
Here are some informative brochures from the Spanish ministry about officially working and living in Spain.
Spain Winter Events & Celebrations
These are the national events, but each Autonomous Community, Province, or Municipality may have additional local celebrations observed during these times.
- December 6 – Constitution Day
- December 8 – Immaculate Conception Day
- December 24 – Christmas Eve
- December 25 – Christmas day
- December 31 – New Year’s Eve
- January 1 – New Year’s Day
- January 5 – Three Kings parades
(similar to Christmas Eve awaiting gifts form the 3 Kings)
- January 6 – Epiphany
6 weeks prior to Easter – Carnaval
(it marks the start of Lent and is similar to Mardis Gras)
There are wild festivities in Tenerife, Cadiz & Sitges during the Carnival celebrations and certainly worth experiencing.
Semana Santa – Holy Week
The week prior to Easter.
Spain Costas or the Spanish Coasts provide a great variety of beaches, towns, and coves to choose from. Spain is known as the Iberian Peninsula, which is shared with Portugal. Being a peninsula means there is plenty of Spanish Coastline to discover and experience. Along the south and east are the Mediterranean beaches. Then the west and north provide you with Atlantic or Bay of Biscay beaches.
Are you coming to Spain for the winter?
Tell us what else you need to know. You can try Spain on for size and spend a little extra time here before deciding to retire in Spain or make that move to Spain for a year. Either way, if you are fortunate enough to have flexibility with your time, job, and responsibilities, why not try them remotely in the land of tapas?