Packing for Spain in winter can be a tricky task - it's undoubtedly the season of overcoats and scarves, but it's really just not that cold in Spain for most international travelers! So, what to wear in Spain in winter? Let's dive in!
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Visiting Spain in winter
If you are, like I was just a few weeks ago, wondering what to wear in Spain in winter, thankfully I have some answers for you!
We recently returned from a lovely visit to Madrid and Barcelona, which we scheduled over the end of holidays. We left the US just a couple days after Christmas, spent New Year's in Madrid (soon to be the topic of its own blog post - if you're considering it, reach out and I can give you my thoughts), and then travelled to Barcelona on January 2, where we spent the remaining 5 days of our time in Spain.
Winter is a lovely time of year to explore Spain. We were able to spend as much time out of doors as we normally would on a Europe trip, which is frankly phenomenal in January. In 10 days, we didn't have a drop of precipitation until we were in the cab heading to the airport. And, in addition, we dealt with fewer crowds, no blistering sun, and got to experience a generally laid-back, holiday atmosphere! There were some closures and limited opening hours to keep in mind, but with a bit of research, those can be navigated easily enough!
What's the weather like in Spain in the winter?
Unsurprisingly, winter in Spain is just "not that cold." As they enjoy significantly different weather, t's worth discussing Madrid and Barcelona separately.
In Madrid, the average high/low expectation in January is 50/37, with only around 5 days of rain during the month. The temperature warms up steadily as each day goes on, with the mornings being a bit chilly, but with the sun often shining and the weather becoming more comfortable in the afternoon. It's possible to grab a drink/lunch outside, particularly on a warm day, or with a heat lamp.
Barcelona is significantly warmer in winter, both in objective temperature 59/48, and in the sun's intensity! Mornings in Barcelona aren't nearly as chilly as in Madrid, and you'll see plenty of people eating and drinking perfectly comfortably outdoors throughout the day! See example a, below!
Now that we've discussed the weather basics of winter in Spain, let's move on to the actual packing!
Don't forget the packing cubes!
When you're packing for Spain (or any destination in Europe), why not start your trip off right by keeping your suitcase organized throughout your trip with packing cubes! Especially when I'm moving hotels during a trip, as we, and many people did/do in Spain, being able to maintain some semblance of order in the suitcase is paramount.
When I'm packing, I generally put small items in one cube (socks, undergarments), sweaters in another, pajamas in a third, and then I bring an empty one for either shoes, trinkets, or dirty clothes!
For even more Europe Travel Essentials, check out the full list!
What do people wear in Spain?
In general, in Spain's major cities, people are nicely dressed, but fairly casual. The Spanish definitely bundle up in winter, and wear a lot of black - this surprised me! I wore a lot of my nice jeans and fit right in (if you've been following the blog for a bit, you'll know I can get weird about jeans in Europe!) Ok, time to talk specifics!
What to Wear in Spain in Winter: Light-weight coat
If you only buy one thing before your trip to Spain this winter, make it a lightweight puffer coat, in black. Compared to most of Europe, and certainly with North America, Spain in winter feels more like an autumn temperature, so I wouldn't recommend bringing your large, wool winter coat that you might wear in Chicago. It'll take up a ton of room in your suitcase/under your seat on the airplane, and you simply won't wear it. This light-weight puffer coat is more than enough to get you through the chillier mornings in Madrid, but not so warm that you have to take it off in the afternoons. And you'l fit right in. I'm serious - everyone had one.
What to Wear in Spain in Winter: Ski hat
I was a bit surprised to see that many ladies were rocking winter ski/snow hats - almost always with the little furry poof on top! I hadn't packed mine (I normally save that for when it's 10 degrees in Indy!), and I wouldn't say you'd strictly need it to stay warm if you're used to a colder climate, but they sure are cute!
What to Wear in Spain in Winter: Jacket
When spending time in the warmer portions of Spain, toward the South and the Mediterranean, the omnipresent sort-of-winter coat we discussed above might not even be necessary. For those occasions, it's jacket time! I ended up buying a cute one in Barcelona while we were there (no online shop, unfortunately). Clean lines and basics colors and you'll fit right in! If it's warm enough, I like a nice blazer, just to finish off the outfit and stay warm!
What to Wear in Spain in Winter: Cross-body bag
An unfortunate reality for any tourist, particularly in Barcelona, is pickpockets. You *must* bring a bag that takes precautions against pickpockets. In short, you should select a bag that closes fully, and preferably one that has multiple barriers between your valuables and creeping hands! On days where we visited major tourist attractions, I wore my cross-body purse under my coat. Amazon has quite a few options that are specifically marketed as "anti-theft," though I opted for one from Nordstrom, myself.
Unless you *must,* do not bring a backpack. It's too easy for thieves to reach in without you noticing and sneak away before you've even realized you're being robbed. Also, as in most countries in Europe, you will have to "check" a backpack before entering museums, such as the Prado, which can add a lot of extra lines and hassle to a visit.
For more on pickpockets in Spain, check out 10 Common Tourist Mistakes in Spain.
What to Wear in Spain in Winter: Comfortable shoes
No matter where you'll be visiting in Spain, and frankly regardless of season, you'll be doing lots of walking. Though it's not super chilly, you'll definitely want full foot coverage! I alternated between my favorite Sam Edelman loafers and boots.
I saw a ton of people wearing black booties. I really liked these sort of utilitarian-looking ones. Why not select a waterproof option?
What to Wear in Spain in Winter: Casual sweater
With the relatively mild winter weather, very light-weight sweaters are perfect for under those light jackets. And, if it gets warmer in the afternoon, a sweater is enough to keep you comfy without the coat before the sun goes down!
If you're looking to splurge, J McLaughlin has the most gorgeous cashmere sweaters. I also bought some "tissue" turtlenecks from J Crew - which were a good weight for me, as a Midwesterner - so my Canadian friends might be more comfortable in these as well :)
While you're here...
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a lovely trip to Spain this winter and that you found these tips helpful when assembling your essentials! You may also like my recent post on Spain, 10 Common Tourist Mistakes in Spain.
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