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Don’t know what to pack for Spain? If you’re planning a multi-city trip, assembling your Spain outfits can be tricky. You may have to dress for different types of weather! After all, Spain is the 10th most climatically diverse in the world. If you’re from the US or another western country, you’ll be glad to know the Spanish “dress code” isn’t radically different from other Western countries. And if you’re visiting Spain for the first time, it’s likely you’ll be walking through cobblestone streets, sitting in sunny plazas, or discovering solemn churches. So you’ll have to dress practically too! This guide is for women and men (mostly for women though). Keep reading to know what to wear in Spain – so you can fit in with locals and NOT stand out like a tourist!
I hate to make sweeping generalizations about Spain fashion because it’s such a diverse country. From my experience of living in Salamanca, Seville, and of course Barcelona, styles can vary. For instance, Catalan people can be very creative with their hairstyles. (So. Many. Hair salons.) Have you ever seen grandmas with fire red dyed hair? I’ve seen it so many times here! This isn’t so normal in Seville.
I’m also lucky to have traveled around Spain to Santander, Cáceres, Ávila, Toledo, etc. (not all at the same time), and it’s no secret that weather and regional culture influence their everyday style. So how do people dress in Spain in general? Welp, it’s 2019, and we’ve all witnessed how fast fashion and social media is trending towards a monoculture: same street style, same TV shows, same ideals – all driven by a global market. Take, for example, today’s fashionable athletic shoe, the ugly sneakers. People aren’t reserving them for the gym anymore. They’re wearing them everywhere. And it’s hit the older generations of Spain! I was just observing this morning here in Barcelona: abuelos and abuelas walking around with their nice slacks and double-breasted coats…and their sneaks! Ten years ago, it didn’t seem so acceptable. It’s just changing. So please don’t take this guide as gospel – but as a general guideline on to help you plan your things to pack for Spain!
Let’s check out the different climatic zones in Spain. In general, Northern Spain is rainier than the rest of Spain. The interior / continental zone is the coldest in the winter. Southern Spain is the hottest. Peek at this general map of the different climates of Spain.
|North (Asturias, Cantabria, Pais Vasco: Santander, San Sebastián, Bilbao)||Very warm and sometimes rainy||Mildly cold and rainy|
|Northwest (Galicia: La Coruña)||Very warm and rainy||Mildly cold and very rainy|
|South (Andalusia: Seville, Córdoba, Granada)||Very hot and semi-arid||Mildly cold|
|Continental / Central (Castilla-La Mancha, Aragon, Castilla Leon, Madrid, Extremadura, Valencia)||Hot and semi-arid||Cold|
|Northeast (Costa Brava / Barcelona)||Hot and humid||Mildly cold|
|Mountains (Sierra Nevada, Pyrenees, etc.)||Warm summers||Very cold|
|Southwest (Murcia, Almeria)||Hot and arid||Cold|
<<Coming to Barcelona? Check out my post on How to Dress in Barcelona According to Season!>>
The official winter season is December 22 to March 20. December is cold, but January and February are the coldest months (this year, 2019, spring seemed to come early. Climate change is real, no?)
Northern / Northwest Spain: Mildy cold and rainy, this region gets the most rainfall, even more so in Galicia. The average temperature in Bilbao is 13ºC-15ºC / 55ºF-59ºF. It can snow in the North, but it’s rare. Don’t expect a winter wonderland like Toronto or Moscow. It rains the most in Galicia!
Continental / Central Spain: The middle part of Spain is the coldest area and covers the largest climate area. In Madrid, it can be as cold as 1ºC/34ºF in February to 16ºC/61ºF in March. It’s also pretty dry so doesn’t get much rainfall. It can snow also, but it’s rare.
Mediterranean / Southern Spain / Catalonia: It’s cold, but milder than in Madrid. Sunshine can be tricky! It might be beautiful outside, but it’s freezing cold in the shade. In Seville, lows are around 6ºC / 43ºF and temps reach around 17ºC / 63ºF in March. Barcelona is very similar: it has sunny days but it’s still cold.
With colors, think neutral shades: gray, brown, black, or cream. These are shades that can be paired with anything. If you glance at a street in Spain, you’ll just see a general “dark colors” theme. The winter snow bunny look is not in the Spain dress code. (You know, white fur coat, wintery hat, with snowflake designs.)
Jeans and medium-weight pants like corduroys will keep you warm. Again, a base layer of pants isn’t necessary. Good leather shoes or cool sneaks. Wear a medium-weight to heavy jacket like a leather jacket, wool coat, or parka. Men also wear their clothes fairly fitted, but not tight. Baggy, oversized clothes are for teenagers!
Here are a few practical and fashionable items to put in your suitcase:
For a classic puffer jacket, Amazon Essentials has their own version (You know it has a good return policy!)
This jacket is a classic, and it will last you for years.
Okay, people, I’m seeing this look all over Pinterest, and I love how versatile this scarf is!
If you’ll be traveling in the big cities, especially Barcelona or Madrid, get an anti-theft travel purse! This is the one I have.
The spring season is March 22 to June 20. In spring, the weather warms up, but the temperatures are more erratic and less predictable. Sunshine hours extend a little longer, and sunny days are here. You can expect showers in April or May all around. The Spanish have a saying, “Hasta el cuarenta de mayo, no te quites el sayo.” In other words, don’t take off your coat until you’re absolutely sure that it won’t rain. Spanish people dress for the season and NOT the weather.
Atlantic / Northern Spain: It’s likely that it will rain here, especially in Galicia. The weather averages around the low 50s (F), (around 11-12ºC) then it gets warmer in June until the low 70s (around 22ºC). Remember, it’s colder in the north, and cold and wet in the Northwest!
Continental / Central Spain: You’ll have a wider range of temperatures from beginning to end of spring. Expect to about the 40s (F) (6ºC) in late March, then warming up to 80s (F) (28ºC) in May and June. Madrid, especially, is warmer than Barcelona because it’s inland. April and May get some rainfall, but nothing torrential. Expect nights to be cooler though. June starts to warm up. In Ávila, the average low in June is 51ºF / 11ºC and a high of 75ºF / 24ºC.
Mediterranean / Southern Spain / Catalonia: The southern region of Andalusia is the warmest of all Spain. In March, it’s about mid-40s (F) (7ºC) then climbs to about the 60s (F) (17ºC) in April and about mid-70s (24ºC) in June! Barcelona is similar, but expect more humidity. It does cool down in the evenings in both regions. In Barcelona, I wear a heavy sweater during the day (although many are still wearing their puffy parkas!). At night, wear a jacket or coat will keep you warm.
People are still wearing dark colors in March, although the brighter colors are beginning to creep in their spring wardrobes by April. If you’re out all day until evening, bring another layer in your purse or backpack. Tourists stick out if they’re wearing strappy dresses with sandals in April. If your outfit looks like a head-to-toe summer ensemble, then it’s best to wait until summer. Locals usually don’t show a lot of flesh even if it’s sunny outside. Chances are – that sunshine lasts for random spurts throughout the day – so locals lean towards dressing warmly.
Long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, cardigans, and hoodies are all a go! Men wear scarves mostly if it’s necessary i.e. it’s cold!, so you’ll see less male scarf-wearers in the spring. It’s more acceptable for men to wear more fitted tops and bottoms, and not so baggy like American men wear their clothes. You can also start wearing shorts in May (if it’s warm) or June.
Also, guys, do you want to tote around your wallet and keys more comfortably? Here, you can wear a man purse. (“It’s a satchel!”) No one will bat an eye.
Guys, check out this leather crossbody satchel! It’s still masculine and would fit everything you need to travel.
Check prices for this manly man satchel
A dress that looks good on any shape (check out the girl’s video in the description!)
The official summer season starts on June 21 and ends on September 23. June is warm but not OMG-take-me-to-the-beach-I’m-dying weather. July is full-force summer everywhere. The hottest month of the year is undeniably August. This is when most Spaniards take their vacations, and some take the whole month off! It’s warm weather everywhere!
Atlantic / Northern Spain: You can expect June to reach the high 70s (F) (26ºC) and August to be around high 80s (32ºC). Again, it’s the coolest part of Spain, so it won’t get to be unbearably hot.
Continental / Central Spain: Madrid is very hot and dry in the summer. It starts in the low 80s (F) (28ºC) to a high of 90s (F) (35ºC) in July and August. It doesn’t cool down too much at night!
Mediterranean / Southern Spain / Andalusia: It’s very hot in the south. (In 2004, I could literally CUT the heat with a knife.) Remember that Seville, Granada, and Córdoba are in the south, but inland, which makes the heat is semi-arid. The temperature starts in the 80s (F) (30ºC) in late-June, and in August reaches 90s (F) (34ºC) or more! Locals stay indoors like vampires and close their shades until 5pm during siesta time, then they’re back outside again having their beers.
Mediterranean / Barcelona / Costa Brava: I’m separating this out because the summer heat in Barcelona is different than from the South. Barcelona is less hot than the south but more humid. It reaches the high 80s (F) (32ºC), but it feels like MORE because of the humidity. At least in Barcelona, you have the beach nearby, where you can cool down!
By the end of June, sleeveless shirts, shorts, and sandals are typical clothing in Spain. Leather sandals are usually the preference vs. beachy flip-flops. For local looks, many people have espadrilles or menorquinas, which are traditional in many parts of Spain. Pick some up as a souvenir while you’re here!
Let’s talk flip flops real quick. They’re more acceptable at the beach. They don’t look so bad on a bunch of young people in a crowd (like below). No one will stare at you, but the rubber beach-type sandal looks too casual in a bar. If you must wear a flip-flop thong sandal, why not opt for something dressier?
In early to mid-June, be sure to bring a light cardigan or scarf as it cools down a little – you’ll still need that extra layer.
Summer clothes mean a lighter suitcase! Whoop! Locals are pretty conservative when showing flesh. You’ll see more skimpy outfits on teenagers like butt-cheek bearing shorts. What not to wear in Spain? Avoid wearing your swimsuits in public unless you’re super close to the beach. Even then, many locals cover up when they’re inside a beach shop.
Summertime is great for going casual. T-shirts, shorts, polo shirts are all acceptable. As I mentioned with the ladies, save your rubbery flip flops for the beach. Guys, it’s also acceptable for men to wear pink. Men can wear short-sleeved tops, polo shirts, or t-shirts. I see a lot of men wearing tank tops too. They also wear long shorts and sneakers or leather sandals. Men don’t really wear baseball caps or visors unless they’re doing sports or are at the beach. Again, men’s clothing is more fitted in Spain. What else do local men wear in Spain in the summer? This film nails it! (Plus this movie. SOOO good.)
Also, swimwear: local men don’t really wear those long surf shorts. They wear mid-thigh swim trunks. Speedos are not to be made fun of either here. Spanish men embrace their manhood!
Getting comfortable sandals are a must!
September season is September 22 to December 22. It’s still pretty warm all the way to November (I’m finding this truer every year due to climate change.) Fall is a great time to visit Spain because summer crowds have died down but the weather is still warm for outdoor activities. Again, Northern Spain is the coldest, then central Spain, then Barcelona and along the coast. Southern Spain is the warmest.
Atlantic / Northern Spain: Hot beach weather dissipates much more quickly in the North. Average temperatures in San Sebastian go from the mid-60s (F) (18ºC) in September down to 50s (F) (12ºC) in December. Expect some wet days in the Northwest of Galicia!
Continental / Central Spain: In Madrid, it’s still quite hot, so no cooling down yet in September. But with each month, the temperature drops about 10 degrees. It’s about 80ºF/27ºC in September, the 70s (F) (24ºC) in October, 60s (F) (18ºC) in November, and 50s (F)(10ºC) in December.
Mediterranean / Southern Spain: Fall is definitely an extension of summer. People are still hitting the beach in September and some of October but not in droves. Seville is still very warm, but it’s cooler along coastal towns like Málaga or Huelva.
Mediterranean / Barcelona / Costa Brava: September cools down gradually as the whole month is pretty much beach weather. It’s still humid! You’ll probably have some good beach weather in October also, with temps ranging between 61ºF – 80ºF (16ºC – 27ºC). The lowest low in November is 52ºF (11ºC), and in December stays around the 40s (5-9ºC).
September is still very much summer until the end, so you can still wear sleeveless tops and shorts. October is still warm, but you’ll want to cover up in the evenings. November is when true fall probably hits, so you’ll want to dig up your boots and scarves. As fall goes, use earth tones and dark colors again. Wear another layer – like a tank top or camisole underneath a long-sleeved top, or a long-sleeved top with a medium-weighted sweater. Always bring another layer at night!
As I mentioned, September and October are still pretty warm, so you can wear your shorts and short-sleeved shirts. A light jacket or medium-weight sweater or hoodie paired with jeans or slacks work well in November and December. Bring out your utilitarian scarves too!
What to wear when going out / partying at night. A general rule of thumb: If you’re hitting a dance club, you can wear your heels and mini-skirts. Guys, no t-shirts. For regular bars, shoot for dressy-casual.
Storing your wallet and other goods. In large cities, especially Madrid and Barcelona, be wary of pickpockets. I highly suggest you wear a cross-body purse. Get an anti-theft purse! I have two, and I use mine every day, not just for traveling. Basically, you can “lock” your zipper so pickpockets can’t easily get into your bag. It will give you extra peace of mind! Check out my buyer’s guide on the best anti-theft purses on Amazon. Also, read my post on how to not get robbed in Barcelona for more tips!
Blending in with is your whole package. You can tell if someone is a tourist based on their skin tone, hair, what they’re doing while out, or their attitude. On top of that, your attire can make a difference. In general, the more athletic look that you have, the more likely you’ll probably look like a tourist. I suppose it can go the other way too: a woman was wearing “military chic” (cool double-breasted military jacket with military hat) around the Sagrada Familia the other day. Obviously, she stood out :O Go for middle-of-the-road to not stand out.
If you’re coming for a formal event like a wedding, dress SHARP like the Spanish. Have you ever seen guests at a Spanish wedding? OMG, the guests are sooo beautiful to look at…
If you want to know what clothing shops they have for local taste, the megaconglomerates are Zara and H&M, where you’ll find international fast fashion. Other fashion brands in Spain are (both international and Spanish) are Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Desigual, Intropia, Stradivarius, Adolfo Dominguez, Pull & Bear, and Mango.
So, if you want to know who’s who in mainstream fashion, Princess Letizia Ortiz is the most heavily mentioned “fashion icon”. Granted, you’ll never see her in jeans, instead mostly dresses and skirts. You can also spy on Penelope Cruz (of course), Paula Echevarria, Cristina Pedroche, Sara Carbonero, Adriana Ugarte, Blanca Suarez, Inma Cuesta, or Amaia Salamanca, for starters. For men, I can only think of Cristiano Ronaldo lol! Only he’s Portuguese and lives in Spain. Who would you suggest for guys?
There you have it! Hope this gives you a firm grasp on what to wear in Spain! Hit me up with questions! Or tell me I’m sooo wrong! Hasta luego!
California native, churro aficionado, and mom of 3, Justine Ancheta writes fervently about Barcelona and Spain. Since 2008, she's been eating burnt onions (calçots) and tripping on cobblestones in the Gothic Quarter. She shares tips on popular attractions, exposes offbeat non-touristy spots, and gives insight on exploring Barcelona with kids. Her next Catalan culture challenge: top level of a human castle (castellers).
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