Spain has a winter!?
It may be hard to believe, but the perpetually sunny Spain does get cold.
It will rarely dip below freezing during the day and snow is rare. If you’d like to avoid heaping piles of snow on your winter travels, then Madrid is one of the best winter destinations in Europe!
Still, you will want to consider what to wear in Spain in winter while packing your bags. Layers are key in Spain no matter what the season.
In winter if the sun is shining bright, it can easily get up to 50 or even 60 (in the South) degrees Fahrenheit during the high point of the day. Meanwhile, at night it can dip down to the low thirties and even twenties depending on where you are.
That being said, here are a few essential items for a pack for your winter travels in Spain. As always, everything we recommend is 100% animal product free, environmentally friendly, and supports fair labor practices.
To the ethical point, we aim to avoid purchasing on Amazon.com for many reasons, meaning we won’t link to Amazon unless it’s truly the only place to find something. You can read more in this article: Ethical Alternatives to Amazon.
A big tenet of sustainability is using what you already have, so look in your closet first for the items we’ll talk about below. If you need something, consider shopping secondhand, either at local thrift shops or on Poshmark (btw, use code SAMANTHRO for $10 off your first Poshmark purchase).
You’ll notice that we mention theft quite a bit in this article. There’s nothing to be afraid of in Spain: it’s incredibly safe. We have never personally experienced theft in Spain (might be because we’re jaded New Yorkers wary of anyone who gets to close), but it happens to a looooot of travelers. Keep a mindful eye on your belongings, and you’ll be fine.
Now, let’s get to our recommendations of what to wear in Spain in Winter!
Clothing to Wear in Spain in Winter
Ok, we all know to pack some shirts, pants, and underwear. As one of our Spanish friends put it, “wear a lot of black.” Works for us, since so do New Yorkers, and most of our wardrobe is black already.
Spaniards, especially in cities, are quite stylish. This doesn’t mean you can’t wear jeans – far from it. Everyone wears jeans, just not the super crazy ripped ones that look like they’re about to disintegrate into a pile of fabric scraps. Basically, dress casually but nicely and you’ll fit right in.
We’ve lived in Spain for several years teaching English, and these are the recommendations we always make for what to wear in Spain in winter!
Read more on teaching English in Spain: Auxiliares de Conversación: Your FAQs Answered!
Also read: Why We Moved to Madrid
Insulated, Water Resistant Coat
Yes, you’ll need a heavy coat and something that can handle some rain. We recommend something with a hood to keep your head nice and dry.
When it comes to traveling light yet practically, your articles need to cover multiple purposes. We like to do a mix of urban explorations and outdoor adventures, so we want our clothing to fit both purposes. For us, our main coat needs to look fashionable in cities, yet be functional enough to wear hiking. Also keep in mind that whatever jacket you bring, make sure it has pockets that can zipper to prevent pick-pocketing. If you’ve already got a jacket that checks all the above boxes, then you’re all set!
If you need a jacket rec, we suggest any number of Patagonia’s jackets. We love Patagonia for many reasons. All the Patagonia products we own are durable and high quality, but most importantly for us as sustainable travelers, Patagonia is committed to ethics and the environment, paying their workers a fair wage and using recycled, environmentally friendly materials. Yes, you’ll pay a bit more up front for their products, but you’ll rest easy knowing you’re supporting a better world for all. Plus, since they’re so high quality, you won’t have to replace your items nearly as much.
The Patagonia Quandary jacket is a insulated, warm, versatile, and waterproof yet breathable. We think hoods are essential in cool weather, but the hood is also removable if you prefer that sleeker, hoodless look. It’s hard to beat a coat that’s designed for colder weather, can break the wind, is water proof, and overall make you feel cozy and not exposed to the elements. We prefer a coat in black as stains and dirt don’t show, but they do have a variety of colors if that’s your thing.
Plus, the zippers! They’re coated with waterproof material, meaning that water is not getting in. Tuck your phone in the interior or exterior chest pocket for easy access, knowing that it’ll stay dry and safe from pick-pockets.
Thick-ish Sweater or Hoodie
If you’re visiting Spain in winter, you’ll need a sweater. Again: layers! Bring your favorite all-purpose sweater that is easy to take on and off with changes in temperature. We prefer zip or button up over pullover for this reason, but of course that’s personal preference.
Water Resistant Boots
Apart from the coastal north (regions of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Basque Country), it doesn’t rain often in most of Spain. However, winter is the time Spain receives the most rain. And of course, if you’re up north, it rains a lot. In any case, what we’re saying is that when packing winter clothing for a trip to Spain, make sure that your shoes are waterproof.
You’ll rack up a lot of time meandering around cute Spanish towns and bustling cities. Don’t forget some comfortable (key!!) walking boots or shoes. We’d recommend avoiding anything with more than a minor heel. Cobblestones are iffy in normal weather and extra slippery in the rain!
You can’t go wrong with a black ankle boot or flat shoe. Just make sure it’s comfy – we can’t stress that enough.
For something sleek and minimal that doesn’t have a heel, check out the waterproof Denver boot from eco-friendly shoe company, Xero shoes. We looove their products. So comfy and stylish. Click here to check out Xero shoes.
Outdoor Accessories to Wear in Spain in Winter
These are some must-haves when visiting Spain during October-March. If you’re moving to Spain for an extended period of time, check out our post: What To Bring When Moving to Spain.
Do not leave a scarf off your Spain winter packing list!! First, a scarf seems to be the obligatory fashion for Spaniards in cooler weather. Don’t unleash the wrath of the Spanish grannies concerned that you’ll catch cold – remember your scarf!
You can wrap it tight or loose, and even tuck it under your zipper line to increase insulation as necessary. You don’t need anything super warm as then you’ll get too hot when it’s sunny. Something with a t-shirt like fabric does the trick. We especially love big scarves that can be used as shawls on cold buses, trains, and planes.
I don’t know about you, but I seem to have acquired a million scarves over the years. If you don’t have a scarf lying around in your closet, why not get a super travel friendly scarf with pockets?!
This travel scarf is cotton, adds a pop of color, doubles as a shawl, and also has handy pockets for keeping your phone when you don’t wanna carry a purse or man bag. You can also slip some euros in for a cheeky glass of wine or beer on a terrace.
Light Touchscreen Gloves
Of course, it helps if your jacket has pockets to stuff your hands, but sometimes that’s not enough. You don’t need heavy gloves that reduce your dexterity – slim ones should do the trick. These ones are lightweight and stretchy.
A Warm Hat
Yes, you may want a warm hat. While I spend most of winter not wearing one, having the option is key, especially when you plan to be outside exploring. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with this cozy beanie made from recycled yarn. It’s not itchy and can fit all sorts of sized heads (Sam steals it sometimes).
If you’re not into hats, discreet foldable ear muffs would do the trick too.
Don’t forget your sunnies! We’ve been talking a lot about the potential for rain in the winter, but it very well might be very sunny your whole trip if you get lucky! Unless you’re in the north, it would be very rare to spend a whole week in Spain without several sunny days, even in winter.
Can’t find your sunglasses or need some new ones? What about the world’s first biodegradable sunglasses? Don’t worry, they’re still super stylish 😉
Other Essentials to Pack for Spain in Winter
These are some essentials that we take wherever we go, but that we especially recommend if you’re visiting Spain in winter.
Of course you don’t want to lug your luggage around. But it definitely helps to keep some things on you while you explore.
Fanny packs are back in style in a BIG way, especially in Spain. So don’t worry about fitting in with one of these slung around your waist or around your shoulders (just be sure to keep it securely in front of you at all times). I’m pretty obsessed with my fanny pack. It’s lightweight yet very roomy and fits everything I need: keys, wallet, phone, extra change, earbuds, etc. Click here to get the specs on this hip pack.
Light Day Bag or Backpack
If you’re not a fanny pack…fan (heh), then we recommend a cross body bag that you can keep in front of you at all times, especially when going through crowds in the bigger cities like Barcelona and Madrid.
Visiting Madrid? Read: Visiting Madrid’s Main Sights for Free and Cheap
Be mindful when using bags with zippers on the outside – if you plan to sling it across your back, these can be easily opened and stolen from. One way to combat that is to sling a cross body bag in front of you. We have tried cross body bags and just don’t like how they weight on our shoulders after a long day of exploring. Plus, they don’t transition well to more outdoors activities such as light hiking.
For a safe backpack experience, it might be worth investing in an anti-theft bag such as this one. It has anti-theft locking sliders and zipper locks to prevent theft. And perhaps most importantly, it’s urban and sleek looking, meaning you won’t scream “tourist.”
If you want to go even more streamlined than a bag or fanny pack, then you can use a money belt to keep your valuables secure. We don’t use these and instead opt for a fanny pack or backpack. But we know that many people do like to use a money belt instead.
No matter what, we’d recommend keeping your passport at home. There’s really no reason to keep it on you every day when you’re exploring.
Reusable Water Bottle
As you’ll quickly notice, Spanish restaurants don’t give out water as readily as U.S. ones. Keep a water bottle on hand and you’ll always be hydrated. Just fill up from bathroom sinks – Spain’s tap water is fine to drink. We have been using our collapsible bottles for the past 2 years and they’re still going strong.
These are simply a packing essential no matter where you’re going. We converted to packing cubes a few years ago and don’t know how we traveled without them for so long! They’re basically drawers for your suitcase and keep things organized. Definitely one of our favorite all around travel products. Click here to pick up some packing cubes (made from recycled polyester!).
Reusable Grocery Bags
If you spend any length of time in Spain, chances are you’ll do some grocery shopping, even if it’s just to pick up some snacks. Unlike in the U.S., you have to pay for plastic shopping bags in Europe – Spain included. So save your money (and the environment of course) by bringing your own. We love the ones that pack into themselves so they take up practically no space when you’re not using them.
For a list of what we take with us in order to reduce our environmental impact on the go, head to our Eco-Friendly Packing List.
A Book on Spain!
Chances are you’ll find yourself on a bus or train traveling between cities, even if it’s just for a day trip. Use that time to learn a bit about the place you’re visiting. We rounded up the top 30 Books About Spain to Read Before Your Trip with novels set in Spain as well as non-fiction books on the various regions of Spain.
For a catch-all book about how Spain’s past influences the country today, check out Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and its Silent Past. If you’re looking for a novel, there’s no better book read in Spain in winter than Winter in Madrid.
For places to visit in Spain in winter, head to our Spain archives.