Madrid in winter

Madrid in Winter Travel Guide: Best Things to Do, Weather + Winter Tips

Are you visiting Madrid in winter and not sure what to expect? I have been to the capital of Spain on multiple occasions from fall to spring and seriously loved this city during colder months! 

Madrid winter will delight you with an abundance of sunlight and warmth, make you forget about the strong cold for a while, and envelop you with a romantic atmosphere that gives inspiration and strength to implement all your plans.

It is too hot in summer in Madrid which makes it impossible to walk for a long time and discover the main attractions under the scorching sun. But in winter, Madrid is the perfect city to travel to in Spain.

Between December and February, it is an ideal time to get to know the city better, walk through its ancient streets, visit museums without standing in lines for hours, and in general, in a calm and relaxed way to get acquainted with the capital of flamenco. Especially considering that it is not a very popular season among tourists when prices for tours and accommodation reduce and not many holidaymakers wander around.

Thus if you are thinking to come to this part of Spain in winter, this post will help you plan a trip! Find out what to expect, what’s the weather like, what to do in Madrid in winter, and whether Madrid is worth visiting at all or not!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase or booking by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).

Quick Madrid Insider Tips

Planning your trip to Madrid soon? Here are the first-hand resources and insider tips that you’ll need for travel planning!

Top Private Transfer in Madrid

Best Places (Locations) to Stay in Madrid for Mid-Budget

Top Tours in Madrid in Winter 

Skip the Line Offers in Madrid

Madrid in December – Holiday Season Without Snow But With Big Celebrations 

Madrid Weather in December 

The weather in Madrid in December is very similar to early autumn in many countries in Northern and Central Europe or Northern states in the U.S. The only major difference is that Madrid has no slush and sudden temperature changes. Although, it has temperature dips during the day. It gets very warm in the afternoon but evenings and early morning are usually very chilly. 

The sky is often overcast and a bit heavy but it doesn’t drag you emotionally down since sunny days are common. The average daily temperature is + 15C degrees, at night about + 8C degrees. If you don’t want rain and strong winds to spoil the first impression, don’t forget to pack a coat and umbrella.

At this time of the year, locals of Madrid start wearing hooded windbreakers, waterproof insulated raincoats, and leather jackets. For shoes – sneakers, shoes, and boots. By the end of the month, it usually gets colder. Air temperature during the day on average reaches + 10С degrees while at night +2-5С degrees.

Madrid Excursions to Take in December 

Madrid is a huge city. If this is your first time visiting the capital of Spain, start your trip with the excursion. Two or three hours excursions will help to see the main attractions, understand how everything is connected and where you should return and explore on your own. 

For tours in Madrid, first of all, I’d like to recommend the Daily Customized Walking Tour of Madrid. During the time on the tour, you‘ll see the architecture of the quarters, royal palaces, famous squares, and much more. The number of participants in the group is the number of people you travel with. The price is 30 euros per person, no matter how many people go. Children under 3 years are free and under 12 years get a 50% discount.

If you prefer free walking tours, here is the link with the details. The difference between a free tour and a private one is that the free tour usually covers the most touristy spots while introducing the basics of the city. A private tour is good for those who are looking for a more in-depth acquaintance with Madrid, to visit hidden gems and hear more stories on the history and life of the city. 

Here are a few more, in my opinion, interesting excursions in Madrid:

Bike Tour Around Madrid – it’s a 3-hour biking tour where you get to see all the main highlights of the city. Guides are locals who do a great job introducing guests to the city. Within this time you get to see everything that you’d see on your own within 1 or even 2 full days of walking. Check them out. I went on a few tours of this company during the time I lived in Los Angeles, and they were always the best. 

Madrid Tapas Tour – it’s another 3-hour bike tour but this time it includes local tapas and sightseeing.

Tapas Walking Tour Experience – 2-hour walking tour which brings you on a culinary journey through the regions of Spain. Includes visits to 3 traditional tapas bars with a variety of tapas and drinks, Asturian cider, and cocktail. 

Things to Do in Madrid in December 

Madrid in winter

In December, Spain celebrates two major Catholic holidays – the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Christmas. The first holiday falls on the 8th of December and Christmas on the 25th. Madrid sets up bright illumination all over the city, installs thematic exhibitions, and organizes festivals with chants.

This is why one of the most popular things to do in December in Madrid is to come to the city for the holidays. Christmas markets are set up early accompanied by performances and various events.

Around these two holidays, the city also holds festive services in the cathedrals. Paying a visit to one of the churches is a very special event on its own. People during this time are really happy, and willingly share their celebrations with visitors. The first month of winter is called the most hospitable month of the year, despite the fact that it has way fewer tourists.

Madrid at night in December is a real fairy tale place. The Christmas markets are in full swing at this time. In the evenings, local residents go out to the squares with their families just to chat, dance, eat, and walk. If you are there at the same time, expect full immersion in local life.

Madrid also holds big New Year celebrations. Live concerts, loud music, various performances take part in different parts of each neighborhood. People dance, have fun right on the streets and take part in street shows. It’s so fascinating to watch and observe what’s happening around even if you don’t want to join yourself.

December is also a month of ice skating as open-air ice-skating rinks invite visitors in a few neighborhoods of Madrid. Some of the best places where to ice skate are skating rink at Plaza de Colón with DJ music and Christmas market. Another rink is at Matadero Cultural Center, one of the largest skating rinks with free figure skating exhibitions.

In my experience, December in Madrid is a wonderful destination for an active vacation. With a Christmasy atmosphere, a bit of winter sun, a big number of Christmas markets and street festivities, visiting touristy sights at this time of the year acquires a special guise. At the same time, this is a good month to be able to immerse in local life and stay away from crowds of tourists.



Madrid in January – Rainy, Quieter Days & The Best Time For Shopping 

Madrid in winter
madrid in winter

Madrid in winter

Weather in Madrid in January

The Spanish capital is considered the sunniest city in Europe. Even the central square of Madrid is called Puerta del Sol which means “gateway to the Sun.” The temperature, which is the lowest of the year, still does not drop below zero. Snow or rain is possible at this time but these natural phenomena are quite rare there.

Overall, the January weather in Madrid can be extremely unpredictable and cold snaps are common. It can go from severely cold to surprisingly mild. It can be raining and snowing in the first part of the day followed by sun and blue sky in the afternoon.

But don’t be afraid of extreme cold because, according to meteorologists, it rarely comes (although with climate change, all things are possible). On average, the temperature ranges from 9C degrees to 15C degrees. At the end of January, the weather is getting dryer and warmer. Occasional fog covers the city which makes Madrid look even more mysterious.

Stock up on warm and practical clothes. If planning to be spending more time outdoors and especially in the evening, pack thermal clothes. Also, don’t forget an umbrella since there are a lot of cloudy days in January. And read my more step-by-step guide on what to pack for Spain for any season. 

Celebrating Madrid Holidays in January 

January is probably not as big with celebrations in Madrid as December but some events are still happening, especially in the first two weeks of the new year. Usually, this time is famous for entertainment events, fairs and discos and most of them are held on the streets. You, as a guest, are welcome not only to watch but participate in all activities. 

Here is the list of only a couple of major events that happen in Madrid in January and what you can expect from being there:

January 1 – New Year Celebrations. New Year’s Day is usually celebrated on the streets of the city. For the most part, happy city dwellers and numerous tourists go to Christmas markets where everyone drinks glint wine and congratulates each other. 

– January 6 – the holiday of Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day when everything gets quiet and almost no one works. Spanish people usually go to local parades and arrange family dinners. Children are looking forward to gifts while adults to quieter time with family members. All museums on this day are closed but Prado should be open from 9 am to 2 or 3 pm. Shops and restaurants are closed as well and reopen on January 7th. Some restaurants on the main streets may be open but they are very slow. El Retiro Park stays open.

Things to Do in Madrid in January

A holiday season ends with the arrival of January and lights with illuminations disappear from the streets. But that’s not a reason to stay at home and not to visit Madrid in the second month of winter as January in Madrid is still vibrant and diverse and can offer something interesting to everyone.

The city is an open-air museum with various options for relaxation. If the weather is not sunny, there are still many corners with unforgettable things to do.

If you are traveling to Madrid in winter, it is a good month to visit the Royal Palace, which is always filled with tourists but in January stays rather quiet. The same goes for the Prado museum and Glass Palace in Retiro Park. The Prado museum is one of the most famous museums in the world. In December it sees many tourists as well as children on field trips but in January the flow of visitors is decreasing. And the Glass Palace is the best place in Madrid for photography.

Of course, January is also a perfect month for foodies as the weather is conducive to cafe crawl and trying food with fine Spanish wine from nearby vineyards. Taste your way through Madrid with a small group tapas crawl tour or even learn how to make traditional tapas under the guidance of an expert chef. And then if time allows, join an exclusive day tour to two top wineries near Madrid

Another great thing to do in Madrid in January is certainly to go shopping! January 7 marks the opening of the sales season when discounts on branded clothing and equipment reach 90%. Although Barcelona is the best place for shopping lovers, Madrid also has plenty to roam. 

Madrid in February – Final Chords of Winter Serenade

Madrid Weather in February

February in Madrid as January, December and March, is one of the coldest months of the year. The number of cloudy days reduces by the end of the month. Precipitation is very common but it usually occurs in the form of rain. Snow is very rare.

February weather in Madrid is already very reminiscent of a typical spring with a mixture of cloudy days followed by bright sun in a cloudless blue sky. The weather in early February is usually cloudy. In the evenings, you can not go out without a windbreaker and a light hat.

However, by mid-February, the temperature in Madrid rises and the city begins to flood with bright sunshine, making long walks more enjoyable. In the end of February, the weather in Madrid feels like a mild off-season. Camellias, violets, apple trees begin to bloom turning the city into a garden. Despite cloudy skies, signs of the onset of spring appear almost immediately after Valentine’s Day.

The weather in Madrid in February is suitable for lots of walking and sightseeing tours. Air temperature during the day is +10+12C degrees, and at night on average between +5+8C. In mid-February, night frosts are possible, but they are rare and the temperature doesn’t go lower than -2C degrees. The daylight hours during this month are about 10 hours.

Don’t forget to pack comfortable closed shoes and an umbrella for February travel in Madrid. But don’t worry, even if it rains it won’t hinder your vacation at all.

Things to Do in Madrid in February

The month of love and the month of the Chinese New Year has something interesting to offer to a traveler. Besides all the famous tourist attractions, there are a few things to do in February in Madrid that are typical only for this month.

First of all, celebrate Valentine’s day in Madrid by riding in a hot air balloon with lunch (flying is possible at any time throughout February) which is a very romantic experience. Another thing to do is to visit one of the salt rooms that have important benefits for your respiratory, dermatological, and nervous systems. They are quite popular in Madrid and one of the best centrally located salt rooms is at HaloSpa.

Second, if visiting Madrid in February, don’t miss the Chinese New Year celebrations that have become a classic long time ago. They are held in the Usera neighborhood and last every day throughout the month. But most of the activities take place from February 1st. 

February overall is rich with entertainment. There is also a huge number of art exhibitions that take place in city galleries such as ARCO Madrid, ART Madrid, and the famous Carnival of Masks. Every year at the end of February, Madrid holds the Carnival of Masks that lasts up to one week, from early morning until late evening with processions of mummers on the streets, master classes in making masks, different contests, concerts and theatrical performances.

So yes, coming to Madrid in February is definitely a fabulous idea!



Where to Stay in Madrid in Winter – My Favorite Options 

Before you book your accommodation in Madrid you need to know that the choice of places where to stay is huge but prices are on the higher side. Even in winter, they don’t drop that much.

The best areas to stay are Centro, Chueca, Malasaña, Chamberí, Salamanca, Retiro. It will be a little cheaper in Chamartin, La Latina, Legazpi, Tetuan (consider Bravo Murillo Avenue and Rios Rosas).

Avoid the vicinity of Sol Square and Plaza Mayor. These are the most touristy places with a lot of noise (although in Madrid it is noisy almost everywhere). Here tourists and pickpockets rummage around. Lavapies area is also not one of the most pleasant to stay. Although this is one of the central areas that some people consider bohemian.

Here are a few suggestions for where to stay to enjoy winter and Christmas in Madrid:

Pestana Plaza Mayor – hotel with an incredible spa, indoor pool, Christmas atmosphere, and its own Christmas market!

The Westin Palace – located on premises of UNESCO World Heritage site in close proximity to Madrid museums and a good variety of tourist options.

Riu Plaza – in the heart of Gran Via notable street with unbeatable location and fantastic sky bar from where you can admire incredible views of Madrid. Can you imagine the night view of the Christmas lighting from the roof? Spectacular.

Barcelo Torre de Madrid relatively new hotel with an indoor pool in one of the most iconic buildings. Conveniently located in Plaza de Espana, it is only a few minutes away from the Royal Palace, restaurants, and all tourist attractions. Quite a few rooms have a beautiful terrace and view of the city. 

12 Cool Things to Do in Madrid in Winter (During Any Month)

See Madrid From Above With Teleferico Cable Car

To see the capital of Spain from above, it is worth riding the Teleferico Madrid cable car. In winter, there are practically no lines, the weather is clear, and the visibility is excellent. If going in the evening, you can enjoy the stunning Madrid sunset.

In eleven minutes the cable car covers 2.5 km, reaching a maximum height of 40 meters. The final destination of the Teleferico is Casa del Campo road and park where you can go with a family to walk, hike, run, bike or have a picnic.

Casa de Campo park is huge and it is very possible to spend the entire day there. In winter though, with winds and rain, spending long periods of time may not be that pleasant but many people still enjoy a brisk walk combined with a ride in a cable car.

Visit the Royal Palace of Madrid

Like many royal residences in Europe, the main function of Royal Palace is host official events. However, on many occasions, it is actually open for tourists and guests. The building is beautiful in itself, but inside it strikes with exquisite interiors and a rich collection of works of art.

Winter is the right time to visit and spend a few hours inside.

In addition, the palace has a museum and an observation deck that offers magnificent views of the city.

Inside the palace, you can see how the Spanish monarchs lived daily. The working hours in winter are from 09:30 to 17:00. Admission is €10 per adult and €5 per child.

Dine in One of the Oldest Restaurants

Sobrino de Botin – is the oldest restaurant in the world. It was opened in 1725 and still operates until this day. A lot of people say it is in the Guinness Book of Records because of this fact. 

The place is located in the heart of Madrid on Cuchilleros street, next to Plaza Mayor.

For three centuries, celebrities from different eras have been here. Hemingway loved it and Francisco de Goya, a Spanish romantic painter, and printmaker worked in this restaurant. In his early youth, even before he became an artist, he washed dishes here.

For three centuries Sobrino de Botin did not lose but increased its former glory – the restaurant is always full of visitors. Appetizing suckling pig, tender lamb, and signature cakes are cooked here and if you order any of that, it will be the greatest culinary experience of your life. To dine in the world’s oldest restaurant is a once in a lifetime experience.

Watch Winter Sunset 

As I have already mentioned, even though it is winter, Madrid still has many sunny days. With frequent rains, the visibility is great and with lower temperatures, an evening sky takes on bright colors.

Watching the sunset in Madrid in winter is truly special. One of the most typical places for this is the Temple of Debod, a park that boasts several buildings donated by Egypt and has spectacular views of both the Royal Palace and La Almudena, as well as the entire west side of the city.

Other places where you can see a good sunset in the capital are the rooftops of the Town Hall, Círculo de Bellas Artes, and Parque de las Siete Botas. The last one is somewhat further away from the city but it is well worth a trip.

Go to One of the Secret Bars and Restaurants in Madrid 

Madrid has quite a few awesome secret bars and restaurants that not many people know about. Their menus have everything from delicate Asian and savory Latin American dishes to Kobe beef tenderloin.

Some of the secret places in Madrid are:

– El Arquilbar: La Traviesa de Conde Duque

A small cafe in an architecture studio with vintage decor and furniture. It is very popular among locals, so better book a table in advance.

A De Arzabal

Exclusive tavern and club for real gourmets and lovers of excellent wines.

Yugo, Sushi & Kobe 

The Japanese bunker of World War II was turned into an elite club on Alcala Street. In addition to juicy temakis, niguiris and tartares, try Kobe beef tenderloin.

Watch Flamenco 

Madrid is home to some of the largest recording studios that spread the word about nowadays well-known flamenco. Even though this performance originated in Andalusia and you’d definitely want not to miss it in Seville, Cordoba, or Granada, Madrid also has some incredible shows. On any day of the week, you can watch flamenco in bars and theaters around the city. And windy chilly winter night is a perfect time for that.

A lot of bars offer guests the opportunity to enjoy a flamenco performance in the evening with a delicious dinner or a glass of wine.

A few of my personal suggestions where you’ll get to see amazing flamenco shows are:

– Cafe de Chinitas

This cabaret-style cafe is conveniently located in a beautiful 18th-century palace building just off Gran Via Avenue. It opened in 1970 and until this day famous performers and dancers continue to perform flamenco on the tablao stage, decorated with large bright shawls. The establishment successfully maintains its reputation as one of the best flamenco cafes in Madrid.

– Cardamomo 

Cardamomo flamenco theater offers visitors unique and inimitable performances. Virtuosos of Spanish guitar, famous singers and dancers know how to entertain and deliver the best show ever. Located just a few steps from Puerta del Sol, it makes it easy to find this place.

Visitors get a sumptuous dinner in a cozy and lively setting of the hall just 45 minutes before the start of the performance. The dinner includes the Andalusian gazpacho, the famous Spanish tortilla, prepared according to the home recipe, delicious beef fillet, or homemade veal meatballs. Together with dinner, guests also receive the famous sangria with the addition of a fragrant sprig of cinnamon.

The hall, where performances take place, has excellent lighting and sound quality. The team of professionals is able to create a special atmosphere for flamenco which is entertaining and relaxing at the same time.

– Candella 

This place is known for its unique location in ancient caves that many years ago served as a refuge for a gang of bandits, led by the famous Luis Candelas. In his name, the cafe got this name. Currently, the interior of the bar has the style of a traditional Andalusian courtyard. Here, in front of numerous tourists, famous artists of this genre present their flamenco art.

In addition to the main stage, there is another one with daily flamenco shows. Everyone who dares to sing, play the guitar or dance is welcome. Traditional Madrid tapas and delicious sangria, inseparable companions of a traditional Spanish-style party, come as a complement to the show. 



Go Shopping in Madrid Because Deals Are Amazing 

Winter in Madrid is the right season for shopping. January and February are especially wonderful months for people who look for exclusive deals. During December, prices are usually higher since people are buying souvenirs and gifts. But after New Year celebrations prices drop. Shopping becomes both pleasant and profitable.

Fashionistas all over the world are eager to get to stores along the “Golden Mile“, the poshest neighborhood in Madrid. Prices in all shops during the ‘sale season’ are reduced by half or even more. If Calle de Serrano street beckons with special chic and “haute couture” fashionable boutique shops, then Calle Preciados impresses with the scale of large chain stores.

In the Salamanca district, in winter, you can find the best and the most expensive branded goods at lower prices.

Follow Steps of Ernest Hemingway

Many actors, artists, writers over the centuries have always sought to come to Madrid for one reason or another. The spirit of freedom and luxury of the Spanish capital has long attracted the intellectual elite from around the world.

Ernest Hemingway visited Madrid on many occasions and every time loved going to various pubs. Many old taverns and bars as well as iconic breakfast and brunch places somehow connected with his name.

The iconic Rock Cafe, Circulo de Bellas Artes, the famous Gijon coffee shop – these establishments have become a place of attraction for modern bohemia.

The famous Museo Chicote bar has nice music and a menu with retro cocktails from the golden age of the 1950s. Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, and Ernest Hemingway loved coming here. Today, its special decor and walls that are full of photos of famous people who visited over the years remind of how historical this place is.

Another place to visit is the Cerveceria Alemana Brasserie in Santa Ana Square. The writer liked it because of the decent food, excellent service, and good beer selection. Not much has changed until this day. You can see the marble table of Hemingway where he liked to sit, have his drink, and write. It still stands on the same spot – on the right side near the window. If you get there early, you can get that seat.

The tavern today greets guests with a peculiar vibe from the beginning of the last century. The owners have fully preserved the historic interior.

See Winter Colors in the Botanical Garden 

Madrid in winter

Royal Botanic Garden is home to thirty thousand plants. In cold weather, the alleys of the garden become empty, but evergreens and islands of emerald mosses stand out vividly.

For those who appreciate nature and love plants, a trip to the botanical garden in Madrid in winter will be a delight. Winter is the season when it becomes especially comfortable in tropical greenhouses – in the realm of huge cacti and endless vines, amid a riot of greenery of all shades.

All year round, park staff conducts excursions, lectures, and informative workshops. Come here not only to walk and see rare plants but learn and distract. 

The garden is located behind the Prado Museum. During the day, you can visit the temple of art and relax in the midst of picturesque greenery. If you want to escape from the bustle of the capital in a quiet corner of nature – go to the Gardens of del Retiro. A walk among the quiet alleys with bicentennial trees and ancient statues will be wonderful and romantic.

Explore Natural Attractions Around Madrid

Not many people know that Madrid is surrounded by spectacular places of nature that are easy to reach on a day trip. And the best part – it is not necessary to leave the city to discover them, as some are conveniently situated around the capital.

La Pedriza Nature Park, El Atazar Reservoir, Penalara Lagoons, and Fuenfría Valley are some of the most beautiful park and nature places around Madrid that take on special colors in winter. Some of them even get covered by snow.

The best way to reach them is by rental car which is very affordable in Madrid during winter. You can book it with this company since it has the lowest prices. But before you do, don’t miss my tips on car hire and driving in Spain to know what to expect when renting a car in Madrid. nature places around Madrid

Pay a Visit to Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial 

The Royal Seat of San Lorenzo is not really in Madrid. It is a bit more than one hour away from the city center towards Segovia. If you are planning to visit Segovia too, it can be a nice stop on the way there. If not, San Lorenzo town is still a cute little town to visit either on a prearranged tour or on a half-day trip from Madrid by car.

Usually, visitors go to Escorial because of the magnificent monastery and palace of the 16th century. In addition to the grand but at the same time gloomy architecture, there are paintings of great artists. You can see the works of Titian, El Greco, Veronese, Tintoretto, Bosch, and Velazquez.

The size of the palace is impressive. A little moody, restrained beauty makes it look more like a fortress than a traditional royal residence. There are two museums on the grounds of Escorial. One is dedicated to the history of the construction of the palace, and the other presents works of art of the XV-XVII centuries, collected by the Spanish monarchs.

Escorial is one of the coldest places in Spain. The wind blows here at any time of the year and it is always cold in a gigantic palace. But if it’s raining and too windy outside, the Royal Palace is the place where to hide.

Opening hours in winter are from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00. Admission is €10. Free entry for children under 5 years of age and persons with disabilities. Every Wednesday and Thursday between 15:00 and 18:00 admission is free for everyone. May 18th (Museum Day) and October 12th are another two days when entrance is free. 

Madrid in winter

See Monastery of Descalzas Reales

This monastery should certainly be on the itinerary for any guest of Madrid.

Its name translates as “the monastery of barefoot princesses” and is famous not only for its impressive interior but also for its rich collection of art objects. 

During older times, only women of noble Spanish families and royal blood could join the rows of nuns. When joining, each of them had to bring a dowry to the monastery as a gift. Interestingly, their dowries had lots of art objects that over the years turned into a fascinating collection.

Today, the monastery is a unique place to visit. It looks more like a museum where visitors can see works by Caravaggio, Rubens, Titian, and other masters. There are also amazing tapestries, marble statues, and a collection of silverware.

You can get here on foot from Atocha Station in half an hour. This option is convenient not only because you save on transport, but also because on the way you get to see Plaza Major, Puerta del Sol, Plaza Descalzas, and Plaza de San Martin.

The working hours are from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 18:30. On Sundays and holidays – from 10:00 to 15:00.

The ticket price is €6 and children under 5 years old are free of charge. The only disadvantage is that guided tours are only in Spanish and French. The place is worth visiting on its own without a tour but you don’t get to learn a lot.

More Winter Travel Inspiration

Are you looking for more winter travel inspiration? Here is some for travel in Europe:

And here is a couple for winter travel in the US:

Explore Madrid in winter and discover what places to visit during the off-season, what to skip and how to get the best out of your trip #madridtravel #spaininwinter #madridinwinter
Winter in Madrid travel guide

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