We all know Spain as one of the sunniest and warmest countries in Europe. But what is it actually like in the cold season – does it snow in Spain in winter? Surprisingly, snowfall can also occur on the Iberian Peninsula and its islands. In this article, you will find exactly where, when, how often, and how much snow Spain gets.
Having lived in Spain for several years, I have already experienced several winters in Spain. Here, you can learn more about snowfall in Spain. So let’s get started right away and clarify the most critical question:
What to find out in this post
- 1 Does it snow in Spain in the winter?
- 2 Climate Zones in Spain
- 3 Where does it snow in Spain?
- 4 How often does it snow in Spain?
- 5 Does it snow in Barcelona?
- 6 Does it snow in Madrid?
- 7 Does it snow in Mallorca?
- 8 Does it snow in Valencia?
- 9 Does it snow in Seville?
- 10 Does it snow in Granada?
- 11 Does it snow in the Canary Islands?
- 12 Does Spain get snow? – More FAQ about Snow in Spain
Does it snow in Spain in the winter?
Indeed, it snows in many regions of Spain in the winter. Theoretically, snowfall can occur throughout the entire country. Especially in higher areas, such as the Pyrenees, the Sierra Nevada, and in the country’s interior, you can usually expect snowfall.
Climate Zones in Spain
With its unique location and nature, Spain’s climate is not easy to summarize. This is because Spain is divided into five different climate zones.
While the eastern part of the Iberian Peninsula has a relatively mild Mediterranean climate (mild winters and warm to hot summers), the country’s interior is dominated by a continental climate, which implies more significant differences between summer and winter.
The western part of the country has an oceanic climate, with a lot of precipitation, cooler summers, and mild winters.
The country’s mountains, on the other hand, are dominated by a harsh mountain climate with cold winters and cool summers.
A particular condition arises in the Canary Islands, which are located much further south than the Iberian Peninsula. A subtropical climate prevails throughout the year with only very slight temperature fluctuations.
Where does it snow in Spain?
While theoretically, snowfall can occur anywhere in Spain, it snows particularly heavily in the mountainous and Atlantic regions, as well as inland. There is significantly much snow in the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada mountain range, as well as in the Spanish region of Castilla y León.
Below, you will find a small overview of the most popular and snowiest places in Spain.
Ávila is one of the unique places in Spain and is not only popular with national visitors and day trippers for its magnificent city walls. The massive fortifications are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and have been standing here since the 11th century.
However, many people don’t know that in winter, the city of Castile-León can turn into a true winter wonderland. With an average of 20 snow days a year between December and February, Ávila is covered in a layer of snow on some days. This can almost make the imposing city walls seem even more impressive.
Particularly popular for snowy excursions in the region around Ávila is the Sierra de Gredos mountain range, with an altitude of up to 2,591 meters (8,500 ft.).
The small city of Burgos in Castile and Leon is a popular day trip from Madrid all year round. But especially in winter, when a thin layer of snow covers Burgos, a visit to the Spanish city is worthwhile.
Burgos is especially popular for its important Gothic cathedral, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Snowfall in Burgos is typically between late December and early March, with January considered the snowiest month, when the city is covered by a snowpack averaging 29 mm (1.14 in).
Cuenca in Castilla-La Mancha is definitely a unique place. Namely, the small town is located on a hill. The remarkable aspect is that some houses here have been built directly from the rock.
Even today, three of these so-called hanging houses can be visited and entered.
With an altitude of almost 950 meters (3,116 ft), snowfall is quite common here during the cold winter. Especially popular are trips in the snowy area, such as the highest mountain in the region, the Cerro de la Mogorrita.
Huesca is the second largest city in the region of Aragon. Located in the southern foothills of the Pyrenees at an altitude of almost 500 meters (1,640 ft.), it can get quite cold here in the winter months.
Surrounded by beautiful nature, Huesca is a popular vacation destination for national and international visitors all year round. However, it is especially worth visiting in winter, when a thin layer of snow covers the city.
In the province of Huesca, there are all kinds of snow-covered winter areas at higher altitudes. Particularly popular among them is the ski resort of Formigal-Panticosa, which holds more than 180 km (111 mi) of ski slopes.
León, in the Spanish community of Castile-León, is historically one of the most important cities in the country. Founded as early as the 01st century AD, the city was once the capital of the Kingdom of León, which later developed into the Spanish state.
With its altitude of 837 meters (2,746 ft) above sea level, snowfall is frequent in winter. An average of 13.6 snow days means that a total of 98 mm (3.85 in) of snow accumulates here, making the city one of the snowiest in the country.
Also, here in Catalonia, there are various options for a snowy getaway. One of the most popular places for snow in my adopted homeland is the ski region of La Molina.
Just a few kilometers from the French border, the ski resort is located at an average altitude of around 1,700 meters (5,577 ft) above sea level. With almost 60 km of ski slopes, spas, a ski jump, and a direct train connection to the Catalan capital, the resort is considered one of the most popular day trips from Barcelona in winter.
Pamplona in the Spanish region of Navarre is another excellent snow destination in Spain. As a pilgrimage city on the Way of St. James, the Spanish town is well-visited at any time of year. But especially during the San Fermin Festival in summer.
What many people don’t know, however, is that a visit to Pamplona is also worthwhile in winter, when the city is regularly covered in a layer of snow.
On average, it snows in Pamplona for 9.7 days a year.
If you think of Spain and snow, you can hardly miss the Pyrenees. This mountain range separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe. Because of its mild summers and cold winters, it is considered one of the most popular vacation regions in the country.
The Pyrenees are primarily located in Spain but also partly belong to France and the small state of Andorra. With more than 200 peaks over 3,000 meters (9,843 ft) high, it is hardly surprising that snow lies here for much of the year (up to six months a year). The massive mountain range extends to the Atlantic coast in the west and borders the Mediterranean Sea in the east.
Salamanca is a city in Castilla y León that has not yet been heavily taken over by tourism. It is known for its great Spanish cuisine, pure Castilian Spanish, and cultural and educational institutions.
The so-called golden city of Spain is located at an altitude of about 800 meters (2,624 ft) above sea level, making it another snowy city on the Iberian Peninsula.
Particularly popular as a day trip from Salamanca is the Sierra de Béjar-La Covatilla ski resort, which offers its visitors 26.8 km (16.65 mi) of ski slopes.
Let’s move on to another important city in Castilla y León (maybe you already recognize the pattern of where it snows most in Spain?!). This historic city is considered one of the most popular day trips from the Spanish capital, Madrid.
Maybe you have heard about the impressive aqueduct of Segovia, which rises from the cityscape.
At an altitude of 1,002 meters (3,287 ft) above sea level, you can expect an average of 13 days of snow a year.
The Andalusian mountain range, Sierra Nevada, is not only the highest point of the Iberian Peninsula but also one of the snowiest places in the country. With the highest point of 3,482 meters (11,423 ft) at Mount Mulhacén and a total of 16 peaks with an altitude of more than 3,000 meters (9842 mi), snowfall can occur here for up to nine months a year.
With almost 85 km (52.8 mi) of slopes, Sierra Nevada is considered a popular destination by the Spanish city of Granada and one of the most important ski resorts in Europe.
Already the name, which can be translated in English as “snowy mountain range,” indicates the abundance of snow in the mountains.
Soria is a small town in Castile and Leon, still unknown to international visitors. Among the locals, however, the small town is a real insider tip for a great snow trip in winter.
With just about 21.4 snowy days a year, the small town is considered one of the five snowiest cities in Spain. At an altitude of 1,065 meters (3,494 ft), the high snow occurrence in Soria is not at all surprising.
Particularly popular, with or without snow, is the historic old town of Soria with its beautiful Plaza Mayor.
Teruel is considered one of the most beautiful small Spanish towns and is, therefore, a popular place to visit all year round – as a principal destination or even as a day trip from Valencia. One of the attractions of the small town is its well-preserved Mudejar architecture, which has even earned Teruel the designation of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The small town is located at an impressive altitude of 915 meters (3,001 ft) and is prone to winter snow. This altitude also takes advantage of two small ski slopes in the area, Javalambre and Valdelinares.
Val d’Aran, Lleida
The last Spanish snow destination on our list is the Aran Valley, also called Valle de Arán in Spanish (the official name Val d’Aran is its Catalan name).
Located in the far north of Catalonia, on the border with France, the valley has a special status. With various peaks over 2,000 meters (6,562 ft) high (the highest peak is at 3,014 meters [9,888 ft]), it’s hardly surprising that you can expect plenty of snow here during the winter.
In addition to countless hiking trails and vast nature, the Baqueria-Baret ski area, the second largest ski area in the Pyrenees (after Grandvalira in Andorra), is especially popular with visitors.
How often does it snow in Spain?
In general, it can be assumed that snow falls in Spain every year in winter. Especially in the higher regions of the country, such as the mountains of the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada, it snows regularly during the winter months. In the major cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, and Valencia, on the other hand, it only snows every few years.
Does it snow in Barcelona?
In Barcelona, it snows pretty rarely. However, snowfall can occur in winter. Usually, it snows, if it does, only very lightly, and the snowflakes rarely remain. However, in recent years, there has been (light) snow from time to time.
On average, however, it snows in Barcelona only 0.4 days per year, accumulating an average of 3 mm (0.12 in) of snow.
However, during my almost seven years in Barcelona, I have only experienced one good day of (very) light snow.
Does it snow in Madrid?
Madrid may well experience snowfall in winter, although it is not a very snowy city. On average, it snows about 3.6 days a year in the Spanish capital.
In January 2021, Madrid was in the news worldwide for a snowfall of the century that covered the Spanish capital with a snow depth of up to 60 cm (23.6 in).
Does it snow in Mallorca?
Surprisingly, it snows in Mallorca every year. However, the snowfall is usually limited to the Sierra de Tramuntana, the mountain range in the island’s north. Outside the mountains, snowfall is relatively rare and limited to an average of 0.4 days per year.
Does it snow in Valencia?
It does not usually snow in the Spanish city of Valencia. If snow does fall on very rare occasions, it is generally in the higher regions of the Valencian Community.
Particularly popular to see snow in the Valencia region are the small towns of Chelva, Camporrobles, and El Rincón de Ademuz.
Does it snow in Seville?
Snowfall in Seville is very, very rare. But when it does snow, such as in 2010, the snow usually does not remain but melts again immediately. The last snowfall that covered the Andalusian city of Seville with snow occurred in February 1954.
Does it snow in Granada?
Although Granada is located relatively far south of Spain, snowfall in Granada is not that unrealistic. On average, it snows 0.5 days a year in Granada. In fact, every few years, the Andalusian city is covered by a thin layer of snow.
The most likely snowfall is across the famous Alhambra, which towers slightly above the city.
On the other hand, the nearby Sierra Nevada gets snow every year.
Does it snow in the Canary Islands?
Surprisingly, snowfall can occur in the Canary Islands. However, this only happens in the higher mountain regions above 1,600 meters (5,250 ft). The rest of the country has a subtropical climate, so snowfall is impossible.
In the Teide National Park in Tenerife, snow occurs annually in the higher mountain regions. In Gran Canaria’s mountains, snowfall can occasionally occur occasionally from an altitude of 1,600 meters (5,250 ft).
Does Spain get snow? – More FAQ about Snow in Spain
With its location on the Iberian Peninsula, Spain is primarily surrounded by water. Especially in the coastal region, strong winds and high humidity are common. Due to this, the perceived temperature is usually below the actual temperature.
Snow in Spanish is translated as Nieve. It is believed that the Spanish word Nieve is derived from the Latin word nivis.
Surprisingly, it snows regularly in Spain during the winter months. While snow is relatively rare in many places on the Iberian Peninsula, snowfall occurs yearly in higher regions.
Compared to other European countries, it is warm almost everywhere in Spain during the winter. But it is especially warm in the Canary Islands, where even during the winter, the temperature is still around 20° C (68° F).
The coldest temperature ever measured in Spain is -35.8 °C (-32,44° F). It was recorded in Vega de Liordes near León in Castile-León in 2021.
In the snowy regions and elevations of Spain, it snows primarily during the winter between December and early March, with January as the snowiest month.
It is believed that the Spanish Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada mountain range are the snowiest places in Spain. On the other hand, the Spanish city of Ávila is considered the snowiest city in Spain.