Congratulations, you’re in the process of discovering what it’s like to be in Madrid in the winter. Despite traditional thinking about what holidays ought to be, January could be the best time to go to Madrid – if you’re the right kind of tourist.
This time of year, the streets are slightly quieter, and even the plazas seem to slow down. At least, that’s the case when there isn’t a festival on the go. That being said, Madrid’s cafes and restaurants during this time are still in full swing, offering authentic and superb Spanish cuisine.
Don’t forget the cultural aspect of a visit here, with the iconic Old Town and its gothic buildings just waiting to share their stories with you. Although the beach may not be an option in this inland city, the fun is still very much here. You’ll realize this through exploring the town or taking a few day trips from Madrid.
Let’s look into the gem that is Madrid in January.
Weather in Madrid in January
Madrid’s weather in January is relatively cold as it is still winter, after all. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great time to still be in the city. For one thing, those used to colder climates will appreciate the relatively cool temperatures compared to the scathing heat of summer.
Madrid’s weather for January is influenced somewhat by snow in the nearby mountains, although it seldom snows in the city itself.
- Average daytime and nighttime temperatures:
Madrid’s temperature in January ranges between 33°F low and around 52°F high on average.
- Rain Madrid in January:
You may encounter a little bit of rain in Madrid in winter. January averages around 40mm of rain per year. It may rain about 9-10 days out of the month.
What to Pack
Madrid winter weather will require some consideration of cold weather wear. Bring a sturdy, thick, waterproof coat. Also, make sure to have a trusty set of boots or shoes that can handle wet weather. eep them comfortable, though, because you will likely walk quite around the city a lot. Additionally, long pants will be essential for a winter vacation to Madrid.
Things to Do in Madrid in January
January can be one of the best months to visit Madrid. The holiday spirit and sense of celebration still hang in the air. Plus, as you can see from the list of recommendations below, there’s no shortage of wonderful things to do.
1. Plaza Mayor
The town square, so to speak, of Madrid is the grand Plaza Mayor. It has been a town center since the early 1600s, used as a market, public execution site, and even a trial venue during the Spanish Inquisition. One of the most fun activities to do here is to arrange a photoshoot in Plaza Mayor. It will add a sense of really historic proportions to your holiday.
2. Mercado de San Miguel
The most popular market for locals and tourists in Madrid is undoubtedly the Mercado de San Miguel. It’s usually a focal point for a street food tour of the city, mainly because it specializes in upmarket and traditional produce. This is where to taste gourmet tapas, baked items, beer, and wine.
3. Royal Palace of Madrid
Witness firsthand how the kings and queens lived. There are several castles in Madrid, but the Royal Palace is the official residence of the royal family. These days, it’s mostly a ceremonial and tourist location. However, you can still catch the changing of the guard on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Take a guided tour of the palace for a deeper look into royal Spanish life.
4. Temple of Debod
For a truly exotic experience, take a look at the Temple of Debod. This was actually an Egyptian building constructed in the second century BC. It was donated to Spain by Egypt to be permanently placed in Madrid.
Travel Tip: A tour of the temple is absolutely free.
Festivals and Events in Madrid in January
There are some events that occur every January. Time your visit right, and you might be lucky enough to be a part of the following:
El Día de Los Reyes Magos & Cabalgata de Reyes
El Día de Los Reyes Magos is one of the biggest events of the year in Madrid. It’s essentially a parade that celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings that visited the baby Jesus. It takes place on January 6 each year and is considered both a cultural and religious celebration of note. In fact, you’ll find this festival observed across Spain and in many other Catholic countries.
People in costume follow the Three Kings or Magi from Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz through the streets to Plaza de Cibeles. All the way, participants dance, sing, and throw candies.
For locals, the 6th is the day that Christmas presents can finally be opened. Note that few shops will be open this day, so it pays to plan for any services and supplies you will need.
FAQs About Madrid in January
Here are some answers to a few frequently asked questions about Madrid in January.
When is the Best Time to Visit Madrid?
Most will argue that summertime is the best time to visit Madrid. But January offers its own charms.
Does it Snow in Madrid?
Madrid in winter does have snow, but not that often in the city itself. The surrounding mountains may be snow-capped more regularly in winter, and this certainly adds to the chill and atmosphere of the town.
Is It Safe to Walk Around Madrid At Night?
Madrid is generally considered a safe city. However, as with most cities, petty crime is always about. It will pay to practice common sense when it comes to personal and property safety. Keep to well-lit areas, for example.
Final Thoughts on a Madrid Winter Holiday
If you can get past, or if you don’t mind, Madrid’s January weather, you could discover a somewhat magical winter wonderland of Spanish flavor. January could well be the best time to visit Madrid, Spain.
For an even more comprehensive sense of the city, consider purchasing a Madrid City Pass. This will grant you priority access to some of Madrid’s most epic attractions.