Unique Places to Visit in Spain in Winter | 7 December Escapes

August 30, 2023

Have you been searching for unique places to visit in Spain in winter? The Mediterranean is a beautiful winter sun destination. As winter temperatures seldom grow cold, and many travelers find them much more manageable compared to the hot summer months. And as a bonus, the summer crowds have dispersed, the lines shorter, and the flights are cheap.

We’ve compiled all the best places to visit in Spain during winter. These include the top cities to visit in Spain, along with charming villages and little-known cultural gems. Plus, vineyards thrive in the wintertime, and coastal towns boast warm temperatures making them as idyllic as most places are in summer.

You simply can’t go wrong with a winter vacation in Spain, especially when these are your amazing destinations. We’ve also found the perfect places to stay at each stop — from converted monasteries to old palaces. You’re in for one beautiful adventure.

What to Expect From Spain in Winter

Spain is one of those perfect year-round destinations. It’s sunny and hot in summer, and Spain’s weather in December is mild and pleasant. Of course, there is a good deal of temperature variation across the country, and you’ll find it very different in southern Spain to the north.

Winter runs from December to March. Whether you’re interested in snowy mountains or chilly days at ski resorts, it is a great time to visit. But you can also enjoy mild temperatures and sunny days along the Costa del Sol if you’re a beach lover.

The great reduction in prices is also a strong motivation to visit Spain in winter. Flights are much cheaper, accommodation can easily be found at a reduced price, and even attractions have lowered entry fees.

Spain in Winter: Best Places to Visit in December & More

It’s finally time to get into the best places to visit in Spain in winter. Here’s a list of all the most beautiful historic towns and cities in Spain and what makes them special even in winter months. They might not be the first places that pop to mind, but an amazing Spain winter holiday requires a little more creativity than a summer vacation, and these are the places that fit the bill best.

  • Salamanca– City in northwestern Spain with incredible architecture, history, and vibrant nightlife.
  • Logrono, Rioja– A small-town atmosphere with stunning scenery.
  • Sos del Rey Católico, Zaragoza– Sees fewer tourists and has historical significance.
  • San Mateo, Cantabria– Great for hiking and exploring and has incredible scenery even in the winter season.
  • Malaga– A more popular city with an amazing art scene.
  • Segovia– Has fairytale architecture and iconic aqueducts.

We love traveling throughout Spain, but these are some truly unique destinations. There’s also very little information about them on the web, so you may never have known they’re exactly where you should be.

We’ve gathered our favorite Spanish gems for a winter getaway so you can enjoy every vacation moment at the best locations.

1. Salamanca

Salamanca has been nicknamed La Dorada, meaning ‘The Golden One’, for its enchanting sandstone buildings, which often glow golden and bright. One amazing fact about Salamanca is that the whole city has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, highlighting just how important it is to Spanish history.

This is a great winter sun destination for younger travelers looking for something a little different. The University of Salamanca is the 3rd oldest university in the world. Because of this incredible university, the vibrant culture and nightlife rival that of much bigger cities.

Salamanca is filled with rich history and heritage. So many cultures have moved through it over the millennia and influenced the city’s customs and architecture. You’ll see this in its amazing plazas, food, and of course, wonderful buildings in the old town and beyond.

The city’s Plaza Mayor is certainly one of the most beautiful in Spain and is home to the iconic Cathedral of Salamanca. And be sure to visit Casa de las Conchas, a very unusual 12th-century building studded with carved shells. There are many great museums and attractions here, making it one of the top places to visit in Spain –  particularly during the winter months.

If you’re looking for one of the best cities to visit in Spain in December, then Salamanca is one of them. While it sees cooler temperatures than other Spanish cities, there’s very minimal rainfall. We recommend you spend at least 2 days in Salamanca, to take in the sights and atmosphere of it all.

Top Attraction – What to Visit

There are so many beautiful attractions here. But we recommend you visit the famous Salamanca Cathedral and enjoy a vivid audio tour to learn all of its wonderful history and details. The ornate cathedral is certainly one for the books.

Where to Stay in Salamanca – Hospes Palacio de San Esteban

We adore this hotel. It is housed in a renovated convent, making it one of the best luxury hotels in Spain. Surrounded by Salamanca’s historic monuments, you’ll be right where you want to be. The rooms are lovely, combining modern decor with the traditional structure.

Relax in the garden and stroll below the awnings, imagining what life may have been like here a hundred years ago in this vibrant city.

Check out the rooms at La Casa del Infanzón here.

2. Logrono, Rioja

One of the food capitals of Spain, Logrono is a gorgeous town in La Rioja. It is the cultural and social center of the region. But, it retains a charming small-town atmosphere and historic buildings, contrasted with its lively inhabitants and the great deal going on.

While its average temperatures hang around 40°F, Logrono is a very unknown city to the outside world. This makes it the perfect place to visit for those looking for a secluded vacation and winter escape if you can brave the cold weather. Plus, no tourists or crowds.

You’ll also find some of the best wines in the country – not to mention some of the best Spanish food. Indulge in the various local cuisines, find a cozy hotel, and enjoy a fine winter break. The fairytale landscape and perfect Spanish sunsets will make you wish you never had to leave.

Some of our favorite things to do in the incredible city of Logrono are to stroll through the historic city center and indulge in the pinchos (local tapas). Hike through the mountains, often snow-capped in winter. And go on a wine tour — there are so many lovely vineyards in the area.

Top Attraction – What to Visit

Logrono’s top attraction is the Baroque Cathedral of Santa María de la Redonda, with its impressive towers and striking appearance in the city center. It is a must-see attraction when visiting Spain.

Where to Stay in Logrono – Hotel los Bracos

Hotel Los Bracos is situated in the heart of Logrono. The rooms are very comfortable and spacious, and the decor is lovely. The breakfast bar will ensure that you start your day right. We love how helpful and friendly the staff is, ensuring you have the best possible stay.

Check out the rooms at Hotel Los Bracos here.

3. Sos del Rey Católico, Zaragoza

Another incredible place to escape and avoid the crowds of tourists is the small town of Sos del Rey Catolico. This historic town is gorgeous, with sandstone houses and tiny cobblestone streets. Plus, being located in Zaragoza, it sees relatively warm weather with minimal rainfall during winter. That’s a major plus when looking for the best place to visit in Spain in December and a city break.

Located on high ground, this town has served as a stronghold since the 10th century. It is beautifully maintained and feels as if you are stepping back in time. You might expect to find knights to come clanging around the corner and Spanish monarchs to lay claim to the historical center.

Instead, you’ll see the residents playing backgammon and hanging up laundry — and plenty of cats.

This is the perfect place for those interested in history and tranquillity. Visit the ancient castle, the 15th-century palace, the medieval market and town square, and the rocky city walls.

It’s not often that you get to explore such a historically significant place and be one of the only ones there, so that’s a major plus when looking to book a winter holiday.

Top Attraction – What to Visit

Visit the imposing Parroquia de San Esteban. This medieval church has a crypt that dates back to the 11th century. For €1 ($1), you can see the fresco paintings inside.

Where to Stay in Sos del Rey Católico – La Casa del Infanzón

Embrace the town’s historic significance by staying in this charming hotel. You’ll be right in the middle of the medieval town, with views of the surrounding mountains. The rooms themselves are beautiful and unique. You will want to spend weeks here. Rooms even come with private balconies.

The staff packs picnics for you if you want to take a day excursion, and local activities can be arranged on request. Whether you’re traveling through Spain solo, as a couple, or in a group, this is the ideal hotel.

Check out the rooms at La Casa del Infanzón here.

4. San Mateo, Cantabria

San Mateo in Cantabria is one of the lushest green places in Spain. The coastal village is the perfect place for a winter escape, and the surroundings will have you exploring for days.

This area is a backpacker’s dream. Most beaches can only be reached on foot, keeping them near-empty and natural. The water is very cold in winter, but if you combine a trip to the beach with a hike through the green mountains, you’ll want to jump in anyway. In general, the winter temperatures are pretty mild, so you won’t completely freeze to death.

You can spend your days trekking through the wilderness. The landscape is dramatic, beautiful, and remarkably green in the winter months, making it a great destination for exploring.

Top Attraction – What to Visit

Visit the Cave Hornos de la Peña to find ancient, prehistoric rock paintings and feel like an archaeologist on discovery.

Where to Stay in San Mateo – La Casona De Las Meninas

For travelers who like to stay in their own apartment while they explore an area, this one’s for you. The beautiful open-face stone apartments are elegantly decorated and well-stocked for convenience.

Each unit has a dining area, kitchenette, lounge, and all the usuals. They even have free bikes so that you can explore with ease.

Check out the rooms at La Casona De Las Meninas here.

5. Malaga

Discover historic fortresses and Roman amphitheaters in this historic coastal city in southern Spain. Some of Malaga’s draws include a uniquely impressive cathedral, an old quarter filled with pedestrian-only spaces, and gorgeous architecture.

The legendary artist, Pablo Picasso, was born right here. So, if you’re an art enthusiast, this city will be like a dream come true – it is one of the best cities to visit in Spain. The house he was born and grew up in is now a charming little museum of his life and works. You’ll also see marks of Picasso in the city, like a statue of him sitting on the bench, where you can sit right alongside him.

Malaga is a more modern and populated destination than the aforementioned stops. But there is a great deal of history here and a culture that you can’t help but be drawn to. Generally, there are lots of things to do in Spain in December. But if you’re visiting Malaga in particular, you can enjoy the food and the attractions and watch flamenco shows. You can even relax on the beautiful white-sand beaches.

Top Attraction – What to Visit

With so many gorgeous attractions in Malaga, it’s difficult to choose. Of course, you don’t have to. You can visit them all. But we suggest you start with the immense Alcazaba, one of Malaga’s best castles. This 11th-century palatial fortification is the best preserved in Spain.

You can find a guided tour of the Alcazaba and the Roman Theatre here.

Where to Stay in Malaga – Hotel Palacete de Alamos

Just a few yards away from the iconic Alcazaba, this stunning hotel is one of the best in Malaga. It features a unique blend of old-world charm mixed with cool modern interiors.

Check out the rooms at Hotel Palacete de Alamos

6. Avila

Famous for its 11th-century walls, Avila is one-of-a-kind. The capital of its province, this small city sits atop the hill, looking out over the wild landscape and farmlands.

The walls are in incredibly good condition, and you can walk along the ramparts in many sections, overlooking Avila and its surroundings. It truly feels like you’re strolling along in a storybook, and the birds are about to start singing in tune with you.

The city also has a lovely medieval monastery, a 17th-century convent, and one of the most beautiful Roman cathedrals in Spain. Religion has played a huge role in the structure of Avila, and you can see marks of it everywhere. The locals, too, are mostly Roman Catholic.

Avila is also surrounded by striking mountains and a landscape wild and beautiful. You can spend days hiking the rough trails, or just take a few hours out of exploring the city to see the sights.

It’s good to keep in mind that the Spanish winters in Avila grow very cold, so you can look forward to a vacation here that will include plenty of hot chocolate and Spanish stews.

Top Attraction – What to Visit

The city’s 11th-century walls, of course! Visit during the evening as well, and see the walls light up in a magical sight.

Where to Stay in Avila – Palacio de los Velada

When visiting Spain, where better to stay but in a palace? This gorgeous hotel is set in a 16th-century palace right in the historic city center. It’s perfect, with exquisite rooms, a restaurant in the central courtyard, and wonderful staff.

Check out the rooms at Palacio de los Velada.

7. Segovia

The perfect Segovia day trip from Madrid, or better yet, a multi-day trip, awaits you in the striking city of Segovia. Its tall 2000-year-old Roman aqueduct is iconic, with over 160 high arches. Many centuries of settlement by different European factions have left it with a beautifully complex architectural tradition.

Take walking tours to see the city and its many historic monuments and unusual buildings – like the pointed house. They have signs up across the little city, so you can comfortably explore it on your own.

Try unique Segovian cuisine, like the delicious local cake Ponche Segoviano. Spend your afternoons drinking wine and reading in the cafes. This is the kind of place you want to discover at a languid pace.

Top Attraction – What to Visit

There are two we had to add here. The Roman Aqueduct is first on everyone’s list and a great place to start your explorations. It is the symbol of the city!

The second top attraction is the castle, Alcázar de Segovia, which you can take a tour of. This spot looks like a Disney castle – all it needs is a princess in the tower. It’s a little out of the city center, but well worth the short trip.

Where to Stay in Segovia – Hotel San Antonio el Real

Spain has so many unique hotels – you just need to know where to find them. This hotel is a converted monastery with a gorgeous courtyard. The on-site restaurant serves local cuisine, and there’s even a bar-cafe.

Check out the rooms at Hotel San Antonio el Real.

What to Pack for Winter in Spain

This depends on where in the country you’re planning to go. But, if you’re planning to travel to Spain and stop at more than one destination around the country, we have some great recommendations:

  • A heavy-duty winter jacket travel – if you’re planning to spend a lot of time outdoors in northern Spain, it’s best to stay snug and warm.
  • A cold-weather sleeping bag if you plan on backpacking or camping in the Northern regions.
  • Hiking boots – Spain has some truly incredible hiking trails all across the country. Even if you don’t plan to go hiking on your trip, we recommend you bring them along. This way, you can tie ‘em on and head out when you get drawn to those amazing trails.
  • Camera – this one is an all-season suggestion! Spain is a stunning country and beautifully unspoiled for a European destination. You’ll want to capture it all.

Best Places in Spain to Visit in December – Celebrating a Spanish Christmas

Spanish Christmas time is a wonderful time to visit. It is not a huge commercial event like in so many other countries. Lights are strung up in the cities and towns only in December, and you’ll find Christmas markets and decorations only popping up in the second week of the month.

Most Spanish families celebrate Christmas Eve and then join a special midnight mass. Join them for a very different experience of Spain. Or just enjoy the Spanish Christmas treats only available at this time of year, like turron nougat.

It’s a chilly time of year but festive and joyous. A beautiful time to visit these Spanish places.

Conclusion on the Best Places to Visit in Spain in December & Beyond

With such gorgeous villages and cities, you may wonder why Madrid and Barcelona are the only Spanish destinations you ever hear about. While these cities are incredible, we feel that Spain has so much more to offer.

So, go beyond the usual tourist destinations, and explore these unique places to see in Spain in winter.

Taste Spanish cuisines unlike any you’ve ever had – hot winter meals that differ in every little town, influenced by the traditions and history of every place. Hike along rolling green hills and snow-capped peaks. Relax and enjoy the small crowds and calm winter weather.

If you’ve visited any of these stops, let us know what you thought of them! We’d love to know if your experiences were as idyllic as ours and if there are more little-known stops you would add to the list.

Tip: Check out our one week in Spain itinerary to plan the perfect vacation.

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