The Most Unique Places to Visit in Spain in Winter

October 21, 2021

Spain is a beautiful place to visit in winter! The temperatures seldom grow cold, and many find them much more manageable than during the hot summer months. The crowds are smaller, the lines shorter, and the flights are cheap!

We’ve put together all the best places to visit in Spain during the winter months. Charming villages and little-known cultural gems. Vineyards that thrive in the wintertime. Coastal towns that are as warm and 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 in 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 winter weather 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 the North than in the South!

Whether you’re interested in snow-capped peaks and chilly days, or mild temperatures and sunny days, winter in Spain is a great time to visit. Winter runs from December to March.

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

Enjoy the small crowds (and in many of our lesser-known stops, no crowds at all), on a fantastic budget vacation in Spain.

Top 6 Places to Visit During Winter in Spain

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

  • Salamanca – incredible architecture and history, vibrant nightlife
  • Logrono, Rioja – small-town atmosphere with stunning scenery
  • Sos del Rey Católico, Zaragoza – few tourists, historical significance
  • San Mateo, Cantabria – great for hiking and exploring
  • Malaga – more popular city, with an amazing art scene
  • Segovia – fairytale architecture and iconic aqueduct

We love travelling 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 that they’re exactly where you should be!

We’ve gathered our favourite Spanish gems so that you can enjoy every moment of your winter vacation 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.

This is a great destination for younger travellers looking for something a little different. The University of Salamanca is the 4th oldest in the world! Because of this incredible university, the vibrant culture and nightlife rival that of much bigger cities.

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

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

We recommend you spend at least 2 days in Salamanca, to take in the sights and atmosphere of it all. It’s one of the very best cities in Spain.

Top Attraction – What to Visit

There are so many beautiful attractions here. But we recommend you visit the famous Salamanca Cathedral, one of Spain’s tourist attractions. The ornate cathedral is 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 most unique 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.

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 centre 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.

Logrono is a very unknown city to the outside world – many Spaniards don’t even know where it is! This makes it the perfect place to visit for those looking for a secluded vacation. No tourists or crowds.

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

Some of our favourite things to do here are to stroll through the historic city centre, 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 centre of the city.

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 get away to 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.

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’ll expect knights to come clanging around the corner, and Spanish monarchs to lay claim to the historical centre.

Instead, what you’ll see is 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.

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 you can go inside and see the fresco paintings!

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 pack picnics for you if you want to take a day excursion, and local activities can be arranged on request. Whether you’re travelling 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 to relax, and the surroundings will have you exploring for days.

This area is a backpacker’s dream. Most of the beaches can only be reached by 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.

You can spend your days trekking through the wilderness. The landscape is dramatic and beautiful, and remarkably green in the winter months. You’ll definitely want to bring your camera!

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 travellers 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 amphitheatres in this historic city. 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 more 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. Enjoy the food and the attractions, watch flamenco shows and 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. 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 – Villa Malaga

Stay just outside of the city centre, with views over the Andalucian coast. From your private balcony, you can see mountains and sea, along with the beautiful city. You can even embark on free tours daily! The rooms are lovely, clean, and spacious.

Check out the rooms at Villa Malaga!

5. 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 surrounds. 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 centre! It’s perfect, with exquisite rooms, a restaurant in the central courtyard, and wonderful staff. The perfect honeymoon accommodation.

Check out the rooms at Palacio de los Velada!

6. Segovia

The perfect day trip from Madrid, or better yet, multi-day trip, Segovia is a striking city. 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, Alcazar, 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 centre, but well worth the short trip.

Where to Stay in Segovia – Hotel San Antonio el Real

Spain has so many wonderful accommodation options – 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 doing any 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, when you get drawn to those amazing trails, you can tie ‘em on and head out.
  • 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.

Spain in December – Celebrating a Spanish Christmas

Spanish Christmas 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 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 that are 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

With such gorgeous villages and cities, you may be wondering why the only Spanish destinations you ever hear about are Madrid and Barcelona. 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.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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