There’s a recurring joke between Madrid’s inhabitants: this place has only two seasons, not four. And that seasons are just Winter and Summer, hence the extreme ones. So, if you are planning to visit Madrid – especially if you are coming with children or old people-, I’m going to provide you some advice.
During summer, Puerta del Sol and surroundings get covered with sunshades to avoid people getting sunburnt or sunstroked. Picture: bjaglin, Flickr, Creative Commons.
Unless you’re living in Texas or Albuquerque, please avoid coming to Madrid in July or August. The only thing you are going to find is temperatures that can hit 104Fº or more if there’s a heat wave and an empty city with tourists caught as off-guard as you (locals literally run away from Madrid in summer, mostly to Valencia). Indeed, heat waves are very common, and you can also feel them at night, with temperatures as 70 – 74Fº that make very difficult to have a good sleep . And, if your skin is Type I or II you’´ll get very high chances of getting sunburnt.
So, if you come to Madrid in summer and you find angry Spaniards in your way, please don’t blame us- it’s just that heat doesn’t give us a break in two months!
Autumn & Winter
It’s not that common to see snow, but in winter it’s freezing, man. Picture: https://www.facebook.com/robertotaddeofoto28, Flickr, Creative Commons
Yes, we also have winter in Spain. It even gets snowy, but only sometimes to be honest. Winters in Madrid are cold and dry, but on average very manageable for visitors from abroad. You just need to keep in mind that it’s still winter, so don’t forget to bring with you a proper coat, gloves, scarf and a hat. It can be a good option if you plan a winter scape, but there’s an exception you must keep in mind: December.
You must know that 6th and 8th December are national bank holidays in Spain. The 6th is Constitution Day and we celebrate at the 8th the Inmaculate Conception of Virgin Mary. So, most of the times there’s not that much people working on December 7th, something that Spaniards call “Puente” (not working the day between two bank holidays). It’s also a time of the year which has become popular for Christmas shopping (as some kind of Black Friday), so at the beginning of December you’ll probably find streets of Madrid literally crowded with hordes of people carrying colorful bags plenty of gifts. This has increased during last years, to the point that it’s barely impossible to walk through the city center, get to downtown with a car or motorcycle (sorry- streets closed by the local council) or even try to take the Metro at Sol: it’s closed that days.
#MadridHack: if you’re brave enough to still want to visit Madrid that days, you might get the chance to visit the Congreso de los Diputados (Parliament House). It’s opened on 6th from 9:30, but people start queuing at 7AM or even 6AM, so you can imagine how long it takes to visit this historic building. But there’s something you must know: you can visit the Congreso on Fridays and Saturdays of almost any month of the year (it’s closed in August, when MPs go on holidays). You only need to send an email in order to book in advance. You can find how following this link.
Autumn is also fine to pay a visit. You might sometimes find temperatures that look more appropriate to summer, or the other way, you may suddenly find that winter is coming faster than you expected. To check which weather are you going to find, please visit AEMET: it’s the State’s main agency, and very accurate with its forecasts.
You might be asking yourself when might be the best time to visit Madrid. I’m going to tell you right straight away:
Come visit us in MAY!
People dressed as chulapos, celebrating Madrid’s main historic events. Picture: alemaner, Flickr, Creative Commons.
May is an important month in Madrid, plenty of celebrations that will show you the most traditional, folkiest side of the city and its inhabitants. May 2th is bank holiday, to commemorate how the people of Madrid repealed Napoleon’s troops. There’s a military parade with wide representation of the Spanish Armed Forces, including the peculiar Royal Guards, a corps founded to protect the kings of Spain.
#MadridHack: Did you know Spain has the oldest military unit of the world? It’s the Regimiento Inmemorial del Rey (King’s Inmemorial Infantry Regiment), active since 1248. They also parade on May 2th, wearing customes from Charles III period (XVIII Century) and carrying with them authentic guns from that period.
May 15th is also bank holiday, this time to remember San Isidro, the saint that officially protects Madrid (from the biggest city to the tiniest village, every Spanish place has its official saint and virgin, in case you doubted it). You can find plenty of people dressed with traditional chulapo costumes and dancing the chotis, a traditional dance with a very peculiar music. The epicenter of this feast is Ladera del Santo (Metro Marqués de Vadillo), a park when it’s placed San Isidro’s chapel that becomes a true festival that days. There are plenty of concerts, fair attractions and stands when you can eat, drink and enjoy the sensation of joy that’s floating in the air.
Not convinced yet? Check this video to see what are you losing if you don’t follow my advice.