From the moment you step off the plane from early to late spring, you'll enjoy fragrant almond blossoms and beach-ready temperatures without the stifling heat and oppressive Mediterranean sun that cripples the country during July and August. Take advantage of what is arguably the best time to travel with an early trip to the seaside, a jaunt down to Málaga in Andalucía, or serene hours spent basking in Madrid's regal Buen Retiro park or Barcelona's Park Güell with a glass of Rioja.
Head to Spain in spring and you'll enjoy the revelry of a Catholic country in the throes of Lent/Easter. The Holy Week celebrations start with Valencia's awe-inspiring las fallas parade in March, when larger-than-life puppets are paraded down city streets.
During the week before Easter, cities across the country celebrate semana santa, which range from solemn religious rights to demonstrations of traditional culture.
Afterwards, feria season descends with jubilant parties across the country. Seville's feria de abril is particularly famous, with flamenco, show horses and food stalls—though some of them are members-only affairs. The grand affair is nevertheless impressive, though celebrations in smaller cities such as Jerez de la Frontera or Cordoba can be more welcoming to outsiders.
There's also a smattering of smaller festivals as Spaniards take advantage of the near-perfect weather. Stop in Trujillo for the feria nacional del queso or in Girona for the stunning temps de flors.
If you wait the whole year to feel the sun radiate on your skin, Spain is your dream summer destination. During the summer months, locals tend to flee cities, swapping the daily grind for beach breezes. Those who do remain during this time of the year congregate poolside to slurp up gazpacho and sip on tinto de verano, a mix of red wine and lemonade, which Spaniards prefer to the more touristy and heavy sangria. You'll also find that locals spend plenty of time lingering outside in cafes, cooling off with everything from vermut de grifa to frothy horchata.
But while high temperatures might slow down the pace of life in many parts of Spain from June to September (the average temperature in Barcelona during the summer hovers around 84°F), a trip to Spain in the summer still boasts plenty of cultural events.
Pop on over to Pamplona in July to witness the iconic running of the bulls during the festival of San Fermín. This is also prime party time for night owls on the stunning Costa del Sol. For a less traditional party that doesn't involve bullfighting, head to the town of Bunol in August and take part in the messy la tomatina festival, during which participants throw ripe tomatoes at each other. If you'd rather not spend your vacation doing laundry, stop by Bilbao in mid-August for aste nagusia, which celebrates Basque culture.
Whatever you chose to do, be sure to pack light clothing and sun block as Spanish summers are scorchers throughout the country—especially in southern Spain.
Fall in Spain means a return to the cities and generally cooler temperatures that make being outside pleasant once again. If you're heading to Northern Spain (San Sebastián, for example), pack an umbrella as it tends to be rainy. If your itinerary involves a stop in the south, don't forget the sunblock as it can still be quite warm.
While you might not expect Spain to feature fantastic fall foliage, the leaves put on an exuberant display, especially in the north of the country. In Leon, the Faedo de Ciñera, which was voted the best cared for forest in Spain, offers stunning vistas full of flame-colored leaves and twisting trees. If you prefer city trips, you can enjoy the aroma of roasting chestnuts as you wander city streets. Not to mention, cooler temperatures mean a renewed appetite for the country's famous churros con chocolate.
There are also plenty of fiestas to celebrate come fall. In Jerez, the center of sherry production, an annual wine making festival is held at the beginning of September, where sherry flows freely and flamenco dancers take to the streets. Fans of jamón ibérico can celebrate the precious pork during the mid-October festival in Aracena, Andalusia. While Halloween is not widely celebrated, there are special events for All Saint's Day on November 1. The celebrations in Cadiz are particularly notable, where locals dress up suckling pigs at the market and make dolls from fruit.
While heading to Spain during the off-season winter months (aka shoulder season) means skipping the beaches, you will find warmer temps and bluer skies than throughout much of Europe at this time of year. But this also makes it ideal for sightseeing in the big cities. Fewer tourists means you’ll finally be able to see Picasso's Guernica at Madrid's Museo de la Reina Sofia without obstruction and you won’t boil when you take in Gaudi's magical Park Güell.
There's also plenty of festivals to keep you entertained. Head to Madrid after the New Year at the end of January to indulge in a variety of inventive Spanish dishes at their Gastro festival or swing by in February for the city's dizzying Carnival celebrations. If you're craving a ski trip head to the Sierra Nevada mountains by Granada. The area has over 2,500 kilometers of ski trails, plus a lively après-ski scene.
And if you're looking to escape during the holiday season, Spanish cities spare no expense with their celebrations. Expect to find ice skating rinks set up next to major sites and glimmering Christmas lights everywhere.