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Southern Europe Weather Overview

Portugal/ Spain/ Andorra /Gibraltar

The conditions over the Iberian Peninsula, vary depending on the proximity to the eastern and western coasts and as you head north to south. The peninsula is made up primarily by Spain, followed by Portugal and then small nations/ territories of Andorra and Gibraltar. The orographic conditions of the peninsula means that weather conditions vary greatly across the land mass, with Continental, Oceanic, and Mediterranean climates prevailing in different areas.

Inland Spain and Portugal can see very extreme summer highs as they are not moderated by the coastal winds that the eastern and western coasts see.

Spain can get hot hot hot, particularly if you are in the southern inland parts. Seville in fact is known to be one of the hottest cities in Europe, so make sure to bring your light clothes and sunscreen if visiting in the Summer months.

The Mediterranean coast is home to popular cities of Valencia and Barcelona, and the southern resorts of Alicante, Malaga and the British territory of Gibraltar. The climates in these cities are fairly typically Mediterranean, characterized by long hot summers and mild winters. The water temperature in the surrounding Med Sea stays only a few degrees below the air temperature so makes for a perfect swimming atmosphere.

The coastal regions of Spain and Portugal are cooled by the prevailing winds off the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean respectively. As you head clock wise around the coast starting in Barcelona you will see average temperatures warm up, particularly once you hit the southern coast of Spain. (see average conditions for Barcelona)

Valencia, mid way down the eastern Spanish coast, has an average temperature of 24.3 degrees in July and 9.7 degrees in January. Once you reach Malaga you will witness average summer temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius and winter averages of 16 degrees. The mercury generally sits slightly higher when in this region.

Once you hit the Portuguese coasts condition tend to fluctuate slightly as the area is influenced by the Atlantic weather disturbances. The popular tourist destination of Algarve is often prone to stormy sees and choppy waters. Generally though conditions are mild and summer brings high temperatures as well as thousands of tourists.

Faro and Lagos on the southern Portuguese coast, see average temperatures in July of 23 and 24 degrees respectively and January with average temperatures of 12 and 14 degrees. (see average annual weather conditions for Faro and for Lagos)

As you head north again up the western Portuguese coast, the barometer tends to record slightly lower temperatures. Porto, for example, sees a July average of a pleasant 20 degrees and January with a daily average of 9 degrees.

Rainfall in the area is dependant on closeness to the sea as well as the topographical layout. Serra da Estrela Mountains are considered as the highest landform in mainland Portugal where the maximum amount of precipitation (rain and snowfall) occurs. Portugal exhibits sharp topographic contrasts, and this means rainfall varies greatly across the country. The higher the altitude, the higher the precipitation.

Spain plays host to 5 main mountain ranges with the highest being the Pyrenees range which lies on the Spanish/French border. The coast is mainly home to low lying plains, except for around Almeria and Malaga which sees the Sistema Penibetico range lying behind the cities. This larger range also includes the Sierra Nevada mountains which hosts Mulhacén, the highest mountain on the peninsula.

The Meseta Central, is a sizable plateau that lies in the heart of peninsular Spain, this region like much a lot of the Iberian Peninsula, is characterized by a continental climate with wide diurnal and seasonal variations in temperature and by low, irregular rainfall which results in leaving much of the land arid

The very north of Spain, heading toward France, (see weather overview for France) experiences slightly different weather conditions. This area is generally significantly slightly cooler than western, central and Southern Spain with minimal temperature extremes. An oceanic climate prevails in this region which means it plays hosts to relatively mild winters, warm summers, and abundant rainfall that occurs throughout the whole year.

Autumn is generally the wettest season, while July sees the area at its driest. Fog and mist common along the northern coast, a result of the high humidity and the prevailing off-shore winds and the overshadowing mountains which form a barrier keeping out the sea moisture from the Atlantic.

Along with an oceanic and continental climate, the third climate that prevails on the peninsula is a Mediterranean climate, which occurs (obviously) along the Mediterranean coast in the cities which have been earlier mentioned! This area is probably the most agreeable and ‘holiday worthy’ climate, though can get blistering hot at times.

(see here for a more extensive Spain weather overview)

Croatia

Over in the southeast of Europe you will find one of the fastest growing popular tourist destinations in all of Europe. In recent years Croatia has increased in popularity by a huge amount as people have discovered the beauty and glamour of the Dalmatian coast.

Croatia is a long country which spreads along the Adriatic coast, lying north of Greece and sharing land borders with Bosnia, Slovenia, Hungry and Serbia. Because of the extensive length of the country and the presence of mountain ranges behind the Dalmatian coast, there are varied weather conditions across the whole country. On the whole however, summers in Croatia are glorious and winters can sometimes get quite severe. Gusty brisk winds blow through the islands and the inland areas see snowfall and bitterly cold lows. Rainfall falls mainly in the winter months, whereas late spring, summer and early autumn are considerably drier and warmer.

Inland Croatia isn’t tempered by the coastal winds of the Adriatic, so as a result the summers are hot and the winters are bitterly cold. The mountain ranges see snowfall in the peak of winter which provides for some worthwhile winter activities.

Toward the very east there are fewer hills so there is slightly less rainfall, however the winters have a tendency to be even colder as the area is even further from the coast so coastal influences are lacking.

The coast of Croatia is best summed up by describing the weather as ‘Mediterranean,’ where as inland and eastern Croatia witnesses a ‘Continental’ climate. On the coast the summers are dry, long and hot and the winters are cool and wet. The very south of Croatia is the region that has attracted the biggest influx in tourists in the last 5 or so years. The amazing Dalmatian coast and the offshore islands that sit scattered throughout the lower part of the Adriatic is home to mild weather, perfect summers, white sand and crystal clear water. In this area you will find popular destinations of Dubrovnik, Split and the island spots of Korcula, Brac and the glamour of Hvar.


Summers in the Dalmatian coast are long and amazing. Day time highs regularly rise above 30 degrees and the days can sometimes be stifling hot. However, when you are relaxing on an island you can be sure that the cooling ocean water is not far away.

The islands and the coast are cooled by the local prevailing winds, which have a cooling affect in the evenings, leaving the area at a perfect temperature for outdoor socialising.


When on the islands you will find your self surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery that you will struggle to find elsewhere in the world and a climate to match. The crystal clear water sits at an average temperature of 22 to 25 degrees which is perfect for diving off your boat into.


Hvar in particular, which lies in the middle of the islands positioned between Brac, Vis, Korcula islands, Peljesac peninsula and Makarska Riviera, has become one of the more elitist holiday destinations and after visiting you are left with no questions as to why this is the case. The perfect Mediterranean climate that remains mild year round has helped the growth of beautiful smelling plants and herbs and luscious vegetation across the island.


The region as a whole generally sees averages summer highs of 28 degrees, which stifling hot days in the low to mid 30’s a common occurrence. The evenings cool down slightly with the local breezes, and average daily lows in summer will sit at about 18 to 21 degrees. In addition to this the area sees relatively low humidity so although the days may be hot they are rarely extremely uncomfortable.


Winter in the region may see some of the most popular tourist resort begin to resemble ghost towns. While the scenery is still amazing, winter is when the Dalmatian coast receives most of its rain.

See the average weather conditions for Dubrovnik for the best idea of what conditions are like throughout the year.


As you move across the country, weather conditions will vary. The Dalmatian coast is shielded by the Dinaric Alps. This mountain range acts as a rain shield behind the Dalmatian coast which has the affected of protecting the area from the cold winds that blow from Northern Europe. As a result summers and hot and winters are mild, albeit they can get quite rainy in parts- particular as you increase in altitude.


The country’s capital, Zagreb, witnesses a continental climate with 4 distinct seasons with hot/dry summers and cold/wet winters. In winter the average temperature drops down to 1 degrees with snowfall on sporadic days through December to March. October through until December sees the city experience more days of Rain and fog than any other time of the year. Summers in Zagreb see an average daily temperature of 20 degrees, though this may be misleading as average daily highs often reach into the high 20’s/early 30’s.

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