Weather Overview for Madrid
Madrid is a stylish, cosmopolitan, modern city. This reputation can be largely attributed to its mix of a Continental and Mediterranean weather conditions which see an average annual temperature of 14 ºC, and an average yearly temperature range of 5 ºC to 25 ºC. The average temperature of Madrid is actually hugely misleading however, as it is largely affected by the cool nights which are a result of the city’s high altitude. At 2,188 feet Madrid is the highest European capital. While London has the least weather variety in all of Europe, Madrid witnesses one of Europe’s most variable climates. It is as a result of its altitude and its proximity to nearby mountain ranges (‘Sierras’ as the Spanish call them) that Madrid experiences such wide temperature extremes.
In Madrid there is essentially no period of moderate weather; it is ‘sol o sombra’ as the Spanish would say (sun or shadow.) Although the year is described as encompassing four seasons, the shoulder seasons of autumn and spring are relatively short lived. In saying this, the benefits of visiting during these ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ shoulder seasons are that the conditions are slightly more mild and it is not peak season so accommodation is consequently cheaper and the city is not packed out with tourists. In addition to this, many cultural activities take place in Madrid in the Autumn, as it coincides with the beginning of the school year and the return to work post the August summer break. Because the conditions are slightly milder during the spring and autumn months there is much activity on the streets, ‘Marcha’ as the Spanish call it- the streets and bars are a hub of activity and you can really enjoy the stylish ambience of the city.
Summer weather in Madrid is blistering, so blistering that it is in fact the fourth hottest city in all of Europe. However due to its privileged location and high altitude there are many welcome breaks from this heat in the form of low humidity and cooler evenings. The harsh summer sun plays an integral role in the Madrileno’s daily routine, which must be kept in mind when visiting Madrid; particularly during the summer months. Daily highs can very often reach in excess of 40 ºC, so as a means to escape from the relentless heat locals will siesta in the middle of the day. Come mid afternoon Madrileno’s will re-open their businesses, emerge from their homes and business resumes as normal late into the evening.While the heat in Madrid can at times be unarguably uncomfortable, it is actually the least humid city in Europe in terms of relative humidity- averaging 60.5% annually, which makes the heat extremes slightly more bearable. The low humidity also means that nights are considerably cooler. The balmy summer evenings of June are a great time to enjoy Madrid’s renowned active nightlife- the city plays hosts to the largest number of bars per capita of any European city.Its location next to the Somosierra, Guadarrama and Toledo mountain ranges means that the city is washed with cool, pure mountain air which provides for a very welcome break from the heat. If you’ve made the choice to endure Madrid’s heat in the summer time, the best month to visit would be June which sees an average minimum of 15 ºC and an average maximum of 27 ºC. This rises to 17 ºC /31 ºC and 17 ºC /30 ºC in July and August respectively.
While rainfall is typical concentrated into the spring and autumn months, June averages 5 days of mild rainfall with July and August seeing 2 or 3 days. On a whole, however, rain in Madrid is fairly scarce- particularly in summer and the city is one of Europe’s driest cities; second only to Athens.July is probably best to be avoided if you do not think you will enjoy the rising mercury. In addition to this it is peak tourist season so prices skyrocket. In August it is common for locals to take their summer holiday and flock to seaside resorts. As a result many businesses and restaurants are closed during this period and the city empties out leaving you with a higher concentration of tourists.
Even in winter the Madrid skies are often still blue and touched with light puffy white clouds. The pure mountain air continues to wash over the city and the streets are again concentrated with locals, rather than tourists. The climate’s continental tendencies means that Madrid sees many crisp, cold winter’s days. It is not uncommon for the temperature to hit freezing, and it often gets cold enough to support snowfall. 2005 saw Madrid receives its heaviest snowfall in 20 years but it is generally uncommon for it to snow in the city itself. The surrounding mountain ranges however offer for an abundance of snow fall. This provides for nearby winter escapes and ski fields for those who wish to enjoy Madrid in the colder months.December and January see an average low of 2 ºC and an average high of 9 ºC, moving into January which plays host to a minimum of 2 ºC and average maximum of 11 ºC. Madrid receives Europe’s’ second highest hours of actual sunlight, and it becomes obvious through winter as the city basks in an average of 5 hours of uninterrupted daily sunlight- a considerable amount more than its northern European counterparts which sometimes only experience 60 minutes of actual sunlight!