Spring and fall are ideal times to visit Madrid. May and October are the best months, in terms of weather and crowds. In my view, however, the balmy month of May (with an average temperature of 16°C/61°F) is the most glorious time for making your own discovery of the Spanish capital.

August is the month when Madrid is traditionally at its most peaceful, as many of its inhabitants have escaped to the mountains or are sunning themselves on the Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts. About 75% of the city's restaurants and shops also decide that it's time for a vacation and close for the month, though visitors usually find enough for their needs. However, these days it's not quite the semi-ghost town it was in the past, as Madrileños have become increasingly attracted by the advantages of staggered holidays. Many now choose June, September, or October as their main vacation time, when those popular coastal areas are less hot, less crowded, and less expensive. Also with the new middle-class affluence, many Spaniards are not necessarily limited to their homeland for choice. Another factor is the increased number of resident immigrants, from South Americans to East Europeans, who by choice or for economic reasons tend to stay, live, and continue working throughout the summer.

The main problem with summers in Madrid is the ovenlike midsummer heat (mercifully dry), which, in July and August, can sometimes reach afternoon maximums of 40°C (104°F), though the abundance of air-conditioned locales and soothing lack of crowds produce a unique, daylong siesta atmosphere.

Public Holidays (Fiestas)

Holidays include January 1 (New Year's Day), January 6 (Feast of the Epiphany), March 19 (Feast of St. Joseph), Good Friday, Easter Monday, May 1 (May Day), June 10 (Corpus Christi), June 29 (Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul), July 25 (Feast of St. James), August 15 (Feast of the Assumption), October 12 (Spain's National Day), November 1 (All Saints' Day), December 8 (Immaculate Conception), and December 25 (Christmas).

No matter how large or small, every city or town in Spain also celebrates its local saint's day. In Madrid, it's May 15 (St. Isidro). You'll rarely know what the local holidays are in your next destination in Spain. Try to keep money on hand, because you may arrive in town only to find banks and stores closed. In some cases, intercity bus services are suspended on holidays.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.