Will you be visiting Spain this summer? Maybe you're even considering moving here permanently? Or plan to study Spanish in Spain for a few weeks? Are you thinking about doing it at one of the notoriously hot cities of Madrid, Granada or Seville? Almost without fail, they all hit highs of +40℃/104℉ and more during the summer months. And unlike places such as Alicante, Cadiz or Malaga, they don’t have the benefit of a coastal breeze from the Mediterranean, let alone a sea or ocean to take a dip in.

So is it worth staying in such places when they are so unbearably hot in the summer?

To be honest, yes it is! If you have your heart set on somewhere, then go. You won't regret it and you’ll have your very good reasons for wanting to study, for example, in Madrid. However, you really do need to be aware of how hot it gets and get an idea of how the locals deal with it.


Advantages & Disadvantages 


Let’s start with some positives. First of all, we generally go to Spain because the weather there is better, right? Secondly, the heat of Spain is a ‘dry’ heat so yes, it can be oppressively hot, but it’s not the humid, sticky, moist heat that we tend to have to endure during a summer in northern or central Europe, where it is particularly difficult to cool down. The Spanish heat is much easier to cool down from, so a dip in the pool or a few minutes spent in an air-conditioned shop, bar or café usually has an immediate effect.

The negatives are perhaps slightly off-putting and worrying. I once suffered from the uncomfortable side-effect of having extremely dry nasal mucus (yes, i.e. big, dry, horrible boogers!). Thankfully, a quick stop at a drugstore for a nasal spray rapidly did the trick. Apart from keeping your nose lubricated, the usual advice for how to behave in the heat is generally well-known. Slap on the suncream, cover up, avoid sitting in the direct sun and drink a lot of water.


Do what the Spanish do

So what can you expect when you go to Spain and experience such temperatures? Here’s a few of our observations.

  • Unlike in many places in northern Europe, air-conditioning is a given in shops, bars, schools, administrative buildings, museums, etc. They’re a great place to cool off

  • Open-air swimming pools are widespread - both in large cities and often in small villages too. Find out where your nearest one is. This is a popular pastime for the Spanish and their families too

  • You may have seen them before in outdoor bars and restaurants: misting devices that sporadically spray a very fine mist of chilled water into the air. They may look like a gimmick but they help create a nice micro-climate of cool, moist air, which is also great for the nostrils!

  • Eat late. It’s often noted in travel blogs that the Spanish like to eat late, and it’s popular to say 8pm. However, the really pleasant temperatures for eating outside tend to be around 10 or even 11pm. You’ll still see plenty of Spaniards arriving at these times and making the most of the cooler periods. It may be worth becoming a night owl while you’re in Spain!

  • Head to the coast for a cool down. Granada and Seville are about 60 - 90 minutes away from the pleasant and cooling waters of the Mediterranean. There are excellent bus services or get a few friends together and hire a car

  • Have a siesta. We sometimes hear that the siesta is dying out or that people are trying to ban it. In a place like Granada you will quickly notice that there’s not much going on in the heat of the city centre at 4pm. Small shop owners shut up shop, most bars are closed. We can never know for sure if they go home and sleep until they reopen at 5 or 6pm again, but this time of day is ideal for taking it easy and getting yourself out of the heat and the sun. 

  • Keep the windows closed and shuttered during the day - you don’t want that heat seeping in, or the air-conditioning blowing a fuse trying to cool down the whole street

  • A very nice thing I’ve seen in all three of these cities is people popping into a bar in passing and asking for “un vaso de agua” - a glass of water. I’ve never seen a barman turn down this request for a free drink. It’s only tap water and don’t expect tapas, but it’s a nice gesture

  • Adjust your diet to keep cool. Try the cold soups on Spanish menus. Gazpacho (usually a mix of tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, garlic, onions amongst other things), the smooth salmorejo (only contains tomatoes, bread, olive oil and garlic) and the white-coloured garlic soup, ajoblanco (made from garlic and almonds). As an alternative to beer and chilled wines, try a tinto de verano, a delicious summer drink made from red wine and a fizzy lemon soda and ice

To sum up, yes Spain is hot and even the coastal locations are seeing temperatures rise to levels they’ve never seen before. Stick to the general precautions we all know and keep in mind how the Spanish deal with the heat, and you’ll probably get along just fine!

If you're also interested in learning Spanish in Spain, click here or on one of the links at the very top of this blog for special offers and discounts at a range of language schools all over Spain