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WEATHER

Where are the rainiest places in Spain?

Is it true that the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain? Here’s a breakdown of the cities and other locations where it rains the most in Spain. 

rainiest places in spain
It rains a lot in northern Spain but there are other parts in the south of the country where there's plenty of rainfall. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Spain isn’t a country that’s associated with cloudy and rainy weather but anyone who’s travelled around the Iberian nation will know that sunny skies aren’t always guaranteed. 

There are in fact parts of the country where there’s rain for half of the year. 

And no, the line ‘the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain’ – conceived as a way to judge proper English pronunciation during Victorian times – isn’t scientifically accurate.

Weather patterns are changing as the world’s climatologists have made many of us aware of, but if there is a place that’s historically rainy it’s northern Spain. 

A climate guide by Spain’s national weather agency Aemet which looked at weather stats from 1981 to 2010 found that the rainiest city in Spain is the Basque city of San Sebastián, where there is rain on average 141.1 days every year. 

It rains a lot in the classy Basque city of San Sebastián, also known as Donostia. Photo: Raul Cacho Oses/Unsplash

The following six rainiest cities after San Sebastián are all in the coastal windswept region of Galicia in northwestern Spain. 

As you will see in the breakdown below, there is a clear north-south divide in terms of average precipitation in Spain, with the first 27 spots occupied by cities that are north of Madrid.

The rainiest cities in Spain:  

1 San Sebastián – 141.1 days of rain a year

2 Santiago de Compostela – 139.5  days of rain a year

3 Pontevedra – 131.3 days of rain a year

4 A Coruña – 129.6 days of rain a year

5 Vigo – 129.2 days of rain a year

6 Lugo – 126.3 days of rain a year

7 Bilbao – 124.0 days of rain a year

8 Santander – 123.6 days of rain a year

9 Oviedo – 122.3 days of rain a year

10 Vitoria-Gasteiz – 99.3 days of rain a year

11 Ourense – 96.9 days of rain a year

12 Pamplona – 93.5 days of rain a year

13 Burgos – 83.5 days of rain a year

14 Soria – 78.8 days of rain a year

15 Segovia – 78.6 days of rain a year

16 León – 74.9 days of rain a year

17 Guadalajara – 74.1 days of rain a year

18 Cuenca – 71.2 days of rain a year

19 Valladolid – 68.5 days of rain a year

20 Ávila – 66.9 days of rain a year

21 Logroño – 66.6 days of rain a year

22 Girona – 65.8 days of rain a year

23 Cáceres – 64.2 days of rain a year

24 Zamora – 64.2 days of rain a year

25 Salamanca – 63.8 days of rain a year

26 Maó (Menorca) – 63.6 days of rain a year

27 Huesca – 60.7 days of rain a year

28 Madrid – 59.4 days of rain a year

29 Ciudad Real – 59.3 days of rain a year

30 Badajoz – 59.2 days of rain a year

31 Teruel – 57.4 days of rain a year

32 Córdoba – 56.6 days of rain a year

33 Toledo – 53.8 days of rain a year

34 Barcelona – 53.3 days of rain a year

35 Palma (Mallorca) – 53.1 days of rain a year

36 Granada – 52.1 days of rain a year

37 Huelva – 51.5 days of rain a year

38 Zaragoza – 51.1 days of rain a year

39 Cádiz – 50.7 days of rain a year

40 Sevilla – 50.5 days of rain a year

41 Albacete – 50.4 days of rain a year

42 Tarragona – 50.3 days of rain a year

43 Lleida – 46.2 days of rain a year

44 Jaén – 46.0 days of rain a year

45 Castellón – 45.5 days of rain a year

46 Valencia – 43.9 days of rain a year

47 Málaga – 42.3 days of rain a year

48 Alicante – 37.5 days of rain a year

49 Murcia – 36.5 days of rain a year

50 Santa Cruz de Tenerife – 29.7 days of rain a year

51 Almería – 25.4  days of rain a year

This map of Spain by Aemet, which doesn’t include the Canary Islands, shows where the average rainfall in millilitres is highest, again reflecting the stark difference between the country’s northern coastline (mostly in blue due to higher precipitation) and the rest of the country. 

Map showing average annual rainfall in the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands. Source: Aemet weather agency

But if you look closer, you’ll see that in Spain’s southern tip there’s also an area with a high amount of rainfall. 

This is Cádiz province, more specifically the Sierra de Grazalema, a mountainous range that records around 4,000 mm of rainfall per square metre a year. 

Even though it doesn’t rain that often in Cádiz city, the nearby Sierra de Grazalema is widely regarded as the rainiest place in Spain, making Cádiz the rainiest province in Spain, ahead of other cloud-covered Galician provinces such as Pontevedra and Vigo. 

Dark clouds approaching the village of Zahara de la Sierra in the Grazalema region. Photo: José Luis Rodríguez Martínez/Unsplash

Other mountain ranges (and their closeby villages and towns) such as the Sierra de Gredos in central Spain and the Navarran Pyrenees and Cantabrian Mountains in the north record high levels of rainfall throughout much of the year. 

But if there is a region where rain is common throughout its cities, countryside and most of its territory it has to be Galicia. 

A lot of the time it’s drizzle, but in specific areas of the Rías Baixas or the Barbanza region rainfall amounts to 2,500 litres per square metre per year .

Its climate is oceanic, temperate, humid and very variable throughout the year, and most of the storms that are generated in the Atlantic enter the Iberian Peninsula through Galicia, all of which contributes to the often 150 days of rain a year in the region.

It’s no surprise Gallegos (Galician people) have more than 100 words to describe rain.

READ ALSO: Where are the coldest places in Spain?

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WOMEN'S RIGHTS

Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Talk of abortion policy reform and proposed menstrual leave has dominated Spanish discourse this week, but it’s also dividing Spain’s coalition government.

Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Spain’s PSOE-fronted coalition government recently outlined proposals that have dominated public discourse in the country.

But the legislation, which would allow women over the age of 16 to get abortions without the permission of their parents and introduce ‘menstruation leave’ for those suffering serious period pains, has not only divided Spanish society but the government itself.

The proposals would make Spain a leader in the Western world, and the first European Union member state to introduce menstrual leave, and changes to abortion law would overturn a 2015 law passed by the conservative People’s Party that forced women aged 16 and 17 to obtain parental consent.

The wide-ranging bill would also end VAT on menstrual products, increase the free distribution of them in schools, and allow between three and five days of leave each month for women who experience particularly painful periods.

READ MORE: What are Spain’s abortion laws for foreign residents and visitors?

Menstrual leave

Ángela Rodríguez, the Secretary of State for Equality, told Spanish newspaper El Periódico in March that “it’s important to be clear about what a painful period is – we’re not talking about slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, fever and bad headaches.”

“When there’s a problem that can’t be solved medically, we think it’s very sensible to have temporary sick leave,” she added.

Cabinet politics

The proposals are slated for approval in cabinet next week, and judging by reports in the Spanish media this week, it is far from reaching a consensus. It is believed the intra-cabinet tensions stem not from the changes to abortion and contraception accessibility, but rather the proposed menstrual leave.

The junior coalition partner in government, Podemos, largely supports the bill, but it is believed some in the PSOE ranks are more sceptical about the symbolism and employment effects of the proposed period pain policy.

Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, said this week: “Let me repeat it very clearly: this government believes and is absolutely committed to gender equality and we will never adopt measures that may result in a stigmatisation of women.”

Yet Second Vice President and Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, who is viewed as further to the left than President Pedro Sánchez and other PSOE cabinet ministers, is reportedly “absolutely in favour” of the measure to reform Spain’s “deeply masculinised” labour market.

Sources in the Spanish media have this week also reported that some PSOE cabinet ministers feel the proposed paid leave not only plays up to stereotypes of women, or stigmatises them, like Calviño says, but also places them at a disadvantage in the world of work.

Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, stated that while the government should seek to improve women’s employment protections, it should also seek to boost their participation in the labour market under “better conditions.”

In that vein, some feel menstrual leave could be used a form of of employment discrimination similarly to how pregnancy has been historically, and the policy would, in that sense, actually be more regressive than progressive in enshrining women’s workplace rights. 

READ MORE: Spain eyes free contraception for under-25’s

Trade unions

Trade unions are also sceptical of the menstrual leave legislation. Cristina Antoñanzas, deputy secretary of UGT, one of Spain’s largest trade unions, has echoed those in the cabinet who feel the proposals could “stigmatise women.” She added that “it does women a disservice.”

Public opinion

A survey run by INTIMINA found that 67 percent of Spanish women are in favour of regulating menstrual leave, but also that 75 percent fear it is “a double-edged sword” that could generate labor discrimination.

The survey also found that 88 percent of women who suffer from disabling and frequent period pain have gone to work despite it. Seventy-one percent admitted that they have normalised working with pain.

Cabinet showdown

The proposed menstrual leave policy will be debated in cabinet next week when the Council of Ministers debates and approves the broader abortion and contraception reforms. According to sources in the Spanish media, and many cabinet ministers themselves, it seems a consensus on menstruation leave is a long way off.




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