Where are the hottest places in Spain?

Summer has arrived early in Spain this year. But where are the places where it's likely to be scorching every single year? And what’s the highest temperature ever recorded in Spain?

Where are the hottest places in Spain?
A man cools off at a water fountain during a heatwave in Córdoba in August 2021. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

Anyone in Spain at the moment will tell you the same: ¡hace calor! (it’s hot!)

Summer seems to have arrived early this year, whether it be Seville already sweltering in the mid-30’s, Madrid approaching 30, or 7 to 8 °C temperature increases across the rest of the country, May is getting some serious heat.

It’s no surprise that it gets hot in Spain, but where are the cities that are always boiling during the summer? 

Highest average summer temperatures

  1. Córdoba takes the top spot for highest maximum average temperature in Spain, averaging a staggering 36.5°C throughout the month of August.
  2. Seville makes it an Andalusian top two, averaging 35.5°C in August. 
  3. Badajoz, also in the south-west of Spain but in the region of Extremadura, averages 34.5°C during August.
  4. Murcia. Spaniards may jokingly say Murcia doesn’t exist but it certainly does and it’s hot – with a maximum average temperature of 34.2°C throughout the month of August. 
  5. Granada fills out the top 5 and makes it three Andalusian cities in the top 5. Granada, like Murcia, enjoys maximum average temperatures of 34.2°C in August.

It can also get boiling hot in other cities in Spain’s interior such as Madrid, Zaragoza, Toledo or Ciudad Real, but they don’t make the top five ranking.

Spain’s hottest cities are in areas where the mercury is likely to be just as high during the summer months, such as the Baetic Depression of the Guadalquivir river (Seville), the Tajo Valley (Badajoz), the Vega del Segura alluvial plain (Murcia) and the Ebro Valley (Zaragoza).

Some towns with a reputation for being extremely hot during the summer are Montoro (Córdoba), Morón de la Frontera (Seville), Molina de Segura (Murcia) and Écija also near Córdoba, which is referred to as the ‘frying pan’ of Spain.

Map showing the average high temperatures during the summer months in Spain from 1981 to 2010. Source: AEMET

Highest average winter temperatures in Spain

Summer doesn’t last forever in Spain but there are many parts of the country that stay warm throughout the winter:

  1. Gran Canaria – 22°C. Together with the other Canary Islands, Gran Canaria stays mild and breezy during the winter months thanks to its geographic position and the ever-present trade winds.
  2. Seville – The Andalusian capital can get a bit cold at times in winter but it averages 15°C during December.
  3. Valencia – The eastern city’s positioning on the Mediterranean means it also averages 15°C throughout December.
  4. Mallorca – It may not always be beach weather during winter in the Balearics but 14°C on average in December is very tolerable.

Hottest temperatures ever recorded

Spain not only has incredibly high average temperatures year round, but the height of summer reaches some scorching highs. We’ve taken a look at the highest single temperatures ever recorded in Spain:

    1. Montoro. The single highest temperature ever recorded in Spain was in the small town of Montoro in the north-east of Córdoba province. The town of 9000 reached a staggering 47.3 °C in July 2017.
    2. Mengíbar. The small town in Jaén province topped out at 47.1 °C in August 2011.
    3. Badajoz. A quirk of history, and heat, is that Badajoz maxed out at 47 °C in both June 1864 and August 1964, almost exactly 100 years later!
    4. Seville. The Andalusian capital also registered 47 °C in 1946.
    5. El Hierro. The small Canary Island also reached 47 °C in August 1996.

A couple take a photo of a street thermometer reading 48 degrees Celsius during a heatwave in Cordoba on August 2021. These street thermometers aren’t always accurate as they’re baking in the sun. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

Unofficial records 

The maximum temperatures above are the official list, but Spain has also had some rumoured, or unconfirmed scorchers that weren’t made reliably. In July 1876 and August 1881, for example, temperatures of 51 °C and 50 °C were both reported in Seville but were measured in poor technical conditions so aren’t considered reliable results. But anyone who has spent time in Seville or Andalusia during the summer won’t have any trouble believing it.

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Spain in grip of second earliest heatwave on record

Spain was on Monday already in the grips of a heatwave expected to reach "extreme" levels, and France is bracing for one too, as meteorologists blame the unusually high seasonal temperatures on global warming.

Spain in grip of second earliest heatwave on record

The “unusual” temperatures for the time of year follow the hottest May in at least 100 years in Spain, Ruben del Campo, spokesman for the Spanish Meteorological Agency (Aemet) said.

He told AFP that the current heatwave would bring “extreme temperatures” and “could last until the end of the week”.

The mercury will rise above 40 degrees Celsius (around 104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the day in many Spanish towns and remain high at night, above 20 to 22 degrees, he said.

According to Spain’s national weather agency, the earliest heatwave on record was recorded on June 11th 1981, making the current episode of soporific heat the second earliest heatwave on record in Spain as it began on Sunday June 12th 2022.

There was a period of extreme heat recorded in May in Spain, but in order for meteorologists to officially consider scorching weather to be una ola de calor (a heatwave) it must last at least three days and temperatures must exceed seasonal thresholds by 10 percent.

The heatwave is also set to hit other parts of Europe, such as France, in the next few days, del Campo warned.

France’s weather service said the heatwave would hit southern regions from Tuesday night, worsening a drought across much of the country that is threatening farm harvests.

From Wednesday, much of France will be sweltering in temperatures that could reach 38 or even 40 degrees C — “extremely early” for the season — forecaster Frederic Nathan of Meteo-France told AFP.

Water use restrictions are already in place in 35 departments — around a third of the country — and utilities are urging farmers, factories and public service providers to show “restraint” to avoid further depletions of water tables.

People cool off to fight the scorching heat during a heatwave in Seville on June 13th 2022. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)

‘Not normal’

Spain has experienced four episodes of extreme temperatures in the last 10 months.

A heatwave last August set a new record, with the temperature hitting 47.4 degrees C in the southern city of Montoro.

“This extreme heat is not normal at this time during the spring,” del Campo said, attributing it to global warming.

Temperatures were also “exceptionally high” between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

According to Aemet forecasts, temperatures could reach 43 degrees C in the southern region of Andalusia, especially the cities of Cordoba or Seville, in the next few days.

Since the pre-industrial era, Spain has seen temperatures rise by 1.7 degrees C on average, del Campo said.

Not only have temperatures become more extreme, he said, but periods of heat have become more frequent.

Summers in Spain, he added, “are a bit hotter every year and getting longer and longer. A summer lasts one month longer than in the 1980s.”

Apart from the consequences on human health, he warned of the environmental impact, with a high risk of drought and water supply problems, and more fires.

Recent science has shown beyond any doubt that climate change has already increased the frequency and intensity of heatwaves, and that worse is on the horizon no matter how quickly humanity draws down carbon pollution.

Earth has already warmed 1.1 degrees C since pre-industrial times.

The decade from 2011 to 2020 was the warmest on record, and the last six years the hottest ever registered.

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