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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Why parts of Spain are the driest they’ve been in 1,200 years

Parts of Spain and Portugal are the driest they've been in over 1,000 years, according to research published on Monday which warns of severe implications for wine and olive production in the Iberian Peninsula.

Why parts of Spain are the driest they've been in 1,200 years

The Azores High, an area of high pressure that rotates clockwise over parts of the North Atlantic, has a major effect on weather and long term climate trends in western Europe.

But in a new modelling study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, researchers in the United States found this high-pressure system “has changed dramatically in the past century and that these changes in North Atlantic climate are unprecedented within the past millennium”.

Using climate model simulations over the last 1,200 years, the study found that this high-pressure system started to grow to cover a greater area around 200 years ago, as human greenhouse gas pollution began to increase.

It expanded even more dramatically in the 20th century in step with global warming.

The authors then looked at evidence of rainfall levels preserved over hundreds of years in Portuguese stalagmites, and found that as the Azores High has expanded, the winters in the western Mediterranean have become drier.

The study cites projections that the level of precipitation could fall a further 10 to 20 percent by the end of this century, which the authors say would make Iberian agriculture “some of the most vulnerable in Europe”.

They warn that the Azores High will continue to expand during the 21st century as greenhouse gas levels rise, leading to an increasing risk of drought on the Iberian Peninsula and threatening key crops.

“Our findings have important implications for projected changes in western Mediterranean hydroclimate throughout the twenty-first century,” the authors said.

researchers have predicted a 30-percent drop in production for olive regions in southern Spain by 2100. (Photo by RAYMOND ROIG / AFP)

Wither on the vines

The Azores High acts as a “gatekeeper” for rainfall into Europe, according to the study, with dry air descending in the summer months to cause hot, arid conditions in much of Portugal, Spain and the western Mediterranean.

In the cool, wetter winter period, the high-pressure system swells, sending westerly winds carrying rain inland.   

This winter rain is “vital” for both the ecological and economic health of the region, but it has been decreasing, particularly over the second half of the 20th century.

While previous research had not untangled the effects of natural variability on the Azores High, the authors said their findings show its expansion during the industrial era is linked to the rise of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

A study cited in the latest research estimates that the area suitable for grape growing in the Iberian Peninsula could shrink by at least a quarter and potentially vanish almost completely by 2050 because of severe water shortages.

Meanwhile, researchers have predicted a 30-percent drop in production for olive regions in southern Spain by 2100.

Winemakers are already looking for ways to adapt to the changing climate, such as moving vineyards to higher altitudes and experimenting with more heat-tolerant varieties.

Last year, scientists found that a severe spring frost that ravaged grape vines in France was made more likely by climate change, with the plants budding earlier and therefore more susceptible to damage.