Last updated on April 21, 2023
With thousands of miles of coastline and a laid-back culture, Spain is the perfect escape for the summer. I’ve been to Spain more times than I can count and lived there for almost two years. I’ve also spent summers in cities like Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, Jerez de la Frontera, and San Sebastian. If you’re wondering what to pack for your vacation in Spain this summer, you’ve come to the right place!
As a former expat and frequent visitor, I’ve come up with a list of the most essential items to pack for Spain as well as the items to leave at home. I like to pack light so I’m only recommending the absolute essentials. I want you to pack just enough of your belongings that you’ll only need a carry-on ands a personal item. Without further ado, here is a detailed breakdown of everything you need to pack for summer travel in Spain.
This post contains affiliate links as explained in my disclosure policy.
This is a part of the Spain Bucket List Series. Here’s the complete list:
Culture: 9 Experiences You Must Have in Spain
Off the beaten path: 8 Underrated Cities You Need To Visit in Spain
Barcelona: A Self-Guided Walking Tour of Barcelona
Know before you go
The weather in Spain during the summer
Spain has a Mediterranean climate, meaning it has hot and dry weather during the summer months, that span from June to September. Temperatures can vary depending on the region, but it is not uncommon for temperatures to exceed 30°C (86°F) in many parts of the country.
In the destinations along the coast, the breeze from the sea can provide some relief from the heat, while inland areas tend to be hotter and drier. The northern regions of Spain tend to have milder temperatures and more rainfall, especially in the Basque Country. The region where you’re visiting plays a part in what you should pack.
Pickpocketing in Spain
Beware of petty thieves while you’re visiting Spain. Pickpocketing is unfortunately a common crime in the country, especially in busy tourist areas such as Barcelona, Madrid, and Sevilla. The peak summer travel season is prime time for pickpockets looking for unsuspecting tourists. Pickpockets normally target tourists who appear distracted or unaware of their surroundings. That means you should as must a possible try not to carry a map and wander around looking lost. Don’t do anything that makes it too obvious that you’re a tourist.
Pickpockets in Spain tend to work in groups and use distraction techniques to steal from their victims, such as bumping into them, asking for directions, or pretending to be lost or in need of help. They may also use clothing or bags with hidden pockets to conceal stolen items.
To avoid becoming a victim of pickpocketing in Spain, you can take precautions such as:
- Keeping your valuables such as wallets, phones, and passports in a secure and inaccessible location, such as a money belt or inside a locked bag.
- Being aware of your surroundings and avoiding crowded areas, especially during peak tourist season.
- Avoiding carrying large amounts of cash or valuable items.
- Being wary of strangers who approach you, especially in tourist areas.
- Keeping your bags and personal belongings close to your body and within your line of sight at all times.
- Using common sense and trusting your instincts. If something seems too good to be true or a situation feels uncomfortable, it is better to be cautious and avoid it.
It is also advisable to report any suspicious behavior or incidents of pickpocketing to the local police as soon as possible.
What to pack for your summer trip to Spain
When visiting Spain, don’t overpack! I would give the same advice for any country that you’re not moving to. You really don’t need much for your adventure in Spain so keep it simple. Assuming you’re not staying longer than a month, you can travel with just a carry-on and one or two additional bags. As I write this, I am in Madrid, on a 25-day trip across Spain and Morocco. Here’s the luggage I brought with me:
- My trusty Cabin Zero carry-on backpack in the color Naga Red – I put my clothes, shoes, towels, and electronics here. Read my review of the Cabin 36 L carry-on backpack to see if it’s right for you.
- A small backpack – contains my toiletries, books, makeup, and medications.
- A small leather purse – for casual days out, going to grab a bite and sightseeing
Pack lots of casual, lightweight clothes plus a few cardigans and a jacket. Spain has a Mediterranean climate. In the summer, the temperature in most of Spain is scorching hot and dry during the day then breezy and slightly cool at night. With that in mind, you will want to pack mostly shorts, summer dresses, skirts, tank tops, and short-sleeve tops.
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For pants, I would recommend something light fabrics as opposed to jeans. I went out in jeans this afternoon in Madrid and wished I could take them off! Terrible idea! It was about 80 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside but it felt more like 100 degrees. Here’s a rough breakdown of the types of clothes you should pack for your summer getaway to Spain, by percentage.
- Shorts and skirts (25%)
- Tank tops and short-sleeve shirts (25%)
- Summer dresses and rompers (15%)
- Loose pants (15%)
- Bathing suits (10%)
- Long-sleeved tops and cardigans (5%)
- Jeans (3%)
- Jackets (2%)
The exact number of each item depends on how long you plan to stay so calculate accordingly. Let’s say you are planning to bring 20 items of clothing. In that case, you would bring something like:
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 2 skirts
- 3 short-sleeve shirts
- 2 tank tops
- 2 summer dresses
- 1 romper
- 3 loose pants
- 2 bathing suits
- 1 cardigan
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 jacket
Now onto accessories. The accessories you take with you to Spain depends on what activities you plan to do as well as your personal preferences. Are you mainly going to relax on the beach or tour palaces? There isn’t really any right or wrong when it comes to accessories. That said, it would be a good idea to pack these items, regardless of what your plans are:
- Sunglasses – I love DIFF eyewear because they not only make beautiful shades, but they also donate reading glasses to people in need for every purchase.
- Hats – big summer hats will come in handy for the beach. I love these large straw hats that make a statement.
- Small umbrella – there may be a few days of light showers so have a trusty small umbrella like these cute and affordable umbrellas specifically designed for travel.
It may seem like a no-brainer to pack a bunch of sandals if you’re traveling to Spain in the summer, but I would highly recommend you don’t. Why? You’ll probably be walking a lot – Spanish cities and towns tend to be accessible by foot. Unless you plan to relax at a beach resort the whole time, I would recommend you pack mostly comfortable walking shoes. Here’s a breakdown of the types of shoes you would want to pack:
- Sneakers or athletic shoes (30%) – you can’t go wrong with Nike Revolution 6 NN shoes for women. They are the sturdiest running and walking shoes I’ve ever worn.
- Ballet flats (30%) – These lightweight ballet flats by Dream Pairs are Amazon’s #1 choice and a favorite of mine.
- Sandals (20%) – I’m loving these strappy leather sandals that you can pick up on Amazon for super cheap. They are lightweight yet sturdy.
- Flips flops (15%) – Wearing flip flops anywhere other than the beach is a no-no in much of Spain. Pack these cute Roxy flip flops that scream “I’m on a tropical vacay!” and put them on once you get to the beach.
- Espadrille wedges (5%) – last but not least, you can pack some fancy open-toe wedges if you plan to dress up for dinner or go clubbing at some point.
Of course, you can also bring heels or any other types of shoes you like to wear. These are just suggestions. I’m all about comfort though so I stick to wedges and flats for fancier outings.
Health and Beauty
I’m going to be a bit of a hypocrite here. As I mentioned before, it gets insanely hot in Spain during the summer. So, of course, you should bring sunscreen! Being a dark, melanated lady, I never used to wear sunscreen. I barely knew anything about SPF levels. Don’t be like that! It’s a good practice to wear sunscreen whether you’re a Lupita N’yongo or a Dita Von Teese. Nowadays, I wear sunscreen during the summer after finding a brand whose smell doesn’t put me off. I also wear foundation with SPF 15 or 30 sometimes so my face is extra protected.
Here’s a full breakdown of the beauty essentials you should have in your carry-on, not including makeup:
- Face wipes – these sensitive facial towelettes by my go-to brand Burt’s Bees are just want you need.
- Antiperspirant – I can’t go anywhere without my Sweatblock antiperspirant. These overnight antisperant keep me dry for about five days. They are great for those who suffer from excessive sweating.
- Lip balm – EOS has my go-to lip balm brand since around 2016, and I’ve tried every lip balm brand imaginable. I love the cute design and how moisturizing it is!
- Sunscreen – I shunned sunscreen for many years until I discovered this hydrating and sheer formula by the skin care experts at CeraVe.
- Shea butter – I don’t travel anywhere without my African shea butter. This versatile product works well as lotion, as a moisturizer, a hair conditioner, as pain relief, and so many other functions.
- Toiletry kit – Rather than buy toothpaste, toothbrush, and all my toiletries separately, I just take this trusty, travel-sized toiletry kit that includes everything I need in one place.
- Hand sanitizer – you can’t be too careful when it comes to protecting yourself from germs. Take this travel-sized hand sanitizer with you and use it throughout the day to stay safe.
- Shampoo – I’m very picky about shampoo to use on my 4C hair so I like to stick to Shea Moisture’s travel-sized shea butter shampoo if I’m wearing my natural hair.
What gadgets should you take with you to Spain? The bare minimum. Again, you don’t want to pack too much. Given that electronic devices are normally heavier than clothes, it’s especially important to be picky about what you take. Here’s all you’ll need.
- Portable wifi – I just started using the Travel WiFi portable hotspot device for my travels. It’s reliable and works great in Europe. It didn’t work in Morocco, but that’s going to change with their new upgrades. I’ve used my device to do a livestream in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain. – That’s how good the signal.
- International adapter – I’ve been using the same Newvanga international adapter for over five years! I use it to plug my electronics into different types of sockets in other countries. This adapter works in 150 countries.
- Camera – you could just use your phone but I always recommend the Nikon D3400 camera for beginner photographers. The features are easy to navigate, and the quality of the photos is superb.
- Noise-proof headphones – I swear by the Sony noise canceling headphones I purchased in Japan in 2017. The sound quality is up there with Beats, which I use for workouts.
I also take my laptop with me because to get work done on the road. I take my IPad to watch Netflix but could easily just leave it at home if I wasn’t so addicted to Netflix.
You may also like:
Google maps tend to give terrible directions in Spain. Sometimes it will direct you to take the longer route. Other times, it will send you in the wrong direction! A better alternative for getting around is the Moovit app. It’s much more accurate with directions and timing. Here’s the complete list of useful guides:
- Moovit app – don’t let Google maps send you wandering around the city – it’s not that ideal for finding directions in some Spanish cities. Download the Moovit app. It’s available for both iOs and iTunes and it’s completely free!
- Spain Travel Guides -You may have a list of destinations to visit in Spain already, but have you considered lesser known destinations like the Cies Islands? If you want to learn what to eat, see, and do in Spain, you can also check out my Spain Bucket List series!
- Lonely Planet Spanish Phrase Book – all the basic, essential Spanish you need to express common desires and questions.
Products to leave at home
As I mentioned in the beginning, you really don’t need to pack your entire closet and the kitchen sink for your summer vacation in Spain. That’s why I want to also mention all the products you might be considering bringing but would be best to leave behind. This is not an exhaustive list. As a rule of thumb, if you
- Shaving cream – do the shaving before you leave for Spain. Or buy shaving cream when you arrive. Simple.
- Nail polish – do you really need to paint your nails while in Spain? If you do, there are plenty of nail salons available.
- Curling iron – this is just extra weight you can easily avoid, unless you’re planning to go clubbing or have a fancy dinner every night.
- Hair dryer – your hotel or accommodation will probably have them already. Do you really need a bulky hair dryer in your luggage?
- Fanny pack – this just screams “I’m a tourist!” and makes you an easy target for pick-pockets. Plus, who still carries fanny packs in this day and age?
- Money belt – just like a fanny pack, a money belt will make you stand out. We always want to blend in as much as possible.
Ready for your adventure in Spain?
Before your trip, let’s make sure you have skip-the-line-access to Spain’s famous landmarks and attractions and a ticket for the best tours and activities. You’ll find them all through my go-to tour operator, Get Your Guide.
I’ve been going on Get Your Guide tours around the world since 2018. They are seriously the most educational and engaging tours out there, with the friendliest tour guides and the easiest signup process. Choose from one of these highly-rated tours or explore other Spain tours from Get Your Guide. It will make your visit to Spain so much more amazing.
Frequently asked questions
What should I pack for Spain in the summer?
Due to the combination of hot, sunny mornings and afternoons and cool, breezy evenings, you should pack lots of lightweight clothes, shorts, skirts, and short-sleeved shirts as well as a light jacket or cardigan. Also bring a bathing suit, walking shoes, and essential electronics, like a power adapter. For luggage, it’s better to carry a backpack than a roller suitcase as quite a few hotels and Airbnbs don’t have elevators.
What do locals wear in Spain in summer?
The locals in Spain normally wear lightweight and comfortable clothes during the summer because of the hot and dry weather. Walking down the street in a typical Spanish city, you’ll see people wearing:
- T-shirts or tank tops paired with shorts or skirts.
- Sundresses or maxi dresses.
- Light-colored and breathable fabrics such as cotton, linen, and rayon.
- Sandals or open-toe shoes.
- Sunglasses and hats to protect from the sun.
Also note that Spain is a diverse country with different regional climates, so the specific clothing worn during the summer varies depending on the region. For example, coastal areas like Valencia and Catalunya tend to b more humid and breezy, while inland areas like Madrid are hotter and drier.
What shoes to wear in Spain in summer?
Unless you plan to relax at a beach resort the whole time, I would recommend you pack mostly comfortable walking shoes because you’ll likely be walking around quite a bit. I would pack a mixture of tennis shoes, sandals, flip flops, and flats.
Is it too hot to wear jeans in Spain?
You can wear jeans in Spain in the fall, winter, or spring and be perfectly comfortable. In the summer months, however, it might be too hot to wear jeans. I made the mistake of wearing thick jean trousers in the month of August in Madrid and wanted to rip them off. If you choose to wear jeans in Spain in the summer, opt for lightweight, loose-fitting denim.
There you have it: the ultimate packing list for your summer vacation in Spain. Now you’re ready to make the most of your Spain getaway. Any questions? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you soon.
Travel Essentials I Can’t Live Without
The CabinZero 36L Backpack – this trusty backpack has been my go-to luggage for both domestic and international trips since 2018. I’ve used dozens of backpacks over the years and keep coming back to this one. I almost never check in luggage so I need a carry-on bag that is spacious, sturdy, and comfortable, with a laptop compartment. The Cabin Zero 36 L fits the bill. The size makes it small enough for a weekend getaway and big enough for a month of backpacking in Europe. The bag also comes with a tracker in case it gets lost. How convenient! Check out my complete review of the backpack.
Travel WiFI Pocket WIFI Device – With portable WiFi, you can say goodbye to ridiculous roaming charges and SIM cards for good. I’ve been using the Travel WiFi Portable Hotspot device for years and love the peace of mind it gives me. The device provides 3G-4G WiFi for at least 6 hours and works in 100+ countries. In my experience, it lasts 9 hours. It also works in a variety of landscapes and terrains. I even filmed a Facebook Live from a boat in the Atlantic Ocean using my device. I can also use Google Maps, request an Uber, call my mom, and do tons of other things I couldn’t do before. Quick tip: turn off the device when you’re not using it so that the battery can last longer.
Booking.com – Booking.com is my go-to website for booking discounted accommodations around the world. What I love most about Booking.com is the variety of properties you can find, from luxury apartments to treehouses to university housing. It’s hard to beat the insanely low prices. The website also has a flexible cancellation policy, which is great if things come up or you change your mind.
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