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Last winter I decided to get out of cold Germany and spend some time in warm, sunny Spain. My husband and I rented an apartment in Sevilla and spent about 6 weeks living there, with side trips to Granada and Cordoba. What we found was that, although it was definitely sunnier and warmer than Germany, it was not as balmy as we would’ve liked.
Temperatures varied from 32F/0C to 65F/18C while we were there, which was late November through early January. In the shade, especially on a cooler day, it felt colder than it was. This means layers were important.
Another thing to keep in mind is where you’re staying. In general the apartments seem to be built for summer, which means they aren’t great in the winter. The windows in our apartment weren’t sealed well and didn’t let in any sun, and the heaters weren’t very good. Most of the hotels we stayed at weren’t much different. I often felt colder inside than outside.
- 2-3 short-sleeve shirts for layering
- 3-5 long sleeve shirts
- 1 sweatshirt or cardigan
- 2 pairs of jeans
- comfy pants you can sleep in
- 2 bras
- 7 pairs of underwear
- 5 pairs of socks
- 1 dress or skirt and top if your plans involve going somewhere that requires dressing up
The only place it truly felt like winter was in Granada. The city is at a higher altitude up in the mountains, so if you plan on spending a lot of time there, pack accordingly.
- 1 jacket – I had my fall/spring jacket which is a rain shell with a zip-out fleece liner, and it worked well in Sevilla and Cordoba. I wished I had something heavier in Granada.
- 1 scarf – Something fun that’s more for fashion should be fine. Again, Granada is the only place I wished I had a real winter scarf, so for just a couple days, you might not want to pack it.
- Winter hat and gloves – Only if you’re spending a lot of time in Granada. You’ll survive a couple of days there without them, but if you’re basing yourself there for a few weeks in December, they’re worth bringing.
- Sneakers or walking shoes – There are lots of hills and cobbled streets.
- Comfortable flats – Good for a nice evening out.
- Flip flops – If you’re staying in a hostel.
- Sunglasses – Even on cold days, the sun was usually bright and I was glad to have mine.
- Jewelry – A few simple pieces if you’re bringing dressier clothing.
- Purse or daypack
Your normal toiletries should be fine, and if you forget something, there are plenty of drug stores, convenience stores, and grocery stores around.
- Shampoo, conditioner, soap/shower gel
- Lip balm
- Solid perfume
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hairbrush and hair ties
- Prescription medications
Tips for visiting southern Spain
Winter is not a super popular time to visit, which means fewer crowds. If you’re not a fan of extreme heat, this might be a good time to go south.
The public transport system in Sevilla is adequate but not great. There is one metro line, one tram line, and a network of buses. Unfortunately the different systems don’t really overlap and they all require separate tickets. We found that there weren’t even any bus tickets that allowed you to transfer from one bus to another. My suggestion is to stay near the center so you can walk or find a place to stay that is located near a bus route that goes through the center of the city so you don’t have to switch buses.
Be aware of holiday hours around Christmas, New Year’s, and January 6th. The 6th is actually a bigger holiday than Christmas and is celebrated with a huge parade. Plan well in advance if you want to get a spot to see the parade. In December we did see some Christmas markets, but they were kind of sad compared to the Christmas markets in Germany, so don’t go out of your way.
Granada is THE place to go for tapas. Go to any restaurant that serves them and order a drink, but don’t open your menu at the beginning. They’ll bring you something to eat (for free!) with each drink. But if you’re looking at your menu when you first sit down, they will think you don’t know the drill, and you’ll miss out on the tasty freebies. Most places will keep giving you free tapas with each round of drinks, so in theory you could have an entire dinner that way.
When traveling from city to city, compare trains and buses. The buses we took were comfortable and reliable, but it depends on the route and the timing as to whether or not they will be cheaper or fit your schedule.
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