Summer is the season when Spain comes alive. The sun is shining and the country conducts events for everyone. The beaches are ripe for swimming and sunbathing. Whether it be throwing ripe tomatoes at your friends or partying until the sun comes up, the summer in Spain is undoubtedly all about having fun. I recommend you to participate in traditional local festivals, discover the magic of the nation’s most beautiful cities and party on a beautiful island.
The end of August is a very special time in Spain because it marks the start of the unique Tomatina Festival. Held in the small Spanish town of Buñol, the Tomatina festival is a food fight beyond your wildest dreams with thousands of ripe tomatoes thrown and mashed across the town. The festival has become so popular, with over 40,000 visitors attending the festival every year, that it has been recognised as the world’s largest state-sanctioned food fight.
But the key thing to note is that the festival isn’t about just one day in August. Instead, it’s all about the build up! From about a week before it starts people start arriving in Buñol and the festival atmosphere is in the air. There are enormous Paella cooking contests, parades and firework displays even before you see one tomato. However, the day of the festival is the most exciting. Everyone is ready to get pummelled with tomatoes and have fun – it’s time to be a kid again!
It all starts with a greasy pole and a slice of ham. As soon as the ham has been dropped from the pole the whole square in this tiny town descends into chaos. Huge trucks carrying squishy ripe red tomatoes enter the square and the fight begins. There’s no way to avoid the throwing, and whatever happens you will be covered in tomato juice. So make the most of it and get throwing!
Culture in Barcelona
Barcelona is the perfect city in the summer. The locals leave the blistering heat and head north. The city can be surprisingly quiet then. Still, there are plenty of places to cool down – I just adore the boating lake at Parc de la Ciutadella with its own waterfall and a city zoo for a break from the heat. Summer is also a great time to enjoy music in the city. There are festivals such as the Musica als Parcs at Parc de la Ciutadella from June to August, featuring jazz and classical artists. Other cool festivals that take place here include the world-famous Sonar Festival in June featuring international artists and the Primavera Sound Festival taking place at the end of May.
Summer is also a great time to see some of the city’s most breathtaking sites, including the magnificent unfinished cathedral Sagrada Familia. Designed by the city’s most famous architect – Antoni Gaudi, work on the cathedral continues to this day and is expected to be completed in 2026. The summer months can be busy, with over 3 millions visitors a year. So make sure you book well in advance and get there early.
Party in Ibiza
Ibiza is the place to be if you want a summer of partying. The island, located in the Balerics, is the undisputed capital of clubbing. The island’s three biggest party spots at Playa d’en Bossa, San Antonio and Ibiza Town come alive with revellers and music every night until the early hours. Since the 1970s, the beautiful island has become well-known for hosting world-famous DJs and a carefree party atmosphere every single summer.
The summer is so important to the clubbing scene in Ibiza that most clubs only open during the summer months, and finish the season with huge closing parties. Some of the renowned clubs have enormous capacity, and Pacha is probably the island’s most famous. Opening in 1973, the nightclub is the only club in Ibiza to remain open throughout the year. It has played host to some of the island’s most renowned DJs like Pete Tong and David Morales. If you prefer to indulge in a more sophisticated scene, head to Cafe Mambo. Fancy cocktails are served and people dress up for the evening here.
Costa Brava Beaches
Summer in Spain is the ideal time to head to a beach and cool off. Spain has over 500 incredible beaches to choose from. My personal favorite are the beaches of the stunning Costa Brava. One of the most picture-perfect beaches is Tamariu beach, with its stunning turquoise waters and unspoilt white sands. It has excellent facilities if you plan to stay all day. Restaurants serve fresh fish and sangria to finish a sun-filled beach day. The incredible castle-flanked Sa Caleta is another of the Costa Brava’s unique and magical bays. The rocky bay is ideal for snorkeling and swimming, and there’s also plenty of sand for sunbathing.
For admiring the beauty of nature, head to the tiny cove of Cala del Pi. Although having no facilities, this pristine beach you will make you feel like you’ve stumbled into a Spanish haven. The crystal clear waters and soft sands are tucked away, but are well worth the trek. Also, there are some great snorkeling opportunities here.
The August Fair in Malaga
The August Fair is one of the most prominent and colorful fairs in all of Andalusia. The city is completely transformed from the middle of August for the festival. The fair runs during the day and at night. Night is the more popular time for visitors when the climate is relatively cooler. The evening is lit up with over 300,000 light bulbs and 200,000 street lanterns, which light up the spectacle for everyone who visits. There are food stalls and music too!
At daytime the procession featuring horsemen decorated with Andalusian motifs parade via the central streets. The roads are shielded from the sun with a sheet of canvas and beautiful garlands. It’s a great sight! Many festival goers wear traditional Andalusian folk attire and flamenco dress. Just be aware that the festival can keep things of the city very busy. So make sure you are prepared.
The medieval city of Cordoba
Cordoba is one of Spain’s greatest and best-preserved medieval marvels. The charming and calm city is home to the grand Mezquita mosque, one of the most spectacular wonders of Europe. The city is so small that you can walk everywhere. This means you can avoid using the potentially inconvenient public transport and enjoy the glorious Spanish sunshine.
Spend the afternoon walking through the gardens of the breathtaking Palacio Museo de Viana in Plaza de Don Gome. See its 13 patios and the stunning flower beds. In the hot summer evenings wander around the narrow streets of the old Jewish quarter of Juderia. Stop for tapas and sangria in one of the local tucked-away bars, and experience the heart of Cordoba’s culinary scene. The city’s Roman Bridge is also a lovely view at night.
The Festival of Sant Joan in Valencia
The Festival of Sant Joan falls annually on the shortest night (longest day) of the year – 23rd June. Valencia, a Spanish port city, is known for hosting one of the largest celebrations in the country. The festival is known for its bonfires, which spring up across the city and on the beaches. The myth is that anyone who jumps over the bonfire three times will get cleansed and purified – although I suggest you don’t try this unless you have done this before.
Other activities include swimming in the Atlantic at midnight in Valencia – which is also said to cleanse your soul – and dancing around the fire on the beach into the night. These age-old traditions come from ancient pagan practices that were adopted by Christians in the region. Parties go on at night, and a stunning fireworks display finishes the evening. The festival is a great chance to experience some local Spanish traditions and take a step back in time.
So what are you waiting for? Get planning! Take in the magical culture of Spain and experience a summer you’ll never forget!