Due to the pleasant climate, many retired Northern Europeans are spending several months in Southern Spain and the Costas del Almeria and del Sol are the most popular areas. This article provides advice on long term visits in winter to Southern Spain. Cheap flights to Spain are readily available and Almeria and Malaga airports are the main winter destinations. Travel to and within Spain in your own car, in a rented car or by public transport is easy to arrange.
Why Spend Winters in Southern Spain
Most people state that the main reason for spending time in winter in Southern Spain is to enjoy the generally pleasant climate. The cost of living is lower than some other parts of Northern Europe although, for the British, this depends to an extent on the euro exchange rate. The climate encourages an outdoor life and healthy living and the range of Spanish cultural events is supplemented by activities provided by and for foreigners. Much of the sea and mountain scenery is stunning and, for those who want to keep active throughout the year, there are unparalleled opportunities for outdoor activities such as walking, skiing and golf, not to mention sitting and relaxing in the sun.
Winter Climate in Southern Spain
In November and March the highest average daily temperature reaches 21 degrees. However, temperatures can drop to single figures during the day in winter and can be lower still at night. Throughout the winter there is an average of about six hours sun per day. You should note that it does rain in Southern Spain in winter. It is important, therefore, to bear in mind the range of weather conditions when considering what accommodation to rent and what clothes to pack.
How to Get To Southern Spain From the United Kingdom by Car
The ferry crossing to Santander in Northern Spain takes 18 hours but this does not run in mid-winter. The road journey by motorway to the Costa del Sol then takes approximately twelve hours. Alternatively, you can cross over to France by ferry or the Channel Tunnel. This will involve a long, but often enjoyable, drive through France and Spain. The Channel crossing will be cheaper but you will need to factor in the cost of hotels, motorway tolls and fuel. It is also possible to travel, with or without your car, by fast trains across France and Spain. The quickest and cheapest method of getting to the Costas is by air. Cheap flights to all airports in Spain can be obtained easily.
Methods of Travel in Spain
If you have decided not to bring your own car you will find that car hire in Spain is relatively inexpensive and easy to arrange. You can either book in advance or once you arrive. Low season rates usually apply from the beginning of November to the end of February and favourable rates can often be obtained for extended period car rental. Each driver will need to bring their driver’s licence with them. Fuel prices are a little lower than British equivalents. If you do not wish to hire a car and are staying on the coast, you will find that the bus routes are extensive. Taxis are available but are not always very cheap. For an extended stay, and to fully benefit from the many attractions of the region, you will need your own transport.
Guidance on Driving Your Car in Spain
You are only allowed to use your own car abroad for a continuous period of six months. Before leaving the UK you need to ensure that your MOT, road tax and insurance are valid for the duration of your stay. You must bring your car’s registration certificate and check that your car insurance covers you for driving in Europe. If this is the case, you will not need a Green Card. It is advisable to take out European breakdown cover. For driving in Spain you have to carry with you at all times two red warning triangles, a fire extinguisher, two reflective waistcoats, a First Aid kit and a spare bulb kit. On arrival in Europe you will need to adapt your car headlights for driving on the right side of the road. Headlight adaptor kits should be bought before leaving the UK. Visit the DVLA website for further guidance.
There are many positive reasons for spending the winter months in Southern Spain. The climate is generally much more pleasant than at home and there is a wide range of activities many of which encourage a healthy lifestyle. Getting to the Costa del Almeria or Costa del Sol and travelling around when there is inexpensive and uncomplicated.