Parts of western Andalucia, near Seville and Cordoba, are known as the “sartén” – the frying pan. From late June to early September, it can be well over 40°C for days or even weeks at a time, with temperatures rarely dropping below 30°C at night. As well as the unpleasantness – and the dangers – this is not the best time to visit as many attractions, restaurants, shops and bars are closed, particularly in late July and the whole of August when the Andalucians shut up shop to head to their beach houses.
Every city, town and tiny village has its own fiestas and celebrations. In bigger towns, major festivals like the Semanta Santa (Easter) or Seville's flamenco-themed April Fair (Feria de Sevilla) mean lodging may be booked months in advance, restaurants may be full, entire streets may be closed for a week or more – and even major attractions may close. Speak to your hosts and find out when the local festival is – and decide whether you want to join in or avoid.
Siesta is very much a living tradition in sweltering Andalucia. Shops shut at 2pm and won’t reopen until 5pm – some even stay closed from 1pm-6pm. In the summer months, shops may not reopen after lunch – or simply shut down completely.
April, May, late September and October usually have pleasant temperatures and cooler nights - though there is a chance of rainstorms. These are great months to travel to Andalucia if you want to combine activity with beach, and get a bit ouf out of season sun.
March is also a great out of season month to visit Andalucia; cool but sunny, with few crowds - and the sweet smelling orange blossom - azahar - just starting to open towards the end of the month.
Andalucia is one of the best places in mainland Europe for winter rays. November, December, January and February can still see daytime temperatures in the 20s - but do bring warm layers as buildings often lack heating, and a really built to withstand the intense heat, not to keep out the cold. Temperatures should be pleasant for walking and cycling, plus the sun sets far later than in the UK, so you'll have a couple of extra hours to complete your route.
Chrismas in Andalucia is a delight - festive lights, nativity scenes, sweet treats - plus cosy cabins or cave houses with roaring fireplaces. Christmas itself is now widely marked across the region, but the traditional celebration of the arrival of the Three Kings - los Reyes Magos - takes place on 6th January, with street parades including dancing 'bedouins' and the throwing of sweets on the night of the 5th. With palm trees and camels, it's a quirky Moorish take on Christmas in Andalucia!